‘If You Are Not At the Table, You Will Be On the Menu’: Lawmakers Advocate for Stronger U.S.-India Ties

The American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) held an event on Capitol Hill on September 21 to celebrate the 75th anniversary of India’s independence. Several US Senators and Congressmen from both sides of the aisle attended the celebration and stressed the need to strengthen US-India ties. A strong India means a strong US, they said, as they pledged to work towards strengthening ties between the world’s two largest democratic countries at a time when the world is undergoing multiple changes and facing numerous challenges. They also commended the contributions and accomplishments of Indian-origin doctors and the larger Indian-American community. Several AAPI leaders and prominent members of the community also attended the event.

India’s Ambassador to the United States, Taranjit Singh Sandhu, addresses the embassy reception while Dr. Sampat Shivangi, Chair of the AAPI Legislative Committee, and others look on. Top photo, Senator Joe Manchin (DW.Va.) speaks at the AAPI-hosted celebration of the 75th anniversary of India’s independence on Capitol Hill September 21.

dr Sampat Shivangi, Chair of the AAPI Legislative Committee, one of the key organizers of the Capitol Hill event, noted that Indian Americans play a key role in Indian-American relations. “It is a proud moment for every Indian living in any part of the world to see the progress our motherland has made since gaining independence 75 years ago,” he said in an AAPI press release.

In his welcome address, AAPI President Dr. Ravi Kolli said the 75th anniversary of India’s independence was “a milestone filled with pride and joy in all the achievements and progress we have made while maintaining our integrity, unity and core values ​​of freedoms, democracy and respect for diversity.” cultures and the groups that live and thrive in our beloved motherland.” He noted the “great strides” that India “has made in various sectors of the economy, lifting over 270 million people out of poverty in the past decade “.

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In his keynote address, India’s Ambassador to the US, Taranjit Singh Sandhu, spoke of the “close bond between the two countries” which is “driven today by the leadership of the world’s two largest democracies”. He paid tribute to the “vibrant and vibrant Indian-American community represented in this country,” adding that their success as professionals – physicians, technocrats, scientists and entrepreneurs – “has been an inspiration to many of us in India. And today, the support of that community is vital for us “to build a much stronger relationship with the US.”

Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) noted the importance of India-US relations. Khanna hailed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent message to the Russian leadership, saying India could play a crucial role in finding a peaceful solution to the Ukraine conflict. He said Modi, who met Vladimir Putin last week on the sidelines of the 22nd meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, told the Russian leader that “today’s era is not a war.”

Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi from Illinois also addressed the participants. The Indian American community needs to make their presence known, he said, imploring more Native Americans to run for office. “If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu,” he said.

His colleague, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), the first and only Indian-American woman in the US Congress, said that although India and America are worlds apart, over the years a very unique and important shared relationship. The two countries have made tremendous strides in promoting public health,” she said. “With the help of more than $200 million in aid from the US, India has passed a major milestone in the fight against COVID-19 by delivering two billion doses of the vaccine, the second highest of any country in the world.”

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Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi from Illinois also addressed the participants. The Indian American community needs to make their presence known, he said, imploring more Native Americans to run for office. “If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu,” he said.

Recalling his visits to India, Senator Joe Manchin (DW.Va.) said he saw “the greatness of the world’s greatest democracy in full action.” Had the Indian community not come to West Virginia to offer their services, most rural West Virginias would be without health care today,” he noted, praising the contributions of Indian-origin doctors.

Similarly, Senator Shelley Capito (RW.Va.) noted how the Indian American community plays a key role in enriching her state’s cultural experience. “I live in Charleston, West Virginia, which is a small rural state. If we didn’t have Indian-American doctors, we wouldn’t have quality healthcare, we wouldn’t have the breadth and depth and richness of our communities that we have.”

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Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) stressed the importance of strong India-US ties “The relationship between the United States and India is mutually beneficial to both countries, not just in the fields of medicine and technology.”

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Rep. Joe Wilson (RS.C.), the co-chair of the India Caucus in Congress, shared his fond memories of India, going back to the days when his father served in India during the World War. “India and America – nations that respect individuals, freedom, human dignity, private property and believe in free markets – have the potential to build on shared values,” he said. “India plays an important role in world peace and stabilization of the world.”

AAPI President Dr. Ravi Kolli speaks at the event on Capitol Hill.

Rep. Michael Guest (R-Miss.) also thanked Indian-American doctors for speaking up for people in times of crisis. “You put yourself in arms to serve those around you, to serve others, especially during Covid.” Describing the US-India partnership as a “strategic relationship,” the congressman said, “We work together to protect freedoms and democracies. We work together for the good of mankind.”

Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) noted the importance of US-India relations and the role of Indian Americans. “India and the US are strategic partners, and Indian Americans are the key assets in India-US relations,” he said. “We’re not just strategic partners, we’re friends.”

dr Kishore Challa, Co-Chair of AAPI Legislative Committee; dr Anjana Samadder, President-elect of AAPI; and Vice President Dr. Satheesh Kathula; and Treasurer Dr. Sumul Rawal also spoke at the Capitol Hill gathering.

The day ended with a reception and dinner hosted by Ambassador Sandhu at the Embassy of India.

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