Mon, Feb 20, 2017 | updated 09:27 AM IST

Prime Minister hosts 2016 Diwali reception at Downing Street

Updated: Oct 25, 2016 17:28 IST

New Delhi [India], Oct.25 (ANI): British Prime Minister Theresa May welcomed people from across the Hindu, Sikh and Jain communities to celebrate Diwali at Downing Street in London.

A British High Commission release in Delhi said Prime Minister Theresa May hosted a reception to celebrate Diwali and welcomed more than 150 key figures from across the Hindu, Sikh and Jain communities.

His Excellency Dinesh Patnaik, Acting Indian High Commissioner and Jitendra Patel, Trustee of Neasden Temple were joined by the Prime Minister in the traditional lamp lighting ceremony.

The Prime Minister was also joined by the Secretary of State for International Development, Priti Patel, Secretary of State for Local Government and Communities, Sajid Javid, Lord Gadhia and Foreign Office Minister Alok Sharma.

The Prime Minister said: "Thank you, and welcome to 10 Downing Street. It is great to have so many of you here at this special time of year and an honour to host my first Diwali reception as Prime Minister. For me, one of the most remarkable things about this festival is the sheer scale of its reach and the universal appeal of its message.

"Look at India - over a billion people, speaking hundreds of different languages, following various different faiths - united by this festival of light. Look at the rest of the world, and the colourful celebrations taking place from Singapore to South Africa, Australia to Nepal.

"And look at Britain, where, right now, people are buying gifts on Leicester's Golden Mile, preparing pendas on Soho Road in Birmingham, and stringing up lights on Wembley's Ealing Road - all in time for 5 holy days that are such an important part of our national life. When we analyse the true meaning of Diwali, its relevance extends beyond India, beyond the Indian diaspora and even beyond the Hindus, Jains, Sikhs and Buddhists who, in different ways, mark the festival. Its messages apply to every single one of us - whatever our background, whatever our faith.

"Now I have to say I haven't read all 24,000 verses in the epic poem about Lord Rama's return to Ayodhya. But I do know the story of his homecoming from the many Diwali celebrations I have attended in my own constituency over the years.

"Over a number of years the children have acted out the story.

"The values he embodied are values which we can all heed.

"Values of charity, sacrifice and responsibility; to paraphrase Mahatma Gandhi: losing ourselves in the service of others.

"Values of good conduct - 'dharma' - taking the right path and ensuring that good triumphs over evil.

"Values of hope, optimism, of forgiveness - of the new beginnings and clean slates represented by the Hindu New Year as people wear new clothes and say prayers for the year ahead.

"I think these are the values we need more than ever as we forge a new, positive, ambitious role for Britain in the world.

"The mission of my government - that fairer Britain - is to build a country that works for everyone - a country where no matter who you are, you can achieve your dreams.

"The achievements of our British Indian communities - one and a half million people - demonstrate just how much a country can achieve when talent is unleashed and people of all backgrounds are able to fulfil their potential - that's what is important.

"Our political system becomes more representative and more effective - and I am so proud to have Priti Patel in the Cabinet; Alok Sharma in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office; MPs like Shailesh Vara and Rishi Sunak in the Commons; and peers like Jitesh Gadhia, Dolar Popat, Sandip Verma and Ranbir Suri in the Lords.

"When talent is unleashed, our education system offers more choice and opportunity. Indeed, it is Hindu Schools, like the Avanti Trust, who are achieving great things and underlining why we need to go further in supporting faith schools.

"Our economy becomes more successful and dynamic - including those up-and-coming industries that attract such a diverse range of entrepreneurs, like technology, film and, close to my own heart, fashion.

"And our society becomes stronger, as people from all backgrounds play their part in making our schools, hospitals, police forces and armed forces the best they can be.

"So as we gather here today, as we celebrate the achievements of British Indians and all our many diverse communities, I want us to remember the importance of removing the barriers that prevent people from reaching their potential.

"I want us to be proud of what Diwali means to our nation - after all, it was here in Downing Street that Prime Minister Modi chose to start the last Hindu New Year.

"And, next month I am delighted to be returning his visit when I go to India - it will be my first bilateral outside of the European Union and I'm going from Delhi to Bangalore - a true celebration of relations between our countries and our shared ambitions for the future.

"Above all, I want to wish you all a Shubh Deepawali and give my best wishes to those celebrating Bandhi Chhor Diwas too. Thank you." (ANI)

Karachi [Pakistan], Feb. 20 (ANI): The Jeay Sindh Muttahida Mahaz (JSMM), a major separatist political party in Sindh, Pakistan, has given a call of strike across the province against China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) today.

Full Story >>

New Delhi [India], Feb. 20(ANI): India has sanctioned a soft loan of 340 million US dollar to Nepal for various infrastructure development programmes.

Full Story >>

New York [USA], Feb. 20(ANI): The United States deployed the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson in the disputed waters of the South China Sea on Saturday as part of maritime "routine operations."

Full Story >>

New York [USA] , Feb. 20(ANI): China says it will halt all coal imports from North Korea from Sunday for the rest of 2017, amid growing tensions on the Korean Peninsula following Pyongyang's most recent missile test last week.

Full Story >>

New York [USA], Feb. 20(ANI): Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu turned down a regional peace initiative last year that was brokered by then-American Secretary of State John Kerry, in apparent contradiction to his stated goal of involving regional Arab powers in resolving Israel's conflict with the Palestinians.

Full Story >>

Rawalpindi [Pakistan], Feb. 20(ANI): The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) carried out air strikes in the border area of North Waziristan Agency on terrorist positions, said a statement released by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR).

Full Story >>

Bomb explodes near Bogota bullring in Colombia

Updated: Feb 20, 2017 06:13 IST

New York [USA], Feb. 20(ANI) : An explosion near the Santamaria bullfighting ring in downtown Bogota, Colombia, injured at least 31 people.

Full Story >>

Berlin[Germany], Feb. 20(ANI): At least 20 people were killed and more than 50 got injured when a bomb went off at a market in western Mogadishu on Sunday.

Full Story >>

New Delhi [India], Feb. 20(ANI):In reference to his "what's happening in Sweden" remark, U.S. President Donald Trump came out to defend his statement on Twitter.

Full Story >>

Kigali [Rwanda], Feb. 20 (ANI): In order to enhance the bilateral ties with Indian diaspora settled in Rwanda, India is all set to open its resident mission in the country's capital.

Full Story >>

London [U.K.], Feb. 20(ANI): The Swedish Embassy in Washington has contacted the White House asking for clarification over U.S. President Donald Trump's comments suggesting a terrorist incident had occurred on Friday night in Sweden.

Full Story >>

New York [U.S.A.], Feb. 20 (ANI): U.S. President Donald Trump's reference to "what's happening last night in Sweden" during a rally in Florida raised questions in Sweden and over the internet about what he really meant.

Full Story >>

Kabul [Afghanistan], Feb. 19 (ANI): Kabul will use all means to respond against Pakistan if it did not stop rocket attacks on Afghanistan soil, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) warned on Sunday.

Full Story >>

Moscow [Russia], Feb. 19 (ANI): A critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who was hospitalised this month after suspected poisoning, on Sunday left the country to seek further treatment, according to his lawyer.

Full Story >>

Kabul [Afghanistan], Feb. 19 (ANI): Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani has said that the Taliban office in Qatar should be closed if the group pursues violence.

Full Story >>

New York [U.S.A.], Feb. 19 (ANI): Iraq Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Sunday announced that Iraq has launched an operation to regain control of western Mosul from the Islamic State militants.

Full Story >>

China, Britain hold second security dialogue

Updated: Feb 19, 2017 21:11 IST

London [U.K.], Feb. 19 (ANI): China and Britain held their second high-level security dialogue in London where both sides agreed to strengthen cooperation in security and law enforcement.

Full Story >>

New York [USA], Feb. 19 (ANI): Even as many criticised him for holding the urgent discussion over North Korea's missile test with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on the patio at Mar-a-Lago as other diners looked on freely, U. S. President Donald Trump continues to hold business at his Florida resort.

Full Story >>

Jerusalem [Israel], Feb. 19 (ANI): Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday said he and U.S. President Donald Trump have agreed to set up a team to discuss settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Full Story >>