This country is unique in many ways.
And one of them is the respect and appreciation it shows towards people of other religions and cultures.
We can see it clearly from the way His Royal Highness the Crown Prince always makes it a point, every year, to meet and greet Indian families for Diwali – the festival of lights, celebrated by Hindus as well as those of other faiths from India.
This is perhaps the only country in the region – I have observed – where the leadership reaches out, during Diwali time, to its Indian residents, with genuine cordiality and warm affability.
It is heart-warming to see His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince, Deputy Supreme Commander and First Deputy Prime Minister actually visiting Indian homes and joining in the festivities of many Indian families.
“Diwali represents an opportunity to celebrate the important and valuable contributions the Indian community has made to the Kingdom,” he had said while hailing the extraordinary contribution of Indian community towards Bahrain.
And this is what makes him – and this country’s leadership – different.
True to the meaning of ‘Deepavali’, a Sanskrit word meaning “rows of lighted lamps’, he lights up a bright path, a series of actions, bringing communities closer and bridging cultures better.
The illumination this nation enjoys is evident from the words of His Royal Highness that “Bahrain, home to many religious communities, maintains its long-standing support to fostering religious and cultural tolerance”.
His emphasis on the important role Islam plays, in promoting coexistence between all religions, should also be an inspiration to other leaders of the region.
As someone who has observed him, in close quarters, during his official trips to India, I can say that his words ring true. And that his actions do speak louder than his words. Always.
For instance, four years ago, when he visited India, he said, “A total of 2100 companies with Indian partners are registered in Bahrain. This is not enough – I want to see it increasing in number in coming days.”
And EDB (Economic Development Board), for which he is the Chairman, has been on the job increasing the number.
Bahrain’s government, we have seen, has always been serious about what it says. And, in this case, about how it encourages people of different faiths and traditions to assimilate and integrate into this wonderful nation.
Around 400.000 Indians are resident in this country. And, perhaps, hundreds like me, have been living here for over 30 years, making it a home away from home.
And this would not have been possible, for many of us, had it not been for the warmth, openness, tolerance, and hospitality of this remarkable nation.
It is indeed a matter of pride, for the Indian community, that this country’s leaders are of a welcoming nature.
This nation is willing to engage with minds from other planes, and to embrace thoughts from other lands.
This nation may be small in size. But it is, definitely, big in heart.