Show of fairness: On the formula for selection of Republic Day tableaux

Tableau rotational plan for States and Union Territories is an equitable one

January 12, 2024 12:10 am | Updated 08:14 am IST

The Defence Ministry has finalised a rotational plan which will ensure that all States and Union Territories get a chance to display their tableaux at the Republic Day parade within a three-year cycle. This is a welcome step that will potentially avoid controversy over the selection of tableaux that has become an unfortunate and frequent accompaniment of the parade. This year, tableaux of 16 States/Union Territories (UT) were selected for the January 26 parade following an established process but the Opposition-ruled Delhi, Punjab, Karnataka and West Bengal that were not qualified cried foul. Karnataka’s Congress Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has said that seven proposals sent by the State were rejected by the Centre. A political motive behind selection and exclusion has often been suggested, under the current BJP regime and the previous UPA regime. Only around 15 or 16 tableaux from States/UTs are selected each year, and, obviously, all cannot be accommodated. Those States that have not been selected for the parade this year were invited to showcase their tableaux at the Bharat Parv from January 23 to 31 at the Red Fort. The new plan, that has been agreed to by 28 States, is aimed at giving everyone an equitable chance at participation.

The Defence Ministry already has an elaborate screening mechanism for participants in the parade. A committee of distinguished persons drawn from various fields including Padma awardees was set up this year too that screened proposals from States and organisations. The Ministry of Culture had empanelled 30 agencies for design and fabrication of tableaux through an open selection process and States/UTs were advised to engage these agencies following appropriate procedure. The allegations by States of discrimination with respect to their proposals may or may not be unfounded, but the selection process has to be apolitical and conducted in a transparent manner while maintaining standards to avoid questions in the first place. While the marching contingents and military platforms at the parade showcase the nation’s military might, the tableaux and the performances hold a lens to the country’s cultural splendour and diversity. In the backdrop of controversies year after year, the new proposal of a rotational opportunity for each State/UT offers a fairer, more transparent mechanism. The assertion by officials that the Government, Minister or Secretary do not have any role in the selection process, is reassuring. It will go a long way in keeping the festivities free from bickering.

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