Indian Journalists Take a Close Look at How Indo-US Business Works


Indian journalists Avinash Nair, Indian Express; Varun Aggarwal, Hindu Business Line; Richa Pinto, The Times of India; Syed Abrar Hussian Peerzada, The Hindu; and Summit Khanna, Daily News and Analysis visited Houston recently as part of a three-city tour of the US. They were feted at a reception at the Indian Consul General’s residence on Tuesday, May 31.
Photos: Jawahar Malhotra

By Jawahar Malhotra

HOUSTON: Journalists are not accustomed to having the cameras suddenly turned on them and being the focus of attention, but on Tuesday, May 31, a group of five of them from India on a three-city tour of the US found themselves uncomfortably in the spotlight at a reception in their honor held at the residence of the newly installed Indian Consul General Dr. Anupam Ray. They had a chance to mingle with a cross-section of local businessmen, politicians and media and learn about the impact of Indo-Americans on the Texan marketplace.

The journalists were on a US State Department sponsored tour of three cities – Washington, DC, Columbia, South Carolina and Houston – where they visited with businesses that were dealing with India or had Indian roots, but for the most part were mum about the thrust of their journey to the US. The journalists were Avinash Nair, Indian Express; Summit Khanna, Daily News and Analysis; Syed Abrar Hussian Peerzada, The Hindu; Richa Pinto, The Times of India and Varun Aggarwal, Hindu Business Line and though Tamanna Inamdar, CNBC Awaaz was scheduled to be in she was not part of the group.

Ray introduced the journalists to the cross-section of guests, saying he saw no contradiction between being Indian and American and that everyone in the room was worthy of an interview. “I thought it was an opportunity for us to show them that India-US relations actually extend far beyond Washington and New York,” Ray said. “It extends into areas which are real economic drivers of the United States and Texas is one of them.” In his short time in the Bayou City – he has only been here less than two months – Ray has been making inroads to the local market, working with Indian organiztions and even has old college friends from medical school and some relatives on his wife’s side who live in the area.


Newly installed Indian Consul General Dr. Anupam Ray spoke about Indo-US business ties.

Among those who were invited was Harris County Commissioners Court Judge Ed Emmett who came with his wife Gwen; Jay Guerrero, Regional Director in US Senator John Cornyn’s office; Sam Merchant, Asian Community Liaison with US Congressman Al Green’s office; the managing director of Mahindra Tractors; local businessmen and community activists Vijay Goradia and Dr. Durga Das Agarwal and Ashok K. Mago, a businessman and community leader from Dallas. Ray hailed Indian businesses in the US for creating jobs and contributing to the US economy.

Emmett echoed these sentiments and expanded on his longtime association with Indo-Americans saying “it goes back long before I was County Judge.” He agreed with Ray that the economy is a two-way street and  gave the example of the decision Anand Mahindra, the Chairman and Managing Director of the Mahindra Group, made to expand into the US market by buying a local tractor firm in Texas. He looked forward to giving the journalists a tour of the Houston Emergency Center the following day.

Agarwal, President and CEO of Piping Technology and Products and a Member of the University of Houston System Board of Regents talked about his experience in leading a delegation from MD Anderson Cancer Institute to India to help set up co-operation agreements for cancer treatment in India with All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Tata Memorial Cancer Center and SVYASA (the Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana). “People did not understand the purpose,” he recalled. He also commented on last year’s International Day of Yoga which was celebrated in Houston with over 3,000 people at the George Brown Convention Center.

Not to be left out, Mago commented on the importance of the Dallas-Ft. Worth region towards the economic growth of Texas. He is a Padma Shri recipient, Chairman of the Greater Dallas Indo-American Chamber of Commerce and a Regent of the University of North Texas. “Not too many people pay attention to Texas in India though the Texas economy as big as that of India’s, $2 trillion,” he said. He added that DFW alone contributed $545 million and lauded its many other attributes like 65 million airport passengers and 23 Fortune 500 companies. With an expanded population, he expected Texas’ share of Congressional seats to increase from the current 36. He added that India’s Nuclear Agreement with the US “would have gone nowhere without the support of Texas, which had 40% of the sponsors of the bill.”
Ray concluded the brief speeches by noting that the University of Houston’s Engineering Building will inaugurate a whole floor after Durga Agarwal later this year, adding “This is how accomplished and successful and how invested the India community stays in being good Indians and good Americans.”

The visit of the Indian journalists came just a week before Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi started his second official visit to the US to cement better economic and military ties. Modi addressed a joint session of Congress on Wednesday, June 8, becoming the fifth Indian Prime Minister to do so.