Historic Bill Praising India Republic Day Passes House

Mar 11, 2004
Press Release
Today, the U.S. House unanimously passed H. Con. Res. 15, “Commending India on its celebration of Republic Day” sponsored by Congressman Joe Wilson (R-S.C.). Congressman Wilson made the following remarks from the House Floor before the vote on the Resolution: “Thank you Mr. Chairman, Madam Speaker, I am honored to speak today as the co-chairman of the Caucus on India and Indian Americans, the largest country caucus on Capitol Hill with 183 members. I am grateful for the leadership of prior co-chairman Ed Royce of California. I support this truly historic resolution, which praises India’s firm commitment to democratic principles,” said Congressman Wilson. “On January 26, 1950, after a long struggle for freedom led by Mahatma Gandhi, India began its formal existence as a parliamentary democracy. Republic Day is the second most important national holiday in India, after Independence Day, which is celebrated on August 15th. India modeled its Constitution after America’s, and both our nations believe that the freedoms enshrined in the Constitution are universal for all human beings. Watch Video “India’s national elections occur next month, an historic occasion with more than the 600 million people who voted in the last election expected to vote next month. The last national elections in 1999 had the largest voter participation of any election in world history. India’s creation and adherence to a national constitution can serve as an example to newly liberated countries like Iraq, of how much can be gained by creating a Constitution supported by the people and respected by democratic institutions. “India’s struggles and success can be a source of inspiration to the people of Iraq. Since Independence, India has struggled with high poverty and illiteracy rates, maintained a socialist economy, endured numerous conflicts with Pakistan, and sometimes, even experienced internal conflicts between various religious and ethnic groups within India. “Yet India has risen to the challenge every time, showing the rest of the world that a nation of more than a billion people can consistently adhere to elections at the local, state, and national levels, and overcome challenges in its path. “India has dramatically reduced its poverty and illiteracy rates and recently opened its economy to the world, experiencing nearly 8.0% economic growth during the last fiscal year. India and Pakistan have begun a “Composite Dialogue,” with the prospect of a negotiated agreement to the Kashmir dispute on the horizon. And India continues to make improvements to its economic infrastructure, judicial system, and electoral process, to ensure that the freedoms outlined in the Constitution are truly protected for all of India’s people. “India is most deserving of today’s congressional recognition of this faithful adherence to democracy for more than 50 years. America and India have entered into a new era of friendship with victory in the Cold War. India as the world’s largest democracy and America as the world’s oldest democracy are realizing more every day that we have shared values. “I want to commend President George W. Bush for his leadership in bringing America and India closer together as allies with his vision of a new strategic partnership. “In conclusion, I would like to thank both Congressman Jim Leach, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, and Congressman Henry Hyde, Chairman of the International Relations Committee, for allowing the committee to consider and pass this historic and important resolution. “I urge my colleagues to support House Concurrent Resolution 15," said Congressman Wilson. ###