It will be a rather subdued Republic Day for India as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to play spoilsport. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson cancelled his impending visit to India in light of the situation earlier this month. And while the government did mull having Chandrikapersad Santokhi, the President of the Republic of Suriname, as the Chief Guest, this too has not panned out. In 2021, India's Republic Day celebrations will take place without any Chief Guest in attendance.
This is however not the only change. According to reports, the guest list will be restricted and all precautionary measures against COVID-19 will be followed. An All India Radio article explains that there will be 25,000 seats for the Republic Day Parade as against 1,15,000 during previous years. Of these, the general public will have 7,500 seats to witness the parade. With emphasis being laid on social distancing, there will be no Park and Ride scheme and standing spectators will be allowed. There will be 4,000 seats for Beating the Retreat ceremony 2021 as against 25,000 earlier.
The rehearsals for the Republic Day Parade are currently taking place in the national capital. This will take place on January 17, 18, 19, 20 and 21 from Vijay Chowk up to 'C' Hexagon, crossing on Rajpath, India Gate.
The visuals will be rather different this year. For one, only people above the age of 15 will be allowed during the parade. Jawans will not march past till Red Fort as the parade will end at the National Stadium. The distance for the march has been reduced by 50% and the number of jawans marching in each contingent has been reduced. They will also be seen wearing masks.
While unrelated to the pandemic, it must also be noted that farmers camped in and around Delhi protesting three contentious laws have also expressed their intent to hold a tractor rally on January 26.