In less than a week, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will unfurl the national flag and deliver a speech from the ramparts of the Red Fort in Delhi, marking India's 74th Independence Day on 15 August. However, the celebrations this year will be low-key due to the coronavirus pandemic. Reportedly only 20 percent of the usual number of VVIPs and other invitees will be present to view the PM’s speech live.
So, how is India planning to ring in the Independence Day? What will be different? Read on.
What will be the itinerary in New Delhi?
- The ceremony at Red Fort will consist of the presentation of a Guard of Honour by the Armed Forces and the Delhi Police to the prime minister.
- This will be followed by the unfurling of the national flag by the PM, accompanied by playing of the National Anthem and firing of 21-gun salute.
- The PM's speech will be followed by the singing of the national anthem.
- Tri-coloured balloons will be released to mark the end of the ceremony.
How is this different from previous years?
- While the government has not put a number on this, the guest list has reportedly been cut down considerably.
- The government is likely to invite COVID-19 warriors such as doctors, health workers and sanitation workers, as well as some people who have recovered from coronavirus.
- There will be no performance from school kids and the two grounds on either side of the Red Fort, which are usually open to the public, will likely remain closed.
- Only a few NCC cadets are likely to be invited.
- The military bands will also not be performing live in view of the pandemic. However, their recorded show will be telecast on 15 August.
What are the protocols for the ceremony in view of COVID-19?
- The 350 Delhi Police personnel who will be part of guard of honour, which will be inspected by PM Modi, have been quarantined at the police colony in Delhi Cantonment.
- Proper sanitisation of the Red Fort will be carried out before the event and it has been closed to the public from 1 August instead of the usual 7 August.
- It is mandatory for everyone attending the event to wear a mask or face cover.
- Chairs will be placed in designated areas to ensure social distancing and invitees will be seated at a distance of six feet.
- There will be minimum staff at the event, and those present will be wearing PPE.
- There will be a number of sanitisation points.
Will there be an ‘At Home’ reception in Rashtrapati Bhawan?
Yes, there will be an 'At Home' reception hosted by President Ram Nath Kovind, but it will once again be a muted affair, reportedly focusing on India’s ‘Corona Warriors’. However, the details of the programme have not been shared by the Home Ministry.
Are there any restrictions in Delhi due to I-Day?
The Delhi Police has prohibited the flying of ‘sub-conventional aerial platforms’ over the city until 15 August, due to security threats. Doing so shall be punishable under Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code.
These include paragliders, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), remotely piloted aircraft, hot air balloons, quadcopters or parajumping from aircraft etc.
The traffic restrictions are to be released by the Delhi Police in coming days.
What about state governments? Can they hold a public event?
- Yes, a separate list of protocols has been issued to the state governments for holding public events on the occasion of Independence Day.
- A ceremony in the morning (after 9:00 am) will be held in the state capital, consisting of unfurling of national flag by chief minister.
- The state governments have been asked to avoid large congregations and use technology to webcast the celebrations.
- The states have also asked to "suitably spread" the theme of 'Aatmanirbhar Bharat' messages in all the activities/messages in connection with the Independence Day.
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