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Explained: How India’s Republic Day chief guest is chosen

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is the chief guest at India's Republic Day celebrations taking place today. The Chief Guest at the Republic Day parade is accorded India’s highest honour in protocol terms. How is the Republic Day chief guest chosen?

, Edited by Explained Desk | New Delhi |
January 26, 2020 8:42:48 am
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Ram Nath Kovind during a ceremonial reception at the Presidential House in New Delhi on Saturday. (Express photo/Praveen Khanna)

Republic Day 2020: Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is the chief guest at India’s Republic Day celebrations taking place today. This will be the third occasion that a Brazilian leader will be the chief guest at the Republic Day. Former Presidents of Brazil, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, and President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, had visited in 1996 and 2004, respectively.

So, How are India’s Republic Day chief guests chosen?

The Chief Guest at the Republic Day parade is accorded India’s highest honour in protocol terms. The process of extending the invitation to a Head of State or Government starts around six months ahead of Republic Day. The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) considers several issues, most importantly the nature of India’s relationship with the country concerned.

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Next, the Prime Minister’s approval is sought, followed by a clearance from the Rashtrapati Bhavan. India’s ambassadors in the countries concerned then try to ascertain discreetly the potential chief guests’ programme and availability for Republic Day.

Apart from the main event of reviewing the Republic Day parade with the President of India, the Chief Guest’s visit includes the ceremonial guard of honour at Rashtrapati Bhavan, an evening reception hosted by the President, laying of a wreath at Rajghat, a banquet in the Chief Guest’s honour, a lunch hosted by the Prime Minister, and calls by the Vice-President and the External Affairs Minister.

Chief guests at previous Republic Day celebrations

1950- President Sukarno, Indonesia

1951- King Tribhuvan Bir Bikram Shah, Nepal

1952 and 1953- No chief guest

1954- King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, Bhutan

1955- Governor General Malik Ghulam Muhammad, Pakistan

1956- Two guests

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rab Butler, United Kingdom

Chief Justice Kotaro Tanaka, Japan

1957- Minister of Defence Georgy Zhukov, Soviet Union

1958- Marshall Ye Jianying, China

1959- Duke of Edinburgh Prince Philip, United Kingdom

1960- Chairman Kliment Voroshilov, Soviet Union

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1961- Queen Elizabeth II, United Kingdom

1962- Prime Minister Viggo Kampmann, Denmark

1963- King Norodom Sihanouk, Cambodia

1964- Chief of Defence Staff Lord Louis Mountbatten, United Kingdom

1965- Food and Agriculture Minister Rana Abdul Hamid, Pakistan

1966- No chief guest

1967- King Mohammed Zahir Shah, Afghanistan

1968- Two guests

Chairman Alexei Kosygin, Soviet Union

President Josip Broz Tito, Yugoslavia

1969- Prime Minister Todor Zhivkov, Bulgaria

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1970- King Baudouin, Belgium

1971- President Julius Nyerere, Tanzania

1972- Prime Minister Seewoosagur Ramgoolam, Mauritius

1973- President Mobutu Sese Seko, Zaire

1974- Two guests

President Josip Broz Tito, Yugoslavia

Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike, Sri Lanka

1975- President Kenneth Kaunda, Zambia

1976- Prime Minister Jacques Chirac, France

1977- First Secretary Edward Gierek, Poland

1978- President Patrick Hillery, Ireland

1979- Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser, Australia

1980- President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, France

1981- President Jose Lopez Portillo, Mexico

1982- King Juan Carlos I, Spain

1983- President Shehu Shagari, Nigeria

1984- King Jigme Singye Wangchuck, Bhutan

1985- President Raúl Alfonsín, Argentina

1986- Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou, Greece

1987- President Alan Garcia, Peru

1988- President J. R. Jayewardene, Sri Lanka

1989- General Secretary Nguy?n Van Linh, Vietnam

1990- Prime Minister Anerood Jugnauth, Mauritius

1991- President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, Maldives

republic day parade, january 26, chief guest, guest of honour, asean countries, obama, putin, nelson mandela, rajpath, narendra modi, foreign dignitaries, indian express Convoy of US president Barack Obama arrives on Rajpath to attend Republic day celebrations in 2014. (Express photo by Neeraj Priyadarshi/Archives)

1992- President Mário Soares, Portugal

1993- Prime Minister John Major, United Kingdom

1994- Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong, Singapore

1995- President Nelson Mandela, South Africa

1996- President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Brazil

1997- Prime Minister Basdeo Panday, Trinidad and Tobago

1998- President Jacques Chirac, France

1999- King Birendra Bir Bikram Shah, Nepal

2000- President Olusegun Obasanjo, Nigeria

2001- President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, Algeria

2002- President Cassam Uteem, Mauritius

2003- President Mohammed Khatami, Iran

2004- President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Brazil

2005-King Jigme Singye Wangchuck, Bhutan

2006- King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, Saudi Arabia

2007- President Vladimir Putin, Russia

republic day parade, january 26, chief guest, guest of honour, asean countries, obama, putin, nelson mandela, rajpath, narendra modi, foreign dignitaries, indian express Former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh with Russian president Vladimir Putin on his arrival at Air Force Station Palam in New Delhi on January 25, 2007. (Photo by Ravi Batra)

2008- President Nicolas Sarkozy, France

2009- President Nursultan Nazarbayev, Kazakhstan

2010- President Lee Myung Bak, South Korea

2011- President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Indonesia

2012- Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, Thailand

2013- King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, Bhutan

2014- Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Japan

2015- President Barack Obama, United States

2016- President François Hollande, France

Republic Day celebrations: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the then French President Francois Hollande at the Republic Day function at Rajpath in New Delhi in 2016. (Express photo)

2017- Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, United Arab Emirates

2018- Ten Chief Guests, Heads of ASEAN States

Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, Brunei

Prime Minister Hun Sen, Cambodia

President Joko Widodo, Indonesia

Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith, Laos

Prime Minister Najib Razak, Malaysia

State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar

President Rodrigo Duterte, Philippines

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Singapore

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, Thailand

Prime Minister Nguy?n Xuân Phúc, Vietnam

2019- President Cyril Ramaphosa, South Africa

2020- President Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil

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