How is this year's Republic Day celebration different
India is set to celebrate the 72nd Republic Day amid the Covid-19 pandemic that has killed over 20 lakh people globally. Even so, the events planned on Rajpath are expected to be as grand as every year, however, with a change of plans.
The flag hoisting event will be held at 8 am on January 26.
18 marching contingents — 16 marching and two animal-mounted — will take part in the parade from the armed forces, paramilitary forces, Delhi Police, National Cadet Corps and National Service Scheme, along with bands, including 15 from the military. The 61 Cavalry, consisting of 43 horses, will be marching down the Rajpath as part of the mounted column.
Lt Gen Vijay Kumar Mishra, General Officer Commanding, Delhi Area, will be the parade commander and Maj Gen Kacker will be the Second-in-Command. Param Vir Chakra and Ashok Chakra awardees will also be part of the parade.
What will be different this year?
* Contingent size has been reduced from regular 144 to 96.
* The contingents in the parade will stop at the National Stadium this year instead of following the regular route all the way to the Red Fort, primarily due to Covid-19 safety norms
* There will be no chief guest at the event this year.
* The crowd size has come down to 25,000 this time from around 1.25 lakh last year or some of the previous years. Like the Independence Day celebrations, all chairs in enclosures will be placed following social distancing norms.
* Bands and contingents who arrived from various parts of the country. About 260 members have tested Covid-19 positive out of the 3,000-odd pool, and have been quarantined and their primary contacts are being traced and tested until they test negative twice.
* As this year marks the 50th anniversary of the 1971 Liberation War of Bangladesh, a marching-cum-band contingent of the Bangladesh armed forces is also set to take part in the ceremonial parade for the first time. The Bangladeshi contingent, with members drawn from all the three wings of its armed forces, will be the first marching contingent to walk down the ceremonial boulevard on January 26.
* This is the third time that a contingent from a foreign country will be taking part in the Republic Day celebrations here. The other two countries being France (2016) and the UAE (2017).
* A major attraction for the crowd at Republic Day celebrations on the Rajpath is the motorcycle display. However, this year event will not take place in the view of the Covid-19 pandemic. Veterans marching contingent will also not be there.
* Bravery awardee children parade on jeep will also not be there at the 72nd Republic Day event, on account of social distancing.
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* No new military asset will be displayed, upgraded versions of various key assets and equipment — T-90 tanks and BrahMos missile system, BMP-II, two Pinaka multiple launch rocket system — will be showcased during the parade on Rajpath, which will be held following Covid-19 safety guidelines.
* Captain Preeti Choudhary from 140 AD Regt (SP) will be commanding the upgraded Schilka weapon system as part of the mechanised column on Rajpath.
* The newly inducted Rafale fighter aircraft will feature in India's Republic Day parade on January 26 and culminate the flypast by carrying out the 'Vertical Charlie' formation.
* For the Beating Retreat ceremony on January 29, a special composition 'Swarnim Vijay', to commemorate 50 years of India's victory in the 1971 war, has been done, besides a few other tune compositions.
* A total of 32 tableaux — 17 of various states and UTs, nine of ministries and six from defence arm, including of IAF, Navy, Indian Naval Coast Guard, two from the DRDO and one from BRO (Border Roads Organisation) — will roll down Rajpath.
(With PTI inputs)