Republic Day 2021: No chief guest to first woman fighter pilot, know what makes 72nd R-day celebrations unique

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New Delhi | January 19, 2021 1:24 PM

In a first in the last five decades, India will be celebrating its Republic Day without a foreign dignitary as the chief guest of the event.

Republic Day 2021Prime Minister Narendra Modi had invited his British counterpart Boris Johnson to grace the 72nd Republic Day celebrations as chief guest. (Photo: PIB)

Republic Day 2021: When India celebrates its Republic Day, the world keeps an eye on it. It’s not only a matter of pride for the nation but is also a key event in terms of diplomatic relations as India has traditionally been inviting a foreign dignitary as a chief guest since the first R-day was celebrated in 1950.

However, this year’s Republic Day celebration will be different from all the past occasions due to coronavirus. The outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic last year left the world rattled and its imprints are still visible across the globe amid vaccine roll-out. Even developed nations like the United States and the United Kingdom are yet to recover from its aftereffects. The discovery of a new strain of coronavirus in Britain has not only forced it to consider stricter lockdowns but has also affected India’s Republic Day plans a bit.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had invited his British counterpart Boris Johnson to grace the 72nd Republic Day celebrations as chief guest. However, the UK PM called PM Modi on January 5 to inform about the cancellation of his India trip due to the outbreak of the new coronavirus cases.

This left people speculating who will replace Boris Johnson as the Republic Day chief guest. However, an official statement from the Ministry of External Affairs put an end to all rumours. The ministry informed that there will not be a foreign Head of State or Head of Government as the Chief Guest for the Republic Day event due to global COVID-19 situation.

This is the first time in the past decades that India will celebrate its Republic Day without any foreign leader as chief guest. Last year, President of Brazil Jair Bolsonaro was the chief guest. But do you know who was chief guest of India’s first Republic Day? India had invited then Indonesian President Sukarno to grace its first Republic Day.

In another first, Flight lieutenant Bhawana Kanth is set to become the first woman fighter pilot to be a part of the Republic Day parade this year.

The 72nd Republic Day will also be different as the number of participating children and folk artists have been restricted to 400 compared to over 600 last year. The decision has been taken in wake of COVID-19 pandemic.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of Aatma Nirbhar Bharat or Self-Reliant India will also feature in this year’s celebrations. School children will also present a programme on the theme ‘Hum Fit toh India Fit’, inspired by the Fit India Movement launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the occasion of National Sports Day on 29th August 2019.

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