Avoid large gatherings on Independence Day, honour COVID-19 warriors: MHA issues advisory to states, UTs

Avoid large gatherings on Independence Day, honour COVID-19 warriors: MHA issues advisory to states, UTs

Unlike previous years, the Independence Day events, including the main ceremony at the Red Fort in Delhi, this time will be celebrated under certain preventive measures like maintaining social distancing, wearing masks, proper sanitization, and avoiding large congregations, as necessitated by the Covid-19 crisis.

However, there will be no change in the grandeur, gaiety, fervor, and enthusiasm in the celebrations of this year`s Independence Day, a Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) order dated July 20 mentions.

The order emphasized that this year`s Independence Day will be celebrated in a manner "befitting the occasion".

Addressed to the Chief Secretaries of all state governments and administrators of all Union Territories (UTs), the order, described as the "most immediate", said, "In view of the spread of Covid-19 pandemic, while organizing various programs 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 MHA and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare."

It says that all programs will be organized in a "way that large congregation of people is avoided, and technology is used in the best possible manner for celebration befitting the occasion".

"The events organized could be web-cast in order to reach out to people at large, who are not able to participate."

In Delhi, the event at the Red Fort consists of the presentation of a guard of honor by the armed forces and the Delhi Police to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, 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 the PM`s speech, and release of tricolored balloons at the end.

"At Home" reception in the national capital will be held in the Rashtrapati Bhawan.

For celebrations of the event at different levels in the states or UTs, the order prescribes certain guidelines for the state level, district level, sub-divisional level or block level, and Panchayat Headquarters or bigger villages.

It may be ensured that the national flag is hoisted at all state capitals or districts or block or Panchayat levels, the order says.

As regards holding of "At Home" reception in the Raj Bhawan or Raj Niwas by the Governor or Lt. Governor on the occasion, the matter is left to the discretion of them.

It would be appropriate that Covid-19 warriors like doctors, health workers, sanitation workers are invited in the ceremony as a recognition of their noble service in the fight against the pandemic. "Some persons cured of Covid-19 infection may also be invited."

As per the order, performance of police or military bands will be recorded at places of historic importance associated with the Independence movement, and recorded versions will be displayed through large screens or digital media during public functions and on social media.

The order copy shared with more than 27 departments, including President and Vice President`s Secretariats, Prime Minister`s Office, Rajya Sabha, and Lok Sabha Secretariats stressed that the theme of "Aatmanirbhar Bharat" is suitably spread and publicised amongst the masses through various activities or messages in the functions and social media during Independence Day celebration.

At the state and UT level, the ceremony will be celebrated in the morning after 9 a.m. consisting of unfurling of the national flag by the chief ministers, playing of the national anthem, presentation of guard of honour by the police, including paramilitary forces, home guards, National Cadet Core, Scouts, and speech by the chief ministers, and singing of the national anthem.