With the Coronavirus pandemic in full swing, the Ministry of Home Affairs has released advisory guidelines for Independence Day celebrations on August 15th.
Unsurprisingly, they’re to be subdued and low-key affairs. In a letter to states and Union Territories, Joint Secretary Anuj Sharma said, “Every year, the Independence Day is celebrated with grandeur, gaiety, fervour and enthusiasm. This year also, the Independence Day will be celebrated in a manner befitting the occasion. However, in view of the spread of Covid-19 pandemic, while organizing various programmes or activities for the Independence Day celebrations, it is imperative to follow certain preventive measures such as maintaining social distancing, wearing of masks, proper sanitization, avoiding large congregations, protecting vulnerable persons, etc.; and follow all guidelines related to Covid-19 issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Health a Family Welfare,”
The Home Ministry, in its notification, said,”The ceremony at Red Fort will consist of Guard of Honour to the Prime Minister, firing of 21-gun salute, speech by the PM and the singing of the national anthem,”
In the States, a ceremony after 9:00 AM, involving unfurling of the national flag, playing of national anthem, Guard of Honour, and a speech by the Chief Minister would be expected. Large gatherings are to be avoided due to the threat of infection. It is suggested that healthcare workers fighting on the frontlines, such as doctors, nurses, and sanitation workers are invited, along with some recovered COVID-19 patients.
The above procedure would be followed at all levels below the State as well.
At places of historic importance in the Indian Freedom Struggle, police or military band performances may be conducted. These can be recorded and displayed in person on screens or through social media.
The day would also include activities like planting of trees; inter-school/inter-college debates on digital platforms; online quiz contests/patriotic essay writing and poetry competitions; launching of any important scheme, singing patriotic songs/delivering patriotic talks by selected boys/girls on the social media; illumination of Government Buildings/State Bhawans, etc; thematic webinars; online campaign by NSS and NYKS centered around patriotic themes; or any other activity deemed appropriate by the State Government/Union Territory Administration befitting the occasion. Other innovative ways of celebrating Independence Day may be considered like propagating patriotic or national integration messages/songs through digital and social media platforms, sound shows/lighting of important public buildings, waving of National Flags by people at rooftops/balconies, etc.
The letter closes by saying, ““It would be appropriate that the theme of “Aatmanirbhar Bharat” is suitably spread and publicized amongst the masses through various activities/messages in the functions and on social media during Independence Day celebrations,”