was born in India, lived in India as a child, and again as an adult. I am 51
years old. I have grown up largely abroad, but my heart is Indian, and my Gods
are Hindu, and that means that both are open, giving, inclusive, expansive,
full of love. My Indian heart sings Eshwar Allah Tero Naam, and my Hindu Gods
teach me, “aano bhadra krtavo yantu vishwatah.” This is from the Rig
Veda and means: “Let Noble Thoughts come to me from all directions.”
Said Ms. Sunita Viswanath, co-founder of ‘Hindus for Human Rights’ addressing a
gathering organized in coordination with Indian overseas Congress, USA, and
Indo-US Democracy Foundation celebrating the Nehru Jayanthi on November 14, in
Queens, New York.
India that was envisioned by Nehruji, Gandhiji, Ambedkarji and so many other
visionaries and revolutionaries, the India that is a “sovereign,
socialist, secular and democratic republic” which ensures “justice,
liberty, equality to all citizens and promotes fraternity to maintain unity and
integrity of the nation,” is in crisis. This carnage of lives, rights, and
Democracy is happening in the name of our faith. There must be a Hindu response
to Hindutva. After all, since Hindus are the majority, no change is possible
without changing the hearts and minds of Hindus. Who will annihilate caste if
greatest influence and inspiration, Gandhiji, was a progressive Hindu if there
ever was one. Gandhiji wrote, “Hinduism tells everyone to worship God
according to his own faith or dharma, and so it lives at peace with all the
religions.” And Nehruji said, on Gandhiji’s birthday in 1952, “If any
person raises his hand to strike down another on the ground of religion, I
shall fight him till the last breath of my life, both at the head of government
and from outside,” Ms. Viswanath added.
opening the meeting, Dr. Leno Thomas, the Emcee of the event, stated that Nehru
understood that greatness lay in the service of our fellow human beings.
“The only alternative to coexistence is co-destruction,” he said.
“Without peace, all other dreams vanish and are reduced to ashes.” He
saw Democracy as a means to an end, not the end itself. He saw freedom as a
tool to uplift a lot of people. “The world of today has achieved much, but
for all its declared love for humanity,” he said, “it has based
itself far more on hatred and violence than on the virtues that make one human.
War is the negation of truth and humanity. War may be unavoidable sometimes,
but its progeny is terrible to contemplate. Not mere killing, for man, must
die, but the deliberate and persistent propagation of hatred and falsehood,
which gradually become the normal habits of the people”.
succeeded to a large extent in maintaining the edifice of Indian unity using
Democracy, socialism, and secularism. He believed and lived the fundamental
truth that all human beings had a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of
happiness, the very principles, and words of the founding fathers of the United
States of America. Wherever we are, in whatever small way we can, let follow
his example and think and live and do likewise,” Dr. Thomas added.
the distinguished guests that included Mr. Paul Vallone, the NYC councilman,
George Abraham, Vice-Chairman of the IOC, USA recollected a bit of history
where India was at the time of Independence. “Congress started with zero.
Electricity was available only in 20 villages across India, Telephone
facilities were available only for 20 rulers (Kings) in the country, no
drinking water supply, no hospitals, no educational institutions, no
fertilizers, no jobs, rampant starvation in the country, four planes, 20
tankers and fully open borders, minimum roads and bridges, empty exchequer and
that is what Nehru inherited”.
India has the largest army, thousands of warplanes, lakhs of Industrial
Institutions, electricity in almost all villages, hundreds of electrical power
stations, several thousands of highways and bridges, new railway projects,
stadiums, super-specialty hospitals, most of the Indian households with
Television, telephone services across the country, Banks, Universities, AIMS,
IITs IIMs, Nuclear weapons, Submarines, ISRO…all these were achieved under the
vision of our first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. Some would talk as if this all has happened
in the last five years, and it is nothing but an outright distortion of
history. The attempt by the current regime to marginalize the legacy of Nehru
is shameful and will not succeed,” Mr. Abraham added.
meeting also played Nehru’s “Tryst with Destiny” speech and Mr. Paul
Vallone, who received a Humanitarian
Award from the Indo-US Democracy Foundation for his support for promoting
Democracy and freedom lauded Nehru for his inclusive policies that united India
and appealed to the gathering to emulate the same values for their transplanted
lives here in the USA. Mr. Indrajit Saluja, Chief Editor of Indian Panorama,
presented him with a plaque, and Ms. Mariamma Varkey, Chairperson for Kerala
Chapter’s Women’s forum felicitated him with a Shawl.
Rajender Dichpally, General Secretary, reminded everyone to read Nehru’s ‘Discovery
of India’ to gain a better perspective on history. Ms. Malini Shah was
applauded specially by Mr. Paul Vallone for her support and her outstanding
contributions to the Asian Indian Community. Senior IOC leaders Ravi Chopra,
Leela Maret, Shalu Chopra, U.A. Naseer, and Oommen Koshy also spoke on
occasion. Ms. Sophia Sharma spoke on the need to get more involved in
mainstream politics to support the same Nehruvian values. Other IOC leaders who
were present also included Mr. Pradeep Samala, John Joseph, Satish Sharma and
Rajesh Alladad, K C Chaithanya, S. Lal Malick and community leaders such as
Mohammed Hack, Dilip Chauhan, Jennifer Rajkumari, Somanath Ghimire and Koshy
Amir Rashid expressed the vote of Thanks.
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