India celebrates its 72nd Republic Day today. Usually, this day is commemorated with elaborate displays, bravery awards and the gravity-defying stunts by motorcycle-borne men at Rajpath, but this year, due to the Covid-19 protocols, many of the major attractions were missing. Even the number of guests were reduced to 25,000 from around 1.25 lakh last year.

The day started as the tricolour was unfurled at Delhi’s Rajpath in presence of President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other dignitaries including Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh. Prime Minister Modi started the celebrations with a visit to the National War Memorial this morning. PM Modi led the nation in paying tribute to the heroes of India who gave their lives for the country.

The Republic Day parade was led by Parade Commander, Lieutenant General Vijay Kumar Mishra, Ati Vishisth Seva medal, General Officer Commanding Delhi Area. Major General Alok Kacker, Chief of Staff, Delhi Area is the Parade Second-in-Command. Apart from tableaux of the Armed forces, 17 tableaux from different states and nine tableaux from the ministries and departments of the central government and paramilitary forces are part of the parade. Keeping the Covid protocols in mind, the size of marching contingents was reduced from 144 to 96.  Also, all members of the tableaux contingents from various states, ministries and government departments underwent Covid testing.

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Due to Covid, there was no chief guest for the parade but the invited guest, UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson sent a video message saying, “I was hugely looking forward to joining you for this important occasion at the kind invitation of my friend Prime Minister Modi, alas our common struggle against Covid has kept me in London”. He also talked about visiting the country and his message was to celebrate the birth of an “extraordinary Constitution” that had established India “as the biggest sovereign democracy in the world”.

The parade concluded with a single Rafale aircraft flying at a speed of 900km/hr carrying out a ‘Vertical Charlie’ for the first time and the armed forces showcased T-90 tanks, the Samvijay electronic warfare system, Sukhoi-30 MKI fighter jets, among others. The Indian Army showcased the main battle tank T-90 Bhishma, infantry combat vehicle BMP-II-Sarath, mobile autonomous launcher of the Brahmos missile system, multi-launcher rocket system Pinaka etc. 

The Indian Air Force (IAF) showcased models of light combat aircraft (LCA) Tejas and indigenously developed anti-tank guided missile Dhruvastra during the parade. They also showcased scaled-down models of the Light Combat Helicopter (LCH), Sukhoi-30 MKI fighter jet and Rohini radar on the tableaus. A total of 38 IAF aircraft, include Rafale, and four planes of the Indian Army  participated in the flypast.

This year, the President approved the conferment of 119 Padma Awards. The Indo-Tibetan Border Police(ITBP) posted a special video to commemorate the 72nd Republic Day of India and in the video, the soldiers can be seen braving the freezing temperatures to hoist the national flag at Ladakh and sing ‘Vande Mataram’.

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