In less than 48 hours, India will celebrate its 71st Republic Day. The national capital is getting ready to witness the military might in the parade and glorious history and culture via state tableaux. This year the celebrations would be different from what used to be because of the Covid-19 restrictions. However, a lot will be happening that you should not miss.
Things missing from Republic Day parade this year
No Chief Guest: This year, there will be no chief guest on the R-Day Parade. This will be the first time in 50 years that Republic Day celebrations will not have a chief guest. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was scheduled to attend the celebrations as a chief guest, but he had to cancel it due to increasing cases of Covid-19 in the United Kingdom. Before this year, the Republic Day Parade did not chief guest in 1966 and two times before that in 1952 and 1953.
Less number of spectators: Last year, 1,50,000 people were allowed to attend the celebrations along with 300 media persons. This year, keeping social distance norms in mind, the number has been reduced to 25,000 spectators and 200 media persons.
Small route and lesser events: This year, the parade route will be shorter. It will only go to the National Stadium at the C-Hexagon of India Gate. The tableaux will go to the Red Fort. The veterans’ Parade has been cancelled altogether. There will be no motorcycle stunts by army troops and the Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) personnel. Enclosure for school children have been removed from the program, and no children below the age of 15 will be allowed in the India Gate lawns.
Republic Day’s main attractions
To make this day special, there are a few things that will happen for the first time. Here is a list of the top attractions of the Republic Day Parade.
Rafale fighter jets: The Rafale fighter jets will take part in the Parade for the first time. They were inducted into the Indian Air Force last year in September.
Woman fighter pilot: This will be the first time a woman fighter pilot will participate in the Parade. Flight Lieutenant Bhawana Kanth, one of India’s first women fighter pilots, will be there with the Indian Air Force’s tableau showcasing mock-ups of Sukhoi-30 fighters, light combat aircraft (LCA), and light combat helicopter (LCH).
Upgraded Schilika weapon system: The Indian Army will display the upgraded Schilika weapon system. Only woman contingent commander Preeti Chowdhary will be leading the display. While talking to news agency ANI, Chowdhary said, “The upgraded Schilika to roll down Rajpath for the first time this year. It can track and shoot enemy targets up to 2 kilometers on the ground and about 2.5 kilometers in the air.” Preeti had marched in Republic Day celebrations in 2016 as a cadet.
Bangladesh Armed Forces: A contingent of the Bangladesh Armed Forces comprised of 122 soldiers will take part in the Parade. Earlier, France and UAE had participated in 2016 and 2017 respectively. Notably, India will be celebrating 50 years of ‘Swarnim Vijay Jayanti’, marking the 50th anniversary year of India’s victory over Pakistan in 1971. East Pakistan was freed as a result of that victory resulting in the formation of Bangladesh.
Ram Mandir Tableau: One of the most interesting aspects of this year’s Parade will be Uttar Pradesh’s tableau that will feature a replica of the proposed Ram Mandir in Ayodhya. In November 2019, the Supreme Court of India had allowed the construction of Ram Mandir on the disputed land. The construction began in August 2020 and is expected to be completed by 2023-24.
Vijaynagar Tableau: The Karnataka tableau will display the Vijayanagar legacy at the Republic Day parade. As per the reports, this year’s tableau will feature all attractions of Vijaynagar from its foundation to its peak. The team that had created the tableau is led by award-winning art director Shashidhar Adapa. It will have a statue of Ugra Narasimha followed by Bhagwan Hanuman on the top of the Anjanadri hills.
Covid-19 restrictions: Due to Covid-19 restrictions in place, not only the number of guests has been reduced, the overall time and route of the celebrations have been reduced as well.