Nearly 300 attend the Republic Day event hosted by NCAIA (Virginia).

Illinois Democrat Raja Krishnamoorthi, entrepreneur and philanthropist Frank Islam and Deputy Chief of Mission Reenta Sandhu were among headliners at an Indian Republic Day celebratory event held in Greenbelt, MD, on February 2.

Nearly 300 people from the Greater Washington, DC, area attended the event, hosted by the National Council of Asian Indian Association (Virginia).

Speaking at his first Indian American community public event since he was sworn in as a member of Congress early last month, Krishnamoorthi praised the accomplishments of the community.

“You are every bit of American as anyone else,” he said. I want to say thank you, thank you for what you each and every single one of you do every single day to make me proud, to stand tall, to be in the United States Congress.”

Krishnamoorthi, one of the four Indian Americans elected to the US House of Representatives last November, said he will represent the whole community. “Although, you may not be in my district and, you may not have voted for me, I will be your united states congressman,” he said. “I will represent your values, I will represent your dreams, I will represent your hopes and I intend to represent your aspirations and those of your children.”

Islam, one of the most prominent backers of the vanquished Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in the presidential election last year, paid tributes to Krishnanoorthi and other newly elected members of Congress.

“Despite the outcome of Presidential election, however, November 2016 elections brought great joy for me because of the substantial gains made by Indian American candidates in the congressional elections,” he said.

The Maryland entrepreneur, who delivered the keynote address, stressed the importance of political and civic engagement, and the critical need for increased political engagement. “It is important for us to be politically engaged not only as Indian Americans but also as responsible citizens of this country,” he said. “Political engagement is just one form of civic engagement that we should invest ourselves in to make our society and this nation a better place. Political engagement is especially important because it is can provide the lever for progress in other forms of engagement.”

Islam said it is even more important to “stay politically engaged and to take our political participation and activism to the next level” because “support for and approval of democratic political systems among youth in the United States and in democracies around the world is in dramatic decline.”

Sandhu, who represented the Embassy of India, praised the contributions of the community in bolstering the US-India relations.

“The strong influence you bring to bear in guiding India-US relations, and the support and passion that is seen among you all gives us confidence that our relations will continue to grow from strength to strength,” she said. “They will continue to prosper in years to come.”