It was a festive atmosphere at the Abu Dhabi Indian School yesterday as hundreds of pupils and their parents converged at the school to celebrate India's 63rd Republic Day. The Indian embassy had earlier decided to organise its official Republic Day ceremony outside the mission for the very first time.
"The pupils are very enthusiastic and patriotic; so the embassy wanted to encourage them [by conducting the ceremony at the school]," M.K. Lokesh, India's ambassador to the UAE told Gulf News.
The event saw Lokesh hoisting the Tricolour and reading out excerpts from President Pratibha Patil's address to the nation.
Lokesh, B.R. Shetty, the chairman of the school, and N.C. Vijaya Chandra, the principal, addressed the gathering and released balloons signifying the national flag into the sky, signallling the start of colourful celebrations.
A sense of euphoria filled the venue as pupils dressed in traditional outfits along with their parents and a large number of invited members of the community watched a parade of senior pupils and a well-choreographed dance performance. A song-dance sequence titled ‘Awake and Arise India' performed by junior pupils was also among the highlights.
In Dubai, Sanjay Verma, India's consul-general, hoisted the Tricolour at the Indian High School (IHS) ground in the presence of thousands of expatriates. In his address, Verma reminded expatriates of the significant role they play in a developing country like India.
There could be no greater inspiration for expatriates than the fact that a leader like Mahatma Gandhi was also once an expatriate in South Africa before he went on to lead the nation's freedom struggle, Verma said.
"It is when you are part of the development process of a country that you can contribute much more," he said.
Verma highlighted India's strong ties with the UAE. "In a week, the trade between India and UAE goes up to $1.82 billion [Dh6.68 billion], which is more than what some countries do in a year," he said.
He too read out extracts from Patil's address to the nation. This was followed by a parade and several performances by IHS pupils that reflected on unity amid diversity. Children with special needs also participated in the parade. Academic achievers of IHS were later honoured at the event.