The Indian legacy endures as the tricolour is hoisted
NRIs, as is their habit, will celebrate Independence Day with fervour and fetch up in droves at the various embassies and consulates and join in the flag raising ceremony
There is always a sense of togetherness and camaraderie and raw emotion as the tricolor is raised.
The NRI community has served its country reasonably well this year even though there has been a mild drop in remittances and India may not hold prime position in 2019 as it did in 2018 with remittances of $69 billion.
The 32 million Indians abroad have been a conduit for the best of our arts and sciences. From Indian frontliners in Silicon Valley to medical practitioners in Europe to business tycoons in the Gulf and Hong Kong, from Wall Street analysts to international beauty queens, Indian acumen and expertise have become marketable commodities.
Media in the English language in Gulf countries is still served by Indians as a majority, both print and digital.
Indian music has made its mark on the world's stage. Indian food is a cultural given. Indian fashion now competes at the level of haute couture even as Indian fabrics are in demand in both the East and the West. Indian novelists writing in English have hit the literary scene with force. Not just in India but across a broader global spectrum. Indian professionalism in media, law, accountancy and engineering and information technology has formed a swathe and Indian business knowhow works on the cutting edge. Bollywood's attraction has been strengthened by the offerings of the south and the circuit is thriving.
Even as we mark the day our space mission Chandrayaan II is on its way to the moon, the fourth nation to plant a flag on its surface.
This year we held a general election that was conducted smoothly and sans violence with over 500 million votes cast, making it the largest democratic election in the world.
We also crossed the 1 million mark for Wi-Fi relay stations confirming India as the least expensive data provider. The once in 12 years Kumbh Mela (fair) attracted 150 million worshippers to Prayagraj making it the number one peaceful gathering of the human race.
A few days ago, India's government moved to dissolve Jammu and Kashmir as a state and split into two Union Territories thereby changing 70-year-old dynamics in its entirety.
The seven sister states in the northeast were given a little more attention than last year when we took far too long to react, to the floods, an acid commentary on our levels of awareness of an integral part of India. A dangerous ignorance that China would love to exploit.
India lost Sheila Dikshit former Chief Minister of Delhi and soon after the former External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. Also, former Defence Minister and Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar and former Union Ministers George Fernandes and N D Tewari. Well-known thespian and writer Girish Karnad also shuffled off the mortal coil and so did actor Kader Khan. We also lost corporate big boss Yogi Diweshwar, one-time head of Air India, and ad guru and stage actor Alyque Padamsee as well as commentator Jasdev Singh.
Let it not be forgotten that Indian labour translates many of these grand concepts and ideas into reality and it is the sweat and the sagacity that combine to make the Indian diaspora so powerful and so vital in the modern context. These 32 million Indians may live in scattered fragments in a hundred countries but they have never forgotten their roots and on every anniversary, it seems as if the geographical distance is mentally bridged and the sense of togetherness which prevails salutes the billion at home and their congregation of brothers and sisters out in the world.
Perhaps this is the dawning of the glorious age for the country and its people and not just clever words.
Other influences from India also permeate the world. In Britain, Indian takeaway foods have beaten the traditional Chinese cuisine. Indian TV channels are popular in the USA and the footprint gets larger all the time. Indian clothes, shoes, jewellery, accessories are globally popular. Indian music has hit an all-time high in universal acceptance and are played in Beijing, Tokyo, Nairobi and Moscow. Cricket is an export par excellence. Indian stars have bounced into Hollywood and Indian films are celluloid ambassadors.
Above all, the Indian intellect has earned the seal of approval in across the spectrum disciplines. Coupled with the lowest ethnic crime record in the world, this makes the Indian community highly welcome as a creative and contributory force. What we can do for other countries we must do for India.
That is the crux and one where we are often found wanting.
Over the years, innate honesty and the inbred acceptance of hierarchical authority often misinterpreted in modern times as weakness rather than a Teutonic fondness for order, gave Indians a leading edge. They moved swiftly up the ladder, excelling in organising business, in bargaining with logic and steadfastness and always ensuring that they did not cheat their employer. In these formative centuries of the Indian diaspora, the Indian stamina for mental exercise became a hallmark of the community's worth and its favoured status. Indians meant good output and minimum hassle.
These traits have endured the test of time. By that token the Indian's unquenchable desire to identify with the home country has never diminished. Even tenth generation immigrants maintain the same values and traditions as does the home country, often with more fervour and commitment.
I am reminded here of the famous lines of poetry:
Breathes there a man with souls so dead
Who never to himself has said,
This is my own, "my native land."
In the poem, he retraces his footsteps back to the land of his forefathers.
We too, as Indians abroad, engage in a continual effort to hark back to our roots, to be one again with the mother country. And we have succeeded admirably. Our habits, our food, our festivals, our prayers invoke the priorities that have survived centuries and the richness of that tapestry is the worldwide legacy we have given to our children as they prepare take over the baton.
We cannot afford to sit outside our shores and be critical.
We have an active role to play and we must rise to that responsibility. As one.