The 66th Republic Day was celebrated in Stockholm twice over

The 66th Republic Day was celebrated in Stockholm twice over

The 66th Republic Day was celebrated in Stockholm twice over. In the morning around 60 members of Indian Community and friends of India braced the cold weather to participate in the flag hoisting ceremony at India House. They listened with rapt attention to the President’s address to the nation which was webcast on a large screen. This was followed by brief remarks by the Ambassador on the recent highlights of India-Sweden relations. Ambassador handed over prizes for the winners of Essay/Poem/Painting competitions held for World Hindi Day and Sadbhavana Diwas. A short cultural programme featuring patriotic songs in different Indian languages was followed by a webcast of the Republic Day parade. Thereafter, the guests relished the homemade Indian refreshments.

A reception was held at the Hotel Sheraton from noon thereafter for about 300 guests. The Guest of Honour was H.E. Mr. Gabriel Wikström, Minister for Health Care, Public Health and Sport. Several Members of Parliament and Ambassadors were present. Other dignitaries who attended included Governors and high ranking officials of Stockholm City as well as other Swedish counties many of whom had came to Stockholm specially for the event. Members of the business community as well as from the Indian community were also present in large numbers. 

In her remarks on the occasion, Ambassador, Mrs. Banashri Bose Harrison, told the guests about the importance of 26th January for India and the four principles on which Indian Constitution was based. She pointed out that these are principles that India shares with Sweden and which form the bedrock of strong relations between the two democracies. She also touched on the pluralism and diversity which Indian civilization celebrates. She informed the audience about the elections held in India last year and the subsequent upbeat trend of the economy. Speaking about the transformational programme “Make in India” launched by the Prime Minister in September 2014, she said that Sweden had strong capabilities in many of the priority areas that had been identified in the programme. She also made a reference to the success of India’s maiden mission to Mars. 

In his address, the Chief Guest Mr. Wikström, said that he found India to be a wonderful, historic country with kind and friendly people. He said that his visit to India was very successful and that the business delegation which accompanied him had very good meetings with their counterparts and Indian agencies. He observed that there was much to learn from India because it was so different. He said that he had invited the Union Health Minister for Health and Family Welfare to visit Sweden and looked forward to welcoming him. 

Diverse cultural programme followed which mixed tradition and modernity. The occasion was also used to showcase India’s success in tiger conservation with the display of a photographic exhibition by Mr. Ola Jennersten, Senior Conservation Advisor of World Wildlife Fund. Indian tea was also promoted on the occasion by serving last year’s Nobel Banquet tea blend to the guests, which was based on Assam tea.

Some photographs taken during the flag hoisting ceremony in India House and at Reception at Hotel Sheraton are enclosed.