INDIA WEST: State Legislature Honors India Republic Day

January 27, 2012

By Sunita Sohrabji

In a historic moment here on the morning of Jan. 26, both houses of the California State Legislature honored India’s Republic Day for the first time.

A small group of invited Indian American community leaders took part in the ceremonies on both the Senate and Assembly floors, held as each chamber was in session.

California Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett introduced California State Resolution 97 at the start of the Senate session, which recognizes India Republic Day.

“There is a very vibrant Indo-American community in my district,” said Corbett, a Democrat whose district stretches from Fremont to San Leandro. “I wanted to thank Indo-Americans. They are a thriving force in District 10,” she said.

Dressed in a festive red salwaar-kameez, Corbett noted her visit to India two years ago with a Senate delegation. “It is truly an enchanting nation, brimming with rich culture, and a fascinating history,” she said. The senator, who is exploring a bid for Congress, presented Fremont, Calif., Mayor Pro Tem Anu Natarajan with a framed copy of the resolution and recognized Natarajan as the nation’s “first female Indian American mayor.”

The Senate resolution recognizes the history of Republic Day, noting that on Dec. 31, 1929, Indian nationalists unfurled a new flag and pledged that every Jan. 26 thereafter would be celebrated as Republic Day. The first Republic Day celebrations were held two decades later, as an independent India declared its allegiance to a new Constitution.

The resolution also noted the festivities of contemporary Republic Day events in India.

After a tour of the Capitol building, the group was taken over to the Assembly floor. Assemblymember Bob Weickowski, a former Fremont city councilman who ascended to the state legislature in 2011, also gave Natarajan a proclamation to place in the Fremont City Council’s chambers.

“I don’t know why we haven’t done this earlier,” Weickowski told India-West.

The freshman legislator’s district is home to a large concentration of Indian Americans and other South Asian communities.

That evening, the San Francisco Indian Consulate held its annual Republic Day festivities at the Palace of Fine Arts in the City. Renowned dancer Chitresh Das provided the evening’s entertainment.