Indian leaders like Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru inspired others, including Dr Martin Luther King, about democracy and non-violence, New York State Governor Kathy Hochul said on Tuesday underling that the values of inclusion, pluralism, equality, freedom of speech and of religion bind India and the US together. Addressing members of the Indian-American community at the Queens Museum during an event to celebrate the Indian Independence Day, Hochul said India and the US stand firm with that same shared understanding of what it’s like to reject colonial rule This marks 75 years since India freed itself from the colonial yoke and people were able to start on that path toward true democracy, Hochul said.
In the United States, we stand firm with that same shared understanding of what it’s like to reject colonial rule, to embrace democracy and to foster our shared democratic values of inclusion, pluralism, equality, freedom of speech, and of course, freedom of religion. So these are the values that bind us together – India, United States of America. It is shared and we learn from each other, she said.
Hochul added that we also learn from celebrating the many languages and the religionsby the 1.2 billion people, but it’s also a statement of a community rising up, a world rising up. And leaders who inspired others, like Gandhi and Nehru. Those are names we do learn about in our schools, about what struggle means and about the peaceful embrace of democracy, about non violence, and those are words that are still spoken about today. Dr. King was frequently quoting these great Indian leaders who inspired him to learn what non violence was all about, she said.
The Governor added that this is what we value here today. We celebrate this, our people, our values, our democracies. While the Indian Republic Day and festivals like Diwali are celebrated annually with great fervor across the state, Hochul said she is very proud to become the first governor of the state of New York to officially celebrate Indian independence day.
Hochul, who began her remarks with Namaste’ and ended them with Jai Hind’, handed over a proclamation to Consul General Randhir Jaiswal that declared that August 15, 2022 will be officially proclaimed as India Independence Day. Hochul also applauded the contribution made by the Indian-American and diaspora 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 lucky here in New York to have so many Indian Americans represented in our levels of government. There are many firsts and to the community that was long underrepresented in our societies, those barriers have been broken, and so they’re making incredible contributions to our civic life, she said. Hochul said the Indian doctors, scientists, engineers, business people, attorneys, artists, writers, restaurant tears, shop owners create this beautiful fabric and really makes New York fabulous and vibrant.
Noting the contributions of the Indian-origin doctors in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, she said so many Indian-American healthcare professionals from doctors to those frontline nurses, they showed up, they displayed courage, they were there when we needed them and they literally saved lives, she said to applause from the audience. Jaiswal said that India’s success as a democratic nation is an inspiration for all freedom-loving people around the world and added that we are all equally aware of the work that is to be done ahead and we look forward to the future with an even greater sense of confidence and optimism to meet the aspirations of our people and to contribute to global peace and harmony.
Jaiswal noted that India at 75’ is a celebration of a vibrant democracy and is as much a celebration of India-US friendship. The bilateral ties are ever nourished and embellished by the shared democratic credentials. He said pages of history are replete with how Indian freedom fighters and builders of modern India drew inspiration from 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 India’s Constitution Dr B R Ambedkar was an alumnus of Columbia University, Swami Vivekananda founded the Vedanta Society in New York to bring India’s universal thought to America, Lala Lajpat Rai formed the India Home Rule league in New York, the social reformer Pandita Ramabai criss-crossed the East Coast for months together and Lala Hardayal established the Ghadar party in San Francisco.
“These are but a few of the many impactful connections that our freedom movement shares with 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 bedrock of our special bond and continues to be so even as we also mark 75 years of India-US diplomatic relations this year, Jaiswal said.