Ambassador Jain reads out Indian President Pranab Mukherjee's address.

KUWAIT: The Indian Embassy in Kuwait yesterday celebrated India's 68th Republic Day, one of the most significant days on India's national calendar. Hundreds of Indian nationals including children and women joined Indian Ambassador Sunil Jain and embassy officials to celebrate the occasion in an atmosphere of joy and patriotic passion. The embassy put on a festive look with its premises adorning tri-color balloons.

At a colorful open-air ceremony held on the embassy premises, Ambassador Jain hoisted the national flag at 9am commemorating the date and moment when the constitution of India came into effect in 1950. Top diplomats, embassy officials, Indian community members and media attended the flag-hoisting ceremony.

Indian Ambassador Sunil Jain and embassy officials during the flag-hoisting ceremony at the Indian embassy yesterday. — Photos by Sajeev K Peter

Children from local Indian schools sang patriotic songs as part of the ceremony

Children from local Indian schools sang patriotic songs as part of the ceremony

Children from local Indian schools sang patriotic songs as part of the ceremony

Children from local Indian schools sang patriotic songs as part of the ceremony

This was followed by the singing of national anthem. Following the flag-hoisting ceremony, Ambassador Jain read out Indian President Pranab Mukherjee's address to the nation.

"it is time to take a stock of the achievements of the Indian community over the last one year," noted the ambassador in his brief address. He said the strength of the community is steadily growing in Kuwait with the number touching 950,000-mark today. Referring to the government's proposal to reduce the number of expatriate population in the country as part of the demographic balancing, he said, "I have received assurances from the higher authorities that our community will not be harmed in any circumstances." He expressed his gratitude to His Highness the Amir, His Highness the Crown Prince and His Highness the Premier and the people of Kuwait for the continuous support and encouragement to the community.

"However, this comes with a responsibility. As a law-abiding community, we have to always respect the law of the land and obey the rules," he reminded.

Regarding the rising incidents of crimes in Abbassiya and Jleeb areas, the ambassador cautioned the people to take precautions. "The officials in the ministry of interior and Farwaniya governorate have given assurances to us that they will take necessary measures to curb such incidents in the area," he said.

"According to official estimates, approximately 29,000 Indians are in Kuwait without valid documents or residency papers. The embassy is in discussion with the authorities in facilitating the repatriation of these people to India," he said.

The ambassador said his tenure as the ambassador of India to Kuwait has been extended for one more year. The consular services in the embassy have improved over the last three years. However, he admitted that there is still room for improvement. He said the embassy has issued up to 6,000 emergency certificates last year. The non-resident Indians can change their old banknotes of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 in India until June 30, 2017 in the aftermath of demonetization of the Indian banknotes by the government, he informed. Students from Indian schools -- Indian Community School (Amman, Junior and Khaitan branches), Indian Central School and FAIPS--  sang patriotic songs on the occasion. Many newspapers in Kuwait, including Kuwait Times, published special supplements to mark the day.

By Sajeev K Peter