As India is gearing up for the 71st Republic Day celebrations on January 26, the buzz around the chief guest for the ceremony has already started. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, the chief guest for the Republic Day parade, is scheduled to arrive in New Delhi on January 24 for a four-day state visit to India.
Bolsonaro will hold talks with President Ramnath Kovind the next day followed by talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He will also address business leaders of both countries at the India-Brazil business forum on January 27 as both countries are looking to seal 20 pacts across defence, agriculture, healthcare, and mineral.
Since 1950, India has been inviting global leaders for the Republic Day celebrations as the chief guest every year, barring 1952, 1953, and 1966. Indonesian President Sukarno was the first foreign leader to attend India’s Republic Day ceremony as the chief guest in 1950.
In PM Modi’s first term, former President of the United States Barack Obama was the chief guest in 2015, while former French President François Hollande was the chief guest in the following year. India’s attempt to strengthen ties with the United Arab Emirates was visible when in 2017 Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan attended the Republic Day parade as a chief guest.
Last year, leaders of all the members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) were invited for the Republic Day parade as a part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Act East’ policy. The leaders included the Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha, and Indonesian President Joko Widodo, among other leaders of the South-East Asian countries.
Other important personalities who graced the event in the past include Queen Elizabeth II in 1961, UK’s Chief of Defence Staff Lord Louis Mountbatten in 1964, Nelson Mandela in 1995, Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2007 and Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe in 2014.