The Bhavan celebrated 77th anniversary of Indian Independence Day, on 2 August with a grand event of illuminating speeches and cultural performances.
The evening began with a prayer by Executive Director Dr M N Nandakumara MBE, followed by the welcome address by Subhanu Saxena, Chairman, The Bhavan UK. He spoke on the relevance of Gita today and its universal appeal, quoting Oppenheimer and his use of Gita’s verses. He also welcomed the Chief Guest, High Commissioner of India to the UK HE Vikram Doraiswami and wife Sangeeta, mentioning that the very first meeting to start The Bhavan was held at the Indian High Commission back in 1972.
Mayor of Hammersmith and Fulham Cllr Patricia Quigley then addressed the gathering. She threw light on The Bhavan’s illustrious history of 50 years and the place of pride it holds in the local community as well as in the broader diaspora.
Lord Loomba CBE, spoke about the freedom fighters and briefly remembered the freedom struggle and the incidents that lead to India's Independence.
The keynote speech of the evening was presented by HE Vikram Doraiswami, the High Commissioner of India to the UK. He spoke about how, 76 years ago, there were concerns on how India could achieve democracy with all its diversity, and yet today it stands tall as the world’s largest democracy!
He said, every democracy expresses itself differently and thus cannot be judged in comparison to any other. No other countries have elections on the scale that India does, and the use of digital technology in it is commendable. He also mentioned how the judiciary is a robust and an independent institution.
He further added, The Bhavan based in a Church building itself is a testament to our culture and tradition of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’. He quoted the Rig Veda to illustrate his points, as well as a Mirza Ghalib poem.
The High Commissioner then went on to add how The Bhavan fundamentally represents of all that India stands for and is an inspiring institution that is doing important work for the diaspora.
His speech was followed by a felicitation to Dr Nandakumara, for being honoured with MBE. Chairman Subhanu spoke a few fond words praising the ‘dedication of Nanda ji’, followed by a slideshow showcasing Nandaji’s journey at The Bhavan.
Nandaji expressed his immense gratitude to Dalalji, Mathoorji, Dr Marr, Shantanuji and Joginderji as well as he thanked all the people who directly or indirectly have supported him on his journey. He particularly thanked his wife, family, Bhavan teachers, staff, students, and the entire committee for their support.
The vote of thanks was given by Dr Surekha Mehta, Vice-Chair, The Bhavan UK.
The audience were then treated to patriotic songs and dances by The Bhavan students and the event concluded with National Anthem.