Abu Dhabi/Dubai: Hundreds of patriotic Indian expats braved rainy weather and morning traffic to attend the official celebrations of India’s 74th Republic Day at Indian diplomatic missions in the UAE on Thursday.
The Republic Day commemorates the day the Indian Constitution, the longest written constitution in the world, came into effect on January 26 in 1950
Waving the Indian flag and mostly wearing attires in its colours, expats sang their national anthem and chanted slogans praising their motherland as top diplomats raised the national flag in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
Indian Ambassador to the UAE Sunjay Sudhir hoisted the Indian flag at the Indian Embassy in Abu Dhabi while the Consul General of India in Dubai Dr Aman Puri unfurled the tricolour at the Indian Consulate in Dubai.
The flag-hoisting ceremonies were followed by the reading to the Indian President’s message by the Ambassador and the Consul General and cultural performances.
The top diplomats praised the growing relations with UAE and appreciated the contribution of Indian expats
While a mega Republic Day celebration at The Indian High School (IHS) Oud Metha campus in Dubai was postponed to Monday, January 30, due to bad weather conditions, young and old Indians from various states and occupations braved the unstable weather conditions to take part in the official celebrations at the missions that took place with the participation of huge crowds without COVID-19 restrictions for the first time after the pandemic.
Mutual trust, respect
In his special remarks, the ambassador said India-UAE bilateral relations are undergoing rapid and positive transformation, guided by the vision of the leadership on both sides. “Mutual trust and mutual respect have encouraged broadening and deepening of our ties and exploring new areas of cooperation. While India has engaged with all its partners around the globe, the India-UAE relationship stands apart.”
During last year, he pointed out that the UAE hosted India’s Vice President, Prime Minister, Speaker of Lok Sabha, Chief Justice of India, and several visits by the External Affairs Minister, Commerce and Industry Minister and other ministers.
“The historic CEPA (Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement), signed in last February and entered into force on May 1, has already resulted in a spike of bilateral trade by 30 per cent. The target of $100 billion to be achieved in five years will, Inshallah, be achieved much earlier,” said the Ambassador.
“India and the UAE took another significant step in strengthening our comprehensive strategic partnership with the Joint Vision Document, unveiled during the leaders’ virtual summit last February. Aptly titled “New Frontiers, New Milestones”, it charts the pathway towards a shared future. While it seeks to build on past achievements, it lays down new avenues of cooperation such as fintech, clean energy, climate action, food security and sustainability, digital payments, cyber security, cryptocurrencies among others. The announcement of the establishment of an Indian Institute of Technology in the UAE marked what might become the beginning of a new epoch in the India-UAE higher education cooperation. The UAE will be the first country to have a campus of IIT."
Expats’ contribution hailed
Addressing the vibrant Indian community, Sudhir reaffirmed that they are widely recognised as one of the most critical socio-economic pillars of strength of the UAE as well as of India-UAE relations.
“Your contributions, even during the most difficult of times, such as COVID times, have been exemplary and will act as an inspiration to Indians around the world. Your achievements make India shine and thrive on the global stage. Your contribution to the economy and development of the UAE is widely recognised, not only by the leaders and government of the UAE, but also by the Emiratis in general. Your sincerity in giving back to the motherland is a vital cog in the wheel of Indian nation building.”
Grateful to UAE
“My speech cannot be complete without thanking the UAE Government and the rulers for their graciousness and generosity towards the Indian community in the UAE. The UAE is a manifestation of their vision towards building a country and society premised on peace, harmony, tolerance and brotherhood,” the envoy added.
Meanwhile, Dr Puri said: “The UAE hosts the single-largest and vibrant Indian diaspora of 3.5 million. We are extremely proud of the hard work they're doing here in the UAE, spreading the values of “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam,” considering the whole world as one family, working shoulder to shoulder with the brothers and sisters from different parts of the world, over 200 nationalities, who call the UAE their second home. I would also like to take this opportunity to extend my gratitude to all the members of the Royal family and to all the governmental authorities here in the UAE for the extraordinary support and hospitality extended to the very large and vibrant Indian community living in the UAE.”
Community members honoured
The ambassador, who congratulated UAE-based Indian businessman Siddharth Balachandran for recently winning the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman from the Indian President, also gave away certificates of appreciation to community organisations and individuals who contributed to the welfare of the Indian diaspora and the promotion of Indian culture and arts.
Those honoured included the volunteers of Dawoodi Bohra community and Indian People’s Forum, social worker Firdous Basha, artists Anil Kejriwal, Raisa Mariam Rajan, Devisree Sathyanesan and Artscrafts Abu Dhabi.
Displaying their patriotic spirit, Visalakshy and Sunder Nurani, a chartered accountant couple, wore tricolour shawls with their white traditional outfits and held a large Indian flag at the celebrations in the consulate before heading to their office, one of the Big 4 accounting firms. “We are fortunate to attend the 74th Republic Day celebrations in person today at the consulate as in the last two years the general public were not allowed to attend due to the COVID-restrictions,” said Nurani.
“We had been to Delhi to attend the Republic Day Parade pre-COVID times and today we got the same positive vibes and patriotic feel when we attended the celebrations along with the Indian community in Dubai this morning,” added Nurani who is also the immediate past chairman of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India Dubai Chapter.
Patriotic fervour ran high as Mangilal Jat Chittar Lal Jat, who works as an office boy, greeted everyone in ethnic outfits including a tricolour turban, shawl and badges symbolising India and the UAE and the two countries' leaders. “I have been attending Republic Day celebrations in the Consulate for over 10 years. Every day I work and earn money for me and my family. I want to dedicate one day to my country. I spent around Dh300 for this costume which I keep modifying each year. Today is special as on this day we got our Constitution which makes every Indian equal before the law,” said Jat.
Disha Popat brought along her six-month-old son Pinak and his paternal grandparents who are visiting Dubai. “I didn’t mind the rain because I badly wanted to show my visiting in-laws how we celebrate the Republic Day and celebrate India home away from home,” she said.
Indians thrive with bond with UAE
Many Indian expats also took the opportunity to cherish their bond with the UAE and express their gratitude to this country where millions of Indians have been thriving.
“On this occasion, I would like to commemorate the unique cultural, economic, and emotional bond that India and the UAE share. As a member of the Indian diaspora in the UAE since 2008, I can say that the unique spirit of tolerance and magnanimous generosity of the rulers of this great country have provided us the wherewithal to retain our cultural identity as Indians even as we prosper and thrive as UAE residents," said Ravindra Agrawal, president of the Marwari Yuva Manch, Dubai.
"As a proud Indian and UAE resident, I pray that the Indo-UAE relationship continues to thrive and flourish and continue to provide us many opportunities to have successful collaborations between the two countries,”
Nysa Sethi, a business and leadership student in Dubai, said: “Living in the UAE, I feel proud of my Indian heritage which is preserved so well in this country. I get to feel, think and be in that consciousness thanks to the cultural tolerance of the UAE.
"I get to experience the best of both worlds and think the younger generation Indians have and can truly be that all important bridge between two ancient cultures.”
Jayalekshmi Jayakrishnan, senior sales manager with a radio network said: “As a resident for more than two decades in the UAE, I feel incredibly blessed that I am able to celebrate my Indianness through music, food, clothes, films and performing arts here.
"At the same time, I have imbibed so much of value from the UAE about - traditional hospitality, generosity, cosmopolitanism and vibrancy of life!
"I feel blessed to be part of the Indian diaspora in the UAE. The joy of ushering in yet another Indian Republic Day reaffirms my faith in Indian democracy and its rich cultural diversity. For me it means the festival of liberty and democracy.”