Dubai: India’s tricolour fluttered high in the UAE skies as the country’s missions marked the 71st Republic Day on Sunday morning.
Hundreds of patriotic Indians of all ages attended the official celebrations to honour the day the constitution of the country came into effect on January 26, 1950 as the governing document of India.
UAE President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan has sent a message of congratulations to Indian President Ram Nath Kovind on the occasion of his country's Republic Day, WAM reported.
His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and His Highness Shaikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, also dispatched similar messages to the Indian President on the occasion.
In Abu Dhabi, Indian Ambassador to the UAE Pavan Kapoor hoisted the national flag in the premises of the Indian Embassy.
Consul General of India in Dubai Vipul unfurled the tricolour and hoisted the flag at the Indian Consulate in Dubai.
Waving the Indian flag and mostly wearing attires in its colours, expats sang their national anthem and shouted slogans praising their mother land after the flag hoisting ceremonies.
The heads of the missions also read out the Indian President’s address to the nation.
“Our Constitution gave us rights as citizens of a free democratic nation, but also placed on us the responsibility to always adhere to the central tenets of our democracy - justice, liberty, equality and fraternity. It becomes easier for us to follow these constitutional ideals, if we keep in mind the life and values of the Father of our Nation. By doing so, we will be adding a meaningful dimension to our celebrations of 150th birth anniversary of Gandhiji,” President Ram Nath Kovind said in his speech.
The Consul General said: “Our partnership with the UAE is getting strengthened by the day. So I feel extra proud when I celebrate the Republic Day with all the Indians here in the UAE…We have to work for India and we have to work for India-UAE relations. I think Republic Day is a great day when we recommit ourselves to these tasks.”
Vipul and former Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Awardee Vasu Shroff honoured veteran expat Hemu Bhatia in appreciation of his community service.
Patriotic songs and cultural performances were also held as part of the celebrations.
Various events to mark the day were held in Indian schools, associations and workplaces as well.
Celebrations at IHS
A huge celebration was held at The Indian High School in Oud Metha, Dubai. Around 2,000 students participated in march-pasts, folk shows and other performances on school grounds, showcasing the cultural diversity of India and singing patriotic songs. Guests, teachers and parents were seated all around, cheering the performers and taking videos and pictures.
Republic Day celebrations and shows are a longstanding tradition at IHS, seeing a huge turnout of members of the Indian community in the UAE. The event is held in association with the Indian consulate in Dubai.
Speaking at the IHS event, Vipul said attending the IHS celebrations has always made him “feel great pride as an Indian attending your celebrations”.
“As a CBSE [Central Board of Secondary Education] school, our consulate has always extended our full support to the school and will continue to do so. We have followed closely the recent changes in the school,” Vipul said. IHS recently appointed a new CEO, Punit M.K. Vasu, among other developments.
Vipul welcomed guests, including officials from Dubai’s Community Development Authority (CDA), such as Dr Omar Al Muthanna, CEO - Licensing and Monitoring Sector, CDA. Also attending were IHS chairman Girish Jethwani and prominent Indian businessman Ram Buxani, among other guests.
Vipul also read out excerpts from Indian president Ram Nath Kovind’s Republic Day speech. Speaking to media after the performances, he said featuring the Expo 2020 Dubai as part of the show is in line with the “ethos of India [of welcoming diversity] as well as the focus of the UAE of bringing together the entire world by focusing on tolerance”.
He added that “we are all especially proud” of the number of Indians living in the UAE (over 3.3 million) and their contributions to both countries.
A blood donation campaign and cultural performances at different venues were also held as part of the celebrations held during the weekend.
WHAT RESIDENTS HAVE TO SAY
Amjad Khan, Rajasthani singer
“I don’t think we can celebrate our national days in such grandeur in many other countries. This is possible here because of our relations with the UAE. We love India and the UAE and I want to see the kind of harmony and tolerance that is there in the UAE in India also as we see some divisions in our society due to political issues.”
Raj Sharma, retired teacher from Shimla on a visit to Dubai
“This is my first time I am celebrating the Indian Republic Day on foreign soil. It is a special feeling. This brought back a lot of memories of us organising the Republic Day celebrations in our school back in India. I feel more connected to these celebrations as I used to be a history teacher and my MPhil thesis was based on the Quit India Movement.”
Ajay Kumar Shahi, senior quality control engineer from UP
“I live in Abu Dhabi but my current projects are at Expo 2020 Dubai site. I worked yesterday and took a comp off today to attend the celebrations at the consulate. I stayed in my sister’s house in Sharjah to attend the early morning celebration. I bought this Indian Flag T-shirt to wear on this occasion. I feel proud and lucky that we Indians can get together and celebrate with patriotic fervour here. These celebrations are a must for children to understand our country’s history and culture.”
Roopam Chaturvedi, a parent in Dubai
“I want to see a happy, peaceful and united India. I regularly attend Republic Day celebrations, they are even bigger than Independence Day festivities. Seeing the celebrations makes me feel very nostalgic, especially since we are living outside India. Watching the pupils put on a performance reminds me of my school days, when I was a student myself.”
Pooja Prijesh, Indian expat in Dubai
“India has reached new heights in various fields, and now I want to see it climb even higher. One area in particular is education, which has not kept pace with other fields. Yes, changes are afoot – for example, there is talk about doing away with board exams in the CBSE. But there should also be a wider change towards modernisation of education as whole in India.”
Mansi Chaturvedi, grade 11 student, The Indian High School, Dubai
“I would like for all Indians to be untied as one. This Republic Day was doubly special for me as it was my first time taking part in the march-past at my school. We, all students, put on an amazing performance for the audience. It really showcased our Indian culture, which has so many shades.”
What is Republic Day
Republic Day honours the date January 26, 1950 on which the Constitution of India came into effect though the Constituent Assembly of India had adopted it on November 26, 1949. The Constitution replaced the Government of India Act as the governing document of India. This replacement was a key move in fulfilling India’s journey towards becoming an independent republic, a democracy. The date itself carries significance, even before 1950. It was not selected randomly but rather chosen as the day when, in 1929, the Purna Swaraj, or Declaration of Indian Independence was proclaimed by the Indian National Congress in response to the Dominion status offered by the British. Republic Day is a holiday in India and marked with an official national parade in the capital New Delhi, and other patriotic celebrations by the wider community in India and abroad.