Farewell and elections mark 70th Republic Day celebrations

By Vijay Badhwar

The Indian Consul-General in Sydney, Mr Vanlalvawna, said goodbye to the community at the end of his three-year tenure in Australia at the flag-hoisting ceremony to celebrate India’s 70th Republic Day.

A large section of the community had gathered together at the Consulate on January 26 to take part in the ceremonies – flag-hoisting, singing of the National Anthem followed by reading of the President’s message to the nation by the Consul-General.

The Indian President, Mr Ram Nath Kovind, emphasised in his address that India’s pluralism was its greatest strength, the ”˜Indian model’ supported on a tripod of diversity, democracy and development.

“This country belongs to each of us and to all of us – every group and every community, every region and every identity. It belongs to every citizen and every individual,” he said, adding that the concept of India’s development cannot be complete without the spirit of inclusiveness – of access and opportunity for all.

As the 17th Lok Sabha election is due in March, the President urged all voters to cast their votes. Mr Kovind said that this was a ”˜once-in-a-century’ moment that would shape India for the 21st century. While it was up to the voter who they voted, “I would only request all eligible voters to go out and vote,” he said, however, making a subtle reference to Modi government’s poverty alleviation and universal healthcare, Ayushman Bharat, schemes.

Following reading of the President’s message, the cultural segment included Prof Usha Sridhar’s singing of ”˜Bharatiya Samarajya Sukhi’, a classical dance performance by the students of Mrs Bannerji, Parveen Gupta reading his poem, ”˜Uus Desh ko Bharat Kate Hain’ and  SBS Gujarati segment presenter, Ms Hardik, singing ”˜Vaishanava Janato’ with the backdrop poster, ”˜150 Years of Celebrating The Mahatma’.

Then it was ”˜Meet and Greet’ over refreshments that everyone enjoyed before heading home.

Pics by Vijay Badhwar and Harmohan Walia

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