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Indian Democracy Shines for Republic Day in the Bayou City

Consul General Sanjiv Arora and Chhaya Arora with Dr. Rathna Kumar, Director, Anjali Arts Centre (AAC) with artistes of AAC who performed at the Republic Day Reception

Consul General Sanjiv Arora with Dr. Kalpalatha K. Guntupalli, Professor of Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine

HOUSTON:  In step with the rest of the diplomatic missions all over the world, the local Indian Consulate held two events this past Thursday, January 26 to mark an important aspect of Indian democracy, the 63rd Republic Day of India. For history buffs, the same day, but in 1930 also marks the Purna Swaraj or Declaration of Indian Independence by the Indian National Congress during the Freedom struggle and hence the date was used to honor the this declaration when the Indian Constitution came in force in 1950, officially marking the beginning of the Republic of India.

The Consulate General of India observed the occasion with a flag hoisting ceremony at the home of Consul General Sanjiv Arora in the morning. “It is indeed a great honor to be raising the Indian flag,” said Arora of his seventh occasion of saluting the Indian Tricolors in Houston.

Many Indian-Americans and friends of India attended the morning event, including Congressman Pete Olson, (Republican, District 22). Students of Vidushi Rajrajeshwary Bhat’s Swaralayam Arts Forum sang the Indian national anthem, which was followed by Arora’s reading of the President of India, Pratibha Patil’s, message to the Nation. Olson said, was happy to be part of the celebrations and said he was proud to represent a vibrant and successful Indian American community and added that the U.S.-India bonds encompass shared values, commercial trade and mutual security.

The celebrations continued in the evening with about 400 invited guests at the Hilton Hotel Post Oak. Arora read out a few passages from President Patil’s speech and pointed out several dignitaries and special guests in the audience. These included Pravasi Bharatiya Samman (Overseas Indian Award) honoree Dr. Kalpalatha Guntupalli, Professor of Medicine and Chief Section of Pulmonary, Critical Care, and Sleep Medicine; noted danseuse and teacher Sunanda Nair, recipient of Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Akademi 2011; retired Indian diplomat Ashok Gokhale, who was also Charge d’affairs in the Indian Embassy in Washington; University of Houston President Renu Khator and area politicians and businessmen.

Briefly Dr. Guntupalli expressed her deep gratitude to her Motherland which she said had provided her with a solid educational foundation and to her adopted country for giving her the opportunity to further her career.

The proceedings started with the national anthems of India and the USA played on the saxophone by Sunil Gadgil, (son of India Herald publisher, Rajeev Gadgil) who teaches saxophone and clarinet at Prairie View A&M University. He later played a rendition of the patriotic song – Saare jahan se achcha, Hindustan hamara (Out of all the world, India is best).

Rounding out the evening were two folk dances – a Gujarati piece by young female students of Uma Nagarseth followed by an item by female students of Ratna Kumar. Dinner was catered by Satish Rao of Udipi Restaurant.

Consul General Sanjiv Arora hosted the annual Republic Day flag hoisting last Thursday, January 26 at his residence. Seen in the picture are (from left): Congressman Pete Olson; Ravi Iyer, Vidushi Rajarajeswary Bhat, (Founding Directors of Swaralayam Arts Forum (SAF)); Consul General Arora along with SAF students Photos: Bijay Dixit


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