As India is all set to commemorate the 73rd anniversary of its independence from the United Kingdom in August. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is slated to unfurl the nation's tri-coloured national flag at the Red Fort, but the audience will be far smaller than ever before.
There will be no grand welcome awaiting the prime minister, no vibrant crowd of flag-waving patriots, and no overly enthusiastic schoolchildren jostling to shake hands with him like in the past.
"The ceremony at the Red Fort will consist of a Guard of Honour for the Prime Minister, the firing of a 21-gun salute, a speech by the PM, and the singing of the national anthem," a government notification has revealed.
Usually, thousands of people, including political and diplomatic VIPs, security forces, schoolchildren and visitors from different parts of the country attend the grand celebrations in the national capital, where the prime minister delivers his speech amid tight security.
The events during the ceremony would be web-cast to enable participation by a large number of people, unable to visit the iconic Red Fort in the national capital where the prime minister hoists the national flag.
The government notification has come as India has recorded a total of 1,287,945 coronavirus cases so far, with 30,601 deaths. However, the nation has a recovery rate of above 63 percent, where 817,208 people have overcome the virus and been discharged so far.
Asking the States to make best use of the latest technology to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, the Indian Home Ministry has also directed people to avoid large congregations. The guidelines also state that the police band performances at the places associated with the struggle for independence should be recorded and displayed on large screens and via digital media during the public functions and on social media.
Indian gained independence from the British on 15 August 1947, after nearly 200 years of colonial rule. Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru, one of the icons of the nation's struggle for freedom, became the country's first Prime Minister and gave the first Independence Day speech from the Red Fort, a tradition that still continues in India.