By George Abraham
‘Indo-US Democracy foundation,’ a Think Tank was inaugurated on November 14 – Nehru’s birthday – at a function held in Bayside, New York. Mr. Paul Vallone, a New York City Council Member, lighted a lamp and inaugurated the organization. He lauded the creation of the think tank and expressed hope that it will facilitate constructive dialogue between communities while promoting democratic values and principles.
“The mission of the Indo-US Democracy foundation is to create awareness on threats to democracies in India and U.S. and to educate the public. Towards that end, we will be analyzing developing trends and informing our audience of the increasing danger to our way of life” said George Abraham, the Executive Director of the think tank. “The primary reason we have done the inauguration on November 14 is quite significant. Our mission fits well within the Nehruvian vision for India and that is to be a strong advocate for individual liberty and human justice to all citizens regardless of color, caste, creed, religion or gender” Abraham added.
Prof. Manu Bhagavan, Professor at Hunter College, the keynote speaker lauded the contribution of Nehru to India and reminded the gathering that Nehru’s vision of ‘Progressive internationalism was premised on the principle that free people everywhere should determine their future—together—under the aegis of forged common ideals. Differe¬nce and the will of the locality had to be respected, under the proviso that neither could serve as an excuse to oppress’.
Dr. Jit Chandan, Professor at City University, noted Nehru’s contributions in the area of higher learning such as establishing IITs and IIMs and asked the new generation to seize the opportunities and create history.
Dr. Joseph Cheruvelil, a retired Professor at St. John’s University pointed out that the Nehruvian vision transformed India and the Institutions he has helped to create are continuing to provide stability and strength to Indian democracy.
Mr. Yuvaraj Singh, a graduate student at Columbia University who was also a panel member, highlighted Nehruvian perspective on Democracy that it isn’t about propagating one set of ideologies or relying on one source of ideas. It’s about paying heed to your opposition, collaborating with those who you might not agree with you, and adopt the best of all ideas wholeheartedly for the advancement of the common goals and objectives. “Nobody embodied that better than Pt. Nehru. So the key lesson is that Democracy thrives on the opportunity to collaborate and not on the ambition to beat the opponent” Mr. Singh added.
Mr. Harbachan Singh, Secretary-General of INOC, USA in his welcoming address said “In this very complex and fast-moving geo-political world environment and the nuclear age, it is essential for a think tank like body to be constantly up to speed and monitoring the world developments in every field of endeavor. It is to appraise national and international governments and to figure out which way the political and environmental winds were blowing through various technological means to forestall detrimental effects and calamities of war or natural disasters.”
Mr. Bipin Sangakar, the President of Jawaharlal Nehru foundation recollected the story of Martin Luther King’s visit to India upon Nehru’s invitation and how the civil rights movement in U.S. got transformed with Gandhian principles going forward.
Professor Inderjit Saluja, Chief Editor of the Indian Panorama Newspaper moderated the meeting and added ‘the progressing India of today, ready to assume economic leadership of the world , is the gift of a visionary who knew it was important to strike a balance between the harsh realities of struggles facing a nascent nation and the need to take bold leap forward in the realms of economy and technology, notwithstanding the challenges of ensuring basic needs for the billions, to take the nation on a path to progress. He was acutely aware of the dire need to protect the fledgling democracy and attendant values of freedom, justice, and peace. Nehru’s legacy is a bright star on the horizon of India’s history, impossible to be overlooked or ignored”. Malini Shah thanked all the supporters and well-wishers at the meeting and urged close cooperation with the Think Tank.