Today is the day when the world sees India in its full cultural, political and military might. Its arrival has been signalled through the past week by fighter jets roaring overhead doing the drill; barriers being set up in central Delhi; and yes, traffic jams. But this year, there are things you’ll miss on the Republic Day, thanks to the recession, security concerns, or simply circumstances.
To begin with, you’ll miss seeing the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, who is recovering from a heart surgery, perform ceremonial duties.
Next, those of you who have sacrificed a well-deserved holiday nap to reach India Gate bright and early will see a shorter parade — the over two-hour parade from Raisina Hill to Red Fort is supposed to have been trimmed by 20-30 minutes.
This year, for the second time in a row, Delhi will not have its own tableau. In fact, the whole procession of tableaux has been cut short, and several other Union Territories may not be able to present theirs either. “We sit here in Delhi and watch other states get a chance to perform but not ours. It’s disappointing,” says Geetika Nagpal, 27.
You will also not see the famed elephants carry the young recipients of the bravery awards down Rajpath. Owing to a near-stampede situation last year, coupled with petitions from animal rights activists, the jumbos have been done away with.
Does all this take the shine off R-Day? Not if you remember what this date signifies — January 26, 1950, marks the day we really became our own masters, following the transition period after Independence as our Constitution came into force this day.