Maloney Addresses Indian Consulate, Asks For A Diwali Stamp
Congressmember Carolyn Maloney spoke before the Consul General of India, in New York, today to urge its members and leaders in the Indian American communities to continue supporting an effort to get the Citizen’s Stamp Advisory Committee (CSAC) of the United States Postal Service (USPS) to issue a commemorative Diwali stamp.
“It is high time the USPS issues a Diwali stamp. Diwali, also known as the Holiday of Lights, marks the triumph of good over evil, light over darkness and the beginning of the Hindu New Year. It is one of the oldest and most storied religious holidays in the world, and is celebrated by people of several faiths. There are commemorative stamps for Christmas, Chanukah, Kwaanza, Eid and more. Issuing a Diwali stamp would officially recognize the size and significance of the country’s Indian American population, which comprises over three million people, and would provide the USPS with sorely needed revenue,” Maloney said.
For several years, Maloney has headed efforts in Congress to push the CSAC to consider issuing a commemorative Diwali stamp. In January, Maloney introduced H.Res. 47, expressing the sense of the U.S. House of Representatives that the CSAC should issue a Diwali stamp. She wrote letters to the CSAC in 2010 and 2012 requesting the same action.
Ranju Batra, President of the Association of Indians in America – NY, who attended today’s event at the Indian Consulate, is a close friend of Congresswoman Maloney’s and was a major catalyst in the effort to get the Diwali stamp issued. She asked that Congresswoman Maloney provide national leadership on the effort, and Congresswoman Maloney obliged her request by remaining strongly dedicated to the issue.
Aside from the cultural significance of the Diwali stamp, there are economic benefits associated with its issuance. There are over 3 million Indian Americans residing in the United States and over 1 billion Indians living in India. The sale of the Diwali stamp could provide the USPS with a much-needed revenue surge.
Today’s meeting was held to urge supporters and members of the Indian American communities to contact their members of Congress and the CSAC and express support for the issuance of a Diwali stamp. Supporters of the issuance of a Diwali stamp, many of whom attended today's press conference, had the following to say:
"When I took over as president of AIA-NY, I set two goals: To make the 25th Silver Diwali celebrations history-making, and they were, and to laser-focus on getting the Diwali Stamp issued. I asked my dear friend Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney to take the lead in Congress. I am so delighted to have the support of Reps. Eliot Engel, Steve Israel, Greg Meeks, Yvette Clarke, Grace Meng, and others. Worthy of special note is the support from Reps. Ami Bera and Tulsi Gabbard. The time is now to get as much support as possible, as the USPS’ CASC will make its recommendations later this month. We need each of you and every media outlet to help get the word out: call your Congress member and ask them to sign on to H. Res. 47 now. If we do this, together, we have the chance to get the Diwali Stamp issued this year," said Ranju Batra, Chair of the Diwali Stamp Project and immediate past President of the Association of Indians in America–NY.
"The target audience of the Diwali stamp is over 5 million Americans of South Asian and Caribbean ancestry, along with over 1 billion Hindus across the world. The sale of Diwali Stamps would be a much-needed source of revenue for the US Postal Service in tough economic times. It will reduce the Postal Service’s need to always raises postage rates for everyone, while finally acknowledging Hindus here at home and abroad," said Ravi Batra, an attorney and chair of the National Advisory Council on South Asian Affairs.
"This laudable initiative by Ms. Ranju Batra seeks not only to embellish the great American democracy in its embrace of pluralism and diversity but also because Diwali commemorates civilizational values of respect for women's rights and their empowerment which the United States also tries to advance everywhere. On the occasion of Diwali, Goddess Lakshmi -- symbolizing prosperity and well-being of humanity -- is worshiped, as is the triumph of good over evil and light over darkness, which she brings about, is celebrated. I wish Ranju and Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney every success in their endeavor, which will not only strengthen the cultural and people-to-people links between the democracies of India and United States, but also mark their dedication to the cause of gender equality and women's empowerment," said Lakshmi Puri, Acting Executive Director of UN Women.
“The Diwali festival honors righteousness and service to others before ourselves. This yearly festival is a time to celebrate the triumph of goodness and truth, and to reflect on the year. It is only appropriate that we commemorate this widely observed holiday and its place in our nation’s rich tapestry of religious and cultural diversity,” said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-2), who is the first Hindu-American to serve in Congress.