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On Tuesday, January 3, Indiaspora hosted a gala at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in Washington, DC. The event’s purpose was to celebrate the “Fab Five” elected Indian-Americans who took their oaths of office in the US Congress earlier on the same date (i.e. Sen. Kamala Harris and Reps. Ami Bera, Ro Khanna, Pramila Jayapal and Raja Krishnamoorthi), and the Indian-Americans who have been nominated to senior roles in the incoming Presidential Administration (i.e. Gov. Nikki Haley as UN Ambassador and Seema Verma as the Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services).
At least 500 people from the Indian-American community, as well as representatives from India and the U.S., attended the landmark event. Included in the gathering, and delivering remarks–in addition, of course, to the Indian-American honorees–were several senior political officials such as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi; Sens. Mark Warner, Tim Kaine and Dan Sullivan; Reps. Tulsi Gabbard and Joe Crowley (among many others); and the recently posted Indian Ambassador to the United States, Navtej Sarna. Other eminent Indian-Americans, including (to name just a few), Assistant Secretary of State Nisha Biswal, Assistant Secretary of Commerce Arun Kumar, Head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division Vanita Gupta, Ambassador Vinai Thummalapally and Judge Sri Srinivasan, were also recognized. Ambassadors from some friendly countries graced the event as well, giving it an international flavor.
The evening was emceed by Miss America 2014, Nina Davuluri, who did an excellent job of introducing each elected official with a factoid, in many cases pertaining to the US-India relationship, about the career of the politician in question.
Guests dined on Michelin Star-inspired Indian cuisine and boogied energetically to pulsating music late into the night! The Arya International troupe of dancers provided live entertainment on stage, showcasing an element of the performing arts in Indian culture. Young and talented Nepali-American singer, Prakriti Deuja, sang a stirring rendition of the American national anthem.
Prior to the gala, Indiaspora hosted many print, online and television journalists and camera crews at a press conference at the same venue. The conference was moderated by MR Rangaswami, Indiaspora Founder, and the discussion panel consisted of Sunil Wadhwani, Founder of WISH Foundation; Nina Davuluri, Miss America 2014; Ashley Tellis, Senior Fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (and widely tipped to become the next US Ambassador to India); Neera Tanden, President of the Center for American Progress; and Vamsee Tirukkala, Principal at Zinnov. The panel covered an array of substantive topics including the socio-political attitudes of Indian-Americans; Indian-American philanthropy; the success of the community in diverse realms of endeavor; and the US-India business, technology and trade relationship.
The gala was supported by many sponsors, namely Smart Utility Systems, Unilog, Zinnov, State Bank of India, KPMG and Mastech Digital. Several allied organizations such as Hindu American Foundation, American Jewish Committee, Desis for Progress, IIT Alumni, South Asian Bar Association, US India Business Council and the Confederation of Indian Industry helped Indiaspora in spreading the word about the gala and inviting guests. Indiaspora was also fortunate in availing of the assistance of some outstanding volunteers who played important roles in ensuring the event ran smoothly.
Indiaspora Founder MR Rangaswami enthused “Indian-Americans are 1% of the US population, and now we are 1% of the US Congress! As a community, we are progressing from success to significance in this great country.” Indiaspora Board Member Shekar Narasimhan chimed in, “The community is fast coming of age politically. Seeing these deserving Indian-Americans in prominent political positions was a wonderful and heartening sub-text of the recent elections.”
Several media organizations covered the press conference and gala, and links to their articles are included below.
Additionally, selected pictures from the event, including VIPs on the red carpet and at the podium, also can be seen below.
We at Indiaspora would like to recognize and thank our most outstanding gala volunteers who performed important tasks to the best of their abilities. They truly helped make the gala a better event.