Skip to navigationSkip to content
Republic Day-India
Reuters/Ahmad Masood
This is what they come for.

More than half the world’s leaders have attended India’s Republic Day parade

Barack Obama is only the latest—and the first US president—to sit in attendance at New Delhi’s Rajpath. But for over six decades, the great and the good (and the not so good) of the world’s leaders have watched the troops march by as the guest of honor at India’s Republic Day parade on Jan. 26.

On a presumably cold January morning in 1950, Indonesian strongman Sukarno, along with his wife, watched on as Rajendra Prasad was sworn-in as India’s president during the country’s first Republic Day celebrations. A 31-gun salute followed (PDF), together with a ceremonial parade by three thousand officers from India’s armed forces.

This is what it looked like back then.

Since then, the list of world leaders at the celebrations has swelled—including Pakistan’s head of state in 1955, when the country’s governor-general Ghulam Mohammed came to New Delhi.

But Bhutan and France are clear favorites.

In 1954, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck was the first Bhutanese king to attend the Republic Day, followed by Jigme Singye Wangchuck in 1984 and 2005. Most recently, in 2013, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck was the guest of honor.

The map below shows the all countries whose leaders have attended India’s Republic Day celebrations.

Subscribe to the Daily Brief, our morning email with news and insights you need to understand our changing world.