While Russian President Vladimir Putin was the chief guest at Republic Day parade in the capital, thousands of miles away, the Russian Commander of Novo Lazarevskya, the Russian station in Antarctica, hoisted the flag at the Indian station Maitri.
Talking to the Hindustan Times from Antarctica, L Prem Kishore, the leader and Commander of the 25 Indian Scientific Expedition to Antarctica, said, "Today it is cloudy here, the temperature is minus one degree but it is very nice weather considering it is summer."
He said they had invited Nikolay Nikonov, leader of the 51st Russian Antarctic expedition, as the chief guest on the occasion of celebrating India’s Republic Day in Antarctica. The Russian station is just 3 kilometers away from Maitri and since the setting up of Maitri station over the years Indian scientists have had close and cordial relations with the Russians carrying out several joint expeditions, he added.
Nikolai Nikonov arrived with five member Russian team on Snow Mobiles at 11 am at the Maitri Station and were escorted immediately for Flag Hoisting ceremony in the front balcony of Maitri station.
In a brief speech after unfurling the tricolour Nikonov referring to the visit of Russian President Putin to Delhi and meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said while talking of greater cooperation between both countries in the field of power, energy, space we tend to forget that the cooperation is absolutely evident in the field of Antarctic research between Novo and Maitri stations.
The flag hoisting followed handing over of certificates of "Polar Man" and "Polar Woman" to all those members of the Maitri who were there since early January 2006 and had gone through the bitter winter. One woman member and twenty four men got the certificates. Prizes for some sports events were also given on Friday.
Commander Kishore said that the celebrations included raising of toasts, cutting of cake and cultural programme.
"We sang Hindi patriotic songs like ‘Mere desh ki dharti sona ugle’, ‘Sare Jahan se Achcha’, ‘Yeh Desh hai veer jawano ka.", he said.
"The added charm to the R-Day celebrations is that it is also the birthday of a member Captain Kingston and marriage anniversary of another member Mr PT Goerge. So we are celebrating all these occasions together," he added.
With the new team of 26th Indian Scientific Expedition to Antarctic having arrived early this month, the total number of members in the station is 48, he added.