Updated: January 19, 2022 6:01:28 pm
Another year, another Republic Day parade under the shadow of the Covid pandemic. Much like last year, the country’s otherwise grand Republic Day (January 26) celebrations at Rajpath in New Delhi will be scaled down amid a sharp surge in Covid-19 across states and Union territories.
In 2021, approximately 25,000 people were permitted to attend the Republic Day Parade in person and the duration of the event was shortened due to strict Covid-19 protocol. Like last year, no foreign dignitary will grace the event next Wednesday as its chief guest, a longstanding tradition now broken for two years in a row.
Here’s everything you need to know about the 2022 Republic Day parade:
How many people are attending in person?
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The government has decided to significantly curtail the number of people who can physically be present at the parade. Until last week, the defence ministry was preparing to accommodate around 24,000 people. That number is likely to be trimmed down to 5,000 to 8,000 guests this year, senior officials said on Tuesday.
Children below the age of 15 will not be allowed to attend the parade.
Strict Covid protocols will be in place at the parade — mask-wearing will be mandatory, thermal checks will be conducted and attendees will have to show their double-vaccination certificates before entering. In case any attendee has even mild temperature, entry will be denied, as only asymptomatic individuals will be allowed to enter.
Further, there will be Covid booths at entry areas and if anyone with symptoms arrives, he or she will be isolated in these.
This year’s Republic Day parade will begin half an hour later than usual, at 10:30 am. The defence ministry has taken this decision due to the forecast of fog in Delhi on the day of the parade.
Will there be a chief guest this year?
Like last year, there will be no foreign dignitary as chief guest at the Republic Day parade. Earlier India had invited the leaders of five Central Asian nations — Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan — to be chief guests at the event.
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar invited the leaders during the third meeting of the India-Central Asia Dialogue last year.
But after the recent surge in cases, fuelled by the Omicron variant of Covid-19, India decided not to host the leaders.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson pulled out of the event last year after the UK was hit by the second wave of the pandemic.
Which states and Union territories will showcase their tableaux at the parade?
This year, 12 states and Union territories and nine ministries and departments have been selected to showcase their tableaux at the parade. These include Arunachal Pradesh, Haryana, Chattisgarh, Goa, Gujarat, Karnataka, Meghalaya, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
But this year’s selection process has been mired in controversy, after the centre rejected the tableaux of West Bengal, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. While the leaders of the three states have condemned the exclusion and sought PM Modi’s intervention, the government has insisted that the selection was fair.
Drone show at Beating Retreat ceremony
For the first time, a unique drone show will take place at the annual Beating Retreat ceremony on January 29.
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