As India celebrates 72nd Republic Day next week, the annual parade at Delhi's iconic Rajpath is going to be different in comparison to previous years owing to the coronavirus pandemic. This year several changes will be seen in the Republic Day parade -- from removal of motorcycle stunts to the inclusion of the tableau of the Union Territory of Ladakh for the first time.
Due to COVID-19 safety norms gravity-defying stunts by motorcycle-borne men, a major attraction for the crowd at Republic Day celebrations on the Rajpath, will be missing this year, while the spectator size too has been reduced to 25,000 from around 1.25 lakh last year. The number of media persons has been cut from 300 to 200.
"This year's Republic Day is very different as it is happening amid the coronavirus pandemic. Like during Independence Day, all chairs in enclosures will be placed following social distancing norms. So the crowd size has come down to 25,000 this time from around 1.25 lakh last year or some of the previous years. The number of enclosures has also been halved to just 19," said a senior official who is privy to the arrangements told news agency PTI.
Due to the same reason, the popular motorcycle stunts performed by army or paramilitary personnel, which draw loud cheers from the crowd every year, will not happen this year, he said. "These decisions have been taken because it is not possible to maintain social distancing while performing group stunts or awardees riding a jeep together during the parade," the official said.
Besides this, the parade of gallantry awardees and children who have earned bravery awards will not be held at the 72nd Republic Day event on account of social distancing.
The veteran marching contingent or tableaux will be absent this year and no child below the age of 15 will take part in the parade.
Also, for the first time in 55 years, there will also be no chief guest at this year’s parade. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson expressed “regret” that he would not be able to visit India.
A total of 32 tableaux -- 17 of various states and UTs, nine of ministries and six from defence arm -- will roll down Rajpath. The contingents will stop at National Stadium this year instead of following the regular route all the way to the Red Fort. The Uttar Pradesh tableau will feature a replica of the Ram Temple being built in Ayodhya, among other things. Among the departments, the Department of Biotechnology will showcase pre-trial and post-trial phases of the manufacturing of the COVID-19 vaccine in India.
COVID-19 safety norms will be strictly in place throughout the event. Meanwhile, all members of the tableaux contingents from various states, ministries and government departments have undergone COVID-19 testing.
The young union territory of Ladakh will all also make its debut in the extravaganza on Rajpath with a beautiful tableau depicting the iconic Thikse Monastery and its rich cultural heritage.
"The Ladakh tableau highlights the vision for Ladakh to be carbon-neutral, and exemplary for the world. It also showcases the Indian Astronomical Observatory, located in Hanle near Leh, one of the world's highest sites for optical, infrared an gamma-ray telescopes," according to the tableaux details shared by the officials.
(With inputs from PTI)