Governor Hochul: "In the United States, we stand firm with that same shared understanding of what it's like to reject colonial rule, to embrace democracy and to foster our shared democratic values of inclusion, pluralism equality, freedom of speech, and of course, freedom of religion. So, these are the values that bind us together. India, United States of America, it is shared, and we learned from each other."
Hochul: "On behalf of myself and the people of New York, I'm here to declare that New York's strength is the diversity of our people. Much of this is rooted in India and we have a long tradition. Therefore, I will continue to officially proclaim August 15th, 2022 as India Independence Day."
Earlier today, Governor Hochul delivered remarks at an Indian Independence Day Event in Queens.
AUDIO of the event is available here.
PHOTOS of the event are available on the Governor's Flickr page.
A rush transcript of the Governor's remarks is available below:
We're here to celebrate Indian Independence Day. I know you know that, but I also know that this is a chance for us to acknowledge the incredible diversity of our city overall. And our state, and the many, many contributions of the Indian American community here. And we're so lucky here in New York to have so many Indian Americans representing our levels of government. There are many firsts, and to the community that was long underrepresented in our society, that those barriers have been broken. And so they're making incredible contributions to our civic life.
So, I want to thank again, as I mentioned, the trailblazing Indian Americans in this room. We are proud that nearly 400,000 Indian Americans call New York home. More than half of them are in New York City. New York State, they're spread all over from my hometown upstate to this borough of Queens. But most of them are right here in New York City. And these are the leaders, the doctors, the scientists, the engineers, the business people, the attorneys, the artists, the writers, the restaurateurs, the shop owners. They really do create this beautiful fabric and so many contributions. It really makes New York fabulous and so vibrant.
And as I mentioned, we think about the pandemic, so many Indian American healthcare professionals from doctors down to those frontline nurses. They showed up, they displayed courage, they were there and we needed them and they literally saved lives. So, let's recognize those as well. And of course, you keep us well fed with amazing food. I have to admit - I'm happy to admit, I have a husband who lives far away. He lives on the other side of the state. I see him on weekends and whenever I come home, he gets Indian food takeout because he knows it makes me happy. We have wonderful food, and we just break bread together and we're always thinking of how significant this culture is.
Also, this gives us a chance to reflect on history, a chance to talk about and celebrate the celebrations of life, but also the struggle. The journey to America had many struggles and many came back as far as the 1800s, Indian Americans discovering this world, but it really wasn't until a century later when America got rid of those national origin quotas, and we could really open up the doors. You know, the quotas in place to the sixties. So, the real opportunities came in the seventies, eighties and nineties. And that's why we're so excited to see so many new, new Americans coming here from India. And also, we are just not celebrating the American dream, people then turned to the American dream. Many came here, like my grandparents, who left great poverty in a small island called Ireland. And they had to leave. Their parents told them there's no life for you here, we cannot afford to literally feed you and they had to come to this country. So, like so many came here in search of, yes, the American dream, but it's what I call the New York dream. It's even sweeter. It's more beautiful. It's more diverse.
And this community, the Indian community, has become such an important part of that fabric. And as your Governor, I wear that diversity with great pride. I've been to many, many Diwali celebrations and India Republic Day celebrations, but I'm very proud to be the first Governor of the State of New York to officially celebrate Indian Independence. Very first. And so, this mark 75 years since India freed itself from the colonial yolk and people were able to start on that path toward true democracy. And as I mentioned from the very beginning, it was difficult. And I don't think the history books correctly tell the story of the over a million deaths and the forced displacement of over 12 million people. It was the largest mass migration in modern history at the time. And we don't talk about that. We don't talk about the pain and the loss that was endured to create the world's largest democracy. So, I know for some, the wounds are still fresh. You know, the realization that what their parents and grandparents had to endure to have that elusive concept known as freedom and democracy, but they never stop persevering and fighting.
And in the United States, we stand firm with that same shared understanding of what it's like to reject colonial rule, to embrace democracy and to foster our shared democratic values of inclusion, pluralism equality, freedom of speech, and of course, freedom of religion. So, these are the values that bind us together. India, United States of America, it is shared, and we learned from each other. We also learned from celebrating the many languages and the religions, countless, almost too many to count how many religions spoken by the 1.2 billion people. But it's also just a statement of a community rising up, a world rising.
And leaders who inspired others like Gandhi and Nehru. I mean, those are names we do learn about in our schools about what struggle means and about the peaceful embrace of democracy, what that's all about. Non-violence and those are words that are still spoken about today. Dr. King was frequently quoting these great Indian leaders who inspired him to learn what non-violence was all about.
So, this is what we value here today. We celebrate this, our people, our values, our democracies, and whether the journey began back in 1776 like the United States America, or in 1947, the road to building a democracy always has been long and hard, and we strive toward a more perfect union. And we know what lies ahead. The great opportunity to say that this is a place, this is a place where people have gathered and they bring their beautiful languages, their religion, the culture, the music, the celebrations. And because of that, I cannot imagine what New York State, New York City would be like without it. This is a cornerstone.
What I embrace and cherish about being Governor of this incredibly diverse state, and the Indian Americans who found their way here and have made us even better than we would've been. I celebrate that today. So, I continue to celebrate this. We have an opportunity to break bread together, to talk about our shared commitment to building back the state. Even in the aftermath of a pandemic, it hit us hard, but I know that pulling as one people now, as one people united and a love of democracy, we will continue to do great things. And so, I thank you for being here. I say, Glory to India, Jai Hind.
And also, let's celebrate by bringing up our Consul General. And I want to give him a proclamation. Consul General Jaiswal, on behalf of myself and the people of New York, I'm here to declare that New York's strength is the diversity of our people. Much of this is rooted in India and we have a long tradition. Therefore, I will continue to officially proclaim August 15th, 2022 as India Independence Day.