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Speech by Ambassador Nirupama Rao at welcome function organized by the Indian American Community,Washington DC, September 18, 2011

 Dr Shambhu Banik, Mr. Benoy Thomas, Dr Renuka Mishra, Mr. Raj Singh, Dr. Walter Anderson, Dr. Alyssa Ayres, it is indeed a pleasure to be here this evening. I recognize many old friends, and familiar faces in the audience. It is good to be back. The warmth of your welcome truly touches my heart.  I feel I am not far from home.

 16 years ago, in October 1995, when I left Washington DC, the world was a different place - India still seemed at that time many, many, miles away. That is not the case, any more. Every little town in the United States, has an Indian American family or, an India connection.  There is much more interest in India; our relationship with the US has become a full-fledged partnership that has caught the attention of the world.

 I have kept in touch with this country over the years, and the friendship and affection I have for you and for the United States, the country of your adoption, and in many cases now, the country of your birth, is deep and enduring. You came here in search of your American dream, and you have found it on the soil of this country. The fact that you were equipped with the solid skills imparted to you by your Indian birth and upbringing, was of particular significance, indeed of critical importance.

 In many ways, you are what you are because of the wellsprings of Indian culture and resilience that you possess, as well as the spirit of innovation, ingenuity and enterprise that America symbolizes. You have contributed and played a significant role in crafting the India-United States partnership, this strategic partnership between two of the world's leading democracies, this defining relationship that has the capability to impact the destiny of the 21st century. I recall particularly, your role in the successful realization of the India-US Civil Nuclear Agreement, and the zeal and enthusiasm and unstinted support you provided to the passage of the deal in the US Congress. In the true sense, you hewed wood and drew water, and the results are there for all of us to see.

 Your accomplishments and achievements as a community have caught the imagination of this country, and indeed of the world. This is because of the reputation you have established for discipline, diligence and the determination to succeed,  qualities that are worthy of emulation, while at the same time never casting off your cultural moorings in India, and your love for what India has stood for. So, the Indian American amalgamates the Old and New Worlds in one, a very worthy and compelling blend that makes us proud.

 It has been aptly said that we have just explored the edges of the potential that exists in the India-US partnership. The best is yet to be. And, this partnership should encapsulate within itself, another partnership, that between India and the Indian-American community, to fashion and craft an even bigger and better relationship between our two countries, a partnership that helps people on the ground, that explores new horizons in agriculture, health, education, energy, technological innovation, trade and business, and communication. You can play a crucial role in interpreting India's priorities to your American brethren, you can be that bridge of understanding and friendship between India and the United States.

 India today, stands on the cusp of great change. It is growing fast, it is a front-ranking world economy; its democratic traditions are strong and enduring, and its management of diversity, its pluralism, its respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, make it a truly standout country. Our vision is to deliver the benefits of development to the smallest village in the country, to connect it with the rest of the world as indeed advances in telecommunication are doing today, to build more schools, hospitals, roads, bridges and public transport, to empower our women with education and health and leadership skills, to mitigate disease, to light up those homes which do not have electricity, to keep our children in school, and to build more higher educational institutions and vocational training centers, too. To do all this, we need to keep our country open to ideas, to capital, to technology and to innovation. We need to ensure security for our citizens and keep our cities and communities safe from the threat of terrorism that has blighted so many innocent lives. We are working, and will continue to work for a peaceful neighborhood, to increase connectivity, and to promote trade and tourism. We are proud of the fact that we are a peace-loving country and that the rest of the world sees us as such.

 I believe that India and the United States share a concordance of views on how we must work together to build a stronger partnership that can help us realize the goal of a better and brighter tomorrow for the people who live across the wide expanse of our two countries. India's engagement with the United States has at its core the need to make a difference in the lives of our people, a difference for the better.  So, if one may borrow a line, friends, never stop thinking about tomorrow when it comes to the India-US partnership...

 I have just arrived in the United States and am beginning my ambassadorial duties here. I am so glad that we are meeting at this time, and your enthusiasm and goodwill inspire me as I begin my American journey. I know I have your support and I value it greatly. Thank you and God bless you all.