Dubai: Sundar Nurani and his wife Vishalakshy Sundar have never missed a single Independence Day event at the Indian Consulate in Dubai for the last 20 years.
The couple, both chartered accountants by profession, feel strongly about their country of birth.
“India is a growing superpower and we as expatriates need to demonstrate our support. As a child I loved going to school for flag-hoisting, singing the national anthem and enjoying the patriotic fervour. When I came to Dubai in 1998, I made it a point to be part of every Independence Day at the consulate. I get to relive all my childhood memories,” said Nurani, 50.
Vishalakshy, 47, added that every year on August 15, they take special permission from their office to come in late. “I feel India is shining right now and I need to be part of the story. Our bosses are benevolent and understand that on August 15 we will be at work an hour late. I never miss the flag-hoisting and am incredibly proud to be an Indian,” she said.
Saifuddin Bhavnagarwala, 81, visiting his son in Dubai came in a wheelchair to witness the flag-hoisting. Retired after 30 years of service as an electric foreman from the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), Bhavnagarwala said: “I am a staunch patriotic and always believe in attending Independence Day functions wherever I may be. I live in Nala Sopara in Mumbai and attend every Independence Day event at our housing society. So it was important for me to attend this here.”
Prabhdeep Singh, 35, living in Dubai for 11 years, belongs to a family of army personnel and feels strongly about serving his country. “I am incredibly patriotic and think India is getting stronger. Two of my uncles retired as major-general from the Indian army and several cousins of mine have joined the army. I have at least seven friends in the army and so my sentiment for my country is very strong. Wherever I am, I like to celebrate with the same enthusiasm that my parents and family do in India,” said Singh, a chartered accountant who has not missed a single hoisting of the Indian tricolour for the last seven years.
Hitiksha Vora, art collector and digital media influencer, is a regular at all Independence Day celebrations in Dubai. Currently she is positive about India and its progress trajectory.
“Today, as an NRI, I feel proud when my multinational friends in Dubai talk about India in glowing terms. I feel India is at the threshold of an economic revolution and the next five years are going to be stupendous! I feel [Narendra] Modi is the first prime minister who has truly walked the talk when he said ‘Sabka saath sabka vikas’ [Together in progress].
“One can see the changes — several decisions such as the One Rank One Pension Scheme (OROP), the Other Backward Caste (OBC) commission, better minimum selling price for farmers — these and many more historic decisions are transforming lives at the grass-root level. Other than this, affordable health care programmes such as Ayushman Bharat and Pradhan Mantri Arogya Yojana are giving a chance to the poor and marginalised to seek treatment in good hospitals. I think the poor have a voice today in our country.”
Ramzan Ali, 30, from Uttar Pradesh said the event at the Indian Consulate in Dubai reminded him of his journey to the village school with his three children on Independence Day every year. “Since my children started going to school, I had been accompanying them for Independence Day celebrations without fail. I have missed it for the past two years,” said Ali who reached Abu Dhabi two years ago.
Shiva Kumar, 28, an electrician from Tamil Nadu, was attending an Independence Day ceremony after many years. “I used to attend it as a kid at my school. After that there was no such an opportunity.”
He felt proud to be part of the celebrations alongside fellow Indians from all walks of life.
Om Prakash, 35, from Bihar, said it was a pleasant experience to celebrate Independence Day in a foreign land at the Indian Embassy. “Back home we used to celebrate it in a grand way at our labour accommodation with my fellow workers. This reminded me of those colourful experiences.”