India, US relations destined to grow stronger: Hillary Clinton

February 13th, 2009 - 1:02 pm ICT by IANS  

Barack ObamaWashington, Feb 13 (IANS) The deep and broad partnership that India and the US are forging based on common history and values is destined to grow even stronger in the future, says Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1959 trip to India stands as a landmark of the civil rights movement and “a real testament to the bonds of affection and shared history between our two nations”, she said Thursday at a ceremony at the State Department to send off a cultural US delegation to India.

Comprising American civil rights leader’s son Martin Luther King III, US House representatives John Lewis and Spencer Bachus and jazz performer Herbie Hancock, the delegation will retrace King’s steps visiting some of the principal sites associated with Mahatma Gandhi’s work.

King and his wife, Coretta Scott King, travelled to India from Feb 10 to March 10, 1959. Upon their return to the US, King and other leaders of the civil rights movement drew on Gandhi’s ideas to transform American society.

New Delhi’s welcome for the US cultural delegation was “a reflection that India also understands that the deep and broad partnership our countries are forging is one based on common history and values”, Clinton said. “And it is because of that that it is destined to grow even stronger in the future.”

“So I wish you Godspeed and a great deal of - oh, shall I say, jealousy that you are retracing these footsteps,” she said amidst laughter.

Indian ambassador to the US Ronen Sen attended what Clinton described as a historic occasion.

Noting that King brought the lessons he learned from Gandhi’s philosophy to the US “and renewed his own faith in the unmatched moral force of non-violent resistance”, Clinton said his historic journey “really represents the journey that our country has been on”.

Asked if King’s dream had come full circle now with Barack Obama’s election, Clinton said: “I think President Obama would tell you that it is not about him. His election, his victory, is a victory for the American people as well as for his philosophy of change and his deep commitment to American values.”

Noting that Gandhi’s life had quite a profound impact on his father, King III said: “By working to foster peace through non-violence, I hope this pilgrimage will inspire others to end the dependence on violence for nominal change, and instead look to reconciliatory power of non-violence to create sustainable progress and diplomacy.”

Hancock, chairperson of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, is making his third trip to India with singers Chaka Khan, Dee Dee Bridgewater, pianist George Duke and some young students.

He said they looked forward to being a part of the Living Dream concerts in Mumbai and Delhi. They would also work with the students at the Ravi Shankar Institute of the Performing Arts.

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