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Explained: How Republic Day Parade Tableaux Are Selected & the Dispute This Year

This year, the tableaux of West Bengal, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu have been rejected by the Centre.

Updated
Explainers
6 min read
Explained: How Republic Day Parade Tableaux Are Selected & the Dispute This Year
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Republic Day celebrations in India are nearly synonymous with the grand parade that marches down New Delhi's Rajpath on 26 January. The procession, which displays regiments from the country's military and vibrant tableaux from the states, has been an annual tradition since 1950.

This year, like many in the past, a tussle has broken out between the states and the Union government over the presentation of their tableaux.

The Centre's rejection of the tableaux of West Bengal, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu has irked the three states, with the leaders of the respective state governments condemning the exclusion, and seeking Prime Minister Narendra Modi's intervention.

While there is a well-established system for the selection of the tableaux, the process becomes a flashpoint for the play of regional politics nearly every year.

Who selects the tableaux for the Republic Day parade? What does the selection process involve? What were the guidelines for this year? What is the controversy? Here's a lowdown.

Explained: How Republic Day Parade Tableaux Are Selected & the Dispute This Year

  1. 1. Who Is in Charge of the Selection of the Tableaux?

    An expert committee, whose operations are directed by the Ministry of Defence, is responsible for the selection of the tableaux.

    The panel of experts comprises of eminent persons from various disciplines such as art, culture, painting, sculpture, music, architecture, choreography and so on.

    The tableaux proposals received from various states, Union territories, central ministries, and central departments are evaluated in a series of meetings by the expert committee.

    "The expert committee examines the proposals on the basis of theme, concept, design and its visual impact before making its recommendations," as per the Defence Ministry.

    Expand
  2. 2. The Selection Process

    The selection process of the tableaux, which are presented in the Republic Day parade, passes through various stages of development and evaluation.

    It begins with an initial appreciation of sketch/design and the themes of the demonstration. It culminates, after many interactions between the expert committee and the states/UTs/departments/ministries, with a three-dimensional model of the tableau.

    • In the first phase of selection, the sketch/design of the proposals is scrutinised and suggestions, if considered necessary, are given to carry out modifications in the sketch/design.

    • Once the sketches/designs are approved by the committee, the participants are asked to come up with three-dimensional models of their proposals. However, entering into the model stage itself does not mean selection.

    • The models are thereafter examined by the committee for final selection depending on various considerations.

    The selection process usually extends over six to seven rounds of meetings on different days, with some elimination and shortlisting at each stage.

    Expand
  3. 3. What Factors Does Selection Depend Upon?

    The selection depends on a combination of factors, including but not limited to visual appeal, impact on the masses, idea, theme, music, and the degree of detailing involved in the tableau.

    "Due to time constraints arising out of overall duration of the parade, only a limited number of tableaux can be shortlisted for participation in the parade. The selection process in vogue, leads to participation of the best tableaux in the parade," the Defence Ministry indicates.

    Expand
  4. 4. Are There Any Other Rules?

    The Ministry of Defence lays down a number of guidelines that elucidate in clear and detailed terms the conventions that govern the tableau selection process and the responsibilities that lie with the states.

    The Elements of the Tableau

    • One tractor and one trailer upon which a tableau would be fabricated, would be provided by the Ministry of Defence free of charge.

    • There is no objection to the use of vehicles other than tractor and trailers for fabrication of tableaux to give them a different look. But these vehicles will have to be arranged by the sponsoring authorities themselves.

    • As far as possible, there should be some movement, sound, and animation on the tableau.

    • A limited number of performers can be used due to the COVID-19 situation, and no performer can stand on the tractor component.

    • Only traditional and authentic folk dance, costumes, and musical instruments are permitted.

    The Design of the Tableau

    • The sketch should clearly depict as to how the tractor pulling the tableau will be used as a part of the theme.

    • Writing or use of logos on tableaux is not allowed except the name of states/UTs presenting, which is allowed in Hindi In the front, in English on the back and in regional language on the sides of the tableau.

    • The length, breadth, and height of a single tableau should not exceed 45 inch, 14 inch, and 16 inch (from the ground level) respectively.

    • There should be a gap of about 6-7 feet between the tractor and the trailer and/or between two trailers for turning or manoeuvring. This should be taken into account while designing the tableau.

    The Meetings With the Expert Committee

    • Non-attendance of states/Union territories/ministries/departments at any meeting means withdrawal and the concerned agency will not be invited in subsequent meetings.

    • All interaction with the members of the expert committee will be made by the official representative of the organisation concerned.

    • The artists/designers may accompany the official representative to suitably take note of the suggestions given by the committee to carry out modifications in their respective sketch/design/model. They will, however, not directly interact with the members of the panel.

    Expand
  5. 5. What Were the Guidelines for Tableaux for the 2022 Republic Day Parade?

    In a letter issued to all 36 states and Union territories on 16 September 2021, the Ministry of Defence had invited proposals for tableaux for the 2022 Republic Day parade.

    The letter was sent to the 80 Union ministries, the Election Commission, and the NITI Aayog as well.

    "In view of time constraints, this ministry will only be able to include a limited number of proposals," the communication had mentioned.

    The letter described the theme for the tableaux for 2022 as "India@75 - Freedom Struggle, Ideas @ 75, Actions @ 75, and Resolve @ 75," honouring the 75th year of India's independence.

    The states and Union territories were directed to submit their conceptualised proposals and write-ups for the same by 27 September 2021, and were informed that the meetings for the shortlisting of the proposals would be held from the second week of October.

    The Defence Ministry, in the letter, had highlighted the following as initiatives that were to be included in the tableaux:

    • Engagement of young qualified designers from renowned institutions. Strict and continuous supervision by the designers.

    • Electronic display walls (LED, HD, 4K, etc) to be used for bright display of images or content. Use of special effects to the maximum extent feasible to improve the optics/visual effects of the tableau.

    • Moving elements using mechatronics/robotics. Innovative use of LED lighting to showcase dark/shadowed area. Use of technologies like augmented reality/virtual reality.

    • Balancing of sound level of music 3D printing could be used to depict certain elements.

    • Use of eco-friendly material for the tableaux. Avoid use of plastic and plastic-based products as far as feasible.

    • Considering feasibility of display at important location after the parade so that more people can benefit seeing the creations.

    Expand
  6. 6. The Contention Between West Bengal, Kerala, TN and the Centre This Year 

    The Defence Ministry on Monday, 17 January, refused to include Tamil Nadu's tableau in the Republic Day parade, merely days after the central government had rejected the tableaux proposed by Kerala and West Bengal for the upcoming celebrations.

    West Bengal Chief Mamata Banerjee expressed her condemnation of the decision in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday.

    "I am profoundly shocked and hurt by the decision of the Government of India to abruptly exclude the proposed tableau of the Government of West Bengal from the ensuing Republic Day Parade. It is even more baffling for us that the tableau was rejected without assigning any reasons or justifications," she stated.

    "The rejection of Tamil Nadu's tableau, that included freedom fighters VOC, Mahakavi Bharathiyar, Rani Velu Nachiyar, and Maruthu Brothers, from the Republic Day Parade is disappointing... That the expert committee chooses to ignore and reject all the seven designs shown to it as per the modifications suggested by its members is unacceptable," Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin wrote in a letter to the PM.

    Meanwhile, the Defence Ministry's rejection of Kerala's proposal to depict anti-caste social reformer, Narayana Guru, and tourism centre, Jatayu Park, has also met with retaliation. The central government had reportedly suggested that the tableau carry a statue of Adi Shankara instead, which was not acceptable to the Kerala government.

    While no official response has been issued by the government in this regard, news agency ANI on Tuesday quoted senior Defence Ministry officials as saying: "The requests from West Bengal and Tamil Nadu to reconsider the inclusion of their tableaux in the Republic Day parade cannot be revisited. They have been informed about the reasons (of their non-inclusion)."

    (At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

    Expand

Who Is in Charge of the Selection of the Tableaux?

An expert committee, whose operations are directed by the Ministry of Defence, is responsible for the selection of the tableaux.

The panel of experts comprises of eminent persons from various disciplines such as art, culture, painting, sculpture, music, architecture, choreography and so on.

The tableaux proposals received from various states, Union territories, central ministries, and central departments are evaluated in a series of meetings by the expert committee.

"The expert committee examines the proposals on the basis of theme, concept, design and its visual impact before making its recommendations," as per the Defence Ministry.

ADVERTISEMENT

The Selection Process

The selection process of the tableaux, which are presented in the Republic Day parade, passes through various stages of development and evaluation.

It begins with an initial appreciation of sketch/design and the themes of the demonstration. It culminates, after many interactions between the expert committee and the states/UTs/departments/ministries, with a three-dimensional model of the tableau.

  • In the first phase of selection, the sketch/design of the proposals is scrutinised and suggestions, if considered necessary, are given to carry out modifications in the sketch/design.

  • Once the sketches/designs are approved by the committee, the participants are asked to come up with three-dimensional models of their proposals. However, entering into the model stage itself does not mean selection.

  • The models are thereafter examined by the committee for final selection depending on various considerations.

The selection process usually extends over six to seven rounds of meetings on different days, with some elimination and shortlisting at each stage.

What Factors Does Selection Depend Upon?

The selection depends on a combination of factors, including but not limited to visual appeal, impact on the masses, idea, theme, music, and the degree of detailing involved in the tableau.

"Due to time constraints arising out of overall duration of the parade, only a limited number of tableaux can be shortlisted for participation in the parade. The selection process in vogue, leads to participation of the best tableaux in the parade," the Defence Ministry indicates.

ADVERTISEMENT

Are There Any Other Rules?

The Ministry of Defence lays down a number of guidelines that elucidate in clear and detailed terms the conventions that govern the tableau selection process and the responsibilities that lie with the states.

The Elements of the Tableau

  • One tractor and one trailer upon which a tableau would be fabricated, would be provided by the Ministry of Defence free of charge.

  • There is no objection to the use of vehicles other than tractor and trailers for fabrication of tableaux to give them a different look. But these vehicles will have to be arranged by the sponsoring authorities themselves.

  • As far as possible, there should be some movement, sound, and animation on the tableau.

  • A limited number of performers can be used due to the COVID-19 situation, and no performer can stand on the tractor component.

  • Only traditional and authentic folk dance, costumes, and musical instruments are permitted.

The Design of the Tableau

  • The sketch should clearly depict as to how the tractor pulling the tableau will be used as a part of the theme.

  • Writing or use of logos on tableaux is not allowed except the name of states/UTs presenting, which is allowed in Hindi In the front, in English on the back and in regional language on the sides of the tableau.

  • The length, breadth, and height of a single tableau should not exceed 45 inch, 14 inch, and 16 inch (from the ground level) respectively.

  • There should be a gap of about 6-7 feet between the tractor and the trailer and/or between two trailers for turning or manoeuvring. This should be taken into account while designing the tableau.

The Meetings With the Expert Committee

  • Non-attendance of states/Union territories/ministries/departments at any meeting means withdrawal and the concerned agency will not be invited in subsequent meetings.

  • All interaction with the members of the expert committee will be made by the official representative of the organisation concerned.

  • The artists/designers may accompany the official representative to suitably take note of the suggestions given by the committee to carry out modifications in their respective sketch/design/model. They will, however, not directly interact with the members of the panel.

What Were the Guidelines for Tableaux for the 2022 Republic Day Parade?

In a letter issued to all 36 states and Union territories on 16 September 2021, the Ministry of Defence had invited proposals for tableaux for the 2022 Republic Day parade.

The letter was sent to the 80 Union ministries, the Election Commission, and the NITI Aayog as well.

"In view of time constraints, this ministry will only be able to include a limited number of proposals," the communication had mentioned.

The letter described the theme for the tableaux for 2022 as "India@75 - Freedom Struggle, Ideas @ 75, Actions @ 75, and Resolve @ 75," honouring the 75th year of India's independence.

The states and Union territories were directed to submit their conceptualised proposals and write-ups for the same by 27 September 2021, and were informed that the meetings for the shortlisting of the proposals would be held from the second week of October.

The Defence Ministry, in the letter, had highlighted the following as initiatives that were to be included in the tableaux:

  • Engagement of young qualified designers from renowned institutions. Strict and continuous supervision by the designers.

  • Electronic display walls (LED, HD, 4K, etc) to be used for bright display of images or content. Use of special effects to the maximum extent feasible to improve the optics/visual effects of the tableau.

  • Moving elements using mechatronics/robotics. Innovative use of LED lighting to showcase dark/shadowed area. Use of technologies like augmented reality/virtual reality.

  • Balancing of sound level of music 3D printing could be used to depict certain elements.

  • Use of eco-friendly material for the tableaux. Avoid use of plastic and plastic-based products as far as feasible.

  • Considering feasibility of display at important location after the parade so that more people can benefit seeing the creations.

ADVERTISEMENT

The Contention Between West Bengal, Kerala, TN and the Centre This Year 

The Defence Ministry on Monday, 17 January, refused to include Tamil Nadu's tableau in the Republic Day parade, merely days after the central government had rejected the tableaux proposed by Kerala and West Bengal for the upcoming celebrations.

West Bengal Chief Mamata Banerjee expressed her condemnation of the decision in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday.

"I am profoundly shocked and hurt by the decision of the Government of India to abruptly exclude the proposed tableau of the Government of West Bengal from the ensuing Republic Day Parade. It is even more baffling for us that the tableau was rejected without assigning any reasons or justifications," she stated.

"The rejection of Tamil Nadu's tableau, that included freedom fighters VOC, Mahakavi Bharathiyar, Rani Velu Nachiyar, and Maruthu Brothers, from the Republic Day Parade is disappointing... That the expert committee chooses to ignore and reject all the seven designs shown to it as per the modifications suggested by its members is unacceptable," Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin wrote in a letter to the PM.

Meanwhile, the Defence Ministry's rejection of Kerala's proposal to depict anti-caste social reformer, Narayana Guru, and tourism centre, Jatayu Park, has also met with retaliation. The central government had reportedly suggested that the tableau carry a statue of Adi Shankara instead, which was not acceptable to the Kerala government.

While no official response has been issued by the government in this regard, news agency ANI on Tuesday quoted senior Defence Ministry officials as saying: "The requests from West Bengal and Tamil Nadu to reconsider the inclusion of their tableaux in the Republic Day parade cannot be revisited. They have been informed about the reasons (of their non-inclusion)."

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

Published: 
Edited By :Tejas Harad
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