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Senator Hillary Clinton spends an evening with Sikhs
Washington - February 16, 2006 - “I can certainly run for the senate seat in Punjab and won easily,” said Senator Hillary Clinton jokingly in response to her being introduced by Dr. Rajwant Singh as the Senator from not only New York but also Punjab during an event held at his residence last week Thursday. Senator Hillary Clinton, the former first lady of the United States, spent an evening among prominent Sikhs of the Washington area and some others joined from all over the country at the residence of Dr. Rajwant Singh in Potomac, Maryland. This program ended up being an opportunity to interact with Hillary Clinton on many issues of critical importance.
Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, former First Lady of United States
She added,” Your hard work is greatly appreciated and I am committed to working for your issues in the U.S. Senate. Dr. Rajwant Singh urged her to lead the move to admit Sikhs in the U.S. Armed Forces without any restrictions on their religious symbols. She readily accepted that as her top priority.
Hillary Clinton with Dr. Rajwant Singh, Meherban Singh, Mrs Meherban Singh and Dr. Jagmeet Kaur in the background, sharing a laugh with the Senator.
This event was held to extend the support to Hillary Clinton in her re-election bid for the New York Senate seat. The evening started with Clinton being greeted by some members of the Indian Sikh community who were the co-hosts for the evening as part of the Sikh Caucus. Among those who met her privately were Sanjeet Singh Veen and Rammi Veen , CEO Orteck International which one of the largest Indian owned tire business in America with operations in several countries, Hardeep Singh Chadha and Ladi Kaur Chadha of Weststar Industries, a maker of automotive parts with huge operations in five states in U.S., Dr. Rajwant Singh and Dr Balvinder Kaur, Meherban Singh and his wife, an owner of large Cellular business in North East states, Bibi Inderjit Kaur ( wife of Late Harbhajan Singh Yogi) and her daughter, Kamaljit Kaur, both flew from New Mexico, Drs Harminder Kaur Sethi, a prominent oncologist and his wife Dr. Jagmeet Kaur, Daya Singh, vice-President of Akal Security from NM, Kartar Singh, an IT business owner from Sterling, Virginia, Lakhbir Singh, vice-president of Nathan Associates, his wife Kanwal Kaur and his two sons, Manpreet Singh and Gurpreet Singh both business Investment leaders.
Senator Clinton, Mira, Bibi Inderjit Kaur and Rajwant Singh
Clinton then joined a larger crowd of 80 people who had come from all over the Washington area. Clinton seemed at ease and intermingled with everyone in the crowd. Each one of them stood in line for a photo opportunity. This was Sikh Caucus’s second public event.
The audience listening to the Senator
Clinton appreciated the efforts of the Sikh community in America. Clinton emphasized that “Sikhs have a bright future in America.” She spoke on the challenges facing America in the domestic affairs and in the international affairs. She said that her efforts have been to highlight the solutions. In her speech Senator Clinton touched upon various important themes. She spoke on wide range of issues and answered many questions on health care, Business Visa restrictions, Indo-American relations and legal reform. She compared the budget surplus situation during President Clinton’s time to the record deficit at present. She questioned the present government’s health plans and commented that more needs to be done. She was concerned about the environment and stated that actions (policy changes) and not only words will make our nation self reliant as far as energy is concerned. The Govt’s slow response to help Katrina victims saddened her. She urged people to vote for her Democratic colleagues in the upcoming elections so as to tip the balance of power in the Govt. towards them, thus enabling them to make important changes that the present Govt. has neglected.
Dr. Rajwant Singh, who was the first Sikh leader to be invited at the White House in 1993 by President Clinton, said, “We feel that Hillary Clinton has served this country faithfully and with an honor. It is truly a blessing to host her tonight.”
Sanjeet Singh Veen introducing Senator Clinton
Sanjeet Singh Veen, while introducing Hillary Clinton to the audience, said, “Hillary is a great leader, she is visionary, emphatic, conciliator and she can bring the world together. She is a great friend of India and considers India a crucial partner of America for future world stability. Her understanding of the Sikh culture and Punjab, shows her deep understanding and respect for all world religions and importance for all people to live in harmony".
She said, “I have always felt that India is a friendly competitor and we would benefit with India’s economic rise. We share many common values.” She also lauded the efforts of PM Manmohan Singh to steer the Indian economy and the nation’s progress in the right direction.
Bibi Inderjit Kaur said,” Hilllary Clinton is a true friend of the Sikh community and we pray that she succeeds in her future endeavors.” Inderjit Kaur and her husband Yogi Harbhajan Singh had known Clintons since the first time Clinton got elected President. Bibi Inderjit Kaur delayed her plans to go to India and flew to Washington to be part of this program. She said, "This is important for all Sikhs that we show our support to Hillary Clinton."
Darshan Singh Sehbi, MD, Asst. Prof. at Wright State University, attended with his wife, Simran Kaur Sehbi, MD, Asst. Prof. at Univ. of Cincinnati and daughter, Darsheel Kaur Sehbi, a junior in Beavercreek High School, Dayton.
Dr Darshan Singh Sehbi expressing thanks to Senator Clinton, Dr. Balvinder Kaur in the center.
Dr. Darshan Sehbi (Dayton, OH), in his vote of thanks, expressed his gratitude and appreciation for Senator Clinton’s consistent support for minorities and being a role model for women. He also emphasized her views about the importance of the community in raising children.
Darsheel Sehbi commented that Senator Clinton was very confident and had a clear understanding of the topics she discussed. She clearly outlined her current goals and her plans for the future. She was focused and wanted to excel in her present job rather than thinking about her future endeavors.
Daya Singh, Vice-President of Akal Security, said, "It was a pleasure to meet with Senator Clinton and to hear her share her views with us. She is acutely aware of the importance in today's world of US relations with India, safeguarding the constitutional rights of all Americans, improving health care in America, and respecting and protecting religious practice, all critical issues to Sikh Americans. We appreciate the Senator reaching out to the Sikh community, and look forward to working with her on these and other critical issues in the days ahead."
Gurmeet Singh Patheja, a prominent Businessman from Philadelphia, said, “Mrs. Clinton has displayed a great perception for the needs of the South Asian Community and particulary the Sikh community. Her fondness of culture and diversity, as well as global issues, has given me a stronger hope for a prosperous future. Under her leadership, the United States will be a more respected country in the world community.”
Manpreet Singh, CFA, Research Analyst with Profit Investment Management said, “It as was a pleasure to meet Senator Hillary Clinton. She was down-to-earth and open to listen to my comments and concerns regarding issues important to the Sikh Community. I support her Senate reelection bid and encourage her to pursue the Presidency in 2008.
I also wanted to thank Dr. Rajwant Singh for giving the Sikh Community an opportunity to meet an important leader of the Democratic Party. I think it is imperative for the Sikh community to continue to make our voices heard in future legislation and foreign policy issues.”
Dan Batra, a businessman and a community activist from Philadelphia, said, “My perspective is that it was a good platform for the Sikh community to interact freely with a leading senator and former first lady who is headed for higher leadership positions in the months and years to come. Of all the prospective candidates with Presidential aspirations Senator Clinton shows great understanding of foreign policy and really understands and appreciates the needs and aspirations of the immigrant community.”
Kanwaljit Singh Soni, a community activist in the Washington area, said, “We must continue to be politically active and must remain engaged in the system. This event is a good start.”
Kanwaljit Singh Soni with Hillary Clinton
Kartar Singh Khalsa with Hillary Clinton
Sheena Kaur Gill, a recent graduate of Georgetown Law School, said, “Despite paramount accomplishments by thousands of Sikhs in a variety of fields all across America, Sikhs have generally been overlooked in this country for many decades now. However, occasions such as this are excellent achievements as they empower our Sikh voice. Being able to have landmark leaders such as Senator Clinton engage in a forum with Sikh people about Sikh issues is a great leap forward in bringing our interests to the forefront- where they rightfully belong.
... With respect to Senator Clinton, in sharing her visions of how to better America, she truly graced our Sikh people with her kind words, a commitment towards our community, recognition of our unique identity, and appreciation for our stellar achievements.”
Lakhbir Singh and his family with Senator Clinton
The whole event ended with a song and a Sikh hymn by a singer, Mira Veda from California. She has just released two albums and the song she sang is called “Fortunate” and it represents a state of mind in gratitude. Mira Veda said, “The reason I chose that song was because I am grateful for all those men and women like Hillary Rodham Clinton or Mrs. Coretta Scott King on whose shoulders we stand. These people Offer themselves in service for the highest value of human dignity and social change. I felt immensely Grateful being in the room and singing for Ms. Clinton, she is a hero of mine and there is no other feeling I could express in that moment other than deep gratitude.”
Some of the other prominent individuals who were present at the event were: Gurcharan Singh of the World Bank, Dr. Sudhir and Anu Sekhsaria, Arun and Lavina Chawla, Sukhdev Singh and Paramjit Singh Darhele, Amrik Singh Malhi, Kanwaljit Singh Soni, Dr. Jatinder Singh and Jona Sekhon, Surinder Singh and Lucky K. Raheja, Hargurpreet Singh and Amrit Pal Kaur, Sukhjit Gill, Drs Harpal Singh and Harminder K. Mangat, Surjit Singh Mann, Jaswant Singh and Mrs. Channe, Rajinder Singh and Mona K. Babra, Baldev and Mohini Singh, Dr Gurinder Singh, Bhai Gurdarshan Singh and Rajinder Pal Singh, Dr. Gurdip Singh Chhabra, Bhavdeep Singh Chabbra.
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