India Republic Day
Sunjay Sudhir, Indian Ambassador to the UAE Image Credit: Supplied

On the occasion of the 76th Independence Day of India, I convey my warm greetings and good wishes to all Indian nationals and friends of India in the UAE. Today, we complete 75 glorious years of independence, a journey like no other and a milestone like no other.

We proudly celebrate this momentous occasion by paying homage to our freedom fighters. Their sacrifices laid the foundations of free India.

India has come a long way since 1947. Today, it is the fastest-growing major economy and the third-largest economy in the world in terms of purchasing power parity. However, the journey was full of challenges, and perhaps none more painful than the past few years of the pandemic.

India, along with the entire world, was impacted by the unprecedented Covid-19 pandemic. However, with the world’s largest vaccination programme aided by the efforts of our frontline workers, India is well on its road towards building back better.

While India engaged with all its partners around the globe, the India-UAE relationship has emerged stronger than ever. As if ordained by destiny, while India celebrated the 75th year of independence, the UAE also celebrated the Year of the 50th, golden jubilee of the formation of the country. Furthermore, this is also the year when our two nations complete 50 years of diplomatic relations.

A testimony to this close bond is the most recent visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Abu Dhabi to personally convey his condolences on the demise of Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan and good wishes on the election of His Highness

Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan as the third President of the UAE. This was the second interaction between the two leaders since the India-UAE Virtual Summit in February 2022, which marked a quantum leap in the India-UAE partnership with signing of the UAE-India Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA).

Currently, India-UAE trade stands at $72.88 billion (Dh267.6 billion), while total UAE investments into India are more than $17 billion, including $12.2 billion in the form of FDI. Under CEPA, both countries expect to boost bilateral trade from $60 billion to $100 billion within the next five years. Key products that will immediately benefit from the agreement include oil and gas, petrochemicals, minerals, textiles, agriculture, jewellery and gems, metals and more. The CEPA aims to eliminate tariffs to more than 10,000 tariff lines within a period of 10 years, and it is expected to have a major impact on trading between India, the UAE and the wider Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region.

Interactions at the highest levels continued this year as well, with the visit of former Vice President Venkaiah Naidu to pay condolences on the demise of Shaikh Khalifa. The first visits by the Speaker of Lok Sabha, Om Birla and the Chief Justice of India, N. V. Ramana were also of special significance. Such interactions will surely continue and even increase this year as well.

India and the UAE took another significant step in strengthening our comprehensive strategic partnership with the Joint Vision Document, unveiled during the leaders’ virtual summit on February 18. Aptly titled New Frontiers, New Milestones, it charts the pathway towards a shared future. Announcement of the establishment of an Indian Institute of Technology in Abu Dhabi marks yet another first towards that vision.

India and the UAE also worked with the United States and Israel to form the I2U2 group in October 2021. In a matter of months, the I2U2 summit was convened between Prime Minister Modi, His Highness President Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed, President Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid. Several key announcements included an investment of $2 billion by the UAE to develop food parks in India and a $330-million joint project to develop renewable energy capacity of up to 300 MW in India.

Also this year, the UAE government hosted more than 24 million people at Expo 2020 Dubai — a spectacular achievement. Expo 2020 was home to the India pavilion that showcased the country’s rich history, the story of its rise as a major economy, achievements in human development, science and technology, infrastructure and its unity in diversity.

Not only is the UAE home to more than 3.5 million Indians, our countries share a historical and cultural affinity that dates back centuries, if not millennia. I thank the UAE government and the rulers for their graciousness and generosity towards the Indian community in the UAE. The UAE is a manifestation of their vision towards building a country and society premised on peace, harmony, tolerance and brotherhood.

In yet another first, together with more than 5,500 people, we celebrated the International

Day of Yoga 2022 at the iconic Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi and a unique event in Dubai brought together more than 500 women. With the UAE government as a key stakeholder, IDY 2022 was a first of is kind in terms of participation and scale.

To the vibrant community in the UAE, your contributions to the UAE are not just acknowledged but are cherished. You are truly a living bridge that connects India and the UAE, and one which gets stronger year after year. Difficult times of the pandemic brought the best within us to the fore in the aid of fellow members of the community and countrymen and for that I extend my heartfelt salutations. In fact, India@75: Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav is a celebration of 75 years of Indians making the motherland proud.

Once again, on behalf of the Embassy of India in Abu Dhabi and the Consulate General of India in Dubai, I wish all Indians a very Happy 76th Independence Day.

Jai Hind. ●