Consul General of India to Dubai and northern Emirates Dr Aman Puri
Consul General of India to Dubai and northern Emirates Dr Aman Puri Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: For the first time, the Indian Republic Day celebrations, which used to be held with much fanfare with the presence of several community members at Indian missions in the UAE, went virtual on Tuesday in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 72nd Republic Day celebrations in the UAE kick-started at the Indian Consulate in Dubai at 8am with only the officials in attendance. The event was livestreamed for the members of the community who used to throng the mission on the occasion in the past.

Consul General of India to Dubai and northern Emirates Dr Aman Puri unfurled the national flag in the presence of visiting Indian Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment Ramdas Athawale and employees of the mission.

Following the national anthem, he also read out the message of the Indian President to the nation on the eve of the Republic Day in Hindi. A few cultural programmes were also held.

In Abu Dhabi, the flag-hoisting ceremony by the Indian Ambassador to the UAE Pavan Kapoor was scheduled for 9am.

Due to COVID restrictions and safety protocols in place, the missions had requested all Indian nationals to join the virtual coverage of the celebrations.

The Indian Consulate was lit up in tricolour on the eve of the Republic Day on Monday. The mission posted a video and photos of its premises illuminated to mark the patriotic occasion.

UAE shining example in COVID fight

In an exclusive video message to Gulf News on the eve of the Republic Day, Dr Puri extended greetings to all Indians, Emiratis and people of around 200 nationalities who call the UAE their second home.

“I would like to take this opportunity to extend my gratitude to the UAE leadership for the vision, compassion and care extended to the very large Indian community of almost 3.3million in the UAE,” he said.

“We are all privileged to be here in the UAE which is a shining example in the world in terms of handling the COVID-19 pandemic, including one of the most successful vaccination programmes in the world with almost one sixth of the population already [standing] vaccinated and it is estimated that by the end of March, 50 percent of the population would have received the vaccine.”

He congratulated the members of the Indian community for the extraordinary work they are doing including in binding the UAE-India ties.

Countering job losses

“As you know, the COVID-19 pandemic has devastated the global economy and one of the most serious impacts had been job losses. Therefore, here in the consulate, we are working closely with key stakeholders like academia and industry to ensure that we can upskill and retrain the Indian blue-collar workers living in the UAE to prepare them for the jobs which would be available in a post COVID-19 economy,” he said, referring to the recently opened Upskilling and Training Centre for Blue-Collar Indian Workers.

The Consul General called for the support of all members of the Indian community in the “noble endeavor.”

He said the consulate is always working towards reaching out and becoming more accessible to members of the Indian community. “And we recently launched the PBSK app which you must download in your phones which will make it easier for you to connect with the consulate.”

The app connects users with Pravasi Bharatiya Sahayata Kendra help centre which runs a 24x7 helpline, offers free legal, psychological and financial counselling services and helps verify job offers in the UAE to protect Indians against fake job offers.

Pointing out that India will be celebrating its 75th year of its independence next year, the consul general said the celebrations are going to begin in March this year and sought support from the community to make it memorable.

More to come...