‘After 70 years, India has proved sceptics wrong’

  • Prasun Sonwalkar, Hindustan Times, London
  • Updated: Aug 21, 2016 21:55 IST
Shamsuddin Agha, president of the Indian Muslim Federation UK (centre), at the Independence Day celebrations at the Indian Gymkhana in London on Sunday. (HT Photo)

Recalling cynicism across the world over India’s future when it gained independence in 1947, Indian high commissioner Navtej Sarna said on Sunday the country had proved everyone wrong during the last 70 years.

Speaking at Independence Day celebrations at the Indian Gymkhana here, he recalled the sacrifices of known and unknown martyrs during the freedom struggle, and said no one was today in doubt about the success of India’s democracy.

“India at 70 is the greatest experiment in the history of the world. People around the world were sceptical if India could survive. There was open cynicism. But everyone has been proved wrong”, Sarna said to much applause from a large gathering of the Indian community.  “Today, nothing on earth can stop India’s growth”, he added, flanked by food and consumer affairs minister Ram Vilas Paswan, Labour MPs Virendra Sharma and Seema Malhotra.

Sushil Rapatwar, president of Maharashtra Mandal London (centre), at the Independence Day celebrations at the Indian Gymkhana in London on Sunday (HT Photo)

India, he said, had the “most unique” governing institutions enshrined in the constitution, which was developed by stalwarts of the freedom struggle such as Vallabhbhai Patel, Mahatma Gandhi and B R Ambedkar.

Paying tributes to the Indian diaspora in Britain, Sarna noted the community constituted 2% of Britain’s population but contributed 6% to its GDP.

“Today the by-word in this country is that a good doctor is an Indian doctor,” he said.

Promising to resolve consular issues, he asked community members to use ‘Open Days’ to meet high commission officials if required.

Speaking at the event, Paswan recalled the contribution by leaders from various religious communities towards India’s freedom struggle. He also visited the house in north London where Ambedkar lived as a student in the 1920s.

 The day-long event included cultural programmes representing dance forms and music from various states, and stalls offering free food from various regional cuisines.

The stalls included those set up by the Indian Muslim Federation (UK) and Maharashtra Mandal London.

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