The 74th Independence Day will be celebrated much differently than all these long years. A day that is marked with all pageantry and jubilation will be a restricted and dim occasion due to the unpleasant circumstances caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The occasion will witness a trimmed list of dignitaries, police in PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), sitting arrangements will be different with chairs instead of rugs, and no participation of school children.
Every year, in the morning, when the Prime Minister addresses the nation from the ramparts of the Red Fort, around 900-1000 invitees stays in the occasion, which this year had been reduced to 250, as said by an official. The final list, however, of the invitees will be prepared by the Defence Ministry.
In the morning, a guard of honour will be addressed to the PM Narendra Modi by the armed forces and the Delhi police at the Red Fort. Then will be the unfurling of the National Flag., followed by the firing of the 21 gun salute. Then a speech by the PM. Immediately after his speech, the National Anthem will be sung. And at last, tri-colored balloons will be released.
In the afternoon, at the Rashtrapati Bhavan, the “At Home” function will be held in which the light will be thrown on the “Corona Warriors” of India. In the programme, medical professionals and prominent figures of health sectors will be presented.
Security Arrangements and Road, Rail and Air Restrictions
Around the Red Fort, about 4000 security personnel, including the elite SWAT commandos, NSG snipers and kite catchers, will be stationed and they will position themselves adheres to the social distancing norms; apart from them, over 300 cameras will be installed around the area that will give the security footage from time to time.
From 4 am to 10 am, a total number of eight roads will be closed for the general public, namely— SP Mukherjee Marg, Netaji Subhash Marg, Nishad Raj Marg, Chandni Chowk Road, Ring Road from Rajghat to ISBT, Esplanade Road and its Link Road to Netaji Subhash Marg, and Outer Ring Road from ISBT to IP flyover.
From 6.45 am to 8.45 am, there will be no movement of trains on some particular tracks near the Red Fort due to VVIP movement.
Up to 15th August, flying of para-motors, para-gliders, UAVs, hang gliders, remotely piloted aircraft, microlight aircraft, hot air balloons, para-jumping from aircraft, small size powered aircraft; quadcopters, etc are prohibited over the jurisdiction of National Capital Territory of Delhi.
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All the invitees are advised by the Delhi Police not to attend the event if they have experienced any kind of Covid-19 symptoms in the previous two weeks and had not gone for a test. The invitees are also asked to follow the Covid-19 guidelines on the event day, as recommended by the home and health ministries.
Over 350 Delhi police personnel, ranking from constable to DSP (Deputy Commissioner of Police), who will be a part of the guard of honour, had been sent to quarantine at a newly built police colony in Delhi Cantonment, as a precautionary measure.
Guidelines to the State Governments
The Chief Secretaries of all state governments are advised to arrange events without large gatherings. Online methods are to be used to reach out to people who will not be able to attend the event. Basic Covid-19 norms are to be followed including, wearing masks, physical distancing, and proper sanitization.
The ceremony at the state level, as per the guidelines, is somewhat similar to that of the celebration at the Central, that includes—hoisting of the National flag (after 9 am) by the Chief Minister, singing of the National Anthem, presentation of the guard of honour by the police (paramilitary forces, home guards, NCC, scouts), and finally the speech by the CM. In the state-level event too, doctors, nurses, health workers, some Covid-19 survivors may also be invited, to honor them for their dedication towards work, during the pandemic.
The same as above will also be organized at the district level, wherein, the celebration will be hosted by the District Magistrate and a sub-divisional magistrate or village head at the Panchayat level.
Activities for Students Include
As the students, on this Independence day are confined in their homes due to the closure of schools, the Home Ministry had also suggested some fun activities that can employ the students as well as entertain them throughout the day and those includes—Planting of trees, online quiz contests/ patriotic essay writing/ poetry competitions, inter-school/inter-college debates, singing patriotic songs, delivering a patriotic speech, an online campaign by NSS and NYKS on patriotic themes, thematic webinars, etc.
Last but Not Least
It is also advised that the police and military performances may be recorded in historical places connected with the Independence movement and these recorded versions will be displayed in large screens, over digital media, and social media during public functions.
It is also suggested that all public buildings should be lightened, along with sound shows, people should wave the National Flag from their balconies/rooftops and also share messages, statuses’, songs, etc. to celebrate the day.