Opinion - Dinner Diplomacy And Indian Americans | SIKH PHILOSOPHY NETWORK
  • Welcome to all New Sikh Philosophy Network Forums!
    Explore Sikh Sikhi Sikhism...
    Sign up Log in

Opinion Dinner Diplomacy And Indian Americans


Jun 1, 2004
Indo American community’s time is either spent in securing US visa for discredited leaders like Gujarat CM Narendra Modi or celebrating the Independence Day by flaunting Indian tricolor in the face of some who underline the other bigger reality on the one side of the street. Indo-Americans have never joined heads to tell modern politicians of India what early pioneers had dreamt about their country.

President Barack Obama’s first State dinner in honor of Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh on November 24, 2009 became a star attraction of worldwide media. Besides people of fame and the pageantry surrounding the event, the sight of the first lady in a hand woven silky gown from India compelled the fashion industry to alter meanings of beauty. Party crashers jolted not only the secret service, but also exposed how vulnerable the president and prime minister were to the captivating charms of a lady in the red sari. However, one can safely say all is well that ends well. For Indo-American community, the honor was historic as well as a productive achievement.
Indo-American partnership in the emerging global leadership was never as strategic as it is today. Owing to the history of more than a hundred years, Indo-American community has been playing a significant role in restructuring of international relations. Early pioneers, who set foot on this land, brought with them their culture of hard work, spirit of sharing, human rights’ awareness, and commitment to the best thought and practiced in the world. American Revolution had fired their imagination and they embarked on a mission to free their land from the British occupation. The efforts of less than five thousand people in 1913-1914 had international implications. The British colonialists lobbied to secure United States’ military support to suppress German alliance in World War I. The English succeeded in getting American Foreign policy amended accordingly and held San Francisco conspiracy trials in 1917 to prosecute activists of Ghadar movement and their German allies. Scholars view Americans’ uncritical tilt towards the United Kingdom in 1917, as a major drawback of their foreign policy.

Ghadar created a culture in which freedom of spirit became necessary. Efforts of early pioneers continued until after the World War II. A battle for American citizenship was won a few months before India got freedom. Earlier, United States had bluntly told the British to negotiate with Indians about granting their freedom. The British duplicity, however, was exposed as they tried to influence President Roosevelt’s decision against freedom of India. A confidential memo by Ambassador William Phillips, the US special envoy to India in 1943, had created a media sensation as its leakage bewildered the US State Department, and frustrated the British efforts in maligning freedom fighters. The story in Washington Post was path breaking for activists of Indian freedom. It came to light that the President Roosevelt had made British Prime Minister Winston Churchill to consider questions of withdrawal from India and form an interim government until the complete withdrawal. The US had advanced such an argument for India’s full participation in war efforts.

Harold A. Gould’s book “Sikhs, Swamis, Students, and Spies: The Indian Lobby in the United States, 1900-1946” highlights how seeds of freedom sown by Punjabi pioneers grew into so big a campaign as to make the US presidents plead their cause from 1943-1946. The ethno-demographic base of these early pioneers, according to Gould, was “a mélange of South Asians who had found their way to the United States by diverse routes. They were scattered all across the country but, as noted, the bulk of them at first were concentrated on the Pacific coast, in California, Oregon and the state of Washington. Most were Sikhs but there were also Hindus and Muslims plus a few Parsi Zorastrian and Indian Christians as well.”
A few thousands have grown into a mass of 2.7 millions. Their influence is seen in almost every field of American life. Congressman Dalip Singh Saund brought laurels to the community in 1950’s; Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Mayor Kashmir Singh Gill are heroes of today. The social, economic and political clout has increased many times. But something is missing that early pioneers had in abundance: their commitment to serve the country of their origin according to the best ideals of human potential. Today, Indo-Americans sequester themselves in mutually exclusive groups and take refuge in their own superiority.
It appears as if they have no regard for those who kissed noose in the hope of a dream for their country. Early pioneers like Kartar Singh Sarabha wanted nothing except an honorable place in their countrymen’s memory. Their dream never translated into reality. Rather its murder was celebrated on the intervening night of August 14th & 15th 1947. No lessons were learned from blood that streamed in the Indus through its five tributaries. A fence was again erected. Seeds of poison on both sides have grown into a bumper crop. Both sides want to profit from it, but marketing skills of the one are the ruin of the other.
Indo-American community is afraid to go back to the roots. All efforts end in frustration as very few share pioneers’ vision. Indo American community’s time is either spent in securing US visa for discredited leaders like Gujrat CM Narendra Modi or celebrating the Independence Day by flaunting Indian tricolor in the face of some who underline the other bigger reality on the one side of the street.
People who might have emotional ties with such events have to participate in a different way. Black flags in their hands are questions that remained unanswered for one quarter of a century. Indo-Americans have never joined heads to tell modern politicians of India what early pioneers had dreamt about their country.
Why Amnesty International has to write to President Obama to speak to the Indian Prime Minister about what happened in November, 1984? Why couldn’t Indo-American community question Prime Minister to invoke law of the land against perpetrators of mass murders? Any step in this direction would have honored those who paid the price of their lives to just secure a place in the collective memory.
The red carpet welcome to India’s Prime Minister has undoubtedly provided a momentary relief from painful memories of November. Dr. Singh expressed his confidence in President Obama’s leadership in operationalizing Civil Nuclear Deal he entered with former President George W. Bush. He also resolved to jointly end terrorism that threatened the civilized world. President Obama expressed that Al Qaeda’s effectiveness had to be dismantled. While welcoming Dr. Singh, President Obama used Hindi greetings and mentioned celebration of Guru Nanak’s birthday in the White house. He also honored M.K. Gandhi and Martin Luther King in fighting for civil rights of the downtrodden. United States sought India’s partnership in educational exchange, knowledge initiatives, intelligence sharing and fight against infectious diseases.
Obama-Singh negotiations have been described as meeting of minds. Obama’s joint statement with China had created feverish nervousness in Indian circles. Doubts were expressed about a halfhearted treatment to the Indian Prime Minister. But the glitz, glamour and gaiety at the party have squashed all premature reactions.
The mood at the First banquet was celebratory as well as thought provoking. Obama’s presidency seems to be all set to follow a crucial path of making the world a friendlier place. The president asserted that United States stood committed to work with India for a better world. The lavish American hospitality to the Indian PM would have upset China, had Obama not made it to Beijing earlier. In that case, it would have some serious consequences for the struggling economy of the United States as China is a tremendous partner in all efforts for recovery and growth.


Create an account or login to comment

You must be a member in order to leave a comment

Create account

Create an account on our community. It's easy!

Log in

Already have an account? Log in here.

Shabad Vichaar by SPN'ers

ਗਉੜੀ ਮਹੱਲਾ ॥੫॥ Raag Gauri | Guru Granth Sahib 199

ਗਰੀਬਾ ਊਪਰਿ ਜਿ ਖਿੰਜੈ ਦਾੜੀ ਪਾਰਬ੍ਰਹਮ ਸ ਅਗਨਿ ਮਹਿ ਸਾੜੀ ॥੧॥ ਪੂਰਾ ਨਿਆਉ ਕਰੇ ਕਰਤਾਰੁ ਅਪੁਨੇ ਦਾਸ ਕਉ ਰਾਖਨਹਾਰ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥

ਆਦਿ ਜੁਗਾਦਿ ਪਰਗਟੀ...

SPN on Facebook