"Grew Up Reading Nehru's 1947 Speech": US Lawmaker To NDTV

Ro Khanna's grandfather worked closely with Lala Lajpat Rai and spent two years in jail during the Quit India movement.

Ro Khanna described India's border issue with China as a "shared security concern".


Indian-origin Congressman Ro Khanna, who is leading a bipartisan group of US lawmakers on a trip to India to participate in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's address at the Red Fort on Independence Day, said ties between India and the US are at the "highest point". 

The Congressional delegation is jointly led by Mr Khanna and Michael Waltz, who are co-chairs of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans.

"My grandfather spent years in jail as a part of India's freedom movement, so this is personal to me. This delegation is going to help to continue to build on the momentum of PM Modi's US tour. President Biden is also scheduled to be here in September," Mr Khanna said, speaking exclusively with NDTV.

The 46-year-old lawmaker's grandfather Amarnath Vidyalankar worked closely with celebrated freedom fighter Lala Lajpat Rai and spent two years in jail during the Quit India movement.

Mr Khanna, who represents California in the US House of Representatives, said he grew up reading former PM Jawaharlal Nehru's 'Tryst With Destiny' speech, delivered around midnight on the eve of India's independence in 1947. 

"I grew up reading that speech. 'At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom'. So to be there with PM Modi would be a great moment," he said.

Earlier this year, Mr Khanna and Mr Waltz hosted a landmark US-India Summit on Capitol Hill. The summit featured panels and speeches from government leaders, experts, and Indian-American leaders from across the country.

"We will continue to talk with PM Modi about the special partnership between the US and India on defence, economy, cricket, technology, and a shared commitment to democracy. We will discuss how to strengthen democracy to ensure pluralism, respect for minority rights, and freedom of the press. These are such important values to the United States and to India's founding," he said.

"The relationship between the two countries is at the highest point it's ever been," he added. "There's more economic cooperation than ever before. People are looking at India to be a hub rather than China."

Mr Khanna described India's border issue with China as a "shared security concern".

Last week, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said the government has built up its border infrastructure along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China in the past nine years, significantly increasing its military readiness to address any security threat.

Mr Jaishankar said India and China have made significant progress in de-escalating tensions and resolving five to six friction points in eastern Ladakh through sustained diplomatic and military dialogue over the past three years.

"China is one factor. The LAC issue in Arunachal Pradesh is another concern for India, making sure China does not cross that line. The issue of Taiwan also looms large. However, the relationship between India and the US is not just based on shared security concerns. That's why we are meeting with Bollywood and cricket personalities, and discussing culture and technology," Mr Khanna said.

On a lighter note, the US Congressman said the "highlight" of his trip will be meeting Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan. 

"He is a true rockstar. I met Anupam Kher yesterday. We are trying to meet Sachin Tendulkar." he said.

Earlier this week, a group of US lawmakers, led by Indian-American Congressman Shri Thanedar, introduced a resolution in the House of Representatives to designate August 15 as a National Day of Celebration of the World's Two Largest Democracies.