With Republic Day approaching, India has been gearing up to display its military might. While there is palpable excitement among the citizens, the Republic Day celebration might undergo certain changes to safeguard its people from the onslaught of Covid-19. However, despite restrictions, Republic Day is set to celebrated with all its grandeur.
Here’s a list of what will be new and what will be missing from this year’s R-Day parade:
1. The Rafale fighter jets, purchased from France and inducted into the Indian Air Force (IAF) in September last year, will participate in the parade for the first time. The air force has thus far inducted 11 of the 36 Rafale jets ordered from France.
2. The parade will also witness its first participation by a woman fighter pilot. Flight lieutenant Bhawana Kanth, one of India’s first women fighter pilots, will be a part of the IAF’s tableau that will showcase mock-ups of the light combat aircraft (LCA), light combat helicopter (LCH), and the Sukhoi-30 fighters.
3. Marking its debut, the Ladakh contingent will be displaying a beautiful tableau depicting the iconic Thikse Monastery and its cultural heritage. The tableau prominently depicts the historic Thikse Monastery located on top of a hill in Thikse in Leh district and is one of the most-visited tourist sites in the region.
4. A tableau on Lepakshi temple, representing Andhra Pradesh will be displayed for the Republic Day parade to be held in New Delhi. The tableau showcases the rich, monolithic rock architecture of Lepakshi temple. Besides the temple architecture, it also showcases the spectacular monolithic rock structure of Nandi, which is situated near the temple with 27ft in length and 15ft in height.
5. The Indian Navy's tableau at the Republic Day parade this year will showcase models of INS Vikrant and naval operations that were conducted during the 1971 India-Pakistan war. The forward part of the tableau depicts the attack on Karachi harbour by the missile boats undertaken as part of Operation Trident and Python.
6. Uttar Pradesh’s tableau will feature a replica of the Ram Temple, which is currently under construction in the temple town of Ayodhya. The Supreme Court had in November 2019 ended the decades-long land dispute case, paving the way for the construction of the temple.
7. Protesting farmers have said that they will be displaying tableaus from different states during the parade on Republic Day. The unions have announced that they would hold the parade on Delhi’s Outer Ring Road as part of the protest against the new agri-marketing laws enacted by the Centre.
However, in a bid to avoid overcrowding and ensure social distancing amid raging coronavirus pandemic, the central government made a number of changes in Republic Day parade in 2021. Those are:
1. This will be the first R-Day parade without a chief guest in more than five decades with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson not coming to India. Johnson, who had initially accepted India’s invitation, had to cancel his visit due to the rapid rise of Covid-19 cases in the United Kingdom. India didn’t have a chief guest for the parade in 1952, 1953 and 1966 before this.
2. The number of spectators has been reduced to 25,000 from 150,000 allowed last year. The number of media persons, too, has been cut from 300 to 200.
3. The parade will go only till the National Stadium at the C-Hexagon of India Gate. Only the tableaux will go to the Red Fort.
4. The events that have been cancelled altogether include the veterans’ parade by ex-servicemen and women, as well as motorcycle stunts by troops of the army and the Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) personnel.
5. No children below the age of 15 will be allowed at the India Gate lawns. Also, there will be no enclosure for schoolchildren this year.