BUENA PARK, CA – The Indian-American community in Southern California celebrated America’s Independence Day by organizing a seminar on paying tribute to pioneers, patriots, and Gadar heroes at the Amaya Lounge here on July 4. Close to 120 people attended the information packed seminar. Inder Singh, former Chairman of...
Other speakers spoke on ‘Early Indian Immigration and Settlement Problems’, ‘Fight for India Independence (Gadar Movement)’,‘Struggle for US Citizenship’, ‘Indian Community Contributions to India and USA’, and ‘Indian- Americans who made India and Indian-Americans proud.’ Kewal Kanda while talking about the settlement problems of early Indian immigrants, said that most Indians, mostly Punjabis, had come to the US in search of better economic opportunities. They, however, experienced discrimination and racial prejudice from Americans. In Bellingham and some other places, they were beaten up, robbed of their belongings, and called by derogatory names. Indian students, upon graduation, were not able to get jobs commensurate with their high qualifications. Indians attributed American attitude to their being subjects of a slave country. So they formed the Gadar Party to free India from British colonization.
Some Indian nationals in the US were granted US citizenship as they were considered Caucasian. In case of Bhagat Singh Thind,his citizenship wasrevoked in four days. He applied for citizenship again from another state and despite objection from the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), the judge granted him US citizenship only to be taken away again by the Supreme Court because he was Caucasian, not a white person. A few years later, Indian community activists started lobbying with the elected representatives of the American people for the grant of citizenship. The activists waged a long and hard struggle. In 1946, the US Congress passed a bill granting rights of citizenship to 100 Indian nationals annually. President Truman signed the bill into law on July 2, 1946. Thus, July 2 is truly the Independence Day for Indians in the US. After the grant of citizenship rights in 1946 and subsequent liberalization of US immigration laws, there has been a huge influx of Indians. Today, people of Indian origin in the US number about 4 million. Many Indians have made significant contributions to the country of their adoption. They have also contributed their due share in India’s emergence as an economic power and have added a special glitter to the resurgence of India.
Navin Gupta specially mentioned the contributions of Chandrika and Ranjan Tandon who gifted $100 million to New York University’s School of Engineering in 2015; Dr. Amar Bose, founder of Bose Corporation who gave a majority of the Bose Corporation stock to MIT in 2011 and Dr. Romesh Wadhwani, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur with a net worth of $2.8 billion who has signed the Giving Pledge dedicating 80% of his wealth towards philanthropy. He also mentioned names of several Indian-Americans who have given in millions to causes in the US and India.
Inder Singh then talked about Indian- Americans who have made India as well as Indian -Americans proud of their contributions and attainments. He mentioned the names of Noble prize winners HarGobind Khorana, Subramanyan Chandrasekhar, Amartya Sen and Venkatraman Ramakrishnan and political leaders like Bobby Jindal, Nikki Haley, Dalip Singh Saund, and Ami Bera, and many more in various fields. Other speakers talked about Sohan Singh Bhakna, Gadar Party president; Lala Hardyal, Secretary General; Kartar Singh Sarabha, chief organizer of Gadar Uprising in India; Maulvi Barkatullah and Vishnu Pingle.
There were many in the audience who had no knowledge of this history and were glad they attended the celebration
The celebration ended with a vote of thanks by Abdulgani Shaikh.
The event was sponsored by Indian American Heritage Foundation in coordination with GOPIO-LA, GOPIO-OC, GOPIO-Inland Empire, National Federation of Indian American Association , Rajput Association of America, India Association of Inland Empire, India Association of Los Angeles, Apna Punjabi Group, and the United Federation of Indo-Americans of California .