The 69th Republic Day was celebrated across the country amid tight security on Friday. Prime Minister Narendra Modi greeted citizens on the occasion. As per traditions, India showcased its military prowess, culture and diversity in the presence of leaders of the 10 ASEAN nations who attended the event at the Rajpath as chief guests.
We bring you interesting facts about past chief guests and country heads who graced the Republic Day celebrations.
1. First Republic Day parade was held in 1950. Indonesia President Sukarno was the chief guest.
2. Pakistan was invited twice : Governor General Malik Ghulam Muhammad was the first guest for the parade at Rajpath in 1955. Food and Agriculture Minister Rana Abdul Hamid was invited in 1965
3. India did not have guests in 1966. For the first time, the President of India (S. Radhakrishnan) could not take the salute at the Republic Day parade due to ill-health. Zahir Shah arrived on 28 January.
4. For the first time, India invited two guests in 1956. Chancellor of the Exchequer R. A. Butler from the United Kingdom and Chief Justice Kōtarō Tanaka from Japan attended the parade.
5. The United Kingdom and France have been invited for five times each. This is the highest number of invitation for any country so far.
6. Queen Elizabeth II graced the occasion in 1961. Duke of Edinburgh Prince Philip also accompanied Queen Elizabeth II during the parade.
7. The US has been invited only once in 2015. President Barack Obama was the chief guest.
8. Afghanistan was invited for the first time in 1967. So far the country has not received second invitation.
9. Among all the chief guests, at least three leaders are Nobel laureates. President Nelson Mandela in 1955, President Barack Obama in 2015 and State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in 2018.
10. The highest number of guests in Republic Day 2018. Heads of ASEAN countries are the chief guests. Among the ASEAN block, Cambodia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam have been invited twice. This is the third invitation for Indonesia. Brunei, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar and Philippines have been invited for the first time.