INDIA’S 75TH INDEPENDENCE DAY
APPRECIATING INDIA; Congressional Record Vol. 168, No. 135
HON. SANFORD D. BISHOP, JR. of Georgia in the house of representatives Wednesday, July 28, 2021
Mr. BISHOP of Georgia. Madam Speaker, I rise today to commemorate India on its 75th Independence Day, which will be celebrated this year on August 15. On that date, its first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru proclaimed that his country, in casting off its British rule, had made a tryst with destiny.” He said that[at] the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance . . .”
Of course, India’s history stretches back thousands and thousands of years. Its civilization and its contributions to the world are countless–from literature to philosophy to mathematics. India today is continuing in that tradition by extending a hand to other nations in their fight against the pandemic as the country itself manages its own severe COVID-19 outbreak. In addition, Indian Americans are making countless contributions here in the United States as doctors, lawyers, scientists, business owners, artists, and even in the White House in the person of Vice President Kamala Harris whose mother was Indian.
Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the fact that India’s own struggle for independence greatly influenced the United States’ own civil rights movement. America’s civil rights leaders, from Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King to my late colleague and friend Congressman John Lewis, were inspired by the revered leader of Indian independence Mahatma Gandhi. They followed in his footsteps by embracing Mahatma Gandhi’s non-violent approach to achieving social and political justice.
In fact, when Dr. King left for India in February 1959, he was just beginning to make his mark as a leader of the national movement for civil rights. He had organized the successful boycott of Montgomery, Alabama’s public transportation system in 1955, and founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference two years later. His burgeoning success had provided his non-violent movement with the momentum and potential to become a truly powerful force in the pursuit of equal rights for all Americans. This momentum became entrenched during Dr. King’s trip to India, where his immersion in the world of Mahatma Gandhi’s own non-violent success led King to commit himself in his philosophical entirety to the principle of meeting hate and injustice with persistent non-violence.
Though Gandhi had passed away eleven years prior to Dr. King’s journey, King was no less attentive to the followers of the great shanti sena–the non-violent army” that Gandhi led in his successful effort to free his country from the grasp of colonialism. He encountered those who had stood with Gandhi through the long, arduous struggle for India’s sovereignty, and came to deeply understand the necessary commitment and purpose of which believers in non-violence must never lose sight. Dr. King came to believe that if India can assert its independence from the bonds of the British Empire without violence, then the United States of America can achieve racial equality with the same approach. He took the lessons of a people half a world away and applied them to the struggle of his own nation, illustrating that a righteous cause pursued by means which justify its ends holds universal promise. Perhaps it is best articulated by Dr. King himself: As I delved deeper into the philosophy of Gandhi, my skepticism concerning the power of love gradually diminished, and I came to see for the first time its potency in the area of social reform.”
India and the United States share many deep and historic ties. I want to congratulate India and its people on the 75th Anniversary of its independence. I wish it many more years of peace and prosperity.