I feel proud to have addressed UAE's FNC members in Hindi: Indian Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla

Birla’s speech in his mother tongue resonated quite like India’s former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s iconic speech in Hindi on October 4, 1977, at the 32nd UNGA


Joydeep Sengupta

Published: Fri 25 Feb 2022, 1:31 PM

Last updated: Fri 25 Feb 2022, 2:11 PM

Indian Lok Sabha — the lower house of Parliament — Speaker Om Birla, 59, came, saw and conquered the hearts and minds of the 40-member Federal National Council (FNC) of the UAE. That too in Hindi.

Birla’s speech in his mother tongue resonated quite like India’s former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s iconic speech in Hindi on October 4, 1977, as the country’s foreign minister at the 32nd United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).

FNC is an advisory quasi-parliamentary, where 20 members are indirectly elected by the hand-picked 12 per cent of Emiratis who have voting rights through an electoral college and the other 20 are appointed by the rulers of the seven emirates. That too in Hindi.

Birla, who is the first speaker of the Lok Sabha to address the FNC members, spoke exclusively with Khaleej Times on Thursday during his whirlwind trip to the Expo 2020 Dubai.

He cherished his address to the FNC members in Hindi.

“The eighth schedule of our Constitution recognises as many as 22 Indian languages. These languages uphold our unity in diversity, which is unique to the largest democracy in the world. Hindi is our mother tongue. I’m happy to have delivered the speech at the FNC on Tuesday (February). It makes me feel proud to have spoken in Hindi on foreign soil,” said Birla.

Birla, who belongs to the trading community, is one of the first Lok Sabha Speakers, who like Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah, comes from Hindi or non-English speaking background.

The two-time Member of Parliament (MP) from the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) in the lower house from Rajasthan was a surprise choice in 2019 when PM Modi hand-picked him as the 17th Lok Sabha (LS), or the lower house, Speaker, much like how Ram Nath Kovind was chosen as the BJPs Presidential candidate in 2017.

Birla gave a lowdown to the FNC members about India’s parliamentary democracy. “I spoke at length about how our Parliament functions, the nuances of legislative work and how both the ruling party and the opposition work in tandem to make our democracy one of the finest in the world,” said the unassuming Speaker, who is known to be unruffled, despite the noisy proceedings in the LS.

Birla also spoke about India’s bid to create a parliamentary forum of countries across the globe. “So far, 57 countries are part of this initiative and efforts are on to rope in more in the coming days,” he added.

Birla, who refused to be drawn into any discussion on which opposition MP is giving him a tough time in Parliament — Trinamool Congress’s Mahua Moitra’s belligerent speech is a case in point — is leading an Indian parliamentary delegation to the UAE on the invitation of the FNC from February 21 and is slated to fly back later this evening.

This is the first-ever visit under the bilateral exchange of parliamentary delegations from either side, according to the LS Secretariat.

The delegation includes MPs Sushil Kumar Modi, Dr Fauzia Tahseen Ahmed Khan, Dr MK Vishnu Prasad, P Ravindhranath, Shankar Lalwani and Dr Sujay Radhakrishna Vikhepatil, all Members of Parliament and Utpal Kumar Singh, Secretary-General, Lok Sabha.

Dr Ajay Kumar, Joint Secretary, is secretary to the delegation.

Birla said UAE and India are bound with historic friendship and partnership and share close cultural and economic relations dating back to ancient times. He stressed that the regular mutual visits between their officials have strengthened their relations.

The success of the strategic partnership between the two countries is due to the efforts of their leaderships, represented by President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nayan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and PM Modi, he added.

Birla made the statement during a joint Emirati-Indian session chaired by Saqr Ghobash, Speaker of the FNC, at the Zayed Hall in the FNC’s headquarters on Tuesday.


Hessa Essa Buhumaid, UAE’s Minister of Community Development, other FNC members and Indian delegates were also present on the occasion.

Birla noted that the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) has driven the bilateral relations between India and the UAE to a new strategic dimension, and has laid a strong foundation of their future economic development.

Birla also visited the Swami Narayan temple in Abu Dhabi and met the artisans who were involved in its construction.

Many of them belong to his home state Rajasthan — from Bharatpur and Alwar regions. He was impressed by their plans to bring in water from Ganga and Yamuna to create a feeling of confluence of the holy rivers inside the temple. He was surprised to see Bundi, Jodhpur and Alwar engraved at the Louvre Museum in Abu Dhabi. He was told that the construction materials were brought from several places and the names of all such places are engraved in the museum.

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