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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - Saudi Gazette report
RIYADH/JEDDAH — The 74th Independence Day of India was celebrated with enthusiasm and fervor in the Indian diplomatic missions in the Kingdom on Saturday, with the Ambassador in Riyadh and the acting Consul General in Jeddah leading the low-key celebrations.
Ambassador Dr. Ausaf Sayeed hoisted the national flag followed by the rendition of national anthem. The Ambassador then read out the president’s message to the audience
In his address, the Ambassador extended sincere thanks and gratitude to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman, Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman and the Saudi authorities for their valuable support in ensuring the welfare of all residents in the Kingdom, including 2.6 million Indians, during these testing times and for their strong support in elevating the bilateral relations between our two countries to the highest levels.
The Ambassador in his message said, “On this day, we pay homage to those who fought for India’s freedom with great courage and determination. We also remember with deep gratitude the brave guardians of our frontiers who have over the years sacrificed their lives for the safety and security of our motherland. We re-dedicate ourselves to building a modern, vibrant India, and to serving our people and the larger cause of humanity.
“As a nation, we are proud of our exceptional pluralism, represented by an extraordinary mix of complex ethnic and linguistic groups and diversity of religions and customs and traditions. As an independent nation, India chose to adopt multi-party democracy as its model for governance and nation-building, providing citizens space to express their thoughts and pursue their dreams in the way they like.
“Since 1947, India has stood as a beacon for the world, as an economic power that prides innovation, as a resilient democracy in the face of terror and as a strategic power that upholds international norms and believes in peaceful co-existence and equality of all nations.
“India has a deep commitment to maintaining global peace and prosperity, ensuring sustainable development, and improving socio-economic equity. India has been elected to the United Nations Security Council at an important time when the United Nations is celebrating its 75th Anniversary. India is looking forward to playing a responsible role as a non-permanent member of the UNSC when its tenure begins from January 2021.
“The government of India launched the Vande Bharat Mission (VBM) in early May to repatriate stranded and distressed citizens from virtually every corner of the globe, bringing back a total of one million Indians in five phases. Here too, the Embassy was able to smoothly transport over 80,000 stranded Indian nationals back to the country. This was, perhaps, the biggest repatriation exercise undertaken by the Embassy in its history.
“This complex process involved close and intense coordination between various agencies within India and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. I take this opportunity to express my gratitude to the Saudi authorities, especially the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA), without whose help it would not have been possible to undertake such a massive air operation.
“The recent announcement of the new National Education Policy in India is expected to bring in much-needed reforms in the field of education that will prepare our youth to face the challenges of the 21st century. For the first time, foreign universities would be able to open campuses in India, providing new vistas of international collaborations in this vital field.
In Jeddah, at the Consulate General, Acting Consul General Y. Sabir unfurled the national flag and read out excerpts from the president’s address to the nation on the eve of Independence Day. Following the hoisting of the flag, the national anthem was sung by the DPS school choir, which also rendered a medley of patriotic songs.
Sabir read out excerpts of the president’s speech, mentioning: “On this day, the youth of India should feel the special pride of being citizens of a free nation. We gratefully remember our freedom fighters and martyrs whose sacrifices have enabled us to live in an independent nation. The ethos of our freedom struggle forms the foundation of modern India. Our visionary leaders brought together a diversity of world views to forge a common national spirit.
“The celebrations of Independence Day this year will be rather restrained. The reason is obvious. The whole world confronts a deadly virus, which has disrupted all activities and taken a huge toll. It has altered the world we lived in before the pandemic.
“It is very reassuring to note that, the central government, while anticipating the tremendous challenge, responded effectively and well in time. For a country so vast and diverse with high population density, meeting this challenge requires super-human efforts. All state governments took measures in accordance with local circumstances. People also supported whole-heartedly. With our committed efforts, we have succeeded in containing the magnitude of the pandemic and saving a large number of lives. This is worth emulating by the wider world.
“The nation is indebted to doctors, nurses and other health workers who have been continuously on the forefront of our fight against this virus. Unfortunately, many of them have lost their lives battling the pandemic. They are our national heroes. All corona warriors deserve high praise. They go much beyond their call of duty to save lives and ensure essential services. These doctors, health workers, members of Disaster Management Teams, police personnel, sanitation workers, delivery staff, transportation, railway and aviation personnel, providers of various services, government employees, social service organizations and generous citizens have been scripting inspiring stories of courage and selfless service.
“When cities and towns go quiet and roads are deserted, they work tirelessly to ensure that people are not deprived of health care and relief, water and electricity, transport and communication facilities, milk and vegetables, food and groceries, medicine and other essentials. They risk their own lives to save our life and livelihood.
“Committed to taking care of our people stranded anywhere in the world, the Government has brought back more than 10 lakh Indians under the ‘Vande Bharat Mission’. Indian Railways has been operating train services, in these challenging circumstances, to facilitate travel and transportation of people and goods.
“We have learned some tough lessons in the year 2020. The invisible virus has demolished the illusion that human being is the master of nature. I believe, it is still not too late for humanity to correct its course and live in harmony with nature.
“The pandemic, like climate change, has awakened the global community to our shared destiny. In my view, 'human-centric collaboration' is more important than 'economy-centric inclusion', in the present context. The greater this change, the better it will be for the humanity. The twenty-first century should be remembered as the century when humanity put aside differences and collaborated to save the planet.”
Sabir also stressed, in his address, that it has been an endeavor of the Consulate to issue/renew passports within 3 working days. But due to a new rule of police verification being done back home, there could be delay in the issuance of the passports. He called on the community to apply early to avoid delays.
Sabir later presented gifts to the winners of the online essay contest and photography contest for schoolchildren of all Indian community schools.
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