Indian-American Community, a “Critical Pillar” of Bilateral Ties: Envoy

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August 19, 2014

By Geeta Goindi

Washington, DC – At the Indian Independence Day celebrations on August 15, Lauding members of the Indian-American community for their stellar achievements and contribution, Delhi’s top diplomat here affirmed they are “a very critical pillar” of the India-US strategic partnership.

August 19, 2014

By Geeta Goindi

Washington, DC – At the Indian Independence Day celebrations on August 15, Lauding members of the Indian-American community for their stellar achievements and contribution, Delhi’s top diplomat here affirmed they are “a very critical pillar” of the India-US strategic partnership.

Indian Ambassador Dr. Subrahmanyam Jaishankar paying a floral tribute at the statue of Mahatma Gandhi in front of the Indian Embassy in DC, on the occasion of India’s 68th Independence day.  Photo credit: Embassy of India, Washington

Addressing a gathering of community activists, embassy officials, and uniformed officers of the Indian army, navy and air force, on the occasion of India’s 68th Independence day celebration at the Chancery, Ambassador Dr. Subrahmanyam Jaishankar revealed he had the opportunity to discuss the India-US relationship with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on a few occasions.  “I think the pillars on which we base the relationship are naturally the pillars of business or politics or security.  But, I think, fourth, there is a very critical pillar which is the Indian-American community”, he said.

Noting that the Prime Minister will be visiting the US next month, the envoy told members of the community, “I know that he is very much looking forward to see you all”.

Highlights of the upcoming, much-awaited visit include: the Obama-Modi Summit at the White House; Prime Minister Modi’s address to the United Nations General Assembly in New York; and a mega community reception in his honor on Sunday, September 28, at the Madison Square Garden, in Manhattan.

It is estimated about 20,000 members of the Indian Diaspora and guests will attend the community reception, scheduled to be held from noon to 2:00 pm, in the city’s famous indoor arena.  Prime Minister Modi’s address will be preceded by a grand cultural program.  Admission is by invite only.  The event is being organized by the Indian American Community Foundation of New Jersey under the leadership of Dr. Bharat Barai.  Details of the reception will be available at www.pmvisit.org

Ambassador Jaishankar explained that Prime Minister Modi “will be coming to Washington for what would probably be a relatively short visit” and so, “we will not have a community reception for him” here.  “But, I would urge you all, those of you who can find the time and interest and commitment to travel, to be in New York”, he told the gathering at the Indian Embassy.

Ambassador Dr. Subrahmanyam Jaishankar addressing the gathering at the Indian Embassy on the occasion of India’s 68th Independence day.  Photo credit: Embassy of India, Washington

The envoy was meeting community members in such a setting after quite a while, since the Republic Day celebration on January 26 to be precise.  He noted how in the interim, “very profound changes have taken place in our country and some of those changes have been captured by the President’s message to us.  We have a new government.  We have a stronger sense of purpose”, he said.  “I think all of you would agree with me that there is today an enormous energy which is radiating out of India”.

Ambassador Jaishankar pointed out that Prime Minister Modi, in his Independence day speech from the ramparts of the historic Red Fort in Delhi, “spelt out his vision for a clean India, for a gender-sensitive India, for a skilled India, a manufacturing India, a digital India and a secure India”.

Such a vision, the envoy said, “has already begun to affect our relationship positively”.  The pace of bilateral engagement has stepped-up.  Ambassador Jaishankar noted that  over the last few weeks, three US cabinet secretaries have visited India – Secretary of State John Kerry, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker.

Indian Ambassador Dr. Subrahmanyam Jaishankar reading President Pranab Mukherjee’s address on the occasion of India’s 68th Independence day, to guests at the Chancery here.  Photo credit: Embassy of India, Washington

The independence day program featured: a floral tribute at the Mahatma Gandhi statue, in front of the Embassy, by the envoy who was joined by Deputy Chief of Mission Mr. Taranjit Singh Sandhu; the customary flag hoisting and rendition of the Indian national anthem; Ambassador Jaishankar reading President Pranab Mukherjee’s address on the eve of India’s 68th Independence day; and delectable Indian snacks by Woodlands and Jewel of India restaurants in Maryland, owned by Anand Poojary.

In a candid address, President Mukherjee clearly outlined the challenges and achievements of the Indian nation which he observed is “very young at 68".  He emphasized, “Freedom is a celebration; independence is a challenge”.

Regarding security and foreign policy, he said, it was necessary to “combine the steel of strength with the velvet of diplomacy even as we persuade the like-minded as well as the hesitant to recognize the substantial dangers that breed within indifference”.

The President noted, “An increasingly turbulent international environment has sparked off rising dangers in our region and beyond …. Across parts of Asia and Africa, attempts are being made by radical militias to redraw the maps of nations to create a geography for theocratic ideology.  India will feel the heat of blowback”, he warned, “particularly as it represents the values that reject extremism in all its manifestations”.

The President maintained the decisive challenge of the time is to end the curse of poverty, to move from alleviation to elimination!  He pointed out that while the poverty ration, in the last six decades, has declined from over 60 percent to less than 30 percent, one-third of the population still lives below the poverty line.  “The benefits from economic development must percolate down to the poorest of the poor”, he underscored.

In his thought-provoking address, the President highlighted other important issues such as: the economy and visible signs of revival; a clean environment; sound education; and inculcating the core civilizational values of respect for women, tolerance for pluralism, love for motherland, and compassion for all.


Community Special by MYDOSTI.COM

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