India this time will not host a foreign head of state as chief guest at the Republic Day celebrations in New Delhi in view of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
United Kingdom (UK) Prime Minister Boris Johnson was scheduled to arrive in India as the chief guest at India’s Republic Day parade on January 26.
However, he cancelled his tour on account of the deteriorating Covid-19 situation in the UK.
A new mutant strain of Covid-19 is creating havoc in the UK that led to the British Prime Minister announcing a nationwide lockdown to contain the spiraling infections.
The new strain being 70 per cent more transmissible than the previous strain, there is the likelihood of the UK’s medical facilities being stressed to the limits this time.
India this year will not have a chief guest at the Republic Day parade in over five decades.
“Due to the global Covid- 19 situation, it has been decided that this year we will not have a foreign head of state or head of government as the chief guest for the Republic Day celebrations,” ministry of external affairs spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said at a media briefing.
Boris Johnson had also conveyed his regret to Prime Minister Narendra Modi of his inability to visit India.
The Republic Day celebrations at Rajpath have also been downsized with only 25000 spectators being allowed at the event on account of the ongoing pandemic.
Only invitees and those having valid passes will be able to participate in the event.
According to sources, as a precautionary measure, each marching contingent will now comprise 96 personnel instead of the normal 144.
The parade will also cover a shorter distance from Vijay Chowk to the National Stadium instead of the Red Fort.