Democracy Foundation

Yuvaraj Singh, Joseph Cheruvelil, New York City Councilman Paul Vallone, Jit Chandan, Manu Bhagavan, George Abraham, Sawaran Singh, Harbachan Singh and Malini Shah were among many who were in attendance for the launching of the Indo-U.S. Democracy Foundation. (photo provided)

The Indo-U.S. Democracy Foundation think tank was launched Nov. 14 at a function in New York attended by more than a dozen guests.

Among the dignitaries at the event, held on Nehru’s birthday, was New York City Councilman Paul Vallone, who performed the lighting of a lamp to inaugurate the organization. The councilman lauded the organization and added that he hoped it would facilitate constructive dialogue between communities while promoting democratic values and principles.

George Abraham will serve as the executive director of the think tank. He noted at the function that the purpose of the foundation is to create awareness on threats to democracies in India and U.S. and to educate the public.

“Towards that end, we will be analyzing developing trends and informing our audience of the increasing danger to our way of life” said Abraham, adding the organization’s mission is aligned with a Nehruvian vision. “Our mission fits well within the Nehruvian vision for India and that is to be a strong advocate for individual liberty and human justice to all citizens regardless of color, caste, creed, religion or gender.”

Hunter College Prof. Manu Bhagavan served as a keynote speaker at the event and praised the contribution of Nehru to India. The Indian American educator reminded the gathering that Nehru’s vision of progressive internationalism was premised on the principle that free people everywhere should determine their future together under the aegis of forged common ideals, a news release provided by the foundation said.

Jit Chandan, a professor at City University, noted Nehru’s contributions in the area of higher learning such as establishing IITs and IIMs and asked the new generation to seize the opportunities and create history, it said.

Joseph Cheruvelil, a retired professor at St. John’s University, pointed out that the Nehruvian vision transformed India and the institutions he has helped to create are continuing to provide stability and strength to Indian democracy.

Columbia University graduate student Yuvaraj Singh, who served as a panel member at the event, highlighted how Nehruvian perspective on democracy isn’t about propagating one set of ideologies or relying on one source of ideas, but about paying heed to your opposition, collaborating with those who you might not agree with you, and adopt the best of all ideas wholeheartedly for the advancement of the common goals and objectives, according to the foundation.

“In this very complex and fast-moving geo-political world environment and the nuclear age, it is essential for a think tank like body to be constantly up to speed and monitoring the world developments in every field of endeavor,” opined Harbachan Singh, secretary-general of INOC USA. “It is to appraise national and international governments and to figure out which way the political and environmental winds were blowing through various technological means to forestall detrimental effects and calamities of war or natural disasters,” Singh added.

Additionally, Jawaharlal Nehru Foundation president Bipin Sangakar recollected the story of Martin Luther King’s visit to India upon Nehru’s invitation and how the civil rights movement in U.S. got transformed with Gandhian principles going forward, it said.

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