As India celebrates its 72nd Republic Day later this month, the annual parade at Delhi's iconic Rajpath is set to be different in comparison to previous years amid the novel coronavirus pandemic. Last week, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who was invited as the guest of honour, postponed his India visit as the United Kingdom fights a surge in Covid infections after a new mutant virus was detected.
Amid the country's fight against Covid, the number of attendees at Rajpath have been reduced; 25,000 will be seated along the ceremonial boulevard instead of 1.15 lakh.
Indian Army will have six marching contingents, and each contingent will have 96 soldiers instead of 144 soldiers. With the numbers reduced, the contingents will be rectangular in shape and not a square.
Third generation Russian T-90 battle tank, BMP2 armoured personnel carrier, Pinaka multiple launch rocket system, Shilka anti-aircraft gun system, Brahmos land-attack missiles, T72 Bridge Layer Tanks will be on display during the parade.
All the soldiers will be kept in a bio-bubble ahead of the January 26 event in Delhi, and the movement will be controlled with no exceptions.
The Air Force will have a band, a marching contingent of 94 personnel and a tableaux. The Navy will also have a band, a marching contingent of 96 (down from 144) and a tableau.
While 600 school children participated in the annual parade last year, this year, the number has been brought down to 160; none of them will be under the age of 15.
This year, however, the parade will see 32 tableaux instead of 22-25.
Last year's Independence Day celebration at Red Fort in Delhi was also a low-key affair.