From over one lakh seats at the Republic Day (RD) parade, this year the seats have been reduced to around 45,000 due to the reorganisation of seating arrangement and a massive cut in invitations allotted to Very Important Persons (VIP) and officials, while the entire process has been made online. During the parade, a 120-member Egyptian Armed Forces contingent will march on Kartavya Path as the Chief Guest this year Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El Sisi looks on.
The flypast at this year’s RD parade will see 50 aircraft and helicopters of which there are 23 fighter jets, Wg. Cdr. Indranil Nandi, Spokesperson of the Indian Air Force’s (IAF) Western Air Command said in a briefing.
“This time the RD celebrations have been planned in a different way than the previous years… The participation of the public in these programmes is the main theme of this year. We tried to tailor the event in such a fashion,” Defence Secretary Giridhar Aramane said addressing the media.
Like last year, the RD celebrations will begin on January 23, coinciding with Parakram Parv, which marks the anniversary of Subhas Chandra Bose, and end on January 30 Martyrs Day.
Elaborating on the celebrations, Rajesh Ranjan, Joint Secretary (Ceremonial) in the Defence Ministry said this time all the invitations are online and there has been a “substantial change” in the seating capacity and the way seats used to be arranged on Kartavya Path.
“Earlier, there used to be about 1-1.25 lakh visitors witnessing the RD parade in pre-COVID times. That has been reduced to about 45,000 this year, primarily due to seating changes we have carried out. Well placed, retractable seats have been placed.”
Further, he said the new Kartavya Path is crowded with visitors all the time, so it was decided not to close the entire place for a long period of time. A certain portion of Kartavya Path has not been utilised this year for seating so that the general public can keep visiting almost till the start of the function, he said. “Of the 45,000 seats, a majority of them, about 32,000, have been opened for the general public,” Mr. Ranjan said.
At the Beating Retreat ceremony on January 29, there was never seating for the general public and the attendance was by invitation. However, this year 10% or around 1,200 seats have been opened for the general public, Mr. Ranjan said.
For the first time, metro services have been kept open at Udyog Bhawan and Central Secretariat during the parade time for reaching the designated seating areas, Mr. Ranjan said. Those having an invitation for the parade can take a free metro ride and only those will be able to get down at the above-mentioned stations, he added.
Also at Beating Retreat, a drone show comprising 3,500 indigenous drones will light up the evening sky over the Raisina Hills which officials said would be the biggest drone show in India. Also, for the first time, a 3-D anamorphic projection will be organised during the Beating Retreat on the facade of the North and South Block.
On tableau selection for the RD parade, which has been a touchy issue with some States in the past, Mr. Aramane said the selection has been done in a very “systematic fashion”.
“We tried to involve the State governments, made the process transparent and made available to them the criteria of selection. So that it becomes a celebration of the Union of States,” he said.
Special invites have been sent to common people from all walks of society such as the shramyogis involved in the construction of the Central Vista, Kartavya Path, the new Parliament building, milk and vegetable vendors, and street vendors among others.
From the evening of January 26 to 31, the Bharat Parv will be held at Red Fort, which will showcase food and traditions from all parts of the country.
Nine Rafale fighter jets are part of the flypast this year. Of the 50 aircraft, there are eight transport aircraft, 18 helicopters and one vintage Dakota aircraft.
An IL-38 maritime patrol aircraft which has finished 42 years of service with the Navy will fly for the first time over Kartavya Path and possibly also the last time, said Wg. Cdr. Nandi.
The IAF marching contingent consists of four officers and 144 personnel. It will be led by Sqn. Ldr. Sindhu Reddy. The IAF has won the best marching contingent trophy in the years 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2020. The marching tunes for the contingent will be played by the Air Force band consisting of 72 musicians and three Drum Majors, officials explained.