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Ronen Sen praises AAPI for pride in Indian roots

July 02, 2008 08:43 IST

Indian Ambassador Ronen Sen has lavished praise on the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin and said that this organisation besides being a catalyst in fostering the friendship between the United States and India, has never been bashful about proudly declaring its Indian roots and identity unlike some other groups that hide behind the Asian label.

Speaking at the 26th annual convention of AAPI held in Las Vegas, Sen said, "It's been a privilege for me to be associated with AAPI because I recognise the tremendous role that is being played by AAPI in promoting friendship between India and the United States. And, I am also glad that AAPI is also unabashedly promoting India in the United States."

"There are some who try to make their identity a little more vague by calling themselves Asian or whatever -- we all are and we are proud to be Asians -- but some would like to refer to the Indian subcontinent, call it the Asian subcontinent. Thank God, they don't call the Indian Ocean just an ocean just because it's the only ocean named after a country," Sen added.

The ambassador said he was "amazed under the dynamic leadership of Dr Hemant Patel how many initiatives have been realised. They are too numerous to be enumerated and I will not do that. But I'll tell you that working in a very focused manner a very large number of initiatives have been taken and I commend a number of them, particularly the initiative on women's health. This is an area which has been neglected for far too long, and, I am glad that AAPI took the leadership position on this and put that firmly into your agenda."

Besides lauding AAPI's tying up with parallel organisation in the United Kingdom, Sen also lavish praise on AAPI's "institutionalised cooperation with the government of India and institutions in India -- hospitals in India -- and I can assure you that has been extremely well received by the president and prime minister and other people in India and I am glad that you will be making a big difference there and I welcome that initiative."

At the outset of his remarks, Sen joked that when he attended AAPI's last convention in Phildelphia, "I thought it would be my last because by all my planning I should have been out of the United States by now. But, just as people were celebrating my departure -- did I say celebrating, some of them were commiserating -- I stayed on."

"I seem to have made this a habit because I did the same many years back in Dhaka -- I said my farewells and stayed on and on. I did the same in Russia, where I said goodbye and stayed on for six years as ambassador. I promise I won't do that and next time around, I think I am absolutely sure that you'll see my successor here," Sen added.

Sen said that he was "very fortunate to have been here at a time of unprecedented development of rapid and qualitative transformation of this relationship to what can truly be called a strategic partnership."

"And, I look forward to the future of this relationship with confidence," he said.

The envoy acknowledged that "we might have some hiccups on the road, but I look at it with confidence because this relationship is based firstly -- it's not a relationship between two governments -- on a relationship between people, it is based on shared values and aspirations as democracies committed to the rule of law."

"There are so many democracies but how many democracies do you have with such diverse pluralistic society. How many? You'll find none, except India and the United States," he said.

Sen asserted that the US-India relationship is "not based on transient factors or tactical considerations, but it is based on many common concerns, on intersecting interests, and though we might have differences sometimes on how to achieve certain objectives, I can assure you that in the long-term perspective, there is no long-term national security or any other vital important interest of the two countries which clash -- none."

"Sometimes we differ on how to get there, but not in that objective. That's another factor, which gives me confidence in the future of this relationship," he added.

Aziz Haniffa in Las Vegas