Hundreds of Indians and Indian-Americans, as well as U.S. politicians, students, religious and business leaders, and members of the diplomatic corps attended the Republic Day celebrations at the Consulate General of India in New York, Jan. 26.
Two events were held – a solemn flag-hoisting ceremony in the morning as well as a reception in the evening, in a display of appreciation for the largest secular democracy in the world.
Those who came to celebrate in NYC were among the thousands of Indians and others interested in the region, all over the United States from San Francisco to New York and Florida to Illinois, including at the Indian Embassy in Washington, D.C., and all the embassies and consulates around the world. This was the 70th year to the day India adopted its Constitution and was declared a Republic.
In New York, “For both of the events (morning and evening) we were overwhelmed by the response,” India’s Consul-General Sandeep Chakravorty, told Desi Talk. More than 250 people came spontaneously to the morning flag-hoisting, including not just Indians, but also curious tourists as well as students from Columbia University and other campuses, responding to the social media announcement, Chakravorty said.
For the evening reception, the hall was filled with an estimated 200-250 guests, the Consul General estimated, adding, “And this is despite the fact that many of our regular invitees were in India for the Pravasi Divas.”
Among those present at the NYC event, were U.S. Representatives Carolyn Maloney, D-NY, Gregory Meeks, D-NY, New York State Senators Kevin Thomas and John Liu, New York City Councilmember Paul Vallone, Israel’s Consul General in New York Dani Dayan, as well as heads of embassies and consulates of Guyana, Bangladesh, and Thailand.
Other attendees included Under-Secretary General for the United Nations Department of Field Support Atul Khare, India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Syed Akbaruddin, Deputy Manhattan Borough President Mathew Washington, Hersh Parikh, representative from the office of New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, Permanent Representative of Bangladesh to the UN Ambassador Masud Bin Moman, and Desi Talk publisher Padma Shri Dr. Sudhir Parikh, the chairman and founder of Parikh Worldwide Media, and chairman of ITV Gold.
“Yesterday I had a great time celebrating the 70th Republic Day of India with the Consulate General! 70 years ago, India’s constitution came into effect and it completed its transition to an independent republic. Happy #RepublicDay2019” tweeted Rep. Maloney, with a picture.
“It was a pleasure to celebrate India’s Republic day with all of you last night,” tweeted NY Sen. Thomas, the first Indian-American to ever be elected to Albany.
The Consulate thanked the prominent American leaders for their words at the event. “Congressman Gregory Meeks we thank you for joining in the 70th #RepublicDay2019 celebrations. Your words about the contribution of the Indian Diaspora in the making of America deeply resonated with the audience. We value your support to the growing India-US Relations.”
“Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, your presence at our 70th Republic Day celebrations added luster to our event. You are strong pillar of support for the Indian American Community of New York and huge supporter of the India-US Relationship. #RepublicDayIndia”
The event included cultural performances, including dance by NYC Bhangra and numerous speakers. Child artist Angle Shah danced to a patriotic song. Performers sported traditional costumes in the three colors of the Indian flag – green, white, and orange. Patriotic songs were sung, including the most popular, “Ai mere watan ke logon.”
Consul General Chakravorty read out the message from the President of India Ram Nath Kovind, during the morning flag-hoisting.
In his speech at the evening reception, Chakravorty dwelt on the meaning of Republic Day when the adoption of India’s Constitution which promises freedom, equality, democracy and free speech; on the shared values of the United States and India; how bilateral relations were “reaching new heights”; and there was a deepening of the economic engagement, the people-to-people contact. He also talked of the Indian-American community as a “strong pillar” of the relationship. “This year – we will also celebrate democracy in India,” Chakravorty said, urging all to register and participate. He noted the arrival of India’s new Ambassador in Washington, D.C., Harsh V. Shringla.
“It was a great celebration and a great patriotic spirit was there,” said Dr. Parikh. “So many U.S. lawmakers, and assemblymen as well as former consuls general came. It showed the importance of India,” he added.
“I like to quote Congressman Tom Suozzi of New York who once said that when he was growing up there were only three ‘I’s that mattered – Ireland, Israel, Italy. Today, the fourth ‘I’ – India- matters. I deeply believe this to be true,” Consul General Chakravorty told Desi Talk.