As prepared for delivery
New Delhi, July 12, 2023
U.S.- INDIA DREAMIN’
Good evening, everyone. Thank you so much for joining us here tonight to celebrate the United States’ 247th birthday.
The theme of this evening’s celebration is “California Dreamin’,” a theme with special significance to me.
And not just because California is my home state, or because it lets us throw a SoCal beach party and a Napa Valley wine tasting in the middle of New Delhi – though that’s definitely part of it.
See, the California Dream taps into something universal – something that’s grounded in our Golden State’s unique history, and that extends beyond any specific geography.
More than a hundred and fifty years ago, a sawmill operator in California spotted a glint of gold in a stream. In a state with a native population that stretched back more than 10,000 years, he fished out a gold nugget, instantly becoming rich and setting off a gold rush. That’s where the California Dream began.
Over the generations that followed, waves of people came in search of opportunity: farmers and oil drillers at first, then moviemakers, aerospace engineers, and Silicon Valley entrepreneurs.
They dreamed of hard work and success. They dreamed of a brighter future, for themselves and their loved ones. They dreamed of leaving the world a better place than they found it.
To me, this year we have the perfect theme, because the California Dream is the American Dream. And increasingly, the American Dream reflects the Indian dream. Our countries share so much—optimism, diversity, warmth, and dreams. Maybe that’s why we’re such natural friends–India is also a place where dreams become reality.
After all, in India a young boy selling tea grew up to lead his country on the global stage.
In India, a Santali teacher rose to become President of her country.
Our countries have so much in common because we share the same vision. Our people want to achieve success for our communities and our families. We embrace possibility, new opportunities, new knowledge, and the chance to make a difference.
And when we follow those dreams, something incredible happens. The dream makes its mark on us, sure. But we also make our mark on the dream.
Just look at the food around us here tonight – much of which comes from California ingredients that folks can enjoy right here in India. We’ve got fish tacos, California rolls, almonds grown by U.S.-based Sikh farmers – each one a quintessentially California food, but each one made possible by chefs and growers who came from somewhere else and made their mark.
I’m the grandson and great-grandson of immigrants who came from Mexico and Eastern Europe to find a better life, dreamers who found America and found California and whose courage and hard work allow me to be here today representing the country they called home.
And you only need to look at Silicon Valley – at the leadership of iconic companies like Google, Microsoft, Adobe and more – and at Hollywood, where a Bollywood won two Oscars this year – to see that Indians have always made their mark on America as well.
My friends, the United States and India are better together.
We’re better together for peace, as we build together and work together to advance the security of the region and the globe.
We’re better together for prosperity, as we lay the foundation for an open and empowering partnership on cutting-edge technology.
We’re better together for the planet, as we work together on carbon capture, green energy solutions, and climate change adaptation.
And our people are better together, too. The innovation that comes from Indians and Americans studying, working, and growing together is mind-blowing.
There’s so much potential in our relationship. A few weeks ago, when President Biden hosted Prime Minister Modi on an official state visit to the White House, it stood as a testament to the distance we’ve come together as partners and friends.
It also set a high bar for what we can achieve next. My job as U.S. Ambassador is to do everything I can to help us get there.
I’m thrilled at where we are right now, but this moment is just one stop on an epic road trip our countries are joyfully taking together.
Like the California Dreamers who came before us, we’re taking our relationship somewhere new. We’re seizing new opportunities and building an even brighter future.
The California Dream is a powerful draw. But I firmly believe that the U.S.-India Dream can be even stronger.
As we celebrate the independence of America and India, two great democracies always striving to be better, let me share one final story of a California dreamer with you.
Dalip Singh Saund was one of those early dreamers who built the bridge between our two countries.
Born in Punjab in 1899, he came to California and studied at the University of California at Berkeley and earned a PhD in math. At the time, Indians like many immigrants weren’t permitted to become citizens so when he couldn’t get a job following graduation, he became a farmer in Southern California, my home turf.
After World War II, the law changed and Saund became an American citizen in 1946. Four years later he got involved in politics and was elected justice of the peace and then in 1956 he became the first Indian American and first Asian American to be elected to the United States Congress, some 180 years after our country’s founding.
Today, Congressman Saund’s portrait hangs in Congress, just footsteps away from where Prime Minister Modi just made history with his second address to Congress three weeks ago. Underneath the portrait are his words: There is no room in the United States of America for second-class citizenship.
Dalip Singh Saund reminds us that freedom is worth the struggle—independence comes one act of courage at a time. Breakthroughs are possible when we dream together.
As we celebrate 247 years of American dreams, let’s commit to work together over the coming months and years to make the next chapter of the U.S.-India Dream a reality.