Indian-Americans celebrate Shaheed Diwas 2021 with Indian Consulate, India@75 launched

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India’s Consul General in New York, center, Ambassador Randhir Kumar Jaiswal releasing the special Shaheed Diwas Calendar March 23, 2021,produced by GOPIO-Manhattan. At left, Deputy Consul General Shatrughna Sinha, and right, GOPIO-Manhattan Board member Siddharth Jain. Photo: courtesy GOPIO

The Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO) along with the Consulate General of India in New York, on March 23, 2021, jointly hosted Shaheed Diwas 2021, as an online event to honor leading martyrs in the Indian freedom struggle. Among those present were Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s daughter Professor Anita Bose Pfaff (Germany), Lord Rami Ranger (U.K.), Professor Maya Chadda (USA) and Historian/Author Bhuvan Lall, PhD (India).

Parikh Worldwide Media, which publishes Desi Talk, was a media sponsor of the event. The two hours long celebration included patriotic songs sung by singers from the U.S. and Canada.

Anoop Bhargava, who emceed the event, introduced the importance of Martyr’s Day. On March 23 in 1931, three revered freedom fighters, Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev Thapar, and Shivaram Rajguru, were hanged to death by the British, for fighting for freedom from British rule in India.

India’s Consul General Ambassador Randhir Kumar Jaiswal launched India@75, a yearlong Celebration commemorating the 75th Anniversary of India’s Independence and called upon the Indian Diaspora to join him in celebrating India’s freedom till August 15th, 2022. Deputy Consul General in New York Shatrughna Sinha felicitated the community.

Ambassador Jaiswal and DCG Shatrughna Sinha released the Shaheed Diwas Calendar which recognized the conributions of Indian patriots, presented by Siddharth Jain (Sid Jain) of GOPIO-Manhattan, for the year 2021-2022.

Organizers and speakers at the Shaheed Diwas: Top Row, from l. to r. Chitranjan Belwariar, Dr. Thomas Abraham, Siddharth Jain (Sid Jain) and Dr. Asha Samant. Middle Row: From l. to r. Deputy Consul General of India Shatrughna Sinha, Consul General of India Randhir Kumar Jaiswal, Dr. Maya Chadda and Dr. Bhuvan Lall. Bottom Row, from l. to r.: Prof. Anita Bose Pfaff, Anoop Bhargava and Lord Rami Ranger. Photo: courtesy GOPIO

Calling it a ‘red letter day’ for India, Consul General Jaiswal is quoted saying, “We honor today the legendary freedom fighters, recalling their bravery and love for our motherland.”

Professor Anita Bose Pfaff shared with the audience experiences from her own personal life, as she was growing up seeing her father, travelling across India to Europe to South East Asia, garnering support from Western and Asian nations, creating an army to fight the British power. Stating that her dad was one of the most hated by the British, she spoke of attempts to assassinate him.

“He had joined the freedom movement at a very young age. Joined the non-violent movement led by Gandhi initially. He was imprisoned and lost his health in prison. He risked his life disguising himself and escaping the prison and joined and led the Independence Movement abroad by aligning with Germany, Soviet Union and Japan, creating an Indian National Army (INA) to fight the British,” Prof. Bose Pfaff said.

“There is good reason to call him a martyr, because he died in the process of fighting for freedom. India was his sole love, and he was willing to put his life for the freedom of India. It’s justifiable to call him a martyr,” Prof. Bose Pfaff said.

Lord Rami Ranger, Member of the House of Lords, London, a self-made businessman and Joint Chairman of Conservatives Friends of India in the British Parliament. Lord Ranger’s father Shaheed Sardar Nanak Singh stood for the unity of India and was assassinated by a mob in Gujranwala (in Pakistan) in 1947. “My father was assassinated at age 42 when I was not even born,” he said, sharing the circumstances that led to his father’s martyrdom.

A screenshot of part of the audience at the March 23, 2021, joint online Shaheed Diwas 2021, hosted by the Indian Consulate in New York and the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin. Photo: courtesy GOPIO

Political science Professor Maya Chadda, of William Paterson University, Wayne, New Jersey, a member of the Council of Foreign Relations, described at length her works on Gandhian thoughts focusing on Satyagraha as a strategy of war.

“We were a Gandhian family throughout our lives. They were all dreamers, who dreamt of a unified India with freedom. They inspired mass support that led to the freedom movement, with ability to move the nation and win their support,” Prof. Chadda said.

Bhuvan Lall, PhD, film producer, and author of “The Man India Missed The Most – Subhas Chandra Bose & The Great Indian Genius – Har Dayal,” told the story of the Lala Har Dayal, who spoke 9 languages and memorized 5,000 books at the very young age of 28-years; gave up his Government of India scholarship to St. John’s College at Oxford to join the freedom movement in 1907; founded the Ghadar Party in 1913, to organize a rebellion against the British government of India. He moved to the United States in the late 1920s and became a Professor of Sanskrit at the University of California, Berkeley.

Other speakers included Dr. Thomas Abraham, chairman of GOPIO International and Shivender Sofat, president of GOPIO-Manhattan, who described the work of GOPIO, and extolled the martyrs who fought for India’s freedom.

 

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