India has welcomed the move by over 100 US lawmakers asking Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel to allow Sikhs to serve in the American armed forces with their articles of faith such as turbans and beard.
"The Congressional initiative is an important step towards upholding the cultural rights of the Sikh community in the United States," India's Ambassador to the US, S Jaishankar said in a statement, days after 105 Congressmen from both the Republican and Democratic parties wrote to Hagel on the issue.
"The large number of signatories to this letter testifies to the important role played by the Sikh community in the US and its various walks of life. The Sikh community's success in the United States is a source of pride for India and a pillar of the India-US partnership," he said.
The letter, authored by Congressmen Joe Crowley and Rodney Frelinghuysen, and signed by over a 100 members of Congress, urged Hagel to promote inclusion of Sikhs in the US armed forces by modernising appearance regulations that allow them to wear turbans and maintain beards.
"India takes pride in being the cradle of Sikhism. The Sikh community is an intrinsic part of India's multi-religious and pluralistic fabric. Sikhs have made India proud with their sacrifices, achievements and leadership," he said.
"India's Sikh sons and daughters have held the highest offices in the land and have served at the highest ranks, including at four-star ranks in the Indian military. The tremendous progress and prosperity they have achieved, and their enormous contribution to their motherland, speak volumes about their indefatigable spirit of enterprise and diligence," Jaishankar said.