The Indian Republic Day parade every 26 January is still a spectacle, even though there has been little change in the format. For some, perhaps, it is this very similarity that makes it such a comfortable annual optic.
One of the intriguing aspects of the event, besides it being a salute to the military, civil and cultural might of India, is the selection of the chief guest. It is the best step forward for us. In recent years we have had US president Barack Obama, UAE Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and President François Hollande of France.
Last month during the 15th ASEAN summit in Manila, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had invited President Duterte as one of the chief guests of India’s 69th Republic Day celebrations.
Along with President Duterte, 9 other ASEAN heads of state are also expected to attend the event. Other 9 are: Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, the Sultan Of Brunei, Prime Minister Hun Sen of Cambodia, Joko Widodo, the President Of Indonesia Najib Razak, Prime Minister Of Malaysia, Nguyen Xuân Phúc, Prime Minister Of Vietnam, President Halima Yacob of Singapore, President Htin Kyaw of Myanmar, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha of Thailand and Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith of Laos.
President Duterte will be in India on January 24-26, making it his first foreign trip of the year.
Duterte is the third Philippine President to visit India. Former President Fidel Ramos visited India in 1997 and former President and incumbent Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in 2007.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque previously said that Duterte’s trip to India was a “personal appeal” by Indian Ambassador Jaideep Mazumdar.
Aside from Duterte’s scheduled bilateral meeting with Modi, Duterte will also attend the Philippine-India Business Forum on January 26.
Duterte had said he would invite Indian pharmaceutical companies to do business in the Philippines so their products can be made available to Filipinos.
India is the largest provider of generic medicine, accounting for 20% of global exports, based on volume.