As an American proud of my Indian ancestry, and my name unchanged, I am more than merely delighted that these United States and India have found a durable rhythmic tune, geopolitical and strategic in nature, bound by common notes and dreams of our bilateral citizenry in their enlightened self-interest-based pursuit of happiness guaranteed by separated powers regimes.
2015 is special for many reasons. We overcame the unexpected bilateral pain that became known as the Devyani incident with Hours of Immunity successfully negotiated by FM Salman Khurshid with Secretary John Kerry, to then witness PM Modi rock Madison Square Garden. Later, as I wished, President Barack Obama held a Chai Summit in India. But, then it got better. President Obama did for Indian-Americans and India what he did for Chinese-Americans and China – as he had appointed Gov. Gary Locke as our ambassador to China in 2011, in the past year he appointed Senate Leader Harry Reid’s right hand Richard Rahul Verma as our ambassador to India. For good measure, he also appointed talented diplomat Atul Keshap as our ambassador to Sri Lanka. Recently, Nisha Desai Biswal, Assistant Secretary of State for Central and South Asia, visited India’s Consulate General in New York to personally plant eternal-goodwill where Devyani used to be DCG. Such an act serves to repair even frayed feelings and is worthy geometrically – as there is an implied promise that all will be well between our two nations.
That India produced a man such as Dr. Kalam – who rose to be India’s 11th President – an Indian Muslim – and who was so loved by Indians and who so loved India -seems to me to be a clarion call for all good people everywhere to stand up to religious oppression everywhere with humility-based good deeds that serve their nation above all else, and with respect for all faiths. Earlier, the world experienced the slaughter and splatter of precious ink at Charlie Hebdo – the home of cherished Voltaire who prodded many a monarch to better serve the public good – and Paris became Ground Zero for unity of all nations’ leaders walking arm-in-arm seeking tolerance of free speech as a “core” right and obligation of global citizenship. Dr. Kalam, methinks, singlehandedly well honored Mahatma Gandhi’s love for Muslim Indians, Christian Indians, Buddhist Indians, Jewish Indians and inter alia, Hindu Indians. 68 years ago Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru rose to say these immortal words: “Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance.”
Dr. Kalam answered India’s Tryst With Destiny – excellence with humility, nation above religion, peace above war. India belongs to everyday Indians who recall the sacrifices made by so many to be a free nation, and live their lives as homage to those who sacrificed so much.
That Indian Tea played a starring role in the Boston Tea party of 1773, and today India and United States find themselves in a vortex that cannot be denied – of unity of interest – one may be forgiven to say it was so decreed even by natural law without the need of being a Calvinist. May we continue to be worthy of God’s grace at the stroke of the midnight hour and every hour thereafter.”