Clad in thematic wear, every I-Day they sit on the lawns of Red Fort in a colourful way drawing the attention of crowd, but on Saturday, school children were conspicuous by their absence at the venue.

Children are vulnerable to the coronavirus infection and so, in view of the containment measures adopted for the event, they did not take part in the celebrations this year, which were significantly scaled down due to the COVID-19 situation.

“Today, our children are not here with us. The coronavirus pandemic has halted all of us,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in his address from the ramparts of the Red Fort.

Everyone felt their absence as children clap and cheer loudly throughout the event, but this time, it was a rather quiet affair in keeping with the COVID-19 safety protocols.

While there were a few school students from the higher classes among the NCC cadets who took part in the celebrations, they too said the absence of the children could be felt.

Popular among children, Modi has a penchant to interact with the crowd at a close distance, especially the children, and every year at the Independence Day celebrations, he invariably breaks the security protocol to shake hands with the children, who wait to meet and greet him with bated breath.

Scores of school children add youthful energy to the grand event every year, but amid the coronavirus scare, they were not present on the occasion this year.

Sporting a saffron and cream headgear with a half-sleeve kurta and a churidar, the prime minister delivered his seventh consecutive Independence Day speech that lasted for 86 minutes, during which he unveiled his vision of an “Aatmanirbhar Bharat” to make India a global manufacturing hub.

The grand annual event was scaled down this year in keeping with the safety protocols to contain the spread of the coronavirus that has wreaked havoc across the world.

A number of seats across all enclosures remained empty.

Source: PTI