India is all set to display its military might at the annual Republic Day Parade today. However, this year's edition is set to be extraordinary for several reasons, including the the prevailing pandemic conditions. Here are some of the changes made in the 2021 parade.
1. Only 25,000 spectators allowed this year, unlike last year's 150,000. The number of media persons, too, has been reduced from 300 to 200.
2. Jawans will wear masks and, instead of marching in the 12X12 contingent system, they will march in the 12X8 contingent system. It means, instead of 144, there will be only 96 jawans in a contingent.
3. The parade distance has been halved, ending at the National Stadium and not at the Red Fort where it usually does.
4. The veterans' tableaux has been nixed this year and no child below the age of 15 will take part.
5. This will be the first Republic Day parade without a chief guest in more than five decades. British PM Boris Johnson cancelled his visit due to the rapid rise of the number of Covid-19 cases in his country. There was no chief guest during the 1952, 1953, and 1966 parades.
6. For the first time, the CRPF will have its own tableau. "Its theme will be combat skills of CRPF in conflict zones," said RK Yadav, the force's Inspector General of Training.
7. Up to 38 IAF aircraft and four Indian Army helicopters will fly past in formations named "Rudra", "Sudharshan", "Rakshak", "Eklavya", and "Brahmastra".
8. The newly inducted Rafale fighter aircraft will feature in the parade, carrying out the "Vertical Charlie" formation.
9. A Bangladeshi tri-service contingent will lead the first 10 rows of the parade to commemorate 50 years of that country's Liberation War. The Bangladesh Army will lead in the first six rows, followed by two rows each of Bangladesh Navy and Air Force.
6. Indian Navy's tableau, titled "Indian Navy Combat Ready, Credible, and Cohesive", will showcase its role in the 1971 India-Pakistan war.
7. The upgraded Schilka weapon system will roll down Rajpath for the first time this year, led by the only woman contingent commander from the Army. "(Schilka) can track and shoot enemy targets up to 2 kilometres on the ground and about 2.5 kilometers in the air," Captain Preeti Chowdhary told ANI.
8. Divyangi Tripathi of Gorakhpur, who topped the CBSE class XII examination last year with 99.6 percent marks, has been invited to witness the parade from the Prime Minister's Box. Other meritorious students from across the country, too have been invited.
9. Uttar Pradesh's tableau will feature a replica of the Ram Temple to be constructed in Ayodhya.
10. Punjab's tableau will reflect the theme of the unparalleled and supreme sacrifice of ninth Sikh Guru, Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur.