Washington, DC – Indian External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar, along with Indian Ambassador to the US Harsh V Shringla, welcomed the Speaker of the House, Democrat Leader Nancy Pelosi in the Library of Congress here to commemorate Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th Birth Anniversary celebrations.
Addressing an audience of lawmakers, journalists and dignitaries, Speaker Pelosi recalled Jaishankar’s term as former Ambassador here, saying she learnt a lot from him during those days.
Speaker Pelosi also shared a personal childhood experience at the event, saying that she has always carried India in her heart, largely because of Mahatma Gandhi. She told the audience: When I was a little girl, I went into school one day and I had on a hat and one of the big tall nuns – I was a little girl – said, ‘Who do you think you are? Mahatma Gandhi, with that hat?’ I didn’t know who Mahatma Gandhi was, but I wasn’t going to let on to her that I did not know. So, I immediately went to the library after school and, and at that time, even like – that was in the 50s, the library had books on Mahatma Gandhi for children.” Pelosi added that Mahatma Gandhi “made all the difference in the world in our country, so that is a debt that we owe to India for that inspiration.”
Defining the relationship between largest and oldest democracies – as beautiful, Pelosi highlighted the role played by entrepreneurial Indian Americans – contributing to the economy and social fabric.
Recounting her trips to India with former US President Barack Obama, the speaker recalled the joy and vibrancy of Indian people, especially children.
Speaker Pelosi also remembered meeting Prime Minister Modi at Paris Climate Summit and thanking him for climate change initiatives but he gave the credit to Mahatma Gandhi, she said.
The Speaker concluded, “The torch passed from Mahatma Gandhi to Martin Luther King Jr. and now it passes to all of us, especially the children.”
Earlier Jaishankar, the visiting Indian External Affairs Minister said there were enormous changes taking place in India, mentioning clean India, Beti Bachao and smart cities among other projects.
“Since 2014, 99 million toilets have been made – nearly covering all of the population,” Jaishankar announced, highlighting a Gandhian statement, ‘Cleanliness is next to Godliness’.
Ambassador Harsh V Shringla also spoke thanking the lawmakers and sponsors of the event for making it a success.
At the end, Pelosi was presented with a Mahatma Gandhi bust by Jaishankar and Shringla. She announced the bust will be placed in the Speaker’s Office for public display.