Indian Community Celebrates Republic Day, Disappointment over Ambassador Sarna’s Absence

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Greenbelt, Maryland – Hundreds of members of the Indian American community celebrated India’s 68th Republic Day under the aegis of the National Council of Asian Indian Association (NCAIA) where diplomats and prominent community leaders were joined by local government officials.

Welcoming the attendees, NCAIA chairman Suresh K Gupta said with the new Republican administration under President Donald Trump shaping up, the Indian-American community is very eagerly looking forward to playing a most enterprising and constructive role in the resurgence of the US.

“We look forward to working with our Friends of Indian origin in our metropolitan area, and with our local, state and federal governments,” noted Gupta.

Jasdip Singh Jesse, Founder Sikh Americans for Trump and Chairman, Maryland Governor’s Commission on South Asian American Affairs called upon the community to support the ongoing fight against terrorism. On the community role to strengthen bilateral US-India ties, Singh highlighted it as an essential and important one.

Emphasizing the importance of engaging in political activities, Indian-American philanthropist Frank Islam told the audience, “Political engagement is one form of civic engagement that we should invest ourselves in to make our society and this nation a better place. Political engagement is especially important because it can provide the lever for progress in other forms of engagement.”

Among other attendees were Maryland Congressman Jamie Raskin; Maryland County Executive Ike Leggett; Parag Mehta, Chief of Staff of the United States Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy; Amitabha Ghosh, scientist at MARS Mission space exploration and Norvell Coots, President & CEO of Holy Cross Hospital.

In her remarks, Reenat Sandhu, Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM) here at the Indian Embassy also highlighted the significant role played by the Indian-American community in deepening US-India ties.

Disappointment

Navtej Sarna, the newly appointed Ambassador of India in Washington, DC did not attend, and most of the attendees were disappointed with his absence. DCM Sandhu didn’t have updates on his schedule or reasons for his absence.

Asked to comment on Sarna’s absence as his name was prominently printed on the invites, Gupta said, “We did this event solely to celebrate 68th Republic Day of India. We did invite Ambassador Sarna to be the Chief Guest. I met him personally three times and invited him.”

“We never had a confirmation that he was coming, we just anticipated that he would join us. As I understand, Mr. Mishra was assigned to represent Embassy of India, but on Friday late evening, embassy decided to send DCM Reenat Sandhu also,” continued Gupta.

Although Gupta “personally had no qualms over this,” the attendees expressed their disappointment openly to IAT. One attendee told IAT, “Ambassador could have come for a few minutes to make an appearance,” while another on condition of anonymity hinted at divisions within the community and alleged that the embassy was not being fair to all.

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