By Javid Hassan & Syed Faisal Ali
Friday 16 August 2002
Last Update 16 August 2002 12:00 am
RIYADH/JEDDAH, 16 August — Hundreds of Indian expatriates celebrated yesterday the country’s 56th Independence Day with joy and patriotic fervor.
To celebrate the day, the main functions were organized yesterday at the Indian Embassy in Riyadh, and the Consulate General of India, Jeddah. Ambassador Talmiz Ahmad hoisted the national flag at the embassy at a simple but impressive function and read President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam’s message to the countrymen.
Ambassador’s wife Sunita Mainee Ahmad, embassy officials and a large gathering of Indian expatriates were present.
Later, addressing the community the ambassador said remittances from 3.5 million non-resident Indians in the Gulf rank at the top of contributions from NRIs all over the world, while the Kingdom leads the Gulf states in terms of NRI remittances.
Such a whopping share of the NRIs remittance is a major factor in India’s foreign exchange reserves which stood at $45 billion last year. The ambassador said it was in recognition of the role of the NRIs as major contributors to the Indian economy that the government had decided to celebrate from Jan. 9 every year the International Day for NRIs. In the evening, a reception to mark the day was also held at the International Indian School in Riyadh.
In Jeddah, Consul General Syed Akbaruddin hoisted the national flag. Sombre official observance of the Independence Day at the consulate, was accompanied by joyous celebrations at the International Indian School, Jeddah. At both the places, the consul general read the president’s message. Akbaruddin and his wife Padma Akbaruddin also released pigeons to spread the message of peace. Dr. Yusuf Jawed, chairman of the IISJ managing Committee, with other members of the committee, was also present on the occasion. The IISJ students rendered a few patriotic songs. Hundreds of the community members attended the functions.
Reports of celebrations also poured in from other parts of the Kingdom. Indians living in Dammam, Jubail, Yanbu and Abha also marked the day by unfurling the Indian flag at colorful functions.