For New Rajender Nagar resident Puneet Mittal, watching the Republic Day parade at Rajpath with his parents was an annual ritual as a child. It has reduced to become a traffic nightmare now for this 33-year-old banker.
“It used to be fun earlier but with increasing security arrangements, frisking and barriers, we watch it on TV. Now it is just another holiday, with the difference that you cannot go anywhere because of traffic restrictions,” he said.
“And the dress rehearsals that precede it are a headache as reaching my south Delhi office is a terrible exercise.”
Mittal perhaps echoes the sentiments of most Delhiites. With Delhi’s arterial roads cut off and the alternative routes choked, the rehearsals throw normal life out of gear in the Capital with stringent security adding to the misery.
After 63 years, is it time for us to perhaps celebrate our Republic Day differently instead of the same rows of marching columns, tanks and missiles, tableaux and dancing school children, accompanied by the security overdrive, year after year?
“It is time that the format is changed from the same old semi-clad adivasis dancing and the army parades. The Republic Day should reflect more of the India today,” said OP Jain, advisor, INTACH. “Also, why do you need two months preparation for a two-hour programme?”
Jain, who has been attending the Republic Day parade since it started, said it used to be a more colourful event then thanks to more public participation.
“It has just become very boring and there is no excitement anymore. You are on house arrest as the roads are closed and nothing else is open either,” said fashion designer Jattinn Kochhar.
“It’s a traffic nightmare even before the day of the event and policemen harass you in the garb of security.”