Holidays and a new year are reasons to celebrate and to look for new beginnings. As we near 2021, we have a need to do both, writes columnist Frank F. Islam.
I recently wrote an article for India doing that. I share it here with you my fellow members of the Indian American diaspora in the belief that you will find it of interest and hold many of these same sentiments for your relatives on the other side of the globe.
As we enter the holiday season and approach the new year, I want to take this opportunity to extend my heartfelt best wishes to and for India and Indians.
Because of Covid-19, 2020 has been an extremely trying year. We have all had to try harder.
We have done so across the board and it is starting to pay off. Vaccines are now being distributed in the U.K., the U.S., in other countries and will soon be distributed across India.
That is a reason for hope and to be of good cheer as we enter the holidays. I am confident that we will have many other reasons for hope and good cheer in 2021.
That said here are my wishes for India and Indians for:
- The Indian national holidays
- The Indian religious holidays
- The issues that are confronting India domestically
- India in the South Asian region
- India’s relations internationally
My wishes for India’s national holidays in 2021 are as follows:
- For Republic Day, I wish that this constitutional democracy remains strong and serves as a beacon of democracy in a global world where nations are becoming increasingly autocratic.
- For Independence Day, I wish that Indians celebrate not only independence from the Unite Kingdom but also their interdependence on one another.
- For Gandhi Jayanti, I wish that we remember and do what Mahatma Gandhi advised. That is “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” Each of us must be that change to help make India and the world a brighter and better place.
My wish for all of the religious holidays is that they be used to demonstrate what strong and inclusive faiths can do to unite rather than divide. As Pandit Malayviva, founder of Banaras Hindu University instructed us, “India is not a country of the Hindus only. It is a country of the Muslims, the Christians and the Parsees too. The country can gain strength and develop itself only when the people of India live in mutual good will and harmony.”
My wishes for India on the domestic front focus on the economy, education, health, poverty and climate change.
- For the economy, I wish for great rebound in both the growth of the GDP and the development of millions of jobs that promote IEW (Individual Economic Well-Being).
- For poverty, I wish that it continues to decrease and the governmental, business and philanthropic sectors collaborate to reduce the numbers of those in need of assistance
- For education, I wish that all Indians regardless of caste or class receive the primary and secondary education and the advanced education and training they need to be productive members of the work.
- For health, I wish that all Indians receive covid-19 vaccinations, the health services they need, and that the national health system moves forward toward becoming world class
- For climate change, I wish for the total commitment to making the air clean to breath, the streams clean to swim in, and the earth pollution-free.
My general wish for the India in the South Asian region is that it continues to be a leader and increases its influence in promoting regional connectivity that produces economic, cultural, and societal benefits for all while eliminating extremism, radicalism and terrorism. My specific wish is that 2021 bring India and Pakistan closer together and that the Karpartur Corridor in Kashmir serves as a model for working on a new beginning and establishing agreements that are fair and balanced for both sides.
My general wish for India internationally is that it continues to emerge as a major player on all fronts and a force for democracy around the world. My specific wish relates to India’s relation with the United States.
It is that the relationship changes from the transactional one that was had with the Trump administration to the strategic and “indispensable” partnership that was being developed with the Obama administration. This partnership between the world’s two largest democracies would significantly enhance trade and commerce, security, and social and civic capital.
My final wish for India in 2021 is: One nation under God. It is a repeat of the New Year’s wish I had for India in 2018.
Given the current conditions, the wish remains as relevant now as it was three years ago. As I stated back then:
One nation under God.
That is my sincere wish for India as we approach this New Year.
One nation under God. What would create such a nation?
Its God would not be a Hindu God, a Muslim God, or a Christian God.
Its God would be ecumenical and non-denominational.
Its God would be welcoming to all.
Its God would not discriminate nor encourage discrimination.
I all of these wishes fully aware that wishing will not make something happen. I also know, however, that not wishing means nothing will ever happen.
In 2021, it will be time for each and all of us to do the hard work that will be required to start converting those wishes into reality. I work forward to rolling up my sleeves and collaborating with the citizens of my birthland of India to doing that work.
Happy holidays and a happy new year to all. May 2021 be a year of peace and progress on the wish fulfillment journey..
Those are my wishes for India and Indians for 2021. My wish for my fellow Indian Americans relates to our being here in the United States of America — this immigrant nation which has been a promised land for so many.
It is that the U.S. be a promised land in which you have, are, and will fulfill your dreams and that you use your success to assist others in fulfilling theirs. That will ensure America truly is a promised land for we, the people.
Happy and healthy holidays and best wishes for the new year and the years to follow!
(Frank Islam is an entrepreneur and philanthropist based in the Washington, DC, area.)