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2003: Indian Muslim Statements
For Latest Indian Muslim Statements click here
Archive of Indian Muslim Statements click here

Coalition for a Secular Democratic India (CSDI)
on behalf of NRIs for a Secular & Harmonious India (NRI-SAHI)
 

GANDHIAN ACTIVIST INSPIRES NON-RESIDENT INDIANS

CHICAGO, IL, 19 September, 2003: Ms. Nirmala Deshpande, an well-known and widely-respected peace activist and disciple of Mahatma Gandhi and his fellow peace activist Acharya Vinoba Bhave, participated in a national meeting of like minded non-resident Indians (NRIs) sponsored by the NRIs for a Secular & Harmonious India (NRI - SAHI) in Chicago from September 12 to September 14. 

Ms. Deshpande was on a nation-wide tour of the United States during which she met with community leaders and activists as well as the policymakers in cities such as Washington D.C., New York, Boston, San Francisco, Lansing, and Chicago. On September 13, Ms. Deshpande gave a talk on "Hinduism vs. Hindutva" in Chicago. She emphasized that India is a land of such plurality that every piece of its social mosaic has a place in it. "If we really want to be Indians, we have to have large hearts. Small hearts do not go with a big country," she said. The main thrust of the talk was that the political ideology of Hindutva espoused by certain groups in India, is not consistent with the ethos of Hinduism, or accommodative of India's diversity.

At the national meeting in Chicago, Ms. Deshpande provided advice and encouragement to twenty-two NRI activists from ten US-based NRI organizations. Hailing from all regions of the United States and representing many NRI organizations, the activists have been actively working to promote religious and communal harmony in India. The purpose of the meeting was to establish a foundation for mutual collaboration and to enhance the effectiveness of the combined efforts to make India a truly secular, democratic, pluralistic, and progressive civil society. 

The participants reviewed and discussed the recent worrisome political developments and the threat to secular democracy and civil society in India. They expressed their distress, distaste and serious concern about the increasing use of biased textbooks, hate propaganda and resulting religious and sectarian strife to achieve narrow political goals. For India to achieve security, peace, and economic development, the rights of all Indians, without regard to religion, gender, and social status must be respected and protected. 

The strength and positive role of Indian institutions, such as the Supreme Court, the Election Commission, the National Human Rights Commission and the National Media were noted as very encouraging. Participants agreed that the NRI community should express and convey its sense of pride and appreciation to the conscientious members of these important Indian institutions who courageously uphold the basic values of the Constitution of India. 

The participants agreed to work together and reach out to other like-minded Indians to promote secular democracy, pluralism, equal human rights, and fair justice for all, as well as to strengthen the secular democratic forces in India. We invite all NRIs to join us in our efforts to promote peace and harmony in India. Please contact the persons listed above for more information.

The organizations represented at the national meeting will organize events and follow-up meetings in their respective regions to promote peace and harmony in India. In addition, NRI-SAHI is organizing a Sadbhavana mission to India to coincide with the second Pravasi Bharatiya Divas meeting in January 2004, followed by a Sadbhavna friendship peace mission led by Ms. Deshpande to India and Pakistan in February/March 2004.

Members belonging to the following US based NRI organizations participated in the national meeting:

NRI-SAHI: Non Resident Indians for a Secular and Harmonious India
Vaishnava Center For Enlightenment, Lansing, Michigan
CSDI: Coalition for a Secular and Democratic India
CAC: Coalition against Communalism
IMC-USA: Indian Muslim Council, USA
SAPAC: South Asian Progressive Action Collective
FIACONA: Federation of Indian American Christians of North America
SAGAR: South Asian Group for Action & Reflection
WTO: World Tamil Organization
GMAA: Gujarati Muslim Association of America
ICCFHR: International Christian Coalition for Human Rights

Contacts:Imtiaz Uddin (CSDI) - (630) 971-9873
Harinder Lamba (SAGAR) (630) 964-2258 
Rasheed Ahmed (IMC-USA) (708) 466-0244
G. R. Mansuri (GMAA) (630) 620-1517 
Sapna Gupta (SAPAC) (773) 255-7221
Joe Anthony (ICCFHR) (630) 789-3833

Coalition for a Secular Democratic India (CSDI)
on behalf of NRIs for a Secular & Harmonious India (NRI-SAHI)
Received from Mr. Imtiazuddin, najze@hotmail.com  (Tel. ++1-630-971-9873) 
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