By: Pramod Thomas
The Indian High Commission in London hosted its annual Republic Day celebrations at the historic Guildhall with music, dance and glimpses from the Kartavya Path parade in New Delhi.
Indian High Commissioner to the UK Vikram Doraiswami addressed the gathering of British parliamentarians, community leaders, diplomats, entrepreneurs, and members of the Indian diaspora. He reflected upon the Constitution of India which came into force 73 years ago and what the “remarkable” document truly means to the country.
“The definition of a Constitution doesn’t quite cover the sentiment and the meaning of the Constitution of India as it is for 1.4 billion people,” said Doraiswami at the 74th Republic Day celebrations on Thursday evening.
“As it currently stands, our Constitution obviously sets out the promises that we Indians made to ourselves, on our own as a free nation, to ensure fundamental rights, to ensure justice, liberty, equality and fraternity to all of our people. But it was also much more than that; it was the context of the adoption of the Constitution of India and the spirit it instilled in Indians for generations that makes it most remarkable,” he said.
Reflecting upon the India-UK relationship, the envoy spoke of the strength of the diaspora living bridge and the ongoing free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations.
“As India rises, it does so through its global partnerships, especially with friends such as the UK. With the British people, we share history, values, culture, trade and investment flows, a living bridge of people of Indian origin who have contributed so much to British industry, healthcare, sport, politics and cuisine,” he said.
“We are working on a free trade agreement with the UK at a time when Indian firms are today the second largest investors in the UK. This is an important year for India as we chair the G20 and navigate some of the larger challenges of what is obviously a geopolitical hinge point of our times,” he added.
Lord Tariq Ahmad, UK Foreign Office Minister in charge of South Asia, represented the British government at the occasion and also referenced the strength of the diaspora living bridge as a key aspect of the depth of the relationship.
“We welcome our close alignment with India, our close bilateral working with India and wish India well as it hosts the G20 meetings,” said Lord Ahmad.
“I do believe that through India’s leadership at the G20 we will continue to strengthen our resolve through the UN Sustainable Development Goals for the benefit not just for our two nations, but for the whole world. When India and the United Kingdom stand together, we are not just stronger between us, we are stronger for the globe,” he said.
The Brigade of Gurkhas band played the national anthem of India and the UK, followed by a collage of Indian folk dances coupled with ballet and jazz by the Bollywood Dance School of UK to the tune of A.R. Rahman’s ‘Jai Ho’ and ‘Vande Mataram’.