The Independence Day celebration at the iconic Red Fort in Delhi this year will be a low-key affair due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. School children will not be a part of the annual event and the number of dignitaries on the list of invitees is likely to be much lesser. In an advisory, the government has also told the states and union territories that it would be "appropriate to invite COVID-19 warriors like doctors, health workers and sanitation workers".
"Due to coronavirus, the number of invitees for celebrations at the Red Fort have been reduced considerably and even the chairs for them, which are being placed in designated areas, will be placed at a distance of six feet," a senior officer told NDTV.
According to him, this year the iconic fort will shut for public from August 1 on wards for sanitisation and preparation ahead of the Independence Day event.
"There would be no performances by the school kids. Instead some NCC cadets would be invited. Social distancing will be maintained, and the staff will be in PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) kits," he added.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will unfurl the national flag and deliver a speech at the Red Fort in Delhi on the 74th Independence Day on August 15.
"The ceremony at Red Fort will consist of the presentation of a Guard of Honour by the Armed Forces and the Delhi Police to the Prime Minister, unfurling of the National Flag accompanied by playing of the National Anthem and firing of 21-gun salute, speech by the Prime Minister, singing of the National Anthem immediately after the PM's speech, and release of tri-coloured balloons at the end (sic)," the Ministry of Home Affairs said in an advisory sent to all states and Union territories.
There will definitely be the 'At Home' reception at the Rashtrapati Bhawan in Delhi. However, no programme details of the 'At Home' reception has been shared by the Home Ministry.
All the states have also been asked to give a fresh push to the theme of "Aatmanirbhar Bharat" or self-reliant India.
"It would be appropriate that the theme of 'Aatmanirbhar Bharat' is suitably spread and publicised among the masses through various activities/ messages in the functions and on the social media during the Independence Day celebrations," the ministry said.
In view of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Home Ministry has laid out conditions and measures to be followed by states and union territories while organising various programmes or activities on August 15.
As per the directions, the Home Ministry has said that it is imperative to follow measures like maintaining social distancing, wearing masks, proper sanitization, protecting vulnerable persons, among others.
All guidelines related to COVID-19, issued by the government, have to be followed.
"All programmes should be organized ensuring that large congregation of people is avoided and technology used in the best possible manner. The events organized could be webcast in order to reach out to a large number of people who are not able to participate," states the advisory, adding that special invitations will be sent to doctors, health workers and people who have recovered from coronavirus.
"Covid-19 warriors like doctors, health workers, sanitation workers should be invited in the ceremony as a recognition of their noble service in fight against coronavirus pandemic," the advisory states.