Abu Dhabi/Dubai: Waving tricolour flags, singing their national anthem and patriotic songs, hundreds of Indian expats in the UAE attended the vibrant celebrations of the 75th Indian Republic Day at their country’s diplomatic missions on Friday morning.
Mostly dressed in the national colours, the young and the old from various backgrounds paid tributes to their country and its constitution, which came into effect 75 years ago.
The Indian Ambassador to the UAE Sunjay Sudhir hoisted the Indian national flag at the Indian Embassy in Abu Dhabi at 8.30am while the Consul General of India in Dubai Satish Kumar Sivan unfurled the tricolour at the Indian Consulate in Dubai at 7.30am.
The flag hoisting ceremonies at the missions were followed by the top diplomats reading out excerpts from the Republic Day message of the Indian President Droupadi Murmu and cultural performances by community members.
Highlighting the importance of the milestone day in his speech, the Ambassador explained: “Today is a very important day for all of us. On this day in 1950, the Constitution of India entered into force and India became a Sovereign Democratic Republic.
"Later, in 1976, two key ideals, which define our country and its ethos – “secular and socialist”, were added to the Preamble. Our Constitution thereby encapsulated our values and beliefs of equality, justice, freedom of thought, speech and expression, rule of law, and secularism. When we adopted our constitution, we determined the values that would guide us in governing ourselves and shaping our destiny.”
Over the last seven decades, Sudhir said, successive governments, and generations of Indians have together made India the largest, and perhaps the most vibrant, democracy in the world.
“As envisioned by our founding fathers, India has stood for peace and harmony around the world. Besides being the world’s largest democracy, India is also one of the most diverse cultures where many different faiths, languages, ethnicities and cultures coexist peacefully and harmoniously.”
After giving an overview of India’s growth in various fields, he also highlighted how India-UAE bilateral relations have grown leaps and bounds. Sudhir said the India-UAE relationship is unique and the commitment of both country’s leaders to this special relationship is evident through the frequent high-level exchanges.
While the UAE President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan has visited India four times, the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the UAE six times and is set to make his next visit next month.
Recent achievements in bilateral ties include agreements on local currencies for trade settlement, UAE’s domestic card system development based on India’s RuPay stack, the integration of instant payment platforms for seamless cross-border transactions and the first-ever IIT (Indian Institute of Technology) overseas campus in Abu Dhabi.
Modi in UAE
He said the BAPS Hindu Temple in Abu Dhabi, to be inaugurated by Modi on February 14, pays tributes to the values of peace and tolerance advocated by Mahatma Gandhi and Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the founding fathers of the two nations.
The Ambassador and the Consul General urged Indian expats to attend Ahlan Modi, the grand reception organised for Modi in Abu Dhabi on February 13, the registration for which is slated to close on January 30.
Both the top diplomats hailed the contributions of the more than 3.5million-strong Indian expat community in the UAE and urged them to continue to work towards the progress of both the nations.
They also expressed their gratitude towards the UAE’s leaders for their graciousness and generosity towards the Indian expat community.
In his speech, the Consul General said: “The Consulate General of India, our largest consulate in the whole world, serves the interests of nearly 3 million Indian nationals who have been the bridge between India and the UAE for more than half a century.”
He said the strong relationship between India and the UAE is thanks to the foundations laid by the Indian community, and appreciated their contribution in building bridges of friendship between the two countries.
The cultural programmes at the consulate included performances by school students and artists based here and from India, including Jyothi Kalai, a visually impaired and autistic singer from Tamil Nadu.
Speaking to Gulf News, members of the Indian community expressed their excitement in participating at their country’s milestone celebration in a foreign land.
Ashima Kapur, a Dubai resident who attended the event for the first time, said: “I have been in Dubai for two years only and I didn’t want to miss the 75th Republic Day celebrations which is paying tributes to our great country and its constitution. Our constitution is holistic, covering many dimensions.”
She said the evolving understanding of its principles, especially as a secular, sovereign. socialist republic, deepens each year, reflecting the changing global scenarios. “As an Indian, I adore and respect it, and I find joy in rereading it.”
Sheetal Bhanu, an electronics engineer who recently moved to Dubai, said she felt amazing to get connected to her roots again during the celebrations. “When you are away from your home country, it feels really great to attend such events. The cultural performances were fantastic.”
Grander, more gracious
Rajpal Yadav, who is part of a group of Allahabad University alumni members visiting the UAE, said he was thrilled to attend the grand Republic Day celebrations in Dubai.
“This is my first visit to the UAE and I felt the spirit of patriotism seen here is much grander and more gracious than what I have seen at celebrations before.”
Pradeep Patel, who has travelled to nearly 50 countries with the message of India’s traditional ways of living, said he has enjoyed celebrating India the most in the UAE. “Here, I can attend many activities and events, which I cannot attend in many other countries. I meet people from all over the world but I still feel extremely connected to my country.”
The celebrations also saw some friends of India from other countries in attendance. Iranian expat Banafsheh Moradi Shapar, who is a national paddle player, said she adores everything about India which she has visited a few times.
“I think we are all one, and India is very close to my heart. I am very passionate about Ayurveda and I am now an Ayurvedic chef also. I felt really close and connected when I was watching the performances today.”