Wednesday, February 1, 2023

71st Republic Day at the India House

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In the picture H.E. Mr. Venu Rajamony, Ambassador of India.

Text and pictures by Catherine Dailey.

This morning, some 600 guests gathered outdoors, under sunny skies, to celebrate India’s 71st Republic Day at the “India House”, the residence of India’s Ambassador to the Kingdom of the Netherlands, His Excellency Ambassador Venu Rajamony.

The program opened with a flag raising ceremony and the playing of the National Anthem, “Jana Gana Mana.”

On behalf of President Shri Ram Nath Kovind, Ambassador Venu Rajamony extended a warm welcome to his many guests, including scores of Indians who are working or studying in the Netherlands; Dutch citizens who, by way of Surinam, form the largest number of India’s diaspora; representatives from the municipalities of The Hague and Wassenaar and other “friends of India” who joined the Ambassador and his staff for the annual celebration.

Ambassador Rajamony read the President’s annual Republic Day address which emphasized the rights of his people as “citizens of a free and democratic nation” and called for an accompanying responsibility to “always adhere to the central tenets of our (Indian) democracy – justice, liberty, equality and fraternity.”

Noteworthy for Dutch guests, and others, was the President’s reference to the recently created “Ministry of Jalshakti” (May, 2019) which has been tasked with prioritizing water conservation and water management to meet current and future requirements for the world’s most populous, diverse and multi-lingual democracy. 

The President’s address also placed a strong emphasis on the government’s continued commitment to provide access to health and education and that both are “often considered the foundation of good governance.”  The availability of quality generic medicines, available at affordable prices to the “common people in the country”  are but one example of his government’s ambitious goals towards improving the lives of India’s 1.3 billion plus citizens.

In reading President Kovind’s address, the Ambassador also referred to the India Human Spaceflight Program, the Tokyo Olympics, and “another important source of national pride – the India diaspora.  In closing, he emphasized President’s Kovind’s words, “We are now in the third decade of the twenty-first century. This will be the decade of the rise of New India and a new generation of Indians.”

He continued, “Mahatma Gandhi’s ideals remain relevant” in the country’s “nation-building efforts” emphasizing the president’s call to reflect upon Gandhi’s message of truth and non-violence” as part of one’s daily routine. The full text of the 71st Republic Day address can be accessed here.

In conclusion, Ambassador Rajamony, invited his guests to explore the parklike grounds of the India House, noting that it is one of the most beautiful properties belonging to “the people of India.” The 104 year old residence is a listed monumental property in Wassenaar and has been owned by the Indian government since 1953.

Ambassador Rajamony also commented on the state visit of Dutch King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima to India in October, 2019.  Four Dutch ministers and a trade mission of over 250 persons accompanied the King and Queen to New Delhi, Mumbai and the State of Kerala. The delegation was, according to Ambassador Rajamony, by far, the largest in Dutch history.

Madras Chorus, at Indian House.

The crowd was also delighted to learn that KPN, will be illuminating the KPN building overlooking Rotterdam’s iconic Erasmus Bridge, with an image of India’s flag later this evening. India’s charismatic ambassador quipped that, “in addition to New York and Dubai, Rotterdam will also be partaking in celebrations” in honor of India’s Republic Day!.

He closed with a reference to his book, “India and The Netherlands – Past, Present and Future,” launched to coincide with the October State Visit, and he invited his guests to use it as an educational resource for India’s younger generation.  The luxuriously bound special edition book is available for purchase at local bookstores. It can also be ordered, here, through the publisher, Bombay Ink, or via various online booksellers.

71st Republic Day at the India House.

The 71st Republic Day tradition at the India House concluded with a cultural program featuring music performed by the Madras Chorus and a classical dance performance by dancers from the Laya School of Dance and Arts and finished with an Indian “breakfast buffet” for all. More information about today’s festive 71st Republic Day program is available at the “India in Netherlands (Embassy of India, The Hague) Facebook page.

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