Covid Time to get virtual to celebrate Independence Day

By Neena Badhwar

The Indian community in Sydney looks forward to Independence Day and Republic Day flag-hoisting ceremonies at the Indian Consulate every year. But, this year, there is a twist.

The 74th Independence Day celebrations this year are low key due to Covid-19, broadcast on line on Consulate’s social platform. Also, there was also a webinar (details not available) held a few days ago with a few people from the community the Indian Consulate in Sydney considered representative.

Indian Consul General in Sydney, Manish Gupta, said that the Webinar held on August 12 was with the theme ”˜Diaspora Perspectives: Shaping a Resilient Partnership’. In addition, a music composition, Sur Sagar – The Confluence of Music, was released on August 13 in the presence of Julian Leeser MP, to mark the occasion.

Consul General Manish Gupta (4th from right) at the Indian Consulate General in Sydney in 2019.

Following a number of inquiries from the community to The Indian Down Under how the commemoration could be joined in, even virtually, the Consul General was contacted to throw some light on how the programme would be accommodated in this Corona virus time.

Mr Gupta outlined the difficulties in holding the event as per guidelines issued by the Australian Government. He said that the Consulate was working 24/7 trying to manage the needs of the community who, held up in India, are slowly returning.

There are congratulatory messages for the Independence Day pouring in from Australian leaders, except from India, that are sent to several community organisations. Mr Gupta was asked if the Consulate considered it appropriate to open its lines of communication to the community beyond a referral to the website, he cited the pressures his staff was under attending to their airport engagements to help the seniors and infirm.

“We have been able to bring in 11,000 people into Australia while sending back 4,000 people to India. The Consulate organised ”˜Vande Bharat’ flights that, instead of carrying 400-450 passengers in any normal flight, were reduced down to 100. The Government of India had a huge task and has done excellent effort in repatriating one million Indians globally,” he said.

Last November there was confusion about OCI holders’ entry into India and many people were returned from the airport, including a family of four and another wishing to visit a sick parent that we witnessed. They were stranded and unable to contact the Consulate in Sydney for assistance.

Manish Gupta blames the airlines on the confusion and not the Government of India. “It is all on our website. They ought to check the details before boarding the flight. It affected people globally and our Government tried to fix the problem very quickly,” he said.

Regarding programmes/notifications, the Indian Consulate in Sydney expects everyone to get their information through their Facebook page, Twitter and social media. Please visit:

Experience the composition ‘Sur Sagar – The Confluence of Music’, listen and perceive its beauty on social media platform of Consulate General of India, Sydney!!

– @cgisydney


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