By Hadra Ahmed
Nairobi, Aug 15:
Indians living in Kenya celebrated their 68th Independence Day Friday wearing finest attires, as they gathered at the house of Indian High Commissioner to Kenya Yogeshwar Varma.
Addressing members of the Indian community and local people gathered on this occasion, Varma, who is also concurrently the ambassador to Somalia and Eritrea, said though an ancient civilisation, India is a modern nation with modern dreams. Its constitution is a consequence of democracy and a culture which reflects ancient values.
“A nation is very young at 68. India has the will, energy, intellect, values and unity to claim the 21st century,” he said.
“The vision to win the battle of freedom from poverty is set; the journey will seem formidable only to those without conviction but it is the time for India to act,” Varma asserted.
“The achievement of our independence has given us an opportunity to take up the challenges of governance by reforming policies, practices and systems of governance so that the enormous aspirations of our people can be fulfilled…,” the high commissioner said.
He said India now is a “beacon of democracy, equilibrium, inter-and intra-faith harmony”.
India works closely with countries all over the world, strengthening its ties in every aspect. Hitherto as littoral states of the Indian Ocean, trade links and commercial ties between Kenya and India go back several centuries, he added.
“Kenya can be a long-term trade and strategic partner of India”, he said.
“Our first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru appointed the senior diplomat Apa Pant as High Commissioner to Kenya. He also gave support to Jomo Kenyatta and the Kenyan African National Union Party. This shows our ties have always been strong and benefiting both nations.”
On this occasion, some Kenyans also participated in the Indian celebrations.
“We are friends of India and Indians and we are here to celebrate this day and share their happiness,” a Kenyan national told IANS. “India is a role model of independence for Africa. We feel their happiness and pride as we went through the same thing ourselves.”
Kenya has a large community of Indians and persons of Indian origin living here who are descendants of labourers who were brought in by the British to construct the Uganda Railway, and Gujarati merchants.
India is Kenya’s sixth largest trading partner and the largest exporter to Kenya. Indian exports to Kenya include pharmaceuticals, steel, machinery and automobiles while Kenyan exports to India are largely primary commodities such as soda ash, vegetables, and tea.
Indian companies have a significant presence in Kenya with Indian corporates like the Tata Group, Essar, Reliance Industries and Bharti Airtel operating here.