Indian Ambassador
Indian Ambassador to the UAE Sunjay Sudhir addressing the 73rd Republic Day celebrations in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Indian expatriates in the UAE kicked off day-long celebrations for the 73rd Republic Day of their country today with official flag-hoisting ceremonies at diplomatic missions in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

The day commemorates India becoming a sovereign republic after its constitution came into effect on January 26, 1950, following India’s independence on August 15, 1947.

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In his message on the occasion, Sunjay Sudhir, Indian Ambassador to the UAE, said it is a day on which Indians rededicate themselves to the values that their constitution enshrines. “This year, we also celebrate 75 years of independence as ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’. Like last year, this year too we are celebrating the Republic Day under the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic. But armed with effective tools, committed health-care professionals and a sense of civic responsibility, we stand prepared to ward off this wave as well.” He said India and the UAE remained committed to working closely for the wellbeing and prosperity of the people.

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Dr Aman Puri, the Consul-General of India in Dubai, hoists the Indian flag on the occasion of the 73rd Republic Day of India, at the Indian Consulate premises in Dubai today. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

“We continue to cooperate closely on all fronts, whether it be health, food security, technology, trade, commerce or economy. To the 3.4 million strong Indian community in the UAE, I would like to convey my heartfelt respect for the role they continue to play in strengthening the India-UAE bond. Your support in dealing with challenges in the past and your readiness to contribute to the future is truly commendable. I would also like to take this opportunity to express, on behalf of India and the 3.4 million Indian community in the UAE, sincere appreciation for the generosity and responsiveness of the leadership and institutions of the UAE.”

Many firsts have been scheduled at the Expo 2020 Dubai for the celebrations that last till late night with performances by Shweta Subram, the voice behind the viral hook ‘Jalebi Baby’, and Anupam Nair, the lead singer and founder of the Dubai-based band ROOH.

Volunteers feted

Meanwhile, the celebration in Abu Dhabi witnessed around 30 community members getting honoured for their service to the community, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Sunjay Sudhir, the Indian Ambassador to the UAE, along with the community members who were felicitated for their services, particularly for COVID-19 relief efforts, at the Indian Embassy in Abu Dhabi today, on the occasion of India's Republic Day. Image Credit: Supplied

UAE safest country

Sudhir, who hoisted the national flag on the premises of the Indian Embassy in Abu Dhabi, assured Indian expats about safety in the UAE. “I wish to assure the Indian community that the UAE continues to be one of the safest countries in the world.”

Thanking the community volunteers who were feted, he said working for the largest Indian community across the globe is a huge task and it was only possible with the support from community associations and volunteers like them.

The ambassador and Dr Aman Puri, the Consul-General of India in Dubai, read out excerpts from the Republic Day special address to the nation by the Indian President Ram Nath Kovind.

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Dr Aman Puri, the Consul-General of India in Dubai, reads out excerpts from the Republic Day special address to the nation by Ram Nath Kovind, the Indian President, during Republic Day celebrations at the Indian Consulate in Dubai today. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Flag hoisting at Indian Consulate

Earlier, the celebrations in the UAE began with Dr Puri unfurling the Indian tricolour at the Indian Consulate at 7:30am. For the second time in a row, in view of the pandemic, the mission held the flag-hoisting ceremony without the presence of the members of the vibrant Indian expat community who used to attend the event in large numbers. Last year also, celebrations at the consulate were restricted to diplomats due to COVID-19 safety protocols.

The mission urged Indian expats to attend the celebrations at the India Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai, abiding by the safety guidelines.

The flag-hoisting ceremony at the Consulate was followed by the singing of the national anthem by the diplomats.

In his message, Dr Puri said: “This is a special moment for both India and the UAE as we mark 75 years of Independence and the UAE celebrates its 50th National Day. The historical bond has grown from strength to strength and is today at the crossroads of exciting collaborations and partnerships in future. Under the visionary leadership of the UAE, we have witnessed exceptional growth of the UAE to emerge as a global powerhouse today, with a distinctive edge in driving forward futuristic innovations.”

For the past four months, UAE has caught global attention with the hosting of Expo 2020 Dubai, the largest event being held since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr Puri added.

“The UAE leadership and the authorities have pulled off extraordinary success by bringing together 192 countries to explore new horizons.” He said the India Pavilion, built on the theme ‘Opportunity, Openness and Growth’, is India’s largest-ever participation at the World Expos.

“India Pavilion is among the largest and most visited Pavilions and beyond Expo 2020, it will remain as a hub that will cement India-UAE collaborations across varied sectors. Expo 2020 Dubai has definitely accelerated the interactions and deliberations to gauge potential areas of cooperation.”

The mission also organised a small event in which Sucheta Satish, the Indian expat singing prodigy with world records for singing in most languages, sang patriotic songs dedicated to India’s freedom fighters.

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Ceremony in school

Dr Puri unfurled the Indian flag at The Indian High School’s senior campus in Dubai. The school witnessed subdued celebrations in view of the pandemic. Students in all three schools under the school group have been given a holiday today and have been urged to attend the virtual ceremonies organised by the Central Board of Secondary Education in India.

Punit Vasu, CEO, The Indian High Group of Schools, said: “In this remarkable year, where India celebrates its 73rd Republic Day and UAE beams brightly at 50, we at The Indian High Group of Schools celebrate 60 glorious years of giving back to the community and country. This is an iconic milestone for us and it feels phenomenal to be part of such a historic event that resonates with the excellence and success of our two homes.”