HAF Joins Indian American Groups in Welcoming Prime Minister Modi

Washington, D.C. (October 1, 2014) -- Leaders of the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) participated in key roles over the whirlwind three days that marked Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s inaugural visit to the United States, the Foundation said today. Updating members about the visit, HAF shared that the Foundation assisted the Indian American Community Foundation (IACF) as a partner organization in varying capacities to ensure a successful reception for Modi at the iconic Madison Square Garden. HAF’s Associate Director of Government Relations, Jay Kansara, liaised with community leaders and other major Indian American organizations to enable an unprecedented 33 Members of Congress and Governor Nikki Randhawa Haley to both attend the event as well as participate in a private meeting with the Prime Minister organized by the Embassy of India.*
“The overwhelming response from both sides of the aisle on Capitol Hill and Governor Haley’s presence was a testament to the commitment that those American leaders have made to ensure the world’s oldest and largest democracies are integral partners,” said Kansara. “We thank these lawmakers, especially those who travelled far distances to New York City to join thousands of Indians Americans from across the country. The Indian American community will not forget such a gesture of solidarity anytime soon.”
Reps. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) and Ami Bera (D-CA), the only Hindu American and Indian American Members of Congress, respectively, and Governor Haley (R-SC), the second Indian American governor in the US, were especially popular with the audience. Later in a private meeting, Rep. Gabbard presented Prime Minister Modi her personal copy of the Bhagavad Gita, a revered Hindu scripture, on which she took her oath of office. The Prime Minister in turn gifted her a copy of the Bhagavad Gita inscribed with a quotation by Mahatma Gandhi.
HAF leaders said they were particularly pleased that Modi found opportunities to celebrate India’s pluralistic ethos and his own spiritual beliefs at various moments throughout his visit. Whether at the United Nations General Assembly, where Modi spoke of India’s Vedic heritage and the concept of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam (the whole world is our family), at the Global Citizen’s Festival at Central Park where he chanted the Hindu Vedic hymn, Sarve Bhavantu Sukhinaha (May all be happy), or in gifting of Mahatma Gandhi’s interpretation of the Bhagavad Gita to President Barack Obama, Hindu philosophy found an unprecedented stage during Modi’s visit. Modi’s arduous fast over the nine day festival of Navratri, which celebrates the Mother Goddess, also led to many press queries to HAF offices and became another opportunity for educating Americans about Hindu traditions.
“We are pleased that Prime Minister Modi did not miss an opportunity, no matter the dais, to highlight the inspiration he draws from Hinduism to address some of India and the world’s most pressing challenges,” said Suhag Shukla, Esq., HAF’s Executive Director, who also volunteered with IACF in hosting the reception in New York City. “His understanding of Hindu teachings about human dignity, mutual respect, and all of humanity’s and creation’s inter-connectedness can only serve as a symbol of selfless service, cooperation, and pluralism in an otherwise troubling time in our history.”

*State Governor and Members of U.S. Congress that attended Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s public address at Madison Square Garden  

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Governor Nicky Randhawa Haley (R-SC)
Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) - Democratic Conference Committee Vice Chair & Policy Committee
Chair Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) - Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Senator Joe Donnelly (D-IN)
Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ)
Congressman Steny Hoyer (D-MD) - Democratic Whip
Congressman Eliot Engel (D-NY) - Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee
Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-NY) - Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Committee
Congressman Jim McDermott (D-WA)
Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY)
Congressman Sanford Bishop (D-GA)
Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY)
Congressman Ed Royce (R-CA) - Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee
Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX)
Congressman Danny Davis (D-IL)
Congressman Pete Sessions (R-TX) - Chairman of the House Rules Committee
Congressman Gregory Meeks (D-NY)
Congressman Joe Crowley (D-NY) - Chairman of the House India Caucus
Congressman Steve Israel (D-NY)
Congressman Joe Wilson (R-SC)
Congressman Charlie Dent (R-PA)
Congressman Al Green (D-TX)
Congressman Daniel Lipinski (D-IL)
Congressman Hank Johnson (D-GA)
Congressman Jim Himes (D-CT)
Congressman Cynthia Lummis (R-WY)
Congressman Pete Olson (R-TX)
Congressman Aaron Schock (R-IL)
Congressman Randy Hultgren (R-IL)
Congressman Todd Rokita (R-IN)
Congressman Rob Woodall (R-GA)
Congressman Ami Bera (D-CA)
Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI)
Congresswoman Grace Meng (D-NY)