The Indian president, Pratibha Patil, marked the country's 60th Republic Day with a call for resilience in the face of the recent militant attacks.
Indians hear solemn message at Republic Day celebrations
ABU DHABI // The Indian president, Pratibha Patil, marked the country's 60th Republic Day with a call for resilience in the face of the recent militant attacks in Mumbai and mounting economic troubles. In a speech read by the ambassador to the UAE, Talmiz Ahmad, to dozens of Indian expatriates at the embassy yesterday, the president took stock of a difficult year on the subcontinent.
"We have witnessed, in the last year, major events in the financial and security scenario both at the global and the national level - terrorism and violence, natural disasters, volatility of oil and food prices, and a global economic slowdown," she said. The president also called for greater integrity on the part of the Indian corporate and financial community, in an apparent reference to the recent auditing debacle at Satyam, a global information technology services company based in Hyderabad that analysts have called India's own Enron scandal and has shaken confidence in the country's emerging corporate system.
She also declared Jan 24 next year National Girl Child Day, to highlight "the gender bias prevalent in our society". Before reading the president's speech, Mr Ahmad hoisted the Indian flag at the embassy, located in the diplomatic quarter off Airport Road. "This is a special day for us Indians and those who wish India well. Our relationship with the UAE is extremely substantial, as our neighbour and partner in political and economic ties," said the ambassador in his own speech, which highlighted ties with the UAE.
"India will be able to cope really well but we are conscious that we are part of the global economy," he added. Venu Rajamony, the Indian consul general in Dubai, read the president's speech at the consulate and hoisted the Indian flag, before hosting a cultural programme at his residence. Republic Day, which marks the day India adopted its constitution, is also known as an occasion for prominent expatriate Indians to mingle and talk about both community projects and business.
At the India Social and Cultural Centre, businessmen gathered for a breakfast meeting. Before they sat down to eat, Yusuffali MA, the managing director of Emke Group, and BR Shetty, the managing director of the New Medical Centre, hoisted an Indian flag on the roof. It was the first ceremony for the newly built centre, which has 2,400 members, but has yet to be formally inaugurated. "Our job is to promote healthy Indo-UAE ties and we look forward to bilateral visits from both countries this year that will further establish economic and cultural relations," said Mr Yusuffali.
At Indian schools across the country, students hoisted the flag in early morning ceremonies before being given the rest of the day off. In India, colourful floats from each of the country's 29 states wound their way towards the ancient Red Fort from India Gate. Ms Patil watched the parade, which included a military display, with the visiting president of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev. Various Indian social committees, including the Indian Ladies Association, will also stage another cultural programme at the India Social and Cultural Centre in Abu Dhabi this evening to mark the holiday.