Valley Celebrates India Independence Day
Tumultuous Crowd Greet India’s Ambassador
Los Angeles, Aug 21, 2010
On a hot summer day in San Fernando Valley, thousands of Indian Americans flocked to see India Independence day celebrations on August 21, 2010. The organizers also had another major attraction – India’s Ambassador, Meera Shankar was the chief guest at the Valley; celebration of India Independence Day.
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Raman Chadha, Chairman of India Association of Los Angeles (San Fernando Valley), interrupting the well organized cultural program, welcomed the attendees and introduced Bobby Kumar, President of the association who while welcoming the ambassador, thanked Congressman Brad Sherman for facilitating the ambassador’s trip to Los Angeles.
Congressman Brad Sherman, represents California’s San Fernando Valley, and has served in the U.S. House of Representatives since 1997. Congressman Sherman is serving his seventh term in Congress.Referring to (NRI ) Indian Americans community, he said: The India community has been increasing steadily in the Valley, most educated and so have the businesses to serve the community. He thanked Meera Shankar, India’s Ambassador to attend the event and introduced her by providing her flag of US
Ms. Meera Shankar, India’s Ambassador thanked NRIs of San Fernando Valley and neighboring areas who had celebrated to commemorate the birth of the world's biggest democracy. She was appointed India's Ambassador in April, 2009 to the United States of America. She served as Director in the Prime Minister’s Office from 1985 to 1991. In 2003, she achieved the rank of Additional Secretary, she held the responsibility for the United Nations and International Security. She is married and has a daughter
Inder Singh, co-founder of India association, and International Chairman of Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO) said that Ambassador Shankar’s participation in India Independence celebration in Southern California is historic event. He also recalled some historical events as regards Indian community in Southern California.
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Udham Singh who witnessed Jallianwalla Bagh Massacre in 1919 lived in Los Angeles area for a few years before going to England where he assassinated Michael O'Dwyer avenging the Jallianwalla Bagh Massacre. Dalip Singh Saund, the first Indian to be US Congressman lived in Southern California for most of his life. The main post office in Temecula, in Riverside County, was officially re-named as Dalip Singh Saund Post Office in 2006. Bhagat Singh Thind who made history by taking his case of citizenship to the US Supreme court also lived in Los Angeles for many years. Self Realization Fellowship Center in Pacific Palisades is the only place in the world to preserve Mahatma Gandhi’s ashes.
Singh further stated that the Indian community had welcomed many prominent leaders of India including Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru in 1961, Prime Minister Indra Gandhi in 1982, President Giani Zail Singh in 1984 and Deputy Prime Minister L.K Advani in 2003.
Inder Singh sought help from the ambassador in resolving the issue of visa for those who have become US citizens but have lost their passport. “Ambassador Shankar, in early May, your government introduced new requirements for the grant of visa. GOPIO and the overseas Indian community protested against retroactive enforcement of the new rules. The government of India promptly relented and relaxed the rules. However, there are thousands of former Indian nationals who do not have their Indian passport and are refused visa and other consular services. Refusing to renew their visa is injustice no matter how you look at it. I urge you to help in this matter,” said Singh.
In introducing Congressman Brad Sherman, Inder Singh said, “In her first trip to India in July 2009, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton agreed to supply $10 billion in nuclear energy products for two nuclear energy plants in India. President Obama, our president took more than one year to authorize American companies to supply the equipment when India is ready to buy. With $10 billion from India, prompt decision by the president could have created a few thousand badly needed jobs in America. If India is strategic partner of the United States, then India should also be treated as a partner and friend. After all, that money was there to help our economy.”
Inder Singh also thanked the organizers and said, “I salute the volunteers of India Association who have devoted countless hours to organize the event and have made it possible for all of us to enjoy the festivities.”
Bobby Kumar presented to the ambassador a book on Indian community in Southern California, California Dreams – India Shining in the land of Hollywood. The book was signed by all the members of the Executive committee.
Congressman Sherman invited association president Bobby Kumar and Inder Singh and presented American flag to Ms. Meera Shankar.
The celebrations continued till midnight. The cultural program co-ordinated by Payal and Raman Chadha showcased India’s rich heritage of classical dances, the new wave of film song-and-dance and ever popular folk dances. There were over eighty booths displaying variety of products or promoting services; restaurant owners delighted the visitors with mouth watering dishes, boutique shops demonstrated the latest design in women apparel and probably made good sales, others put themselves in front of the prospective valley customers, a great way to advertise.
The enthusiasm, the hard work and the missionary zeal of the organizing team under the leadership of Bobby Kumar was visible during the event. The presence of large no. of people at the function, clearly demonstrated that the community appreciated the efforts of volunteers who willingly devoted countless hours to organize the event.