2014-10-08 / .

US officials discuss inclusion of Seva in social milieu

Washington: Indian Americans and officials of the Obama Administration are discussing ways to include the Hindu concept of "Seva" or service in the American socio-cultural milieu. They also plan to include the cleanliness drive launched last week by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the social environment in the US. Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Nisha Desai Biswal shared her experience on the importance of seva in her life. "Biswal shared the story of her grandparents' struggle during India's Independence and how seva for your community can bring happiness in one's life," a media release said. She was speaking at the fourth Annual White House Seva Conference organised by Hindu American Seva Communities (HASC) on the topic of "Dharmic Dialogue: Seva and Social Justice".

Former Senator Harris Wofford was honoured on the occasion for his life's work with a framed, personal letter from Rajmohan Gandhi, one of Mahatma Gandhi's grandsons. She also spoke about how Mahatma Gandhi inspired so many people to do seva for others. Biswal shared with the audience a picture of Modi cleaning the streets with a broom in a poverty stricken part of India. She explained that the Prime Minister wanted to be in India on Gandhi Jayanti (October 2) so he could take part in the "Clean India" initiative calling on all Indians to take responsibility for cleanliness.

In his remarks Wofford shared inspiring stories about his childhood when he went to India and saw Mahatma Gandhi and how that influenced rest of his life. He became a lifelong believer in non-violence and shared books and Gandhi's teaching with Martin Luther King in fighting for civil rights in the 1960s. Ken Bedell from the Department of Education continued the dialogue by highlighting the values needed to inspire public service. Rohan Patel, a Deputy Director at the White House, lauded the Dharmic American communities work through partnerships and called for greater awareness and action on climate change.

A video message from Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard called on communities to positively affect change by remembering the lessons of Mahatma Gandhi who led by example. Anju Bhargava, founder and board member of Hindu American Seva Communities (HASC), spoke about how it was originally conceived as an idea for promoting seva and social justice in the public square providing opportunities for people and Dharmic organisations to become more engaged with the federal government on these issues.

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