India loves celebrating and recognising its diversity: Finance Minister Sitharaman

Washington: The Finance Minister is in the US for the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank spring meeting

BY | Sunday, 16 April, 2023
Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman at India House to celebrate India's diverse cultural festivals. (Credit: @SandhuTaranjitS/ Wikimedia commons)

India loves celebrating and recognising its diversity, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has said, as she paid glowing tributes to Dr B R Ambedkar, the architect of India’s Constitution, at an event here.

“We always had this diversity. It’s a country which loves celebrations. It’s a country which loves celebrating and recognising its diversity,” Sitharaman told a gathering of Indian-Americans at the popular India House, the residence of India’s envoy to the US, Taranjit Singh Sandhu, at an event here to celebrate the New Year being observed across the country in multiple ways.

“Even as we’re doing all this per auspicious calendar, each one of us follow, either based on the Sun horoscope or moon horoscope. They’re all around the same time. But based on the calendar year, April 14 marks the birthday of Dr. Ambedkar,” she said.

“So here as I’m standing before, largely an Indian crowd, but of course senior officials of the US administration, when I say that India enjoys diversity, celebrates diversity, there can always be times when there is friction here on days when you have so many different people of diverse backgrounds,” she said.

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The Finance Minister is in the US for the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank spring meeting.

She said that Dr Ambedkar stands out in distinction to show how, despite the background from which it comes, learned from his teacher, in fact took his teacher’s name for his own.

Benefited by the scholarship given by a ruler of Baroda, he came to Columbia to do law. Came back and was a veritable fountainhead of so many different thoughts which constitution makers of India had, and the discussions were long and elaborated, post which India’s constitution was ready, she said.

“They were eminent people in that group which prepared the Constitution of India. Dr. Babasaheb headed that group. And he’s given the Constitution is what all of us would say we recognize him for the contribution that he’s made,” she said.

“It’s not for me to highlight why I need to underline this when I’m talking about diversity. But because we are in the United States, I want to highlight that we celebrate the great leaders of our pre-independence era as well, Dr. Ambedkar stood for India, worked for Indians. He came from the oppressed Dalit community,” she said.

“He belongs to them. But he came with a positive thought of being part of new India in the making and wrote the Constitution along with experts. So, when we celebrate diversity, celebrate inclusiveness, it also points out that we share a lot of positive thoughts when we are doing this. So today when we celebrate togetherness, it is that spirit that governs India and US relationship,” Sitharaman said.

The event was marked by cultural performances showcasing India’s cultural diversity, starting with Gurbani kirtan “Awal Allah Noor Upaaya….Kudrat Kai Sab Bande” by Bhai Sat Pal Singh ji, Bhai Onkar Singh ji and Bhai Karm Singh ji from Sikh Foundation of Virginia.

On Bhagwan Mahavir Jayanti, thoughts by Atmarpit Vidhiji, a scholar from Shrimad Rajchandra Mission Dharampur, Gujarat were shared.

Songs on Easter by choir were from Memorial First India United Methodist Church in Maryland.

With Eid celebrations around the corner, devotional offerings were by Nawaz Brothers — Fardeen Nawaz, Qais Nawaz and Idrees Nawaz to- Syed Muhammad Nizamuddin Auliya — one of the most famous Sufi saints of the Chishti Order from Northern India in the 14th century.

On Vaisakh Paurnima, also known as Buddha Paurnima, thoughts were espoused by Dr. Jin Park, Professor and Department Chair of Philosophy and Religion, American University.

“When you look at all these festivals in one, place at one time, this is an example of diversity and inclusion and equity,” said Dr Rahul Gupta, the White House drug czar.

By Lalit K Jha

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