Biden 's light-hearted Indian links

Mumbai, July 25 (IANS) In a light moment to his speech, US Vice President Joe Biden Wednesday evoked laughter by suggesting genealogical links with India.

Speaking at the Bombay Stock Exchange, Biden said it's an honour to be back in India and to be here in Mumbai. Off script for a second here, "I was reminded -- I was elected to the US Senate when I was a 29-year-old kid back in 1972, and one of the first letters I received and I regret I never followed up on it. Maybe some genealogist in the audience can follow up for me, but I received a letter from a gentleman named Biden -- Biden, my name -- from Mumbai, asserting that we were related," evoking laughter from the audience.

"Seriously. Suggesting that our mutual, great, great, great, something or other worked for the East India Trading Company back in the 1700s and came to Mumbai. And so I was thinking about it, if that's true, I might run here in India for office. (Laughter.) I might be qualified. But I've never followed up on it. But now that I'm back for the multiple times, I'm going to follow up to find out whether there is a Biden and whether we're related. I hope he's in good standing if we are. (Laughter.)"

"I'm delighted to be in Mumbai, a city full of history and dreams and incredible energy. I bring with me the admiration of the American people and the good wishes of President Obama. We admire the way you've melded ethnicities, faiths and tongues into a single, proud nation; the way entrepreneurship seems almost hard-wired into Indian society, from rickshawwallas to web programmers; and maybe most of all, we admire your democracy and the message that your democracy sends to people everywhere in the world. And that message is: No nation need choose between development and freedom. They are not inconsistent."

Biden also said that after this trip, he'd be able to return to Delaware and brag to the Indian-American community there.

"Any weekend in Delaware -- we have a very significant and tight Indian-American community -- any weekend in Delaware, you can find the Delaware United Cricket Club competing. And now I have bragging rights. I will be able to go back and tell my friends who belong to that club that I visited the home of the best cricket team in the world. It will give me some reason to -- (applause). You won the International Cricket Council Championship."

"And as an Irish American, it pleased my heart to see you beat Britain, England. (Laughter.) That's a joke, by the way, for the press. (Laughter.) I don't want to hear a headline: Biden at Odds with British Empire, you know? (Laughter.) But it does make me feel good. (Laughter.)", according to a transcript of his speech.

Biden is in India on a four-day visit.

Biden, accompanied by his wife Jill Biden, their daughter Ashley and son-in-law Howard D. Crein, arrived in Mumbai early Wednesday on the second leg of his visit to India.

On Thursday, Biden will visit the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay (IIT-B), at Powai.

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