Indians in US praise PM, welcome nuclear accord

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New York, Sep 29 (UNI) Participants in the community reception hosted by Ambassador Ronen Sen over the weekend in honour of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh appeared to have been impressed by his speech and passage of the nuclear energy deal resolution in the US House of Representatives with a wide margin.

The weekend also saw the Prime Minister's 76th birthday.

None of the participants that UNI correspondent spoke to had any reservations again the deal, which they described as beneficial to both the US and India, as well as the world at large.

''I think this is the happiest and most successful day for Indo-US relations, especially for those of the 2.3 million Indians here who worked hard for this nuclear deal,'' hotelier and key Democratic Party supporter Sant Singh Chatwal said.

''I wish this (the Congressional approval of the deal) had come yesterday. A delayed birthday gift for him. Never too late anyway,'' Mr Chatwal added.

Sawadesh Chatterjee, an entrepreneur based in Cary, North Carolina, one of the prominent Indian-Americans who had lobbied hard for the deal to come to fruition said, ''For the last three years we have kept everything - families, businesses, careers on hold and worked toward this.

At the time of Prime Minister Singh's visit in July 2005, everybody thought it would not go to Congress. And now House passed it and the Senate will follow. It is like moving a mountain.'' Mr Chatterjee made 69 trips to Washington in the last two years in connection with the deal and other causes that are vital for India.

Both Chatwal and Chatterjee were among a small group of community leaders who attended a small birthday fete of Dr Singh at his hotel on September 26.

Prasad Sreenivasan, secretary to the American Association of Physicians of Indian origin, praised the 15-minute speech given by the dignitary. ''It's fabulous. He is a statesman,'' he said.

''I am absolutely fascinated and thrilled. It is very exciting to be physically present here. Glad that Prime Minister is aware that each one of us here in the US has worked for this,'' he added George Abraham, general secretary for Indian National Overseas Congress in the US, was happy that Dr Singh asked NRIs to become a brain bridge between their adopted land and motherland.

''Prime Minister praised the historic contributions made by the Indian people here. Strengthening bilateral relations will be ensured with this deal and Mr Singh's efforts,'' he said.

Sambhu N Banik, a strong supporter of the Republican Party based in Maryland as well as an active participant in community affairs in the Washington metropolitan area, said history is being made.

''It is a highly historic moment. The Prime Minister put his political career in line. When House approves overwhelmingly, Senate always follows. I have absolutely no doubt in this respect,'' he noted.

Thomas Abraham, of the Connecticut-based Global Organisation for People of Indian Origin, was relieved that ''nuclear embargo'' is being lifted against India.

''For the first time in 34 years, the discrimination against India in the nuclear energy field has gone away. It is a big package we're getting,'' Mr Abraham said.

He added, ''This will help us in several respects. If we have to achieve a permanent seat on the UN Council, we then should be a member of the nuclear club.'' Jagat Motwani, who is also from the Connecticut organisation known as GOPIO, said the country will soon be in the number two spot.

According to him, ''From the security point of view India has two enemies - Pakistan and China. India should have strength. And strength talks. India will soon be second to America in all respects.'' Raghu Nayak, who is an ex-president of FIA (Midwest) and also connected with the Nargis Dutt Foundation for Midwest branch, was thrilled. He along with other community leaders met the Prime Minister on September 26.

''He did not mind losing his seat. He put his government in line for achieving this deal,'' Mr Nayak, who is from the Chicago region, said.

Raja Krishnamoorthy also came all the way from Illinois.

''As an Indian-American I am delighted. Hopeful we will strengthen our relations between India and the US. It is good for India and it is also good for the US as many jobs would be created here. It is a win-win situation,'' Mr Krishnamoorthy said.

''I was a policy advisor for Barak Obama during his Illinois Senate campaign. Obama is a friend of the Indian-American community. He is a friend of India as he strongly supports the deal.

He will see India as an incredible power in all spheres- economic, military and strategic,'' he noted.

UNI XC RJ DS1235

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