Republic Day is less than a week away. Even as every Constitutionophile will be murmuring ‘We, the people’ that day, January 26 will be marked with flag-hoisting, grandeur and grandstanding, the grandest being the Republic Day Parade on New Delhi’s Rajpath. This year, we have no chief guest. British PM Boris Johnson was supposed to flap his hair from the VVIP stands. But Covid-19 put paid to that. R-Day pomp, however, without a chief guest is like a function without a functionary without a functionary.
The last time we went chief guestless was in 1966 when Indira Gandhi took over after Lal Bahadur Shastri’s sudden demise. Surely, this time around, we need a chief guest we can watch on TV watching our national show? We suggest the 14th Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso be made this year’s Republic Day chief guest. He’s sweet, loves India, has been a resident since the republic was nine years old, won’t mind the sudden invite, and Covid-wise Dharamshala isn’t far away at all from Delhi. There is nothing in the rule book that states that the chief guest has to be a head of state- which the Dalai stepped down from in 2011. Asan affable, high-profile, photogenic man, he would, in fact, be perfect for the celebratory occasion. Surely, the Indian State can invite whomever it chooses without geeting nervous about what another regime may think?