Overflow crowd for India’s 70th Republic Day celebration at Indian Embassy in Washington

Indian Ambassador to the United States Harsh Vardhan Shringla with Indian Americans at outside the Embassy of India in Washington, on January 26, 2019.
Indian Ambassador to the United States Harsh Vardhan Shringla with Indian Americans outside the Embassy of India in Washington, on January 26, 2019. Photo credit: Embassy of India

“I look forward to working with the Indian community here to meet many of our objectives,” says Ambassador Harsh Vardhan Shringla.

WASHINGTON, DC: Indian-Americans, proudly waving the tricolor, turned up in unprecedented numbers for the celebration of India’s 70th Republic Day at the Chancery in the capital city.

The frigid temperature did nothing to diminish the enthusiasm of patriotic members of the community who packed a public park across from the Embassy which contains a towering bronze statue of Mahatma Gandhi. It was here that the new ambassador Harsh Vardhan Shringla commenced the program by paying a floral tribute to the apostle of peace and non-violence, followed by a flag-hoisting and rendition of the Indian national anthem.

In an interaction with reporters, the envoy called the 70th Republic Day celebration “a landmark event” which, he noted, “also coincides with the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi and the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev-ji. So, it’s an important event and we are very happy that we got such a tremendously supportive turnout of the community here,” he said. “I’m told that this is the highest turnout that has ever been seen and that too on a day which has record low temperatures,” he added clearly elated by the response from the diaspora.

“I look forward to working with the Indian community here to meet many of our objectives,” the ambassador told reporters. “I was very happy to meet (members of) so many community associations, so many students that have come from distant places, so many of the younger generation of citizens who are here, and also people of Indian origin who are new citizens. So, we are very happy that we have seen such a cross-section of people today at our embassy in Washington. This really, to some extent, demonstrates not only the fact that we have a very good spread of the community in the United States, but also that it is a community that is fully supportive of what India is doing, what India represents today, and how we will cement the relationship with the United States.”

Delhi’s top diplomat to Washington may have arrived from Dhaka barely two weeks ago, but he has hit the ground running – right from presenting his credentials to President Donald Trump in the Oval Office within a record 48 hours of landing in the nation’s capital, to interacting with leaders of corporate America, and meeting influential members of Congress as well as the US administration.

“Our function in the embassy is to implement the vision of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Donald Trump,” Shringla said at the press interaction in the Chancery. “That vision calls for an invigorated India-US relationship and this is something that we are working together with our colleagues on the US side to bring into fruition. Already, we have made tremendous progress and there is lot more to do and I look forward to trying our level best to accomplish that challenging, but, nonetheless attainable goal.”

As is customary, the ambassador read excerpts from President Ram Nath Kovind’s address to the Indian nation on the eve of Republic Day. There was standing-room only inside the embassy for those who were fortunate to secure a spot.

Welcoming the crowd, Shringla said, “This is the first Republic Day that I am attending. It will be 14 days since I arrived here. It is a great opportunity for me to meet so many of our fellow citizens, so many of our well-wishers and so many patriots who are here on this cold morning to celebrate this very important event with us.”

In his message to members of the community, he implored, “Continue to strive, continue to achieve, continue to do what you have always done – excel in academics, excel in your professions, excel in your entrepreneurship – and in doing so, keep the image of India high. Certainly, as you are people of Indian origin, you will support a good relationship between our two countries,” he said exuding confidence. “You will be the bridge between our two countries and we greatly value your support, your role in our endeavor to strengthen the (bilateral) relationship.”

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