I thank you, Hon’ble Governor, for hosting a celebration of our freedom and democracy. Yesterday, on 15th August, when we unfurled our tricolor, it was a truly historic day in our nation’s onward march. India marked the 75th anniversary of its Independence.
India’s success as a democratic nation is an inspiration for all freedom loving people around the world. And for that reason, our Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav, our festival of freedom, is not only being celebrated in India but with equal fanfare around the world. Our Amrit Mahotsav was launched by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi in March 2021. With that, we began our celebrations, seventy-five weeks ahead of the 75th anniversary and which will continue till 15th Aug 2023. I invite you to join in these festivities.
In the decades and years gone by, walking on the path shown by our founding leaders, by Mahatma Gandhi – the Father of our Nation – our country has made tremendous progress, one that makes us hold our head high. A deep sense of pride cloaks us. We are also equally aware of the work that is to be done. 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.
India@75 is a celebration of our vibrant democracy, and naturally therefore, as much a celebration of India-US friendship, for our bilateral ties are ever nourished, ever embellished by our shared democratic credentials.
And beyond this enduring connection, pages of history are replete with how Indian freedom fighters and builders of modern India drew inspiration from American people, thought and institutions. 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 Vivekanada founded the first Vedanta Society outside India in New York to bring India’s universal thought to the American realm. Lala Lajpat Rai formed the India Home Rule League in New York. Lala Hardayal established the Ghadar Party in San Francisco. And the selfless social reformer Pandita Ramabai crisscrossed the East Coast for months together. These are but a few of the many impactful connections that our freedom movement shares with the United States. 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.
It is a matter of privilege for us to celebrate our freedom in New York, a city so intimately connected to liberty and a city that embraces Indian culture and diversity like no other. Legends and maestros, from Pandit Ravishankar to John Higgins, have brought us close. Today, this has created a wealth of cultural understanding bringing our youth together: as startup champions, as digital innovators, as climate action change-makers, and as women entrepreneurs. And of course, those who are combining the beauty of Jazz with the beats of the Tabla!
Governor Hochul, we thank you for your strong support to the Indian-American community and to our cherished partnership. Our people have made immense contributions to their adopted homeland even as they continue to nurture their emotional bonds with their motherland.
May the bonds between India and the United States prosper ever. And may the “Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav” become an everlasting bridge between our two democracies.
Jai Hind !