Biden and Harris Celebrate AANHPI Heritage Month at White House

President Joe Biden and VP Kamala Harris hosted a White House reception to celebrate Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. The event featured the Marine Band playing India's patriotic song "Sare Jahan Se Achha Hindustan Hamara" at the request of Indian Americans in attendance.

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Nitish Verma
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Biden and Harris Celebrate AANHPI Heritage Month at White House

Biden and Harris Celebrate AANHPI Heritage Month at White House

President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris hosted a reception at the White House Rose Garden on Monday to celebrate Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) Heritage Month. The event featured the Marine Band playing India's patriotic song "Sare Jahan Se Achha Hindustan Hamara" at the request of Indian Americans in attendance.

Why this matters: This event highlights the growing importance of the Asian American community in shaping the nation's political landscape, particularly as they become the fastest-growing group of eligible voters in the U.S. The Biden administration's efforts to combat hate crimes against Asian Americans and strengthen ties with India have significant implications for the country's social and economic future.

This marks the second time in less than a year that the song, written by Mohammad Iqbal during India's Independence struggle, has been played at the White House. It was previously performed during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's historic State Visit on June 23, 2023. The Marine Band had practiced the song ahead of the State Visit.

Ajay Jain Bhutoria, an Indian-American community leader who attended the reception, expressed his pride and joy at hearing the song played at the White House. "This was an amazing celebration of White House's AANHPI Heritage Month at the Rose Garden. The best part was that as I walked into the White House, I was greeted by the musicians playing 'Sare Jahan se Achchha Hindustan Hamara'," Bhutoria said. He also requested the band to play the song again, which they did.

During his remarks at the reception, President Biden highlighted his administration's record in supporting the Asian American community and criticized his predecessor, former President Donald Trump. "Folks, my predecessor wants a country just for some of us, we want a country for all of us," Biden stated. He specifically condemned Trump's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, saying, "I'll never forget him lying about the pandemic... I'll never forget the rise of anti-Asian hate crimes during the pandemic."

Biden praised Vice President Kamala Harris, the first South Asian American in the position, saying, "My name is Joe Biden and I work for Kamala Harris... I asked her to be my vice president because I knew I needed someone smarter than me." Harris spoke ahead of Biden at the reception and participated in a moderated conversation with actor and comedian Jimmy O. Yang earlier in the day.

The playing of "Sare Jahan Se Achha Hindustan Hamara" during the AANHPI Heritage Month reception reflects the Biden administration's commitment to the India-US relationship and the importance of Indian Americans in this partnership. The event highlights the growing ties between the two nations across various aspects, including people-to-people, business-to-business, and government-to-government interactions.

The reception also underscored the Biden administration's efforts to combat the rise in hate crimes against Asian Americans during the pandemic. Biden signed the bipartisan COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act in 2021, expediting reviews of hate crimes by the Justice Department. Asian Americans are the fastest-growing group of eligible voters in the U.S., increasing 15% since 2020, according to the Pew Research Center.

The White House's celebration of AANHPI Heritage Month, featuring the historic performance of India's patriotic song, serves as a testament to the administration's commitment to diversity, inclusion, and strengthening ties with the Asian American community and India. As the U.S. heads into the 2024 presidential election, events like this reception highlight the growing importance and influence of Asian Americans in shaping the nation's political landscape.

Key Takeaways

  • President Biden and VP Harris hosted an AANHPI Heritage Month reception at the White House.
  • The Marine Band played India's patriotic song "Sare Jahan Se Achha Hindustan Hamara" at the event.
  • Biden criticized Trump's handling of the pandemic and rise of anti-Asian hate crimes.
  • The event highlighted the growing importance of Asian Americans in shaping the nation's political landscape.
  • Biden signed the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act in 2021 to combat hate crimes against Asian Americans.