India decided against inviting a foreign guest to the Republic Day parade after the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson cancelled his visit due to the Covid-19 pandemic(Bloomberg)
India decided against inviting a foreign guest to the Republic Day parade after the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson cancelled his visit due to the Covid-19 pandemic(Bloomberg)

Covid-19 shadow on 72nd Republic Day: No foreign guest after UK PM opted out

  • One of the factors that convinced India to decide not to invite a foreign guest was the fluid nature of the coronavirus pandemic after new strains were reported from the UK and South Africa.
UPDATED ON JAN 12, 2021 10:50 AM IST

India has decided to go ahead with a truncated parade to mark Republic Day without a chief guest, people familiar with the matter said. The decision not to invite a foreign leader for the event was taken after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s last-minute decision to cancel his visit due to the spread of mutant Covid-19 virus in the UK.

This will be the first time in over five decades that the Republic Day celebrations, seen as a high point in India’s diplomatic calendar, would not have a foreign dignitary as the chief guest. The last time the parade did not have a chief guest was In 1966 when Indira Gandhi was sworn in as prime minister on January 24 after the demise of Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri on January 11. There were two other years when the parade did not have a chief guest: 1952 and 1953.

President Ramnath Kovind will take the salute at the parade this time.

One official said the decision was taken on account of multiple reasons. After PM Boris Johnson publicly accepted India’s invitation, Downing Street had indicated his inability to attend the annual event to mark the adoption of the Indian Constitution due to the rapid rise in Covid situation.

“We did not want to put any foreign dignitary in an awkward situation,” the official said, underscoring that a last-minute acceptance of India’s invitation could be potentially embarrassing for the invitee back home as the head of state would be seen as a replacement. Since 1950, India has twice got replacements after the guests called off at the last moment.

Plus, given the fluid nature of the Covid infection in light of the highly transmissible new variant of the SARS-Cov-2 virus first detected in the United Kingdom, there would be continued uncertainty about the visit right till the end. Since then, there have been reports of new strains that have been spotted in other countries such as South Africa and Japan. The South African variant, like the UK strain, is driving a surge of infections in the country. Besides, the Narendra Modi government also does not want to take chances on the pandemic.

Social distancing protocols due to the Covid-19 pandemic have already forced the government to opt for a truncated version of the parade, the highlight of the Republic Day celebrations that showcases India’s military might and cultural diversity.

The parade will be shorter and end at National Stadium in national capital Delhi rather than the Red Fort. The marching contingents will also be smaller, with 96 participants in each squad that was earlier made up of 144. Also, the number of spectators along Rajpath have been capped at one-fourth of the 100,000 in previous years. Children below the age of 15 will not be permitted at the parade.

The plan to have a marching contingent of the Bangladesh army participate in the parade as part of the 50th-anniversary celebrations of the 1971 liberation war of Bangladesh is so far intact. This is only the second time foreign soldiers will be marching down Rajpath as part of India’s biggest ceremonial event - the first was the French in 2016. Fifty years ago, Pakistan Army under Lt Gen AAK Niazi had surrendered to the Indian Army paving the way for the formation of Bangladesh.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Close
The petitioner also challenged the decision to impose fines for not fitting FASTags even when vehicles are not driven on highways. (Representative Image)(HT Photo | Representational image)
The petitioner also challenged the decision to impose fines for not fitting FASTags even when vehicles are not driven on highways. (Representative Image)(HT Photo | Representational image)

SC refuses to entertain plea challenging decision to make FASTag mandatory

PTI
PUBLISHED ON FEB 26, 2021 06:26 PM IST
The government has made FASTag mandatory from February 15 midnight and any vehicle not fitted with it will be charged double the toll at electronic toll plazas across the country, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has said.
Close
Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora (centre) with Election Commissioners Sushil Chandra (left) and Rajiv Kumar at a press conference in New Delhi, Friday. (PTI)
Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora (centre) with Election Commissioners Sushil Chandra (left) and Rajiv Kumar at a press conference in New Delhi, Friday. (PTI)

EC announces assembly poll dates in five states, counting to be held on May 2

By Deeksha Bhardwaj
PUBLISHED ON FEB 26, 2021 06:06 PM IST
Outgoing Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora said that all extant guidelines for Covid-19 would be observed during the elections
Close
The Supreme Court. (HT archive)
The Supreme Court. (HT archive)

Sexual harassment complaints not to brushed under carpet: SC

By Abraham Thomas
PUBLISHED ON FEB 26, 2021 06:06 PM IST
A three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice of India SA Bobde, was hearing a retired Madhya Pradesh district judge’s plea against an inquiry against him for allegedly harassing a judicial officer
Close
Chief election commissioner Sunil Kumar Arora
Chief election commissioner Sunil Kumar Arora

'Can't say we make everyone happy': CEC Sunil Arora on poll dates of 5 states

By hindustantimes.com | Edited by Poulomi Ghosh
UPDATED ON FEB 26, 2021 06:09 PM IST
Deliberations were held with all stakeholders before finalising the dates. CBSE authorities were also consulted with, the CEC said on Friday as he announced the election dates of five states, which will also be the last elections in his tenure.
Close
All India Congress Committee spokesperson Dasoju Sravan strongly objected to a statement issued by TRS working president K T Rama Rao on Thursday night, reeling out statistics to show the government had filled up over 1.32 lakh jobs in various departments in the last six years. (HT PHOTO).
All India Congress Committee spokesperson Dasoju Sravan strongly objected to a statement issued by TRS working president K T Rama Rao on Thursday night, reeling out statistics to show the government had filled up over 1.32 lakh jobs in various departments in the last six years. (HT PHOTO).

Congress, TRS spar over creation of govt jobs in Telangana in last six years

PUBLISHED ON FEB 26, 2021 05:49 PM IST
  • The Telangana Congress challenged the TRS government in the state to hold an open debate at the Telangana Martyr’s Memorial at Gun Park in front of the state assembly complex in Hyderabad on the issue of recruitments made after the formation of Telangana in 2014.
Close
The Central Bureau of Investigation.
The Central Bureau of Investigation.

Telangana Cong seeks court-monitored CBI probe into lawyer couple’s murders

PUBLISHED ON FEB 26, 2021 05:46 PM IST
N Uttam Kumar Reddy led a Congress leaders’ delegation that met governor Tamilisai Soundararajan to demand the probe
Close
Representational Image.
Representational Image.

MP Congress leader opposes Godse follower’s induction into the party

By HT Correspondent | Edited by Sameer
PUBLISHED ON FEB 26, 2021 04:35 PM IST
Arun Yadav has written an open letter opposing the induction in the party a day earlier of a former municipal corporator who built a temple dedicated to Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse
Close
The police refuted the claims and said it has neither undertaken any such campaign and nor has circulated any information regarding the same.(Yogendra Kumar/HT file photo)
The police refuted the claims and said it has neither undertaken any such campaign and nor has circulated any information regarding the same.(Yogendra Kumar/HT file photo)

'No 30-day mask checking in state': UP Police clarify fake viral message

By hindustantimes.com | Written by Deepali Sharma, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON FEB 26, 2021 04:21 PM IST
The UP police also requested the citizens to not pay attention to any such misleading information or news.
Close
Passengers queue up as they arrive to catch domestic flights at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport in Mumbai. (HT file)
Passengers queue up as they arrive to catch domestic flights at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport in Mumbai. (HT file)

Flyers to soon get concession on fares for travelling without check-in baggage

By Neha LM Tripathi
PUBLISHED ON FEB 26, 2021 04:17 PM IST
The government has decided to unbundle certain services and make them chargeable on an opt-in basis, as per the feedback received from passengers
Close
Representational Image.
Representational Image.

The importance of caste census and its political implications

UPDATED ON FEB 26, 2021 04:19 PM IST
There have been growing demands for a caste census with the general census in 2022 since Justice G Rohini-led commission submitted a draft proposal recommending a sub-categorisation of the reservation for the OBC
Close
India and Pakistan on Thursday announced that they have agreed to strictly observe all agreements on ceasefire along the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir and other sectors. (Representative Image)(HT Representative Photo)
India and Pakistan on Thursday announced that they have agreed to strictly observe all agreements on ceasefire along the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir and other sectors. (Representative Image)(HT Representative Photo)

India-Pak ceasefire agreement rekindles hope for peace among border residents

PTI
PUBLISHED ON FEB 26, 2021 04:03 PM IST
For the past few years, Pakistan has engaged in shelling and firing along the LoC and the International Border (IB) resulting in casualties, damage to houses, schools, health centres and religious places.
Close
Smriti Irani rode a scooter on Friday in West Bengal taking part in BJP's campaign.
Smriti Irani rode a scooter on Friday in West Bengal taking part in BJP's campaign.

Watch: A day after Mamata Banerjee, Smriti Irani rides scooter in Bengal

By hindustantimes.com | Edited by Poulomi Ghosh
UPDATED ON FEB 26, 2021 06:50 PM IST
While Mamata's scooter ride was a symbolic protest against the fuel price rise — she was riding an e-scooter — Smriti on Friday took part in her party's roadshow in the district bordering Kolkata
Close
"Containment zones continue to be demarcated carefully. Prescribed containment measures are strictly being followed within these zones and Covid-appropriate behaviour is being promoted and strictly enforced," a government release said.
"Containment zones continue to be demarcated carefully. Prescribed containment measures are strictly being followed within these zones and Covid-appropriate behaviour is being promoted and strictly enforced," a government release said.

MHA extends existing Covid guidelines till March 31

By hindustantimes.com | Written by Prashasti Singh
UPDATED ON FEB 26, 2021 04:12 PM IST
All states and Union Territories have also been advised to speed up the vaccination of the target population in order to break the chain of virus transmission.
Close
File photo of a Maoist camp.
File photo of a Maoist camp.

Maoist violence on the decline in Chhattisgarh

UPDATED ON FEB 26, 2021 06:44 PM IST
The number of gunbattles came down to 84 last year compared to 121 in 2019, 166 in 2018, 198 in 2017, and 211 in 2016 even as officials cautioned against reading too much into the data
Close
Panchayat libraries in Jamtara have given youth hope of a better future.(HT Photo)
Panchayat libraries in Jamtara have given youth hope of a better future.(HT Photo)

India’s cyber crime hub Jamtara scripting new story with public library mission

By Sanjoy Dey, Ranchi
UPDATED ON FEB 26, 2021 03:49 PM IST
  • As many as 88 libraries have been made functional in 88 panchayat. All the panchayats of the district will have a library in the next fortnight. The libraries came as blessing for the poor and deprived students, who dream to crack examinations of various government services
Close
SHARE
Story Saved
OPEN APP