America’s First Amendment

“Azadi 1” is the new license plate of my friend Tom Garrett, a former congressman from Virginia who has steadily become the voice of the voiceless.

Mr. Garrett recently traveled to Syria to highlight the plight of the Kurds, he’s heralded the hardship of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar and he has stood strong for Muhajirs suffering at the hands of an ineffective Pakistan.

Tom’s license plate reminds me of my family’s link to Azadi, which means freedom.

In 1970, my dad’s elder brother, Prithipal Singh Ahluwalia, was honored with the title of “Azad,” for he daringly gave speeches against the human rights abuses during “the Emergency’ in India. It was a controversial period in the history of independent India where civil liberties were curbed, the press was censored, political opponents incarcerated and elections suspended. He was imprisoned for 2 years, my father and cousins pleading for his release.

Even though I was very young at that time, I saw him as my hero and a source of inspiration along with Shaheed Bhagat Singh and Subhash Chandra Bose, leader of the Azad Hind Fauj (Free India Army), both were valiant freedom fighters of India’s Independence struggle against the British colonial rule. My love for history and liberty made me romanticize about those who fought for India’s freedom and other places in the world.

Azadi inspires us all. It empowers all Americans as free thinkers to seek their fundamental rights such as Life, Liberty and Pursuit of Happiness. The Bill of Rights in the US Constitution has also perfected and secured the freedoms we all cherish today, and often take for granted.

Regardless of faith or which country we hail from, we all strongly support minority rights and religious freedom worldwide. The right to religious freedom is America’s First Amendment. It may surprise few, Presidents Trump’s foreign policy adheres to promoting American idealism and values around the world, as it is a positive force of good. It helps to develop strong, peaceful, and successful societies around the world. It is a movement which has taken center stage in his administration.