India’s Republic Day celebrations are going to make their own record by being held in the midst of controversies and protests for the 2nd consecutive year. While 2020 witnessed the pleas against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC), 2021 is going to be organized during the ongoing farmers’ protest.
Agriculturists from across the country have been staying in camps in Delhi, urging the government to repeal the 3 contentious farm laws, which they say will rob them of the minimum price guarantee while also forcing them to earn peanuts under corporators’ exploitation.
Moreover, with the pandemic in its full bloom avatar, the festivities’ programs will have a twist. All this and more about the different way Republic Day will be celebrated below:
Changes induced due to coronavirus:
With the world molding their everyday routines and lives around the pandemic and the few things it has allowed mankind to continue doing, not many have become a part of the celebrations for the prestigious day.
In view of the infection Coronavirus and its chances of its spread, the number of people involved in the event is greatly reduced and so are the programs. While there were 1.25 lakh spectators present last year, only 25,000 will be in attendance this time. Tickets for the general public too are limited to 4,500. Marching contingents’ number has also come down to 96 when compared to last year’s 144.
Meanwhile, the program of motorcyclists displaying their brave feat is not going to be part of the event this year.
There will also be a shorter parade with the march only up till the National Stadium instead of the Red Fort, as is the tradition. However, the tableaux are permitted for performing at the Red Fort. The Union Territory of Ladakh is going to make its appearance in the parade as it participates for the first time ever. Having one of the world’s highest regions for optical, infrared, and gamma-ray telescopes, Hanle near Leh, will be projected amongst the other 32 tableaux for its Indian Astronomical Observatory.
As part of the friendly nations participating in the Republic Day parade, Bangladesh will be making its third appearance with its military contingent after France came in 2016 and UAE in 2017.
Changes in the chief guest’s attendance:
In 2020, India welcomed Brazil President Jair Messias Bolsonaro, the “Trump of the Tropics”, as the chief guest. However, this time, there will be no chief guest for the first time in 55 years of Indian history. This occurred as the planned chief guest, Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, shared his “regret” over his inability to attend the celebrations due to the increasing number of covid cases in his country.
Changes due to the farmers’ rally:
No difference as such to the formal republic Day celebrations as the tractor rally is going to commence after the Rajpath parade gets completed.
With the permission of the Delhi Police, farmers will be carrying out their procession with thousands of tractors in confined areas close to the protest sites. Union leaders reiterated that the rally is going to be a peaceful event and the initially planned route will be followed.
However, the Police have put in place 5-layer security within the city limits and beyond it to ensure law and order prevail. Police sources said more than 40,000 cops, ITBP, and CRPF personnel are going to be posted at Tikri, Ghazipur, and Singhu borders monitoring the protest and rally’s progress. In order to catch troublemakers, police deployed will be frisking every passerby at the airport, Metro, bus, and railway stations. No leave has been granted to Haryana personnel as the Police decided to stay on duty.
Size of the farmers’ rally:
The Delhi Police said more than 30,000 farmers are already at the Singhu border with hundreds coming in after every few hours. These agriculturists are being carried in tractors and trollies, which are also going to be a part of the rally, through the Eastern Peripheral Expressway.
According to the farmer unions on Saturday, over 50,000 tractors have entered the city via Haryana and Punjab to participate in the rally.
A farmer hailing from Ludhiana’s Ghudani village, Balwant Singh Ghudani, was quoted by Indian Express as saying, “The number of tractors which have gone to Delhi, it seems that our parade will not end even in four days.”
Tableaux of other states are also on the schedule of farmers with displays of agriculturists holding plow, accompanied by bulls. The BKU (Ugrahan) committee has built these tableaus with an emphasis to spread the message on the Swaminathan report’s implementation.
Changes in the reactions of other states:
The voice of the farmers in the national capital will be joined by those in Karnataka as the farmers here have decided to lend their support to the rally. As such, a massive tractor rally has been planned for Republic Day in the capital, Bengaluru. Kodihalli Chandrashekhar, leader of Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha (KRRS), a farmers’ movement, said about 25,000 farmers will become a part of the rally with more than 10,000 tractors in the parade.
Moreover, over 60 farmers’ widows from Vidarbha will engage in the protests demanding the repeal of the 3 farm laws to the government on January 26th. Vasantrao Naik Shetkari Swavlambhan Mission (VNSSM) chairman Kishore Tiwari said, “The widows will narrate their stories and voice their protest against the farm laws.”