On August 15, 2020, an Indian American Advocacy group in the United States, US IMPACT, organised the largest virtual celebration of India’s Independence Day. The event saw participation from 35 Congressional and Senate candidates, elected officials from across the United States and prominent Indian personalities. The highlight of the event was the participation of two famous Keynote Speakers- Mohandas Pai, chairman of Manipal Global Education, and Tejasvi Surya, a BJP MP from the Bengaluru.
The event saw appreciation from the dignitaries for the law-abiding and hard-working Indian immigrants in the United States. Candidates spoke passionately about the friendly bilateral ties between the two countries, personal bonhomie between Indian PM Narendra Modi and American President Donald Trump. The forum not only provided a platform to celebrate the 74th Independence day of India but it also served as a portal to raise problems afflicting the two democracies.
Keynote addresses by Mohandas Pai and Tejasvi Surya
Addressing the Indian diaspora and US Congressmen in the United States, Mohandas Pai urged the two great democracies: India and the United States, to come together and make the world a safer and peaceful place to live. Tejasvi Surya, on the other hand, stressed on the need for the US Congressmen to support the Immigration reforms that would ease the pain of the Indian Americans stranded in the Green Card glut. He also exhorted the political class of the United States to understand the crucial importance of the CAA in India’s neighbourhood. The duo also emphasised the need for strengthening the relations between the two countries with Trump as the US President and Narendra Modi as India’s Prime Minister.
Congressman Ralph Norman from 5th District South Carolina extolled the relationship with India and spoke highly of the contributions of the Indian Americans in his congressional district. Another Congressman Van Taylor from Texas identified India as the largest democracy having $150 billion potential of trade with the USA. He also emphasised the importance of democracies like India and America to stand up against the authoritarian regimes such as that in China.
US Congressional and Senate candidates spoke highly of their Indian connections
Many other Congressional and Senate candidates such as Pat Fallon, Nancy Mace, Steve House, Jesse Jensen, Aliscia Andrews, Margaret Streiker, Victoria Spartz etc. took pride of their Indian connections and spoke how contribution from the Indian diaspora stood out in a positive way towards the development of American culture and economy. The Indian Origin candidates Rik Mehta (Running for US Senate –NJ), Manga Anantatmula (Congressional Candidate for VA –11)and Ritesh Tandon (CA –17) gave emotional messages to the Indian audience on the occasion of India’s Independence Day.
Many of the congressmen and senate members, including Joseph Lee Haywood (NC –06), Casper Stockham (CO –07), Mark Leyva (IN –01), Susan Smith (IN –07), Eric Early (CA –28), Kevin Cookingham (CA –16), Johnny Nalbandian (CA –27), Mark Reed (CA-30), Jim Marchant (NV -04), Dan Rodimer (NV-03), Jeanne Ives (IL 06), Sargis Sangari (IL –09), Esther Joy King (IL –17), Valerie Mukherjee (IL-10), Robert Lancia (RI-02), and Buzz Patterson (CA -07) spoke about their deep connections with India and Indian American diaspora. They all praised the Indian Americans for their significant contributions towards the development and economy of their districts.
Issues such as “Defunding the Police” were denounced openly. Another topic that was widely discussed, almost by every candidate, was the need for the reforms in the Immigration laws to help the Indian origin Green card applicant stuck in the country-based quota glut.
The event was broadcasted live on several social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Until now, about 238,000 viewers have viewed the event. Besides, many of the dignitaries who attended the event had shared the live feed on their respective social media pages.
US IMPACT is the largest Indian American Advocacy group in the USA. It has a presence in as many as 29 states. The group has an active volunteer base of over 5800 members and currently working with over 140 candidates & congressmen running for re-elections, assisting them in various capacities such as with Phone Banking, grassroots mobilization etc. These candidates are spread across the country and have a significant Indian population within their Congressional Districts.
The Co-Founder, Board Member and the President of US IMPACT, Amit Warkad hailed the event as instrumental in enlightening the Indian Americans of the love and respect that Republican Party candidates had for India.
Sridhar Chityala, Board Member, Chair of US IMPACT Economic Advisory committee and member of IVFT advisory committee mentioned that the event was an outstanding opportunity to demonstrate that candidates, communities and leaders can be brought under a unified umbrella.
Khush Rawlley, one of the Founders of US IMPACT and the advisory board member of IVFT (Indian Voices for Trump) Coalition stated that the event was absolutely enlightening and it was for the first time that so many Republican candidates have been addressing the Indian diaspora for over 5 hours.
Badri Singh, co-founder and the strategist behind US IMPACT believes in providing the necessary platform for Political Leaders to reach out to the Indian American community to increase the participation of Indian Americans in voting process. “We groom, train and help the candidates via various means including fund raising for their elections” said Badri Singh.
US IMPACT plans to host many such events as the elections approach. The entire event of 15 August can be viewed here.