For the first time since its inception, the Republic Day parade at the historic Rajpath will not culminate at the Red Fort. Due to restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the parade will end at the National Stadium in front of the National War Memorial.
The ministry of defence, which organises the parade, has finalised the changes in the parade keeping COVID-19 protocol in mind.
Starting from Vijay Chowk, the parade has been cut down to less than half its distance―from 8.2 kilometres to 3.3 kilometres now.
The parade will also see a reduced number of spectators this time. From its average figure of 1.25 lakh, spectators have been limited to only 25,000, which includes officials and dignitaries for this year, according to a top official of the ministry of defence, who added that children below 15 years of age will not be allowed entry.
The participation of school children has also been reduced this year, keeping in mind the social distancing norms. The number of school children in dance performances has been cut down to 40 from 100.
The number of tableau in the parade, however, has gone up to its highest figure of 32. Last year, 22 tableau from states, ministries and department had taken part in the parade.
“Tableau from 16 states, seven from ministries and department and Navy, IAF, DRDO, Border Roads Organisation and Coast Guard will participate. This time, number of tableau will be highest as 32 are going to be participating,” the defence ministry official added.
Uttar Pradesh will showcase the Ram temple in Ayodhya as well as the culture, tradition and art related to the temple town in its tableau.
Moreover, the MoD has brought down the size of the marching contingents from 144 in each contingent to around 96. Contingents from three services, para-military forces and police take part in the parade including the band.
In view of the ‘50 years of Bangladesh Liberation War’, a contingent of Bangladesh military will also take part in the upcoming Republic Day parade at Rajpath as a mark of respect. Both India and Bangladesh have planned multiple events to mark the Golden Jubilee year of the birth of Bangladesh and the Indian military’s splendid victory over Pakistan in 1971 war.
Meanwhile, amid reports of a rapidly-spreading mutated version of the coronavirus, and the extended suspension of flights to and from the UK, suspense continues over the arrival of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who will be attending the Republic Day parade as the chief guest.
After reports of 150 army jawans, who had recently travelled to Delhi to take part in Republic Day parade, testing positive for COVID-19, a “bio-bubble” has been created in the Delhi Cantonment and all the participating troops will have almost “zero connectivity” with the outside world till celebrations are over.
On the sale of tickets, MoD officials claim that only 4,500 tickets will be sold compared to 32,000 tickets last year for the general spectators. The Indian Air Force is going ahead with its plan, like last year, for a flypast involving fighters, transport jets and helicopters.