New Delhi: The prevailing Covid wave has cast a dark cloud over the Republic Day celebrations this year. From no chief guest for the second year in a row to curtailing the number of spectators, the event is going to be marked in a subdued manner.
According to senior officials of the Defense Ministry, as reported by news agency PTI, the number of people who would be allowed to physically attend the event, will likely be curtailed almost by 70-80% to 5,000-8,000 this year as against nearly 25,000 people last year and around 1.25 lakh people in 2020.
Moreover, only double vaccinated adults, and children above 15 years of age who have taken at least one dose of the Covid vaccine will be allowed to enter, the officials said, adding that children below 15 years will not be permitted to attend the event.
The officials further said that the aim of inviting fewer people this year is to maintain social distancing at all times due to the pandemic, while more people would be encouraged to watch the parade live on TV. For making the viewing experience of spectators at the parade better, 10 large LED screens – five on each side of Rajpath – will be installed for live streaming.
This year, seats will be reserved for autorickshaw drivers, construction workers, sanitation workers and frontline health workers for the Republic Day parade and the Beating the Retreat ceremony on January 29, said the officials.
Among the other additions, there will be a 1000-drone display, developed indigenously by Botlab Dynamics, an IIT Delhi start-up, during the Beating the Retreat ceremony.
There is also going to be a display of painting scrolls along the Rajpath and invitation cards for the parade having seeds of medicinal plants of Ashwagandha, Aloe Vera and Amla embedded in it, said the officials as reported by PTI.
As per the officials of the Defense Ministry, the Republic Day celebrations from this year will be kicked off from January 23, as that marks the birth anniversary of freedom fighter Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose.
Meanwhile, in the light of a surge in Covid cases, there will be no foreign head of state or government as the chief guest during the Republic Day celebration, for the second consecutive year, said the officials.
“This year there will not be a Foreign Head of State or Head of Government as the chief guest for our Republic Day event,” a source close to PTI said.
In the wake of the Covid curbs, the Republic Day celebrations will start 30 minutes after the scheduled time this year.
According to the officials, for the first time in 75 years, the Republic Day parade this year will start at 10.30 am instead of 10am in view of the Covid restrictions in place and homage to Jammu and Kashmir security personnel.
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