India celebrates Republic Day 2022 amid controversies and pandemic

Only double-vaccinated people and children over the age of 15 with a single vaccine dose allowed at parade

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India celebrated its 73rd Republic Day on Wednesday with a spectacular display of its military power and cultural diversity.

The nation's constitution came into effect on January 26, 1950, making India a republic.

This year, an air show featuring 75 aircraft and helicopters of the Indian Air Force was the highlight of the parade during India's 75th year of independence.

More than 480 dancers from across the country and 21 shows from different states displayed stunning cultural diversity at the parade on the Rajpath boulevard in the capital New Delhi.

Historically, the parade was always attended by the prime minister, top leaders, foreign dignitaries and thousands of citizens.

But as the third wave of the coronavirus pandemic rages, the number of spectators has been limited with no presence of foreign dignitaries, for the second year in a row.

Only double-vaccinated people and children above 15 with a single dose of the vaccines were allowed to attend.

This year’s celebrations were also marred with controversies.

On Tuesday, the government was forced to issue a clarification that no Bollywood songs would feature in the grand parade after a video tweeted by an official showed a navy band dancing to a number during rehearsals.

The video showed the band playing the song while others tapped their rifles. Opposition politicians accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government of diluting the dignity of the armed forces.

Last week, the government merged the “Amar Jawan Jyoti” flame at India Gate with the National War Memorial, causing another social media furore as users said Mr Modi was erasing the country's history.

Updated: January 26, 2022, 11:06 AM