The 72nd Republic Day celebrations will have several firsts and will also miss out on some long-standing traditions for the first time. While the number of visitors, tableaus and participants in the parade will be significantly less this year, the highlights will be the Rafale flypast, a foreign contingent and India’s first woman fighter pilot. Bangladesh’s armed forces contingent to participate This year, a 122-member contingent from Bangladesh’s armed forces will be part of the Republic Day parade.
They will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the 1971 Indo-Pak war that led to the liberation and creation of Bangladesh. This is the first time that a marching contingent from a neighbouring country is being invited to participate in the parade. France has been the other country to feature in a previous year. This will be the third time India will be hosting a foreign contingent to participate in the parade after the French troops in 2016 and the UAE personnel in 2017.
IAF tableau to feature India’s first woman fighter pilot
Flight Lieutenant Bhawana Kanth, who became one of the first three women fighter pilots in 2019, will be part of the IAF’s tableau featuring mock-ups of a light combat aircraft, a light combat helicopter and a Sukhoi fighter jet loaded with made-in- India missiles that will showcase the air force’s Atmanirbhar Bharat capabilities. Ft Lt Kanth, who hails from Bihar’s Begusarai is currently posted at an airbase in Rajasthan where she flies MiG-21 Bison jets.
Rafale fighters flypast over Rajpath
The star attraction of the parade will be the Rafale fighter jets doing a “vertical charlie” at the end of the flypast. The Indian Air Force (IAF) will also display a vintage Dakota aircraft, the squadron of which had helped Indian troops ‘save’ Srinagar from tribal militants backed by Pakistan in 1947 and also played a key role in Bangladesh’s liberation war. Apart from two Rafales, Sukhoi30s, MiG-29s, Apache and Chinook choppers will also catch visitors’ attention on Republic Day.
Ram Temple, Union Territory of Ladakh and Covid vaccine tableau
The Ladakh tableau, which is making its debut in the parade, will depict the iconic Thikse Monastery and the region’s rich cultural heritage. The Uttar Pradesh tableau will display a model of the upcoming Ram temple. A tableau of the Department of Biotechnology will showcase the indigenous production of Covid vaccine showcasing India’s self-reliance in the fight against the pandemic. A total of 32 tableaux — 17 of states and UTs, nine of ministries and six from the defence arm — will roll down Rajpath.
CRPF to have its own tableau
The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) for the first time will have its own tableau during the Republic Day parade. The tableau will feature CRPF’s combat skills in conflict zones The tableau is set to wow spectators with a display of panoramic foureyed night vision goggles (NVGs). Also known as the ‘king of night vision’, NVGs are a warfare gadget similar to the ones used by United States Navy SEALs in their operation to eliminate Osama Bin Laden. The goggles provide a 120-degree vision.
Andaman & Nicobar Islands troops to participate for the first time
For the first time, a contingent from the Andaman & Nicobar Islands will participate in the Republic Day parade on the mainland. Over 95 per cent personnel in the contingent will be locals belonging to different tribes. The contingent comprised 96 personnel, 2 JCOs and one officer. The unit is part of Madras Regiment whose primary objective is to create a robust intelligence in the area as the people are from tribes and fishing communities that have a hold on their islands.
First-ever time there won’t be a chief guest
For the first time ever in more than five decades, there won’t be a chief guest presiding over the Republic Day parade. United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Jhonson was slated to be the chief guest, however, weeks ahead of the 72nd Republic Day celebrations, the British leader cancelled his visit to India citing fresh lockdown in England and the rapid spread of the new Covid strain.
No participation of military veterans
There will be no participation of military veterans in the 72nd Republic Day parade due to Covid-19 restrictions. The contingent of military veterans features India’s bravehearts in their advancing years and commemorates their commitment and sacrifices made for the country
The route of the parade has been curtailed till National Stadium (C-Hexagon of India Gate), unlike previous years when it was till Red Fort. Due to Covid-19 safety norms, gravity-defying stunts by motorcycle-borne men, a major attraction for the crowd during Republic Day celebrations on the Rajpath, will be missing this year. Besides, the parade of gallantry awardees and children who have earned bravery awards will also not be there at the 72nd Republic Day event, on account of social distancing, they said.
Fewer participants, smaller audience
This year, the number of participants in the Republic Day cultural programmes has been cut down from over 600 to just 401 this year, to avoid overcrowding and follow social distancing norms in view of the Covid-19 pandemic. The size of marching contingents has been reduced from regular 144 to 96. The spectator size too has been reduced to 25,000 from 1.5 lakh. Mask has been made mandatory for all personnel marching in rows
Hundred meritorious students in Prime Ministers’s Box
At least 100 meritorious students from schools and colleges will get a chance to see the Republic Day parade from the Prime Minister’s box on Tuesday, according to the Ministry of Education. The students will also get to interact with Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ after the parade. According to a ministry official, 100 students have been shortlisted for the purpose — 50 from schools and 50 from higher education institutions. Last year, a total of 105 toppers from CBSE and universities across the country got a chance to watch the 71st Republic Day Parade from the PM’s box.
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