New York: Mahatma Gandhi would have worked on issues of migrant seekers, gun violence, homelessness and illegal drugs if he were alive today, New York City Mayor Eric Adams has said, underlining that he wants to be like the revered Indian leader and calling on individuals to practice the teachings and philosophy of the peace icon.
“When I was in India, I saw the footprints that were placed inside the walkway of our leader, Gandhi’s last few steps before he was assassinated. And it was a symbol that the bullet may have taken away our leader physically, but spiritually, we must continue those footprints,” Adams said at a flag-raising ceremony here Tuesday to mark India’s 77th Independence Day.
The mayor said instead of being mere worshipers of Gandhi’s philosophy, people must become its practitioners.
“If Gandhi was alive today, he would be with the migrant seekers. He would state that we have an obligation to provide a level of humanitarian action,” he said.
“If Gandhi was here with us today, he would be walking in the streets dealing with the over-proliferation of gun violence…he would be dealing with homelessness…he would be with those who are using illegal drugs…he would be with our seniors, so we don’t have such a high level of suicidal thoughts and suicidal actions,” the mayor said.
“We cannot only worship Gandhi. We must practice Gandhi. We need to be Gandhi-like, and we need to continue the steps that he started. If we don’t continue the steps, then the bullet took away the dream and the vision of Gandhi. Dr King continued those steps,” Adams said, referring to American civil rights hero Martin Luther King.
Calling on people to continue in the steps of Gandhi, he said, “I’m Gandhi-like. I think like Gandhi. I act like Gandhi. I want to be like Gandhi…Go read the Vedas. Go read your early writings. Go read your early thoughts on science. It’s all the rich tradition of the Indian community. I wanted to be the modern-day Ramayana and say that we can lead against the forces of evil and take us to the next direction on who we are.”
Adams gave a shout-out to the several Indian-Americans in his administration working across departments for the city. “This is the New Delhi of America, the largest Indian population on the globe. And the knowledge goes so far.” Among the Indian-Americans working in Adams’ administration are Deputy Mayor Meera Joshi, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Dr Ashwin Vasan, Commissioner Rohit Aggarwala and Deputy Commissioner for New York City Mayor Office for International Affairs Dilip Chauhan.
Adams was joined by New York State Assembly Member Jenifer Rajkumar for the flag-raising ceremony in the Financial District of Lower Manhattan along with Commissioner Manuel Castro of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs as well as prominent members of the Indian-American community including the President of Indian Cultural Association of North America and convenor of Overseas Friends of BJP in New York Sivadasan Nair and cancer scientist Jayasree Nair.
New York City is dealing with the influx of tens of thousands of migrants and issues such as providing them shelter. The city has already spent USD 1.45 billion in Fiscal Year 2023 to provide shelter, food, and services to tens of thousands of asylum seekers.
As the city nears a total of 100,000 asylum seekers arriving since the spring of 2022, new cost estimates based on current trends show that the city could spend over USD 12 billion in three fiscal years (FY23, FY24, and FY25) without policy changes.