By J.V. Lakshmana Rao
Chicago: Glowing tributes have been paid to the growing relations between the two great democracies of the world — India and the US — by Daggupati Purandeswari, India’s Minister of State for Human Resources Develop-ment, and Meera Shankar, Ambassador of India to the US.
Purandeswari and Meera Shankar were speaking at a reception hosted by Consul General of India Ashok Kumar Attri and Usha Kiran Attri at the Indian Consulate here on October 9. It was the maiden visit to Chicago for Meera Shankar after she took over as the Ambassador from Ronen Sen in May.
Addressing an elite gathering, Purandeswari said that India and the US were engaged democracies and a lot was happening between these two countries. She quoted President Barack Obama who said that today’s America has its roots in the India of Mahatma Gandhi.
Purandeswari said: “India and the US are engaged democracies beyond the nuclear deal. India is the land of ideas. America is the land of opportunities. We hope to convert the land of ideas into the land of opportunities. All the Non-Resident Indians living in this country are India’s brand ambassadors.”
Expressing deep distress over the severe damage caused by the recent heavy rains and floods in India, she said that the southern states of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka were devastated by the heavy downpour and the floods. She said: “I feel sorry for these states. They have been ravaged by floods. I appeal each one of you to give help and support these people. Some 6,000,000 people have been affected, 85 mandals have been destroyed and 20,000 heads of cattle have perished. Please support these affected states so that the devastated people can come back and begin their lives all over again.”
She expressed her confidence that the relationship between India and the US would continue to grow.
Meera Shankar, who was specially greeted by the gathering because it was her birthday, said: “I am grateful to you for this opportunity even though I would have liked to keep my birthday a secret.” Paying high compliments to Chicago and its people, she said that her first impression during her first visit to the snow covered gray Chicago in a cold December was quite opposite of what she saw later in a warm April month. Then Chicago was a vibrant city with a lot of activity all over. “I saw people going on bicycles and roller-skating. Ever since I have been a fan of Chicago. Chicago has its own personality — Chicago Blues, Chicago Merchandise Market, Art Institute and so on,” she added.
The Ambassador said that though Chicago did not gain the Olympics, the city had its illustrious son, President Barack Obama, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. He and his wife brought friendly charm to the city and the country. “We in Washington are benefiting from the Chicago style. The Indo-US relations are growing in an ascending curve. The graph is going upwards. The economic, cultural, scientific, technological and people-to-people relations between these countries are growing. I think that these relationships are poised at a very good juncture. It is always good to be an ambassador on an ascending curve,” she said.
Earlier, extending a warm welcome, Ashok Kumar Attri introduced Purandeswari, Meera Shankar, Sam Pitroda, Chairman of India’s National Knowledge Commission, who was appointed as the advisor to the Prime Minister on infrastructure, innovation and information, and other dignitaries.
Ashok Kumar Attri said that Purandeswari was the daughter of the late illustrious film star and former Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh N.T. Rama Rao. She was an able administrator holding an important ministerial portfolio of Human Resources Development. Announcing that it was Meera Shankar’s birthday, the Consul General said that she held many important diplomatic positions, and the last one being the ambassadorial position in Germany until April, before she moved to Washington.
Welcoming a visiting high-level delegation from Karnataka, the Consul General regretted that the Chief Minister, B.S. Yeddyurappa, who was also scheduled to come, could not do so because he was overseeing the relief operations in the flood-ravaged state.
Among the invited guests were high officials, scientists, engineers, physicians, entrepreneurs and community leaders.