President hosts Independence Day receptionAugust 15th, 2011 - 10:24 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, Aug 15 (IANS) Diplomats, politicians and ministers descended at the Rastrapati Bhavan Monday evening on a rain-soaked Independence Day for the At Home reception hosted by President Pratibha Patil. The ceremonies played by the clock.
At 6 p.m. sharp, Patil, dressed in an elegant sari, stepped inside the chandeliered Ashoka Hall. The army band played the national anthem, with assembled guests standing at attention as a mark of respect. Accompanied by her aides, Patil then went around greeting the guests with folded hands, exchanging pleasantries.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who surprised the nation by a forthright speech earlier in the day that focused mostly on the challenges of corruption facing the country, also exchanged greetings with the guests.
The prime minister was seen talking to Speaker Meira Kumar and Chief Justice S.H. Kapadia. Journalists watched keenly when Manmohan Singh stopped to greet Pakistan’s High Commissioner to India Shahid Malik and spent at least a couple of minutes with him. He is understood to have conveyed his desire to take the peace process forward with Pakistan, sources said.
Congress President Sonia Gandhi, who is always present at the At Home receptions, is away abroad recuperating from a surgery for an undisclosed medical condition. Unlike At Home receptions in the past, there were fewer guests this time round as many of the invitees had gone on a holiday outside the city for an extended weekend.
There was a pleasant surprise though this time. Since some journalists wrote about the indifferent quality of food served at Rashtrapati Bhavan, the quality of snacks had improved considerably.
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