Residents turned up at the Indian Consulate in Dubai and Indian Embassy to witness flag-hoisting ceremony.
The scorching August heat did not deter patriotic Indian expatriates in the UAE from celebrating India’s Independence Day on Thursday.
Dressed up in ethnic Indian wear and the tri-colours, hundreds of residents turned up at the Indian Consulate in Dubai and Indian Embassy in Abu Dhabi to witness the flag-hoisting ceremony and other cultural events.
Addressing the community members after unfurling Indian flag at the embassy, Navdeep Singh Suri, Indian Ambassador to the UAE, said that the mission goes the extra mile in trying to find solutions to each issue faced by the citizens.
“We don’t have a solution to every problem faced by our businessmen and workers but make full effort to communicate with the government and local authorities, and find a way out. We will leave no stone unturned to make sure that we do our very best within the limits of diplomatic limits. We have an ‘Open House’ from 9am to 12.30pm every working day,” he added.
The ambassador underlined that the level of the UAE-India ties was at new heights. “Yesterday (Thursday), for the first time ever, the NASDAQ Dubai Stock Exchange invited me to ceremonially ring the bell and open the trading session with the tricolour in the background. The Indian national anthem was sung.
“It reminds us how far this relationship has travelled in such a short span of time. A lot of credit goes to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his personal friendship with His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces,” said the ambassador.
Consul-General of India to Dubai Vipul hoisted the national flag at the consulate at 8.30am. Speaking to Khaleej Times on the sidelines of the event, Vipul said India-UAE relations have reached new heights in the recent past.
Along with the ceremony for the construction of the Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi, conversations on skill development, human resources and Artificial Intelligence (AI), and Prime Minister Narendra Modi being conferred the Zayed Award, India and UAE bilateral relations are constantly scaling new heights. “It’s the endeavour of the consulate to help our countrymen and women. And for people who want to visit India, we’ve taken several new initiatives,” said Vipul.
The outgoing ambassador said the Independence Day was extra special with the unveiling of the statue of Mahatma Gandhi at the embassy to mark the 150th birth anniversary of the ‘Father of the Nation’.
The bust is made by sculptor Ram Vanaji Sutar and presented by Indian Council for Cultural Relations, Government of India. He noted the community has actively participated in blood donation drive held by the embassy to commemorate the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev, the founder of Sikh religion. He invited community members to join the drive at Indian Social Centre Abu Dhabi on August 23.
“After 36 years of serving our nation, I will complete my assignment and diplomatic career and go back by the end of September. A capable member of Indian Foreign Service will succeed here in Abu Dhabi,” Suri added.
New procedures for application of passports and visas
“This year we started the online process for passports leading to greater efficiency and ease to apply for passports,” said Vipul, adding that the consulate had been working overtime to respond to each and every distress call from workers and new initiatives for visas have also been launched.
Furthermore, the Consulate will be celebrating Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary and Guru Nanak’s 550th birth anniversary this year as well. “Following the end of summer, we will be focusing on Expo 2020. We are at very advanced stages of completing the construction of the Indian pavilion,” announced Vipul.
Three generations of the Lalge family arrived at the consulate to celebrate Independence Day. A Dubai resident for 25-years, KS Lalge and his wife Sandhya Lalge witnessed the flag-hoisting with their daughter Nehali Lalge and baby grandson Ved Bhadekar.
“My son is just 20 months old. This is his second Independence Day. It is very difficult to teach kids about Indian culture while being away from India. When they come here and witness it first-hand, he learns our history and culture better,” said Nehali.
Praveen Kumar, a social worker and volunteer of the Indian Consulate’s medical team, said: “I attend flag-hoisting every year. Several residents are currently occupied in organising flood relief operations for various parts in India. Last year, we’d sent containers of relief products.”
Namrata Salunke Ramteke, a housewife, said: “This is my first Independence Day in Dubai. We are very new here. This programme is very good. I make it a point to celebrate Independence Day wherever we are. Last year, I was in Nairobi, Kenya. I celebrated there as well.”
Ashish Asthana and his son Aayan said: “We try and come to the Indian Consulate every year. My son was not born in India. We need to teach him why it’s important and remind him why he’s fortunate to be born in Independent India.”
Rashmi and Viru Nagathan attended the celebrations with their daughter Anvita and Aarya. Viru said: “I have been in the UAE for nine years and I try and make it every year. This year is special for me because we came as a family. Every year we watch the flag-hoisting at the Red Fort. Usually, during this time we are in India, where my daughter goes to the stadium in Dharwad, our home town in Karnakata, to witness the flag hoisting ceremony.”