The governor of President Barack Obama's home state Illinois has expressed a desire to work together with India, saying the people of India are exceptionally important for America.
"We want to work together with India, the largest democracy, hand in hand culturally, economically and in other ways to benefit all," said Governor Pat Quinn, addressing the 17th annual convention of Telugu Association of North America (TANA) in Chicago.
"The people of India are exceptionally important for America," he said, speaking at the awards banquet of TANA, the first important event of the three-day convention at the Rosemont Convention Centre in O'Hare.
The convention is important for the 13 million people of the Land of Lincoln and they want to welcome the culture of India and get to know more about it, said Quinn.
"We are a community that believes in values of tolerance, unity and educational rights. I believe in democracy and you all believe in democracy," he said.
"We want to welcome the world to Illinois. We are one race, the human race. We need to work together," he added.
TANA President Prakash Chaudhury Kakarala thanked the governor and welcomed the gathering of thousands of Telugu speaking Indian Americans.
A number of people, who excelled in their works, and a few others, noted for their selfless service to the community, were honoured with Quinn presenting plaques to them.
The convention centre turned into a mini India with women and children dressed in colourful dresses and all round festivities.
A number of guests from India attended the event, including Andhra Pradesh ministers Galla Arunakumari and Mopidevi Venkataramana; film personalities Gollapudi Maruthirao, Murali Mohan, Rajeev Kanakala and Vitej; singers S.P. Balasubramaniam, Mano and Sunita; noted writers Siri Vennela Seetharama Sastry, Saddala Ashok Teja and Andhe Sri.
Various seminars, religious events and cultural programmes are scheduled at several venues during the convention.