India has a long history of inspiring people. There is Gandhiji, who inspired a nation; there is Manmohan Singh, who from humble beginnings became Prime Minister; and there is India’s cricket team, who captured the hearts of a nation with their exciting run to the World Cup championship. I had the good fortune of spending time with another inspiring person, Sirajuddin Qureshi, President of the India Islamic Cultural Centre. Mr. Qureshi began as a street vendor, later to become a very successful businessman and entrepreneur. President Obama recognized this success when he invited him as one of six Indian delegates to the 2010 Presidential Summit on Entrepreneurship. What makes Mr. Qureshi a true inspiration is his dedication to helping those who were like him many years ago. I attended one of Mr. Qureshi’s skills development courses he is providing to young Muslims throughout the Delhi region. It was fascinating listening to everyone learn American English. After speaking with students learning vocational skills, it is obvious that with the help of Mr. Qureshi, they are headed in the right direction and on the path to achieving great things.
Posts Tagged ‘U.S.-India relations’
Congratulations to India’s cricket team for their fantastic and exciting cricket world cup championship!
Much like India itself, the team displayed great talent, balance, and resiliency in winning the cup for the first time since 1983. What a great day for the unbelievable and talented Sachin Tendulkar, and for the 1.2 billion Indian fans, who cheered them on and prayed for them.
Sports are a big part of American culture. Baseball is our national pastime, football is the most popular these days, and in my home state of Indiana, wherever you look, on a farm or in a driveway, you see a basketball court. Yet with all the excitement of today’s World Cup cricket match between India and Pakistan, approximately 1.5 billion people will be mesmerized by the match! I am confident that the great Sachin Tendulkar will have a great game. Will Yuvraj Singh continue his amazing batting? Will the Indian bowlers and defense rise to the occasion? Can Raina be clutch again in the big moments? All these questions and more will be decided today in what promises to be an exciting match. Walking around the Embassy, all everyone wanted to talk about was today’s match. The anticipation is so high that we will show the match live for all our employees at the Embassy auditorium and have arranged for it to be broadcast on our computers. India has never lost an international cricket world cup match to Pakistan.
Taking advantage of the beautiful weather, several volunteers, my wife Sally, and I took 32 children from a local settlement to the National Zoo. These students are enrolled in an English language program started by Sally so this was a great way for them to practice their English outside the classroom, learn new words, and see some really great stuff! We saw white tigers, one-horned rhinos, black bears, chimpanzees, and so much more. The staff at the zoo did a great job showing us around and letting us visit all the animals. I am not sure who had more fun – the children or the volunteers – but we all had a fantastic time. Tell me, what is your favorite animal to see?
There are so many great celebrations and traditions in India. If I had to only select one, I might pick Holi to share with Americans. It encompasses all of what my family and I love about this great country – getting together with friends and families, having fun together, and giving back to one another. My family and I had the pleasure of spending Holi with Indian friends of ours in a Delhi neighborhood and then we hosted at Roosevelt House 32 kids from a local settlement. The kids are enrolled in an English language program that was started by my wife Sally and are being taught by many volunteers from the American Embassy School. Colors were “shared” with everyone so that by the end of the day we were all “colored” in purple, green, yellow, and red colors from head to toe!
One of the more enjoyable “jobs” I have as Ambassador to India is traveling throughout this beautiful country to meet with as many people as possible. When nominating me for this position, President Obama told me he wanted me to get out of Delhi and meet the aam aadmi, the villagers, the entrepreneurs, the religious leaders, and the students in India. Following the President’s instructions, I am traveling to Jammu and Srinagar, where I will meet with the current leadership in Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, with students and teachers, and with the future leaders of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). I am excited to see some of the cultural and religious sites, learn more about the environmental efforts to clean the lake, and maybe even buy a pashmina shawl for my wife. This is my second visit to J&K, having visited Leh in September to deliver relief supplies to families that were devastated by the unfortunate cloudburst, and I am looking forward to seeing the wonderful people again.
Did you know that 100 years ago in the United States, women could not vote? A woman had never been a Cabinet Secretary (or Minister in Indian Government parlance), while today there are six in President Obama’s Administration, the most ever; had never been a Supreme Court Justice (today there are three); and had never served in the U.S. Congress (today there are almost 100 Congress women). Much has changed since the first International Women’s Day 100 years ago. I had the pleasure of celebrating the International Women’s Day centenary with The Hope Project and Breakthrough. Both of these organizations are doing fantastic work to empower women, to put a stop to domestic violence, and to direct more resources to women. Empowering women and providing opportunities for women to succeed is vital to the health of our communities, villages, cities, and country. As Secretary Clinton has said, “Investing in the potential of the world’s women and girls is one of the surest ways to achieve global economic progress, political stability, and greater prosperity for women – and men – the world over.” Tell me about women you know who have made a difference!
We participated in a fund raiser and fashion show to increase awareness for the Girl Child in India. The event was titled “Rays of Hope” for the girl child’s future, and the recipient of the evening’s charity is an NGO named “Earth Foundation.” The Chairman of Earth Foundation, Man Mohan Bhagat, presented numerous ways to tackle the problems of these young girls. Thousands of young Indian girls are married off before they turn 14 years old, and many more are abused and refused entry into schools due to their gender. The organizers asked my wife and two daughters to model on the catwalk to raise funds for this very worthwhile cause, and scores of ambassadors, business leaders, and fashion designers contributed to make the night a big success.