Big Accolades for 9th IAFC Annual Awards Banquet Gala in Dallas


DALLAS: The Indian American Friendship Council (IAFC) hosted its 9th Annual Awards Banquet Gala with big fanfare where more than 500 people attended to celebrate the success of the Indian American community. This awards banquet was held on Saturday, May 10 at Park Plaza Towers in Dallas. The first Indian American Woman Governor, the youngest Governor in the USA, Nikki Randhawa Haley, Governor of South Carolina attended the banquet as a Keynote Speaker and Beth Van Duyne, Irving City Mayor as a special guest.

Rao Kalvala, IAFC Secretary opened and welcomed the gathering and explained the importance of this year’s banquet theme of “Education – Experience – Empowerment.” The evening started with beautifully sung Indian and USA National Anthems by young children. Once Popular TV anchor and artist now settled in Dallas as an IT professional Rajeswari Udayagiri who did an excellent job as Mistress of Ceremonies invited the students of Guru Parampara Scholl of Arts to perform a dance item titled the “Glory of Kuchipudi” as an invocation dance. Manogna Chavali, Yashaswini Pindi, Parimala Gangaraju, and Sampreeti Bingi did an excellent job in showcasing their talents of foot rhythm and expressions. This dance item was choreographed by the late Padma Vibhushan Guru Vempati China Satyam and Guru Hemamalini Chavali, Director of the Guru Parampara School of Arts of Irving.

John Hammond, IAFC Director and the Awards Banquet Chair spoke about the simple living and high thinking of the Mahatma Gandhi and stated that proceeds of this banquet benefits the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial project.

“As a strong Indian American community, we all need to focus on local issues like Education, Health Care, Social Security, Roads and Transportation, Safety and Security etc., and express our opinions with an unified voice and  need to participate in the US election process”, said Dr. Prasad Thotakura,  IAFC Texas State Chairman.

Thotakura further stated that IAFC has been recognized twice in US Congress for its dynamic role in building better relations between the largest democracy, India and the oldest democracy USA. This year’s Awards Banquet was special as Governor Haley attended and very successful people from all walks of life were felicitated with distinguished awards

Haley, Thotakura and other IAFC Board  Directors presented awards to the following individuals:

“IAFC-Outstanding Scholar & Administrator” award was presented to Prof. Kharbari M. Vistasp, eighth President of the University of Texas at Arlington. Vistasp is a visionary leader and accomplished scholar who is committed to advancing UT Arlington’s national and international profile while strengthening excellence in research and teaching and ensuring the success of the University’s 38,000 students body. During his more than 20 years in higher education, he has received numerous awards for research, teaching and innovation.

“IAFC-Community Bridge Award” was presented to Beth Van Duyne, Mayor of City of Irving. Duyne fought hard against tax and fees increases, championed the movement against more apartment complexes and promoted smart development backed by legitimate investors.

“IAFC-Outstanding Entrepreneur Award” was presented to Arun Agarwal, CEO, Alok International. Agarwal, a Harvard University graduate, who has built a multi-million dollar business, is a pioneer in Home Textile Industry has focused on World-class infrastructure, best-in-class technology, uncompromising quality standards and dynamic product innovation. The company is a supplier to major retailers such as Wal-Mart, Target, Kohl’s, Dillard’s, JC Penny etc.,

“IAFC-Outstanding Youth Excellence Award” was presented to Ali A. Saherwala, 2nd year Medical Student, UT Southwestern, Dallas. Saherwala, despite his complex life due to his congenital bilateral conduction hearing loss and other medical conditions, successfully battled many surgeries, years of speech therapy and worked hard at school, until he graduated at the top of his class in Allen High School, Allen. He then attended UT Dallas with a full scholarship with the acclaimed and prestigious Eugene McDermott Scholarship program. Currently, Ali is a second year medical student at UT Southwestern Medical School and is involved with numerous student organizations.

Taiyab Kundawala, Vice President, in his closing remarks thanked all the guests, congratulated all award winners, John and. Linda Hammond, the grand sponsors of the banquet, volunteers, dance schools, Bombay Photography, Weddings by Farah, media like TV 9, FunAsiA.

The Gala ended with a patriotic songs medley presented by the students of the Inspirationz Dance Academy that was choreographed by its Director Shanti Nuti.  Participants included Wednesday Price, Siddha Eleswarapu, Siddhartha Eleswarapu, Swetha Vadlamannati, Sonika Reddy, Sriya Vaskarla, Sreya Laxmi Kodela, Shreya Thalla, Pragna Brahmadevara, Sonika Reddy, Abhi Vadlamannati, Akhil Mulukutla and Avani Sunkireddy.

IAFC TX State Chapter Executive Team includes Chair Dr. Prasad Thotakura, Executive Vice President Dr. Tara Kumar Reddy, Vice President Piyush Patel, Vice President Taiyab Kundawala, Secretary Rao Kalvala, Board of Directors include: Prof. Niranjan Tripathy, Dr. Sat Gupta, Paul Pandian, Murali Vennam, MRaj Asava, Ramki Chebrolu, John Hammond, Ms. Sushimitha Kosuri and Advisory Board of Directors include Arun Agarwal, Dr. Nick Manesh and Neeha Curtis