August 15 soaked in patriotism, hundreds of Indians abroad today marked the country’s 71st Independence Day with the tricolour fluttering high and the national anthem reverberating at Indian missions across the world.
Indians in countries like China, Australia, Japan, Singapore, Egypt, Israel and South Africa celebrated the day with hoisting of the national flag and singing of patriotic songs.
India’s Independence Day was celebrated across South Africa with gatherings in all major cities.
Large numbers of expatriates and locals of all communities watched the hoisting of the flag at the Indian missions in Pretoria, Durban, Cape Town and Johannesburg before hearing the message from President Kovind.
In his maiden address to the nation on the eve of 71st Independence Day, Kovind remembered the role of leaders of Independence struggle, including Jawaharlal Nehru.
Kovind pitched for a partnership between citizens and the government to create a new India by 2022 that is a “compassionate society” and includes the “humanist component integral to the nation’s DNA”.
The special relationship between South Africa and India was highlighted by an unprecedented lighting up of several Gandhian heritage sites in the colours of the Indian flag on the eve of the Independence Day.
“In compliance with a request from the Indian government, we approached the owners of some historic sites to do this and they welcomed it enthusiastically,” Consul General in Johannesburg Dr K J Srinivasa told PTI.
The three sites that attracted hundreds of onlookers overnight were Constitutional Hill and Satyagraha House in Johannesburg; and the Pietermaritzburg Railway Station, where Gandhi started his path as a champion of anti-discrimination after being thrown off a train because he was in a compartment reserved for whites only.
Consul General in Durban Dr Shashank Vikram said the government authorities in Pietermaritzburg were just as excited about the project.
Constitutional Hill, home to the Constitutional Court, South Africa’s highest judiciary body, was built on the site of the Old Fort prison where Mahatma Gandhi was imprisoned during his tenure in Johanensburg at the turn of the last century.