When India celebrates its 72nd Republic Day on 26 January 2021, it will be unparallel on many counts, some due to coronavirus pandemic and some others on account of fresh additions to showcase its military might during the annual parade. The attraction of Rafale flypast is only one of them.
Changes in the Republic Day parade in view of Covid-19
1) This is the first Republic Day parade in more than five decades when no chief guest will attend the event. British PM Boris Johnson cancelled his India trip due to rising Covid-19 cases in his country.
2) This is the first Republic Day parade under the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic so the number of spectators will be far less than the last year. Around 1,50,000 people got permission to watch the parade in 2020, this year the number has come down to 25,000. Even the number of media persons covering the event will be down to 200 from 300 in 2020.
3) Mask has become a new normal in the pandemic period, so this year jawans will have a mask on their faces and a contingent will have only 96 jawans in place of 144 in the past.
4) This year children below the age of 15 will not be participating in the parade nor the veterans will be seen marching on the Rajpath.
5) Apart from the number of spectators and jawans, the distance for the march has also been reduced this year. The parade will conclude at the Nation Stadium in place of the Red Fort.
What’s new in the Republic Day parade this year
1) Indian Air Force will showcase the newly inducted Rafale fighter jet on Republic Day. The flypast will culminate with a single Rafale aircraft carrying out a ‘Vertical Charlie’ formation, in which the jet flies at a low altitude before a vertical pull-up and rolls in the air, attaining a higher altitude in the end.
2) According to Indian Air Force, 38 IAF aircraft and 4 planes will participate in the flypast. Formations like ‘Rudra’, ‘Sudharshan’, ‘Rakshak’, ‘Eklavya’ and ‘Brahmastra’ will be displayed during the parade.
3) This is the first time a woman fighter pilot will participate in the ceremonial event on Republic Day. Flight lieutenant Bhawana Kanth will be a part of the Indian Air Force (IAF) tableau. Flight lieutenant Kanth made history in May 2019 becoming the first Indian woman to qualify for combat missions on a fighter jet. She flies the MiG-21 Bison fighter plane.
4) In a first, the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) will also have its own tableau during the Republic Day parade, showcasing the ‘king of night vision’, the night vision goggles (NVG) for commandos.
5) To commemorate 50 years of the Liberation War, a Bangladeshi tri-service contingent will lead the first ten rows of the Republic Day parade.
6) This year, a replica of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya will feature in the Uttar Pradesh tableau during the Republic Day event.