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Sunday, 29 June 2003

The concerted efforts made by Indian community in general and Bochasanwasi Shree Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS) in particular, to preserve Indian culture overseas were lauded by Maharashtra Chief Minister Mr. Shushil Kumar Shinde. The chief minister of the western Indian coastal state was addressing the Sunday meeting at Swaminarayan Mandir in Flushing, Queens, today.

"The world will have to take note of India. It was said about 20-25 years back we will be able to compete with advanced countries," Mr. Shinde said referring to the rapid strides made at home and by overseas Indians in various fields. "Thanks to the wealth of talent we have at home and abroad, India has emerged a world leader in Information technology," He was referring to his recent visit to the Silicon Valley to attract investors to India.

"No matter how much a community progresses, if it forgets its civilization and culture, it gets nowhere," he said. Fortunately, Indian community abroad has been making dedicated efforts to hold on to its values amidst pressures from the multicultural American society, he added. "Listening to "Bhajans" (devotional songs) sang by the kids in Mandir, I can say, you've done an excellent job," he said referring to singing of hymns in Hindi and Gujarati by Bal Mandal (children's circle) members. "Bhakti (devotion) keeps the light of civilization burning bright and clear," he added. Mr. Shinde and his wife Mrs. Ujjwala Shinde offered puja at the Mandir.

Dr. Surinder Malhotra, president of Indian Oversees Congress, praised the Indian community for promoting harmony in America. Communal amity is crucial to the survival of pluralistic societies such as America and India, he added. Dr. Malhotra is also a supporter of community health care services provided free of cost by the BAPS.
Dr. Ramji Shethi, vice president of Indian Overseas Congress, was among the guests who graced the function.

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