New Delhi: The 72nd Republic Day celebrations will be an event marked with many firsts while missing out on many long-standing traditions for the first time. From a graded celebration marked with few state tableaus to fewer visitors, this year’s Republic Day celebration will also see no Chief Guest for the first time ever in more than five decades. Although the United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Jonson was slated to be the chief guest, however weeks ahead of the 72nd Republic Day celebrations, the British premier canceled his visit to India citing a fresh lockdown in England amid the rapid spread of the new Covid strain.
Coronavirus has stalled many important events across the world and India’s Republic Day celebration is one among those events, which will be equally affected after covid protocols have been strictly put in place.
This year only 25,000 spectators have been allowed to the Republic Day celebrations compared to 150,000 last year. Similarly, the number of media representatives has been cut from 300 to 200. Children under the age of 15 will not be allowed to attend.
Keeping in mind the prevailing covid situation in the country, the government has directed for a mellowed down celebration this year with Covid-19 safety norms in place. There won’t gravity-defying stunts by motorcycle-borne men which is the major attraction for the crowd at Republic Day celebrations on the Rajpath. Besides this, the parade of gallantry awardees and children who have earned bravery awards will also not be there at the 72nd Republic event, on account of social distancing.
A contingent of military veterans featuring India’s bravehearts in their advancing years, commemorating their commitment and sacrifices made for the country, won’t be participating this year due to covid-19 restrictions. The route of the parade has been limited till National Stadium (C-Hexagon of India gate) unlike previous years which was extended till Red Fort
Of all the misses for this year, some new will also be visible in the celebrations. At least 100 meritorious students will get a chance to see the celebrations from the Prime Minister’s box. The students will also get to interact with Education Minister after the parade ends.
This year, a 122 member contingent from Bangladesh’s armed forces will be part of the Republic Day parade that will be commemorating the 50th anniversary of the 1971 Indo-Pak war that led to the liberation of Bangladesh. This will be the third time India will be hosting a foreign contingent to participate in the parade after the French troops in 2016 and UAE personnel in 2017.
There will be fewer state tableaus but with many firsts. Indian Air Force will be featuring its tableau with India’s first woman fighter pilot, flight Lieutenant Bhawana Kanth leading the tableau at the Republic Day parade. Rafale fighter jets will be the star attraction of the parade this year, who will be performing the “vertical Charlie” at the end of the flypast. Apart from two Rafales, Sukhoi-30s, MiG-29s, Apache and Chinook choppers will also catch visitors’ attention.
The newly formed Union Territory Ladakh will make its debut in the parade with their tableau depicting the iconic Thikse Monastery and the region’s rich cultural heritage. Apart from Ladakh, Andaman and Nicobar Islands will also be making its appearance for the first time at the parade. The CRPF for the first time will have its own tableau at the Republic Day parade. The tableau will feature CRPF’s combat skills and conflict zones.
Amid all the firsts and miss outs, the spirit of patriotism remains intact as India heads towards the 72nd Republic Day celebrations tomorrow.