“My participation in the celebration of India’s Republic Day today is a testament to the value I place on the friendship United States has with India,” including continued collaboration in all the possible sectors, while stating that the US -India strategic partnership, based on mutual values and commitment will continue under the new Biden – Harris administration. Rep. Gregory Meeks said on Sunday, Jan. 24th.
Referring to the COVID pandemic, Rep. Gregory Meeks said, “We stand together, shoulder to shoulder” in combating the virus and the impact it has on humanity. Ranking Democrat Congressman Gregory Meeks, Chairman of House Foreign Relations Committee was the Chief Guest at the celebration of India’s 72nd Republic Day, organized by GOPIO New York. The virtual celebrations began with the virtual flag hoisting and with the singing of the Indian and American national anthems by Manik Malhotra and Mathy Pillai.
Beena Kothari, GOPIO-NY President Beena Kothari welcomed the participants from across the globe to the celebration. While serving as the emcee for the event, she said, “We are gathered here to celebrate the 72nd India’s Republic Day.”
Rep. Meeks of New York was introduced by Lal Motwani, Honorary Chairman of GOPIO-NY. Mr. Motwani shared with the audience about the close relationship Rep. Meeks has with GOPIO and the larger Indian American community. “He is a true friend of the Indian American community,” Mr. Motwani said. Rep. Meeks in his address, said he has known Mr. Motwani for over two decades. While recognizing the contributions of Mr. Lal Motvani and the leaders of the Indian American community, he thanked GOPIO leaders for inviting him to the celebrations of India’s Republic Day.
Emphasizing the need to work together, Rep. Meeks said, diversity has given us the strength to support each other. He lauded the sacrifices of the front-line workers and the healthcare professionals in helping the community and the nation affected by the deadly COVID19 virus. Rep. Meeks was “appreciative of the partnership of the leadership of the largest democracies in the world.” He praised the influence of Mahatma Gandhi and the power of nonviolence. Praising the contributions of Indian Americans, Rep. Meeks said, “I want to say to all today: You have made USA a better and peaceful place.”
Rep. Meeks pointed to the Bill passed with bipartisan support by the US House of Representatives, that would establish an exchange initiative between the USA and India to study the work and legacies of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. “Written by civil rights icon John Lewis, who died early this year, the Gandhi-King Scholarly Exchange Initiative Act authorizes the State Department, in cooperation with the Indian government, to establish an annual educational forum for scholars from both countries that focuses on the legacies of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.” This legislation honors the long-standing relationship between the USA and people of India and advance his teachings and establish a development foundation that would allow India and the US to work together to address pressing issues like climate change, education and public health,” Rep. Meeks, who as the Chair of the powerful Congressional Foreign Relation Committee expects such cooperation between Indi and the US.
On his inaugural address, Indian Consul General, H.E. Randhir Kumar Jaiswal, a career diplomat with over two decades of diplomatic career serving in Portugal, Cuba, South Africa and at the Permanent Mission of India in New York, greeted the Diaspora in the United States as well as those around the world connected online to the event on the occasion of India’s 72nd Republic Day celebration. Calling it an important occasion and a milestone for India and the people of Indian origin, he said, “This is a time when we reflect on the past and the present and ways to go forward.” Describing the current period as “difficult times,” he referred to the health and the economic challenges India and the world is facing today. He expressed hope that the arrival of the vaccination will help make a new beginning.
Promising that India is on way to provide vaccination to 300 million people in India, Ambassador spoke about India’s plans “to share the fruits of science” with in our regional countries and across the globe by supplying vaccines to the needy, thus living India’s philosophy of “The whole world is one family.”
Ambassador Jaiswal also mentioned that “we look forward to collaborate with the new Biden administration” contributing to peace and stability around the world. Describing Congressman Meeks as a pillar of support, Ambassador Jaiswal said, “We continue to rely on your support” as the Chair of the US Congress Committee on Foreign Affairs. He said, the month of January is very special, when we celebrate Marin Luther King Day, India’s Republic Day and commemorate the death anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.” Calling both Gandhi and King as global icons, Ambassador said, “As we honor these two global icons, we continue to seek guidance and inspiration from both.”
NY State Senator Kevin Thomas was introduced by Dr. Thomas Abraham, as a friend and part of the Indian American community. Dr. Abraham conveyed Republic Day greetings from all GOPIO International officers including President Sunny Kulathakal from Bahrain, Executive VP Ishwar Ram Lutchman from South Africa, Vice President Ram Gandhi from the USA and all other International Coordinators from all over the world present at the Zoom celebrations.
In his address, Senator Thomas, who is chairman of the Consumer Protection Committee, conveyed his greetings to the Indian Diaspora and read out the Preamble of the Indian Constitution, reminding all of the high ideals of unity and diversity, urging the nation to live up to the high ideals enshrined in the constitution of India.
Senator Thomas said that “India is not only an emerging power but today India contributes globally”. Pointing to the many seminaries between India and the USA he said, “We stand united for the progress of the world. As we move forward, let us remember the preamble, and make this our guiding principle.” He promised to introduce a resolution in the New York State Senate honoring India on Jan 26th.
NY State Representative Jenifer Rajkumar from the 28th District thanked GOPIO and the Indian American community for the inspiration she has had in her life, “I stand on your shoulders as GOPIO has played a great role in helping me get elected to the State Assembly” .Referring the “Samosa Coccus” formed in the State of New York with a record three Indian Americans elected to the state, she said, “We made history this year and I want to thank the community leaders who have made this possible.”
Rajkumar shared with the audience as to how growing up in a family that emphasized the teachings of Gandhian principles has helped her to appreciate diversity, justice and equality for all. During this difficult COVID times, “My office is doing everything possible to make distribution of vaccine equitably to all.”
City Council Candidate, Deborah Kleinert in her greetings on the occasion of Republic Day mentioned that “as we celebrate liberty, diversity and equality. I vow to create a Round Table to honor and celebrate diversity”.
Vimal Goyal, a successful businessman spoke on the history of freedom struggle and the significance of India’s Republic Day. Through a colorful video presentation, Suhag Mehta took the participants down the memory-line of the history making events that helped India become a Republic.
Leela and Asha Bahadkar, two children of age 5 and 7 from the community gave a beautiful rendition of Vande Mataram song. Jyothi Gupta, Gautam Chopra and Kulbhooshan Sharma rendered their voices to some melodious patriotic Bollywood songs. Aparna Shreedar from Paris led the participants with a prayer song seeking God’s blessings in the year. Mayuri Pataliaia from India presented popular songs such as Vande Mataram and Jai Ho with her beautiful voice. Pandit SN Charka, Director EW School of Dance presented two items, Mere Vatan My Country: Duet dance Performed by Vishaki Miryapalli and Varsha Jegan and a group dance celebrating Rama returns from 14 years exile to Ayodhya to be crowned as King. The program ended last song was sung by singer Pradip Parikh.
Technical support was provided by Balaji and the Indus TV (New Jersey) was the Media Sponsor which also livestreamed the program.
GOPIO-NY is a chapter of GOPIO International which is a non-partisan, not-for-profit, secular organization with Individual Life Members and over 100 chapters in 35 countries. GOPIO’s volunteers are committed to enhancing cooperation and communication between NRIs/PIOs and the local communities, building networks, bonds, friendships, alliances, and the camaraderie of citizens and colleagues alike. GOPIO volunteers believe that when they help network the global Indian community, they facilitate making tomorrow a better world for the Indian Diaspora and the countries they live in