Abu Dhabi: The Vice-President candidate of India, Mohammad Hamid Ansari remembers his career as an ambassador to the UAE as an excellent responsibility and a pleasant experience.
"It was almost three decades ago and the Indian community was not so big as today." Ansari told Gulf News by telephone from his residence in New Delhi.
Although he was resting after recovering from viral fever he was ready to speak.
He was unanimously declared the candidate of India's ruling front United Progressive Alliance (UPA) and Left parties on Friday for the August 10 vice-presidential election.
The name of Ansari, Chairman of the National Minorities Commission, was announced by UPA chairwoman Sonia Gandhi at a meeting of the UPA-Left Coordination Committee in New Delhi. But the well known scholar and diplomat was not excited by the new development.
"I am just a candidate only; I can accept your congratulations when I win the elections," he said.
But India's mainstream newspapers and news agencies have quoted poll managers of the ruling front saying he will have a clear majority with the support of 401 MPs in an electoral college comprising 788 members of both upper and lower houses of parliament. The number will go up by 24 if the Bahujan Samaj Party joins in.
Ansari was Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations, High Commissioner to Australia and Ambassador to the UAE, Afghanistan, Iran and Saudi Arabia. He was also the Vice-Chancellor of the Aligarh Muslim University from May 2000 to March 2002.
Ansari said trade between the two countries was not so large when he was ambassador to the UAE.
"Although the Indian community was not so big, it was vibrant. The community was running a school, clubs and a special school for special needs children. Social life was exciting", said Ansari who was UAE ambassador from 1976-1980.
Senior community members remember he contributed a lot for the development of institutions.
"Ansari was instrumental to get land for the Indian School from His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan," said Mohan Jashanmal, chairman of Indian Business and Professionals group and regional manager of Jashanmal National Company in Abu Dhabi.
"Ansari's wife Salma was very active with the activities of Indian Ladies Association and school for special needs children. Both of them managed to get support and blessings from Shaikha Fatima for the smooth functioning of the association and school," said Jashanmal.
Another senior resident Richard D'souza, General Controller of Finance Department of Abu Dhabi Government, said Ansari's scholarship and fluency in Arabic was a great advantage in strengthening the relationship between the two countries.