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IACCGH Gala Shows Strides South Asian Businesses Have Made During Last Decade

Consul General P. Harish receives welcome plaque from IACCGH President Ajit Thakur and Mrs. Nandita is honored with a shawl by IACCGH past president Deepa Thakur at the Grand 2012 Gala.

By Jawahar Malhotra

HOUSTON: The Indo American Chamber of Commerce held its Annual Gala this past Saturday, August 25 at the Hilton Americas hotel in the presence of many of the business and political leaders who have helped the organization grow since its inception in 1999. The nearly 400 guests who attended the dinner and awards ceremony in the main ballroom heard from several notables who were key in building the focus of the Chamber this year.

The evening started with several short speeches by invited political leaders, like Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia, in the second floor lobby which overlooks the edge of Discovery Green during the closing moments of the cocktail hour. Registering the guests were a team volunteers overseen by the Chamber Office Administrator Mondira Tangri who had been persuaded to return briefly from her retirement last year to help with this Gala due to a last minute staffing issue.

The function was emceed by Sonal Bhuchar, past President of the Ft. Bend ISD School Board who presented Dr. Sunil Gadgil to play the national anthems on alto saxophone. He had performed likewise at the India Festival the previous Sunday. Gadgil also presented a beautiful duet with his accompanying pianist Carla later in the program. Jagdip Ahluwalia, Executive Director, recognized the other Indo American Chambers which were formed around the same time in Dallas, Tampa and Atlanta and some of their Presidents who were in the audience.

Chamber President Ajit Thakur delivered the State of the Chamber address and enumerated the functions that were held so far through the year. Known for his quick wit and taste for turning a phrase, Thakur gave a glimpse of it relating tales of driving in Houston traffic. He talked about his initiative to take the Chamber events “out to the people” in the distant reaches of the Metroplex by holding events in Clear Lake, Sugar Land and The Woodlands. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee followed him at the podium and then presented him with a Congressional Citation. Referring to her ties with the Chamber, Lee stated, “Count me friend.”

The Gala featured two speakers, each with his own sphere of interest and expertise. The new Indian Consul General P. Harish, who has been making the circuit of Indo American events over the past three weeks since his arrival, introduced the chief guest, Deputy Chief of Mission to the Embassy of India, Ambassador Arun K. Singh. Singh expanded on the growth of bilateral trade and socio-economic ties between India and the US, the number of Indian firms which have invested in the US and the growing influence of the 3 million Indian origin people in the country.

Gala Chairs Bashar and Brigitte Kalai then introduced the Keynote Speaker, Jim Compton, Executive Vice President and Chief Revenue Officer for United Airlines. Compton spoke of the recent developments in United’s fleet and its services between the US and India. He explained how the growth meant more challenges but also more opportunities for United.

After a prelude classical vocal performance by Pandit Suman Ghosh, Thakur made presentations of plaques and tokens of appreciation to the speakers and performers. With the conclusion of a fine dinner catered by Bombay Brasserie, the Gala settled into a live auction of United Airline tickets followed by an awards presentation to Dr. Suresh Khator for International Educator of the Year; R. K. Chopra for International Business Advocate of the Year; Dr. Harminder Chana for Community Service; H-E-B for Corporate Citizen of the Year; Pushpa Shenoy and Vijay Dhingra, both for Woman Entrepreneur of the Year; and Charlie Yalamanchili and Amit Bhandari, both for Entrepreneur of the Year. A special plaque for dedicated volunteer was given to Manish Jain. The evening was rounded out by remarks by incoming Chamber President Pankaj Dhume and a concluding performance by Sunil Gadgil.





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