New Delhi: The national capital is all set to host the 70th Republic Day parade where the country will showcase its military might as well as its cultural heritage. Chief Guest for this year, South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa, would arrive today to attend the event which will boast of some firsts this time. (Also read: R-Day Parade to Have Facial Recognition Cameras to Weed Out Terrorists)

This year, the Centre has done away with the bravery awards for children and introduced Pradhan Mantri Rashtriya Bal Puraskar, the revamped award scheme of the Ministry of Women and Child Development. Twenty-six children, two individuals and three institutions were conferred the award by President Ram Nath Kovind a couple of days ago.

The award has been given in two categories from now on. The children were awarded the Bal Shakti Puraskar under fields like Innovation, Social Service, Scholastic, Sports, Art & Culture and Bravery. Each award carries a medal, a cash prize, book vouchers, a certificate and a citation. These children will participate in the Republic Day parade.

The other awardees are two individuals and three institutions which won under the Bal Kalyan category.

The President has approved the award of one Kirti Chakra and nine Shaurya Chakras to Army personnel. The country’s highest peace-time gallantry award, Ashok Chakra, has been awarded posthumously to Lance Naik Nazir Ahmad Wani. President Kovind will present it to Wani’s widow on Saturday.

In a first for celebrations on Rajpath, Lt Bhavana Kasturi, Contingent Commander of Army Service Corps will lead an all-men Army contingent.

This year’s celebration will see another first in that the age-old British tune would be replaced by the ‘Shankhnad’. The tune has been composed by Dr Tanuja Nafade of Nagpur. Since this is also the platinum jubilee of the Mahar regiment, the Shankhnaad eulogises the valour of Veer Mahar soldiers. It is the first original martial tune of independent India that is based on Indian classical music. It has been written by Brigadier Vivek Sohal (Retired) and composed by Dr (Mrs) Tanuja Nafde.

Another foreign dignitary marking her presence at the event would be Maldivian Defence Minister Mariya Ahmed Didi. She is already in the national capital on an official visit.

Meanwhile, security has been beefed up for the event and according to Delhi police, a possible terror attack during the celebrations has been foiled with the arrest of two suspected terrorists of Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) in Kashmir.

Deputy Commissioner of Police (Special Cell) Pramod Kushwaha said that Abdul Latif Ganai alias Dilawar and Hilal were arrested following specific input about their plans to carry out terror strikes in “heavy footfall areas” in Delhi during the Republic Day celebrations. Ganai was arrested during the intervening night of January 20 and 21.

On the eve of Republic Day, President Ram Nath Kovind will address the nation on Friday. The address will be broadcast from 7 PM on the national network of All India Radio (AIR) and telecast over all channels of Doordarshan in Hindi followed by the English version. Broadcast of the address in Hindi and English will be followed by broadcast in regional languages by regional channels of Doordarshan.

Elaborate traffic arrangements and restrictions have been put in place in Delhi for the parade between Vijay Chowk and Red Fort grounds, police said. According to an advisory by the Delhi Police, the parade will start at 9.50 AM from Vijay Chowk and proceed towards the Red Fort grounds through the Rajpath, India Gate, Tilak Marg, Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg and Netaji Subhash Marg.