Gaitri Kumar hails Indian diaspora as “loving bridge”

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LONDON: The Indian High Commissioner to the UK, Gaitri Issar Kumar, on Saturday hailed the “loving bridge” of global Indians that rallied round during the coronavirus lockdown to help fellow Indians in need as she led Independence Day celebrations in London.

Her message, which reflected on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s reference to the Indian diaspora as a “Living Bridge”, also highlighted the important role played by people of Indian origin as well as the Indian High Commission in London during the pandemic.

Indian envoy Gaitri Issar Kumar addressing the event at the high commission on Saturday

“Our countrymen and women threw open their doors and hearts to help students and others during the lockdown. This is the spirit of our diaspora, not only a Living Bridge, but also a loving one,” said Kumar, in a message released to mark the 74th Independence Day.

“The High Commission of India complemented the selfless efforts of our diaspora and worked day and night to help more than 28,000 stranded Indians reach their homes in India and bring back over 14,000 British citizens. We continue our efforts to help the remaining numbers,” she said.

The envoy, who took charge as the Indian envoy to the UK recently, went on to lead the Independence Day celebrations with a flag hoisting ceremony at India House, broadcast live via Facebook given the COVID-19 restrictions.

She delivered the address of the President of India, Ram Nath Kovind, at an event attended by a small group of High Commission diplomats and officials.

LONDON: Indian High Commissioner Gaitri Issar Kumar hoisting national flag at virtual celebration at Independence Day at the high commission on Saturday

“This year, we shall have to be careful, follow local regulations and avoid unnecessary social contacts or large gatherings. Our first priority is to be responsible citizens and protect ourselves and our families from any untoward situation,” said Kumar.

“I, therefore, request you all to do everything you can to keep good health and a high morale. In fact, I strongly encourage you to adopt the fitness strategy launched by Prime Minister Boris Johnson on a Hero cycle made in India,” she added.

The virtually telecast celebrations included congratulatory video messages from the UK government, delivered by Lord Tariq Ahmad, the Minister for South Asia in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), as well as from members of the Indian community in the UK including Indian-origin entrepreneurs Lord Swraj Paul, Lord Rami Ranger and Lord Karan Bilimoria, and Baroness Usha Prashar, Chair of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) UK Council.

“Now more than ever, India needs the world and the world needs India,” said Lord Jitesh Gadhia in his message.