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President Barack Obama Celebrates Diwali with Indian Americans and Signs an Executive Order

Washington, D.C. October 14, 2009: US President Barack Obama lit a lamp to celebrate the Hindu festival Diwali as he reached out to Asian Americans with the signing of an Executive Order on Asian Americans & Pacific Islanders--a new initiative aimed at expanding opportunities. for the 'model minority.' 

Obama became the first US president to personally take part in a White House ceremony for Diwali--tthe festival of lights-- by lighting a "diya" oil lamp inside the executive mansion. "While this is a time of rejoicing, it's also a time for reflection, when we remember those who are less fortunate and renew our commitment to reach out to those in need," Obama said.

The Executive Order sets  up a commission, comprised of 20 members from a wide range of government agencies, to conduct a two-year study of how to assist Asian Americans. One in five Asian Americans lacks health insurance, in part because more than one million of them are sole proprietors of businesses, the order said.

After signing the Executive Order, the President met with Indian American community leaders, the  Indian Ambassador to the US,  Meera Shanker and US Ambassador to Belize Vinai Thummalapally. Dr. Kamala Edwards, IALC President and member of the Maryland Governor's Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs was specially invited to participate in the executive order signing ceremony and celebration of Diwali.

Dr. Edwards with US Ambassador Thummalapally and Congressman Jim McDermott.
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