India celebrated its 72nd Republic Day parade today with a shortened programme because of the coronavirus pandemic. “Wishing all the people of India a Happy Republic Day. Jai Hind!,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted this morning.
For the first time ever, people will see Rafael fighter jets on display this year during the Republic Day Parade. As many as 11 jets out of the 36 procured from France have been received by India so far.
History was also made today when Flight Lieutenant Bhawan Kanth – the first Indian woman to qualify for a combat mission in a fighter jet – became the first to participate in the flypast. A total of 38 Air Force and four Army aircraft took part in the flypast.
After France and the UAE, Bangladesh will become the third foreign country to participate in India’s Republic Day parade. Some 122 soldiers of the Bangladesh Armed Forces arrived in India earlier this month to take part in January 26 celebrations.
Ram Temple will feature among many tableaux that will be on display during the Republic Day parade. The temple will be a part of Uttar Pradesh’s tableau this year.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson was scheduled to be the Chief Guest. However, Mr. Johnson was forced to cancel his visit after a mutant strain of coronavirus affected tens of thousands in that country and led to a new and stricter lockdown. Mr. Johnson would have been the second British Prime Minister to be the Chief Guest at a Republic Day parade; the first was John Major in 1993. Last year Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro was the chief guest.
A maximum of 25,000 spectators will be allowed to attend the parade due to Covid-19 situation in the country. It is a massive cut from the previously allowed 1,50,000 people.
The parade, unlike previous years, will go only till the National Stadium at the C-Hexagon of India Gate. Only the tableaux will go to the Red Fort.
There will be no veteran’s parade by ex-servicemen and women, motorcycle stunts by the Army and CAPF personnel this year.
Children below the age of 15 will not be permitted at the India Gate lawns while there will be no enclosure for school children this year.