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India's Republic Day, January 26, 2004

Location: Washington, DC

India's Republic Day, January 26, 2004 -- (Extensions of Remarks - January 27, 2004)






Mr. PALLONE. Mr. Speaker, I would like to pay tribute to one of the most important dates on the calendar for the people of India, as well as for the people of Indian descent who have settled in the United States and around the world. January 26th is Republic Day, an occasion that inspires pride and patriotism for the people of India.

On January 26, 1950, India became a Republic, devoted to the principles of democracy and secularism. At that time, Dr. Rajendra Prasad was elected as the nation's first president. Since then, despite the challenges of sustaining economic development and promoting tolerance and cooperation amongst its many ethnic, religious and linguistic communities, India has stuck to the path of free and fair elections, a multi-party political system and the orderly transfer of power from one government to its successor.

On that special day in 1950, India adopted its Constitution. It should be noted that India derived key aspects of her Constitution, particularly its statement of Fundamental Rights, from our own Bill Of Rights. On the eve of Republic Day several years ago, India's President K.R. Narayanan stated in his address to the nation: "Let us remember, it is under the flexible and spacious provisions of our Constitution, that democracy has flourished during the last fifty years and that India has achieved an unprecedented unity and cohesion as a nation and made remarkable progress in the social and economic fields."

India and the United States both proclaimed their independence from British colonial rule. The Indian independence movement under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi had strong moral support from American intellectuals, political leaders and journalists. Just last weekend, we paid tribute to one of our greatest American leaders, the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. King derived many of his ideas of non-violent resistance to injustice from the teachings and the actions of Mahatma Gandhi.

As the world's two largest democracies, the United States and India have a natural relationship, based on their shared values of diversity, democracy and prosperity. These two countries have steadily grown closer for the past ten years, and most recently, the United States' campaign to fight global terrorism has brought the two countries even closer.

Following the tragic events of September 11, 2001 India was one of the first countries to come forward to the United States with an offer of full assistance and cooperation in this new global fight against terrorism. India has sadly been afflicted with terrorism from Pakistani-based terrorist groups throughout the last 15 years, and since September 11th, there have been terrorist attacks against India on a near daily basis. It is only natural that these two countries are united in the global fight against terrorism, as well as on many other fronts.

Lastly, I want to note that throughout the South Asian region, India stands alone as a pillar of democracy, stability and growth. I join both Indians in India and over 1.8 million Indians living here in the United States in celebrating India's Republic Day.

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