TRF Home Page
Royal – Home Page

Republic Day Reception by Indian Consulate Introduces New Ambassador

From left: Ambassador Jaishankar felicitating Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Awardee Dr. Renu Khator,  Suresh Khator, and Consul General P. Harish.

From left: Ambassador Jaishankar felicitating Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Awardee Dr. Renu Khator, Suresh Khator, and Consul General P. Harish.

By Jawahar Malhotra

HOUSTON: The Indian Consulate General pulled off a little bit of a coup this past Sunday, February 2, as they were able to draw in a houseful of guests to the annual Indian Republic Day (the actual anniversary is on January 26) reception at the Hilton Post Oak, which has become a tradition over the past four years, despite the event’s conflict with the major news story of the day, Super Bowl XLVIII that was going on at the same time. Many people were glued to their Smartphones trying to keep up with the score, and of course, the game was over by the time dinner was being served. Hors d’ouerves and dinner for the evening were catered by Udippi Café.

From left: Ambassador Jaishankar with Padma Shri Award winner Dr. Ashok Kumar Mago and his wife, and Consul General P. Harish.

From left: Ambassador Jaishankar with Padma Shri Award winner Dr. Ashok Kumar Mago and his wife, and Consul General P. Harish.

Indian Consul General Parvathaneni Harish acknowledged the conflict, but revealed the reason for the one-week delayed celebration by introducing the newly installed Indian Ambassador Dr. Subrahmanyam Jaishankar (see related story and brief background on the Ambassador, page 6) who was making his first tour outside of Washington DC since he arrived six weeks ago to visit with industry leaders in the highly important oil and gas field. “We are honored that Ambassador Jaishankar has chosen Houston for his first visit”, said Harish as he introduced him to the standing room audience.

From left: Rep. Al Green (D-TX 9th District), Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX 18th District), Ambassador Dr. S. Jaishankar, Consul General P. Harish  and Rep. Pete Olson (R-TX 22nd District) after dinner at the Harish residence on February 1.

From left: Rep. Al Green (D-TX 9th District), Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX 18th District), Ambassador Dr. S. Jaishankar, Consul General P. Harish and Rep. Pete Olson (R-TX 22nd District) after dinner at the Harish residence on February 1.

After arriving on Saturday, Jaishankar met privately with Congressman Randy Weber and later had dinner at Harish’s home with US Representatives Pete Olson, Al Green and Sheila Jackson Lee. He paid a brief visit to the James Baker Institute for Public Policy at Rice University. Sunday morning, Jaishankar visited the Meenakshi Temple in Pearland and met with members of the Indo American Political Action Committee later that afternoon before attending the Consul General’s reception in the evening.

UH President Dr. Renu Khator with some of the older members of the audience (seated from left) Maniahs Mehta’s mother, Maji Thakkar from the Shridi Sai Baba Temple, Shakuntla Malhotra, who writes recipes for IAN. Standing besides Dr. Khator are Sangeeta Dua and Jyoti Thakkar, Maji’s daughter.

UH President Dr. Renu Khator with some of the older members of the audience (seated from left) Maniahs Mehta’s mother, Maji Thakkar from the Shridi Sai Baba Temple, Shakuntla Malhotra, who writes recipes for IAN. Standing besides Dr. Khator are Sangeeta Dua and Jyoti Thakkar, Maji’s daughter.

Jaishankar told the audience that he had arrived in the US six weeks earlier and chose Houston for his first visit out of Washington, DC because “we have a great CG here and thought to be with him”, he quipped, “the weather was better than DC and mostly because of the great Indo American community here”. He applauded the local Indian community for doing so well here; reshaping America’s thinking of India and helping build better relations with the US in the 30 years since he was last in the country as a First Secretary at the Embassy.

He added that the three reasons that India and the US are closer and think alike is because trade has quadrupled, bilateral investments are very strong and the values and ideals are similar. “Houston has a special relationship as its trade with India is about $8 billion, more than some countries”, he said, adding that “Texas is an exceptional state of the US”.

The Ambassador went on to recognize two individuals who have just been awarded the Padma Bhushan, the highest civilian award of the Republic of India – Ashok K. Mago of Dallas for his involvement in forging the nuclear deal between the US and India and Dr. Renu Khator, President and Chancellor of the University of Houston for her contribution to education initiatives between the two countries.

Both were at hand to accept the public recognition and said a few words of appreciation. Mago spoke of the call in the middle of the night to inform him he had been honored and how his wife reminded him to stay grounded in his daily life. Khator was introduced as “Houston’s Rockstar Lady in Red” for the red skirt and coat she is known to wear to represent UH. She actually came on stage wearing the 22 karat gold medal, saying “I accepted this medal in the names of Houston, Texas and the city’s Indian Americans because your stories and success bring me my success”.

The program included many local elected officials who made short statements at the podium after the Ambassador spoke. Harris County Commissioner’s Court Judge Ed Emmett extended his best wishes and echoed the “rich ties between the two countries. The Super Bowl is just a game, but India is an enduring legacy that will go on forever”. Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia, as always, tried to speak a few Hindi phrases of welcome and thanks, and stated that his department had added two Sikhs, Deputy Sandeep Dhariwal and a new communications officer. Jay Guerrero stood in for Sen. John Cronyn and Sam Merchant for Rep. Al Green, as did a spokesman for Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee.

The evening concluded with a entertainment coordinated by Nandita Harish, the CG’s wife, and included a dance performance by students – Rachna, Ravali, Riya, Amani, Swara and Milinda – of Rathna Kumar followed by a table performance by eleven male students of Pt. Shantilal Shah, all playing in unison. It concluded with a marvelous vocal performance of Hindustani music by Pt. Suman Ghosh accompanied by Sucheta Roy, Sowmita Narayanan, Amiya, Apurva, Bhavi, Prasun and Reet.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

2 Responses to Republic Day Reception by Indian Consulate Introduces New Ambassador

  1. Pingback: Celebrating India's Republic Day in 2014 - Tabla Houston

  2. Pingback: Celebrating India’s Republic Day in 2014 – Tabla Houston

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *