House Majority Whip James Clyburn receives Mahatma Gandhi Global Peace Award

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Congressman Clyburn delivering the keynote address after receiving the Mahatma Gandhi Global Peace Award on June 16, 2022 at the Tower Club in Tysons Corner, Virginia. PHOTO: T. Vishnudatta Jayaraman, News India Times

The US-India SME (Small and Medium Enterprises) Council hosted its first Annual Incredible Inc. 50 Awards and presented the Mahatma Gandhi Global Peace Award to the Majority Whip of the U.S. House of Representatives, James Clyburn, D-SC, June 16, 2022, at the Tower Club in Tysons Corner, Virginia.

CEO & President of the SME Council, Elisha Pulivarti, said that Incredible Inc. awards were established to recognize 25 companies in India and 25 companies in the U.S., all fast-growing private companies evaluated based on a review of revenue growth and other key factors over a three-year period.

Congressman Clyburn, Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations, Ambassador T S Tirumurti, Vice-Chancellor of Jawaharlal Nehru University Santishree Pandit, Chairman of SME Council, Sudhakar Gande, Chairman & Co-Founder of Africa India Economic Foundation G. Rathinavelu, Incredible Inc. awardees, and other guests were present at the event.

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In his acceptance keynote address Clyburn noted that in his office he has the image of Mahatma Gandhi over the figurines of notable Americans like W.E.B Du Bois, Lyndon Johnson, and Thurgood Marshall. “I am in my 30th year in the US Congress and I have had that image hanging in my office every single day. There’s a reason for that and that’s not accidental,” Clyburn said.

It was because of Martin Luther King Jr. “King convinced me it was not enough to just talk about Gandhi’s philosophy. You needed to practice the philosophy. And I became a disciple of Gandhi that evening and that’s why you see that image in my office. I know the relationship that exists between our countries, I know how important that relationship is, and I also know how challenging that is to keep up,” he said.

From left, Rajan Natarajan, Ambassador T S Tirumurti, Congressman James Clyburn, Elisha Pulivarti, Sudhakar Gande, and G. Rathinavelu on June 16, 2022 at the Tower Club in Tysons Corner, Virginia. PHOTO: T. Vishnudatta Jayaraman, News India Times

Clyburn recalled the circumstances of his initial meeting with Rev. King Jr and civil rights leader and late Congressman John Lewis in 1960, as a student at South Carolina State University. The meeting completely transformed his life.

“He [Dr. King] agreed to give us an hour and walked into that meeting at 10pm. We came out of that meeting at 4 am the next morning. I call that the six-hour experience,” Clyburn said, adding “I’ve never been the same again. Because that evening, King Jr. shared with us his studies of Mahatma Gandhi, and shared with us how important he thought it was for him to adopt and for us to follow not just the teachings of Gandhi, but the example of Gandhi.”

Ambassador Tirumurti dwelt on why the Mahatma Gandhi Global Leadership Award was being endowed on Congressman Clyburn, honoring the legacy of Gandhiji. Tirumurti also spoke of his significant role in the MOU signed at the Africa-India Economic Foundation and the SME Council meeting in September last year.

He credited Mahatma Gandhi for building another great triangular partnership forged over 100 years ago, bringing India, Africa and the U.S. together. “It started with none other than Mahatma Gandhi. After spending more than two decades in South Africa, a country which helped shape his philosophy of satyagraha and nonviolence, Gandhiji returned to India to lead India’s freedom struggle based on truth and nonviolence. The great Mahatma in turn went on to inspire another great leader of our generation in the United States, Dr. King. This was a triangular partnership, which started more than 125 years ago.”

Awardees posing for a picture with Chief Guests’ on June 16, 2022 at the Tower Club in Tysons Corner, Virginia. PHOTO: T. Vishnudatta Jayaraman, News India Times

According to Tirumurti, India shares many priorities at the United Nations with the U.S., and spoke about the bilateral relations based on the “bedrock of democracy, pluralism, and shared values and interests” which are at an all-time high, similar to the India-Africa relations. India is striving to implement the ten guiding principles recommended by Prime Minister Modi for India’s engagement with Africa, he said.

Rajan Natarajan, founder and CEO of Global Alliant, Inc, who introduced Clyburn at the event, thanked him for his 30-plus years of leadership in Congress, and for his continued support to the small business community. The United States is home to 32.5 million small businesses that employ over 60 million people and represent about 47 per cent of the American workforce, he noted.

Chairman of the SME Council, Sudhakar Gande recognized the work done by U.S. and Indian governments to revive the economy during these unprecedented times. He especially appreciated Indian Prime Minister Modi’s support for the SME sector, particularly because nearly 70 per cent of employment, and 55 per cent of GDP are generated by this sector around the world, he estimated.

Notable awardees in the leadership, and Incredible Inc. categories included Prabhudev Konana, dean and professor of Information Systems, at the University of Maryland, Judge Chung Pak for administrative law services of Maryland, G. Rathinavelu for international trade from India, Anthony Irudhayanathan of Zillion Technologies, Inc, Anand Poojary of Woodlands Caterers, Inc, Sagar Sawant of Cyquent, Inc, Srihari Kotela of E-fresh Agribusiness Solutions among others.

Ajay Sarin, CEO of Axiscades Inc, delivered the vote of thanks at the event.

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