The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has issued the guidelines for the Independence Day celebrations that will take place amid the cloud of novel coronavirus pandemic. Due to this unfortunate and extraordinary situation the Independence Day celebrations on the 15th August will be subdued and low key.
Joint Secretary Anuj Sharma has written a letter to all States and Union Territories sharing with them how the celebrations should be carried out in these testing times. In the letter preventive measures like social distancing, wearing of masks that are absolutely imperative have been mentioned in order to make sure that the celebrations are carried out without any collateral damage.
“In view of the spread of Covid-19 pandemic, while organizing various programmes or activities for the Independence Day celebrations, it is imperative to follow certain preventive measures such as maintaining social distancing, wearing of masks, proper sanitization, avoiding large congregations, protecting vulnerable persons, etc.; and follow all guidelines related to Covid-19 issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Health a Family Welfare,” the letter read. Hence one can assume and infer that all the functions organised countrywide will be deprived of large gatherings.
CELEBRATIONS AT THE LAL QILA
The Ceremony at Red Fort consisting of the presentation of a Guard of Honour by the Armed Forces and the Delhi Police to the Prime Minister (Pradhan Mantri), unfurling of the National Flag accompanied by playing of the National Anthem and firing of 21-gun salute, speech by the Prime Minister, singing of the National Anthem immediately after PM’s speech, and release of tricoloured balloons at the end. This will be followed by “At Home” reception at Rashtrapati Bhawan. As regards holding of “At Home” reception at Raj Bhawan /Raj Niwas by the Governor/Lt. Governor on the Independence Day, the matter is left to the discretion of Governors/Lt. Governors.
CELEBRATIONS AT THE STATE LEVEL
A ceremony in the morning (after 9.00 AM) in the State/Union Territory Capitals consisting of unfurling of the National Flag by the Chief Minister; playing of the National Anthem; presentation of Guard of Honour by the Police including Para-Military Forces, Home Guards, NCC, Scouts, etc; speech by the Chief Minister; and singing of the National Anthem.
In view of Covid-19 pandemic, large congregation in the ceremony be avoided. It is imperative that social distancing norms, wearing masks, etc., are followed. It would also be appropriate that Covid-19 warriors like doctors, health workers, sanitation workers, etc., are invited in the ceremony as a recognition of their noble service in fight against Covid-19 Pandemic. Some persons cured from Covid-19 infection may also be invited.
CELEBRATIONS AT THE DISTRICTS, SUB DIVISIONAL BLOCS AND PANCHAYAT HEADQUARTERS
The Districts, Sub Divisional blocs, Panchayat headquarters will have to follow similar protocols as the states. In view of the COVID-19 pandemic, preventive measures such as maintaining social distancing, wearing of masks, proper sanitization, avoiding large congregations, protecting vulnerable groups, etc., and other measures as prescribed and recommended by the Ministry of Health a Family Welfare, are to be followed. It would be appropriate that frontline warriors and workers like the doctors, health workers, sanitation workers, etc., are invited in the ceremony as recognition for their noble service in fight against the COVID-19 Pandemic. Some persons who have been cured from the infection may also be invited.
Performance of Police/Military bands may be recorded at places of historic importance associated with the Independence movement; and recorded versions thereof may be displayed through large screens/digital media, during public functions and on social media.
Other functions of the day may include activities like planting of trees; inter-school/inter-college debates on digital platforms; online quiz contests/patriotic essay writing and poetry competitions; launching of any important scheme, singing patriotic songs/delivering patriotic talks by selected boys/girls on the social media; illumination of Government Buildings/State Bhawans, etc; thematic webinars; online campaign by NSS and NYKS centered around patriotic themes; or any other activity deemed appropriate by the State Government/Union Territory Administration befitting the occasion. Other innovative ways of celebrating Independence Day may be considered like propagating patriotic or national integration messages/songs through digital and social media platforms, sound shows/lighting of important public buildings, waving of National Flags by people at rooftops/balconies, etc.
“It would be appropriate that the theme of “Aatmanirbhar Bharat” is suitably spread and publicized amongst the masses through various activities/messages in the functions and on social media during Independence Day celebrations,” the letter signed off with.