I remember the president's tea party in 1958. The number of guests was reasonable in relation to the size of the lawn and made for a comfortable, civilised afternoon. The president and Jawaharlal Nehru walked around the lawns, having a word or two with the guests. We could gawk at Nehru at close quarters. But over the last five years or so, the number of invitees has increased so much that there is only cramped standing room. Because of the vast number of invitees, the super vips are kept behind a rope cordon manned by policemen. The other guests, who include distinguished Indians and diplomats, have to file past in a queue to have their darshan.
A social occasion should have more grace. I remember that whenever S.S. Ray gave a dinner as the Punjab governor, he stood at the door to receive all his guests. So did Morarji Desai as prime minister. My suggestion is that if large numbers have to be invited, then there should be two or even three garden parties on the eve of Republic Day.