New York, Aug 16: Thousands of people from the Indian diaspora converged here today to celebrate India's 69th Independence Day at one of the largest parades outside India, attended by Harayana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, Congress MP Shashi Tharoor and Bollywood celebrities.
The 35th India Day Parade organised by the Federation of Indian Associations will run through about 20 streets in Madison avenue in the heart of Manhattan and features tableaux by various Indian-American organisations, marching bands, police contingents and cultural performances by young Indian-American children.
Khattar, accompanied by India's Consul General Dnyaneshwar Mulay, congratulated the huge gathering of Indians on the country's independence day and lauded the achievements of the diaspora in his brief remarks. Bollywood star Arjun Rampal was the Grand Marshal at parade while Parineeti Chopra was the Guest of Honour. Ahead of the parade, Chopra posted a picture of herself in a blue Manish Malhotra gown.
Chopra said : "Indians have the perfect balance between modern and traditional and have great cultural values." Tharoor joined the Indian National Overseas Congress float at the parade and was thronged by supporters of his party. Before the parade began Tharoor told PTI that the event has been growing in importance and visibility over the years, pointing to the increasing "consciousness" of Indians in the world.
"This shows Indians have really arrived and a made a mark in this society. It is a great celebration of the motherland in the new country," he said.
Tharoor noted that India has come a long way from the condition in which the British left the country in 1947. He cited the dismal growth and literacy rates, life expectancy and maternal and child mortality figures when India got its independence and said that India has made tremendous improvements in the past 68 years "but we can't afford to be complacent".