Remarks by Kenneth I. Juster, U.S. Ambassador to India, at Independence Day Celebration

Hyatt Regency Hotel, New Delhi, India
August 2, 2018

Thank you Minister Puri for those most gracious remarks, and good evening everyone.  I would like to welcome representatives of the Government of India; members of the diplomatic corps; our distinguished guests; and, especially, our Chief Guest – who is a great friend of the United States – Union Minister of State Hardeep Singh Puri.  Thank you all for joining us tonight to celebrate our Independence Day.

One of the remarkable aspects of living in India is that you begin to appreciate this country’s ancient roots, where history is measured in centuries instead of years.  In fact, you soon develop a sense of timelessness.  So, to those of us at the U.S. Embassy, celebrating July 4 on August 2 seems perfectly natural – and we hope you feel that way too.

All kidding aside, this is a very special event for the U.S. Embassy, and we are honored that you are here with us this evening.

This is my first Independence Day Celebration as the U.S. Ambassador to India.  In the United States, Independence Day is a time when Americans reflect on what makes us so proud of our country:  our hard-earned freedoms, our democratic values, our entrepreneurial spirit, and our diversity.  I think I can say on behalf of all of my colleagues – and perhaps all of those in the diplomatic community – that there is a feeling of great pride when you celebrate your national day while living in another country.  What makes this particularly special for Americans living in India is that our two countries are the oldest and the largest democracies in the world.  We each are the essence of diverse, multi-cultural, pluralistic societies.  We share the values of individual liberty and economic opportunity.  As former Indian Prime Minister Vajpayee used to say, we are “natural allies.”  And not many people may know this, but our two constitutions begin with the inspiring three words, “We the people.”

The crucial importance of these words helps form the foundation of cooperation between India and the United States.  Indeed, our commonalities are the bedrock of our relationship.  They are embodied in the friendship among our people and exhibited across the breadth of our bilateral partnership – from defense and counter-terrorism cooperation, to trade and investment, to energy security, to health and science and technology and so much more.  There are now millions of Indian Americans who have made incredible contributions to American society, who celebrate U.S. Independence on July 4, and who then exhibit that same pride and reverence six weeks later on August 15.  That says it all.

So whether you are American, Indian, Indian American, or in this room but none of the above, you are a friend of the U.S. Mission in India.  We deeply appreciate you joining us this evening to celebrate our Independence Day.  Thank you to everyone here for making this a memorable event.  Please enjoy yourselves, and Happy – belated – Independence Day.