In a letter sent to state chief secretaries and administrators of Union territories on August 8, the home ministry has asked the states and other levels of administration to start their Independence Day functions only after 9am, by when Prime Minister Narendra Modi would have completed his maiden speech from the ramparts of the Red Fort.
The Red Fort ceremony this year will follow the usual programme, comprising presentation of guard of honour by the Armed Forces and the Delhi Police to the Prime Minister, unfurling of the national flag, a 21-gun salute and the Prime Minister's speech followed by rendition of the national anthem by school children/NCC cadets and release of tri-coloured balloons. A reception shall be hosted by the President Pranab Mukherjee at Rashtrapati Bhavan later in the day.
As per the home ministry's template for official Independence Day ceremony at the state level, it may be held after 9am in the respective capitals, with the respective chief minister unfurling the national flag. A presentation of guard of honour by the police including paramilitary forces, home guards, NCC scouts, etc, should be followed by the chief minister's speech, and the ceremony must end with singing of the national anthem.
At the district level, a similar ceremony must start after 9am with the tricolour being unfurled by either a minister, commissioner or district magistrate. The national flag, at the August 15 function, at the sub-divisional/block level may be hoisted by a minister or subdivisional magistrate, while at the panchayat headquarters level this may be the responsibility of the sarpanch or village headman.
Importantly, the August 15 speech to be made at the district, sub-divisional and panchayat level must "explain the significance of Independence Day and exhort the audience to work for the unity and integrity of the country."
To add colour to the Independence Day celebrations, the home ministry has suggested that sports, particularly rural sports, be woven into the programme, apart from display of PT or other skills by school and college students. Other activities that may be organised as part of official celebrations on August 15 are planting of saplings, inter-school and inter-college debates, community work, launching of important scheme of rural development, talks by selected boys and girls on the significance of Independence Day, cultural programmes, distribution of prizes/certificates/medals for work in fields like national integration, small savings, afforestation, family planning or any other aspect of rural development or any other item which the state government or UT administration may consider for inclusion in Independence Day function.
"As regards holding of reception at Raj Bhavan/Raj Niwas by the governor or lieutenant governor on the Independence Day, the matter is left to the discretion of governors/lieutenant governors," states the home ministry communication to the states/UTs.
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