Scores of diplomats including ambassadors of four of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council – Russia, China, France and Britain – attended one of the largest Republic Day receptions outside India at the UN headquarters, besides events across the US as well. The US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, was the only P-5 country envoy not to attend the impressive Republic Day reception hosted jointly by the Permanent Mission of India to the UN and the Indian consulate in New York. Haley, who was not in town, sent one of her top diplomats to the event, which was attended by several hundred Indian Americans, officials of the UN and envoys of scores of countries at the UN. Prominent among those were the President of the General Assembly Miroslav Lajcak, and the Deputy UN Secretary General Amina J Mohammed. Maleeha Lodhi, the Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the UN, surprised many by her presence at India’s Republic Day celebrations at the UN, which was marked by an impressive dance performance at the UN Delegates Dining Room. “Though far from India’s shores, the young sing about the ‘land that nourished and nurtured’ as we celebrate India’s #Republicday2018@IndiaUNNewYork,” Syed Akbaruddin, India’s Permanent Representative to the UN, said in a tweet. “We are grateful this evening that several distinguished officials as well as representatives have joined us. I am grateful to the President of the General Assembly who is here with us, also to the Lt Governor of New York, who is with us and the Deputy Secretary General, who is with us,” Akbaruddin said as he was joined by other dignitaries in lighting the lamp.
For many UN observers, it was one of the largest gatherings of ambassadors at a public event at the UN. Indian Ambassador to the US, Navtej Singh Sarna, paid floral tributes to statues of Mahatma Gandhi outside the Embassy in Washington before unfurling the national flag, in the presence of embassy staff and members of the Indian American community. Akbaruddin unfurled the national flag at the UN mission in New York, with India’s other diplomatic missions in the US – in New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Houston, and Atlanta -also hosting events. Diego Gomez Pickering, the Consul General of Mexico in New York was the guest of honor at the Indian consulate celebrations in the city.
“Honored to participate in the celebrations of the 69th #RepublicDay at @IndiainNewYork along with Consul General Chakravorty and the vibrant Indian community of #NYC. #Mexico and #India partners, friends and allies,” he tweeted. Sanjeev Tripathi from Boston wrote a special poem in Hindi on the occasion. Illinois Lt Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti and joined the Republic Day celebrations in Chicago along with a large number of Indian Americans. Officials of the Indian Consulate in Houston posted a special video on twitter “Jai Hind. Happy Republic Day”. Congressman Pete Olson appeared in a traditional kurta at the Consulate and joined Indian Americans in the Republic day celebrations in the Indian Consulate in Houston. “Great to celebrate the 69th India Republic Day at the Consulate General of India this morning!” he said.
“#OTD in 1950, the largest democracy on earth was born when the Indian constitution was adopted. I look forward to many more years of friendship between our two great countries!” Olson tweeted. A number of Republic Day celebrations have been scheduled by Indian Americans across the country over the weekend. The day was also marked in the South African city of Johannesburg. “2018 is a wonderful year for us because it commemorates various important occasions for India and South Africa,” Consul General K J Srinivasa said. “It commemorates the 125th anniversary of the incident at Pietermaritzburg when Mahatma Gandhiji was evicted from the train that led to his involvement in the struggle against discrimination and which in turn led to the independence of India and many other nations.
“2018 also marks the centenary of Madiba’s (Nelson Mandela’s) birth, the 25th year of resumption of formal diplomatic relations with South Africa, and the 20th year of a strategic relationship between South Africa and India,” he said. Srinivasa said the Indian mission had many events lined up in this year to encourage the building of an even stronger relationship with South Africa. India’s High Commissioner Ruchira Kamboj reminded the audience of expatriates and South Africans, most of them from the local Indian community, that India was the world’s largest democracy, the world’s fastest growing major economy, and one of the most liberal economies in the world for foreign direct investment.
“‘India Means Business’ was the clear message emanating from Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Davos 2018,” she said. “Importantly, as India journeys ahead, it is in our ethos to contribute to building a better composite and cohesive world at peace with itself and at peace with nature. “These are the principles which we bring to the international community and which we bring to South Africa, a country which is very close to our heart; with which we share very special ties and with which we have a shared future,” Kamboj said.