By Sumit Sengupta /Doha
Indian expatriates in Qatar yesterday celebrated their country’s 70th Independence Day with patriotic fervour and gaiety.
A flag-hoisting ceremony was held at the Indian Cultural Centre (ICC) in Doha, led by Indian ambassador Sanjiv Arora.
The gathering at ICC.
A large number of people, undeterred by the heat and humidity, thronged the ICC premises for the celebrations, which started around 7am.
Those attending the event included embassy officials, office-bearers of Indian organisations in Qatar and community members from different walks of life.
Among those present were several families and children, some of whom turned up in Independence Day-inspired attire and were also seen carrying the tricolour – the Indian flag.
The proceedings got under way with Arora hoisting the national flag, followed by a rendition of the Indian national anthem by a group of children as well as the famous patriotic song, Sare Jahaan Se Achha. The community members exchanged greetings with each other, the ambassador and embassy officials, even as slogans praising India added to the prevailing spirit of patriotism.
“It’s a great moment for us, though we are away from home,” said one of them, celebrating the moment with his children.
The crowd then assembled at the ICC’s Ashoka Hall, where the ambassador conveyed his greetings to all Indian citizens living in Qatar and read out the Independence Day message from Indian President Pranab Mukherjee.
“Notwithstanding the different hues of political thought, I have seen the ruling party and the opposition coming together in pursuit of national agenda of development, unity, integrity and security of the nation,” the president was quoted as saying. “I have seen with some satisfaction a stable and progressive democracy in full play.”
He added: “I also saw, with some disquiet, forces of divisiveness and intolerance trying to raise their ugly head. Attacks on weaker sections that militate against our national ethos are aberrations that need to be dealt with firmly. The collective wisdom of our society and our polity gives me the confidence that such forces will remain marginalised and India’s remarkable growth story will continue uninterrupted.”
The president observed that the safety and security provided to the country’s women and children determined the well-being of the state and society. “We cannot call ourselves a civilised society if we fail in this duty,” he said. The spirit of the Indian constitution has to be upheld by adherence to the ancient Indian ethos of “Maryada” by functionaries in the discharge of their duties, he noted, adding that “India will grow only when all of India grows, and the excluded ones have to be included in the development process.”
His message also addressed issues such as India’s economy, global terrorism and foreign policy.
“We have reinvigorated our historic bonds of friendship with traditional partners of Africa and Asia-Pacific. We are in the process of forging new relationships based on shared values and mutual benefit with all countries, especially our immediate and extended neighbourhood. There will be no stepping back on our ‘neighbourhood first policy’.”
A short film highlighting various schemes and projects undertaken by the Indian government, covering a wide range of social, economic and other areas, was also shown on the occasion.
In his address, ICC president Girish Kumar conveyed his greetings to the gathering inside the packed Ashoka Hall and highlighted the importance of the day.
Students from Indian schools then performed a number of patriotic songs, much to the
delight of the audience.
Emir greets president
HH the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani yesterday sent a cable of congratulations to the President of the Republic of India Pranab Mukherjee on the anniversary of his country’s Independence Day. HH the Deputy Emir Sheikh Abdullah bin Hamad al-Thani and HE the Prime Minister and Interior Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa al-Thani also sent similar cables.
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