IACCGH Presents New Board at Reception Honoring Durga Agrawal

From left: Sanjay Ramabhadran, Harris County Judge, Ed Emmett, Dr. Durga Das Agrawal, Pankaj Dhume and Jagdip Ahluwalia.

From left: Sanjay Ramabhadran, Harris County Judge, Ed Emmett, Dr. Durga Das Agrawal, Pankaj Dhume and Jagdip Ahluwalia.

By Jawahar Malhotra

HOUSTON: With the New Year barely getting into stride, the Indo-American Chamber of Commerce of Greater Houston wasted no time in holding its first function to announce its new President and Board, while also taking the occasion to honor the efforts of its first President, Dr. Durga Das Agrawal.

The reception held over dinner at the HESS Building near the Gelleria drew a full house of 200 people who responded to the invitation and included many politicians from the area as well as prominent community business owners. Executive Director Jagdip Ahluwalia recognized many of them and then turned to introduce Harris County Judge, Ed Emmett, a great friend of the Indian community and a close neighbor of the Agrawals.

Emmett jestingly recalled the invitation he received from Ahluwalia to “felicitate” Agrawal and how he was confused by what that was supposed to mean. “The truth is that Durga felicitates our entire community”, he said, “by being a pillar, an outstanding businessman, a public servant and having a wonderful family. Most importantly, he is always smiling”, Emmett added.

Slightly taken aback by the outpouring of platitudes, the usually reserved Agrawal who prefers to work behind the scenes thanked the IACCGH for the honor. He has been a force in several community organizations, but has devoted his efforts mostly to establishing the Chamber and India House, along with his friend, the cardiologist Dr. Virendra K. Mathur. “I have been in the piping business for 38 years”, he said of his company Piping Technology and Products on the South Loop, “and networking helps”!

Agrawal spoke about his recent appointment to the Board of Regents of the University of Houston and the challenges that UH has responded to and overcome to become a Carnegie-Recognized Tier One university. He commented on the progress that UH has made under the helm of President and Chancellor Renu Khator and the goals for the future.

In closing, Agrawal turned to promote the India House Doctor’s Clinic which has recently announced the opening of the Sareen Harris Health Clinic through the generous $250,000 donation from Bal and Rita Sareen and the partnership with Harris County Hospital District, now known as Harris Health, which donated the equipment. It will be the second diagnostic clinic in the county.

Outgoing Chamber President Pankaj Dhume spoke about “the phenomenal work we did last year, with an average of two events a month” and noted with a tinge of sadness that his year was over when turning the baton over to incoming President Sanjay Ramabhadran. He acknowledged the wholehearted support of his wife Asha and Director Jagdip Ahluwalia in making his year successful.

Ramabhadran acknowledged the changing of guard and said that “growth happens because of you all”. He recognized faces in the crowd including Pradeep Anand who was one of the architects of the recent successful IIT Global Convention (Anand briefly spoke at the podium) as its President Witty Bindra listened from the audience. Ramabhadran presented his Board of Directors and the 2015 President-Elect Ashok Garg, and then outlined some programs planned for the year ahead.

The reception ended with some closing remarks from 2012 President Ajit Thakur in his trademark jovial and witty way who recalled the first Trade Delegation to India that he went on in 2003 with the Chamber.