INDIA/UNITED STATES: Addressing members of the Indian-American community at the Queens Museum during an event to celebrate India’s Independence Day,New York Governor Kathy Hochul said India and the US stand firmly behind the same shared understanding of what it means to reject colonial rule.
Indian leaders like Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru inspired others, including Dr Martin Luther King, to democracy and nonviolence, Hochul said that the values of inclusion, and pluralism, equality, freedom of expression and religion unite India and the US.
Hochul, who began her remarks with “Namaste” and ended with “Jai Hind,” presented a statement to Consul General Randhir Jaiswal declaring that August 15, 2022, would be officially declared as India’s Independence Day.
“It has been 75 years since India was freed from the colonial yoke and the people were able to start on this journey to true democracy,” Hochul said.
“In the United States, we stand firmly behind the same shared understanding of what it is to reject the colonial rule, embrace democracy, and uphold our shared democratic values of inclusion, pluralism, equality, freedom of speech, and course, freedom of expression. religion. So these are the values that unite us – India, the United States of America. It’s shared and we learn from each other,” she said.
Hochul added that we also learn from celebrating many languages and religions. For 1.2 billion people, it is also a statement of community rebellion, world rebellion.
“And leaders who inspired others, like Gandhi and Nehru. Those are the names we learn about in our schools, the meaning of struggle and the peaceful embrace of democracy, and non-violence, and those are the words that are still spoken today. Dr King often quoted these great Indian leaders who inspired him to discover what nonviolence was all about,” she said.
The governor added that “this is what we value here today. We celebrate it, our people, our values, our democracy.” While India’s Republic Day and festivals like Diwali are celebrated with great fervour across the state every year, Hochul said she was “very proud” to become the first New York state governor to officially celebrate India’s Independence Day.
Hochul also acknowledged the contribution of the Indian American community to the state and fabric of New York, adding that the state is “proud” that nearly 400,000 Indian Americans call New York home.
“We are so fortunate here in New York to have so many Indian Americans represented at our levels of government. There are many firsts and a community that has long been underrepresented in our societies, those barriers have been broken down, and such an incredible contribution to our civic life,” she said.
Hochul also stated that Indian doctors, scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, lawyers, artists, writers, restaurateurs, and shop owners “create this beautiful fabric” and “really make New York wonderful and vibrant.”
Consul General Jaiswal said that India’s success as a democratic nation is an inspiration to all freedom-loving people around the world, adding that, “We are all equally aware of the work that needs to be done and look forward to a balanced future with a greater sense of confidence and optimism to fulfil the aspirations of our people and contribute to global peace and harmony.”
Jaiswal noted that ‘India at 75’ is a celebration of a vibrant democracy as much as it is a celebration of India-US friendship. Bilateral ties are still nurtured and beautified by a shared democratic mandate.
He said the pages of history are full of how Indian freedom fighters and builders of modern India drew inspiration from the American people, American thought and American institutions.
He noted that Mahatma Gandhi was influenced by the great American philosopher Henry David Thoreau, the architect of the Indian Constitution, Dr B. R. Ambedkar was a graduate of Columbia University, and Swami Vivekananda founded the Vedanta Society in New York to bring the universal idea of India to America. Lala Lajpat Rai founded India’s Home Rule League in New York, social reformer Pandita Ramabai cruised the East Coast together for months, and Lala Hardayal founded the Ghadar Party in San Francisco.
“These are just some of the many influential connections our freedom movement shares with the United States,” he said, adding that, on the other hand, American leaders from Howard Thurman to Martin Luther King have drawn inspiration from Mahatma Gandhi.
“People-to-people ties have indeed been the foundation of our special bond and continue to be, even as this year also marks 75 years of India-US diplomatic relations,” Jaiswal said.