An important global political figure has graced the Republic Day celebrations in India every year since 1950, barring three years. However, this time things will be a bit different. On Tuesday (January 26), it will be the first time in five decades that India will have no chief guest for the celebrations. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was supposed to be the chief guest this year, but cancelled his visit to India due to the new COVID-19 strain in the United Kingdom. Before this, only thrice — 1952, 1953, and 1966 — India didn’t have any chief guest for the R-Day parade in New Delhi. Here we take a look at all the chief guests who graced the Republic Day celebrations in India since Narendra Modi became the Prime Minister in 2014.
Barack Obama, President, USA: US President Barack Obama was the first US head of state to attend the Republic Day celebrations. Sitting inside a bullet-proof glass enclosure, Obama watched the parade along with PM Modi. During the parade, India’s military might was showcased, with soldiers marching in formation and displaying latest weapons, including several made in the US.
Francois Hollande, President, France: The French President graced India’s 67th Republic Day celebrations as the chief guest. He was on a three-day visit to India, and wrapped up his visit by watching the elaborate display of Indian military hardware and marching bands at the Rajpath.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince, UAE: In keeping with Narendra Modi’s approach to India’s extended neighbourhood, particularly the Gulf, Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed of the United Arab Emirates was invited to be the chief guest.
10 ASEAN leaders: Ten ASEAN leaders attended the Republic Day parade at Rajpath. It was unprecedented. The list included President Htin Kyaw of Myanmar, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, Philippine President Rodrigo Rua Duterte, Thai Prime Minister Gen Prayuth Chan-o-cha, Singaporean President Halima Yacob, Brunei’s Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah, Indonesian President Joko Widodo, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, Prime Minister of Laos Thongloun Sisoulith and Cambodian Premier Hun Sen.
Cyril Ramaphosa, President, South Africa: Ramaphosa, the 5th President of South Africa, was the Chief Guest at the 70th Republic Day parade. He was invited after then US president Donald Trump expressed his inability to attend the event.
Jair Bolsonaro, President, Brazil: Jair Messias Bolsonaro joined a select group of world leaders to have graced the Republic Day celebrations. He was the chief guest at the 71st Republic Day celebrations. He watched the parade at Rajpath along with President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other leaders. This is the third time that a Brazilian President was the chief guest at the Republic Day celebrations.