By Arun Kumar
Washington/New York, Aug 15 (IANS) US President Barack Obama called India "a natural friend" and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sought a "stronger partnership" as both leaders greeted India on the occasion of the 62nd anniversary of its independence even as NASDAQ, the world's largest stock exchange, marked the day with display of the Indian flag on an electronic board at Times Square in midtown Manhattan.
"This vibrant and promising India has a natural friend in the United States," Obama said in a message personally signed by him. "Our people are bound by common values and ideals, and Indian-Americans contribute to all aspects of American life.
In an unusually long message, Obama said economically India was forging a new path. Fulfilling the promise of internationally competitive institutes of higher education, Indian professionals are leading their nation into a new phase of growth.
"From Bangalore to Boston; Indian scientists, engineers and thinkers are generating ideas and prosperity that improve and save lives across India and the globe," Obama said.
The message to the Indian government started with a reference to the first Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru's historic "tryst with destiny", speech.
"As Indians stood ready to claim their own fate on Aug 15, 1947, Prime Minister Nehru declared that a 'tryst with destiny', forged years ago, would finally be fulfilled," he said.
He also mentioned the 1857 war of independence, the freedom movement under Mahatma Gandhi and the country's all-round development after independence, be it economy, science or polity.
The president said, "Indian politics have given voice to women and countless minorities, and have demonstrated that Indians stand unifies in their commitment to human dignity."
Obama said he was also impressed by the country's entertainment industry as its members were marking their presence globally.
"Bollywood and Hollywood, Indians contribute to films that captivate audiences in every corner of the world," he said, adding that millions were being lifted out of poverty and were carrying the hope for a bright future as the Indian economy continued along a promising road.
"Marking Indian Independence Day, the United States and its people celebrate the realisation of the vision of Prime Minister Nehru described and the bright future it continues to portend for the people of India," Obama added.
In a separate message, Hillary Clinton wished Indians around the world a happy Independence Day, reaffirming the deep US commitment to work with India to build a stronger partnership between the two nations.
"On this historic occasion, let me reaffirm the deep commitment of the United States to work together to build a stronger partnership between our two nations based on common interests, shared values and mutual respect," she said in her message.
Recalling her first visit to India as the America's chief diplomat, she said: "I had the honour and pleasure of visiting India only weeks ago, and experienced firsthand the warmth and vitality of the people of India.
"To all those around the world who trace their heritage from the Republic of India, I wish you a happy Independence Day," Clinton said. "Indians everywhere commemorate this day in 1947 when their nation awoke to life and freedom, and recall the sacrifices their countrymen and countrywomen made to gain that freedom."
"This anniversary serves as an inspiration to all, a reminder that open and democratic societies are best suited to helping people fulfil their dreams and aspirations," she said.
In New York, India's Consul General Prabhu Dayal rang the closing bell Friday at the exchange, which lists seven Indian companies with combined market capitalisation of $35 billion.
Dayal said his presence at NASDAQ on the eve of Independence Day emphasised the strong partnership between India and the US.
He said as the largest source of foreign direct and portfolio investments, US was an indispensable partner of India, whose huge markets also offer enormous opportunities for US investors.
Outside the exchange, in the heart of Times Square, an electronic board displayed the Indian flag with the caption "NASDAQ welcomes Ambassador Prabhu Dayal, Consul General of India in New York."