Upon declaration of our independence on July 4, 1776, the first three states in the world to recognize the sovereignty of the United States were; the Kings of Dutch Republic, Morocco and Mysore (India).
According to Dr. Range Gowda, Tipu Sultan’s historiographer, the congratulatory letter to America is preserved in a French Library and in 1776; there is a record of celebration of America’s independence through fireworks in the capitol of Mysore; Sriranga Patna.
It was a coincidence, that General Cornwallis who surrendered to George Washington in the battle of York Town in 1781 was a hired gun to defeat Tipu, the Sultan of Mysore through deceit in the 4th war of Mysore against colonialism.
One of the folk stories about Tipu Sultan was that he supported the freedom struggle of America; indeed, the British were the common enemy for both the nations. Lord Cornwallis and Lord Wellesley ruled both the nations. We hope to search for the documents for authenticity, right now it is a folk tale.
Tippu Sultan of Mysore is one of the few rare heads of the states in the world who adopted pluralistic form of governance and humbly signed the documents as citizen of the state.
July 4th means everything to Indians and Americans, and the biggest one is the freedom. One is the oldest democracy and the other one is the largest democracy. Both the people are inherently secular in nature despite the expression of bigotry from a handful of men and women on both sides.
Both the nations have chosen the path of separation of Church and State, even though a few fanatics on both sides want their nations to go back to the dark days of dictating others what they can eat, drink, wear or believe on the one hand, and push the others to conformity in the other land.
Both the nations are collectively made up of Adivasis/ Native Americans, Atheists, Bahai’s, Bos, Buddhists, Christians, Dalits, Hindus, Jains, Jewish, Muslim, Sikhs, Tribals, Zoroastrians and every possible grouping.
Both India and the United States are represented by every race, nationality, ethnicity, language, culture and religion. We see God as one, none and many; and in every form; male, female, genderless and non-existent, being and non-being, nameless and with innumerable names.
We are proud of our heritage – a multi-faith, multicultural, multi-regional and multi-linguistic society, where we have come to accept and respect every which way people have lived their lives. For over 5000 years, India has been a beacon of pluralism – it has embraced Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Baha’i and Zoroastrianism to include in the array of the indigenous religions; Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism, and America has become a beacon of freedom of faith and it has embraced all the diversity God has created.
We may want to consciously start thinking and acting as one people, one people within a nation and a community and one people globally. It’s like home when we are conflict free. I do hope each one of us purges any bias towards the other, there is joy in being free from ill-will. Try to be free from it this day forward… free from anything that prevents you from being a part of the whole.
Let me remind you how a Chinese man embarrassed me some 12 years ago. I volunteered to decorate one of the floats for July 4th parade in Plano, Texas. When we got it all ready and joined the parade with our truck he said, you will see my (Chinese) People along the roads and your (Indian) people will not show up. I did not like his statement, but was waiting to pounce on him. It was a three mile route and he was snubbing me all along, damn it there were no Indians. I eagerly wanted to see some Pakistanis or Bangladeshis to claim as Indians, every one disappointed, only 2 Indians and a Pakistani joined me in carrying our banner; we took turns in carrying it.
I urge you to at least go out on July 4th and watch the parade. I will join the parade in Louisville this year with a Flag.