With pride and fervor, India will be celebrating its 70
th Republic Day tomorrow and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa will grace the occasion as the chief guest.
Each year, the Indian government invites a head of state as the chief guest for the Republic Day parade and the visit is considered similar to a state visit, the highest honour that can be accorded to the guest in protocol terms.
The chief guest is given a ceremonial guard of honour at the Rashtrapati Bhavan, the official residence of the President of India, followed by a reception in the evening hosted by the President.
The chief guest then lays a wreath at the Rajghat, the resting place of Mahatma Gandhi and a banquet is hosted in his honour followed by a lunch hosted by the Prime Minister.
The highlight of the occasion is, of course, the chief guest accompanying the President, who is flanked by the horse-mounted President’s Bodyguards, to the saluting base on the Rajpath.
The occasion reflects the friendship between two nations, represented by the President of India and the chief guest.
How India chooses its chief guest for the Republic Day celebrations
A lot of planning and coordination goes down in choosing the chief guest for the celebrated occasion.
The preparation for choosing a chief guest for the Republic Day starts six months in advance wherein the Government of India formally extends an invitation to the Head of State after careful considerations.
The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) considers the countries with which India shares a cordial relationship on the basis of political, economic, and commercial relations, the neighbourhood, military cooperation and prominence in regional groupings and the strong emotional attachment with the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) countries.
The MEA, after considerations, seeks the Prime Minister’s approval, followed by the Rashtrapati Bhavan’s clearance. India’s ambassadors in the concerned countries then try to ascertain the chief guest’s appointments and availability for the Republic Day.
The Chief of Protocol (CoP) works on the security details, logistics and medical requirements of the programmes as the ministry works towards agreements between the two nations. The CoP explains to his counterpart about the minute-by-minute programme of the occasion that has to be followed with military precision and the protocol that needs to be adhered to.For better diplomatic relations between two nations, it is important that the guest nation perceive the visit as a success by the courtesies and due honour given.