India House : Dream to Reality


From left: Dr. Durga Agrawal, Chowdary Yalamanchili, Dr. Virendra Mathur and Jugal Malani.

By Dr. Virendra Mathur

HOUSTON: India House was a dream of the first few Indian American immigrants to Houston which started taking shape in June 2000, when a 10 acre land was purchased by India Culture Center in Southwest Houston. After a few challenges, it became obvious that a separate entity will have to take charge if we were to succeed in building a true community center to serve our own Indian American community as well as the mainstream community. That is when India House Inc. was born in 2003 and the entire community got behind the project. Finally on January 28, 2006, ground breaking took place with lot of fanfare attended by several thousand people, including the Mayor, Consul General of India and several dignitaries and blessings of 8 leaders of different religions of India. The most important thing that happened as we were concluding the Havan ceremony, we got a pledge from Jindal family for the first Million Dollar donation for India House and the first building was named “O.P. Jindal Center.” Enthusiasm was at its peak throughout the community and most of the volunteers of India House got busy in presenting our case and soliciting donations from Indian American community as well as major charitable organizations, foundations, city of Houston, major banks as well as Houston Endowment. We would bring many people to our site, arrange meetings, visit different homes and offices, including one at 7.00 am on a real cold January morning as this was the only time we could get, to win their support.

I remember vividly, it was February 16, 2007 and the Annual Gala of Asia Society was planned for the evening and our President Dr. Durga Agrawal invited many of us to join him on his table. Our Ambassador Hon. Ronan Sen was one of the invited guests. Dr. Agrawal thought that it would be a great idea to get the huge 8 foot model of the planned India House there, to show our plan to a large gathering. The organizers refused to allow such a large model to be displayed there, but Durga was not going to accept a no for an answer. He talked to his friend Charles Foster, the President of Asia Society who was very nice and overruled the objection and we managed to transport the model to the Hotel in time.

Little did we know, what a blessing it would turn out to be.  One of our friends Chowdary Yalamanchili and his wife Angela were also guests on our table. We requested Ambassador Sen and all our guests to see India House model and explained the plan. Everybody was very impressed and our Ambassador encouraged us to work hard to get the project completed. The Yalamanchilis were also impressed and seeing the enthusiasm and passion in all the volunteers, decided that they will make sure that our project succeeds and pledged One Million Dollars on that fateful evening. We were so proud that a few days later, during the Foundation Stone laying ceremony on March 3 2007, Chowdary and Angela presented India House a Million Dollar check soon after the Havan. The Mayor in his prophetic remarks said that “If you have friends like this, you will not have any problem in completing this project” And so, it has been !

Their support continues at every step and whenever we need help, they come forward. As our Health Clinic is expanding, they have supported India House again and they have donated another Quarter Million Dollars for its success. They have also agreed to become Trustees of India House.

Yalamanchili, a very successful businessman and real estate developer is also a very generous and humble philanthropist and gem of a man. Our community owes him a lot and he is so passionate about community service that we feel secure in the future of India House.