Indian Voices Speak Out Fervently on Presidential Race


From left: 1st row: Jeemon Ranni, Mrs Mithal, Dr. Mithal, Babu Jesudas, Easo Jacob, Blesson Samuel; 2nd row: Roy Antony, Moti Mathew, George Thekkemala, Vanshika Vipin, Sangeeta Dua, Dr Venugopal Menon, Mathew Kuuravackal; 3rd row: Saji Pullad, Mathew Nellikkunnu, Dr. Sunny Ezhumattoor, Dr. Nik Nikam, Jawahar Malhotra, Ninan, Mathulla, Seshadri Kumar, Dr Mathew Vairamon.

By Jawahar Malhotra

STAFFORD: It was a valiant first effort to get a nascent organization off the ground and get the South Asian Fourth Estate noticed in the nation’s fourth largest city. The organizers had been planning for weeks and burning up the social media to pull the event together, headlining it as a “US Presidential Election Debate” and enlisting many local Indian media and well-known personalities to talk about issues on both sides of the political divide. The publicity campaign had even listed every South media personality in the Bayou City, including radio DJs and freelance writers, to honor them for their contributions to journalism, and tagged in several hopeful as well as serving politicians.


IAPC President Easo Jacob made opening remarks

Despite this all, the effort was not able to turn out the expected crowds at the Old Stafford Civic Center on Constitution Drive this past Sunday evening, September 11, the 15th anniversary of the World Trade Center attacks, an event duly noted by the program’s emcee, the former Mrs Bollywood 2015 Runner up and Miss Malaylee USA 2016 Lakshmi Peter, who called for a moment of silence to commemorate the event. Rojan Jacob Easo sang a rousing full-throated rendition of the US National Anthem.

The was the first major event organized by the newly formed Houston Chapter of the Indo American Press Club, a two-year old New Jersey based syndicate of which has its roots in the Malayalee Indian print and electronic media but has spread rapidly by opening chapters in Houston, Dallas, Atlanta and Toronto this year. The Houston Chapter is led by President Easo Jacob along with his executive team of Moti Mathew, Jacob Kudssanad, Joseph Ponnoly, Reni Kavalayil Thomas and Joji Joseph.


The show was emceed by Miss Malaylee USA 2016 Lakshmi Peter.

Jacob spoke about being raised in the newspaper business and his desire to be in journalism and how he worked briefly with local Indian print media. When he was unable to pursue it, he got a degree in graphic design and worked in the field from that angle, but eventually moved into finance and presently sells insurance with MassMutual, which was one of the sponsors of the event. Jacob pointed out that the IAPC acronym could also stand for Informed Action Promotes Change, adding “if our thinking is wrong, then you don’t get right decisions”.

The program led off with Mike O’Neill, President of the Houston Press Club and a producer at Channel 11 KHOU TV; Sangeeta Dua, Director of Diversity Talk on TV Houston introduced the Indo American associates; Neeta Sane, HCC Trustee, District VII introduced the sponsors and Judge Joel Clouser, Ft Bend County Pct. 2 provided some “words of wisdom”. IAPC National Committee member Cyriac Scaria introduced the theme of the program, “A Path to Mainstream”. At the end of the program, Babu Jesudas, National Committee gave the vote of thanks, after which a buffet dinner was served.


The artist Grady Long performed three songs, one in Malayalalee; another in Hindi and the last in English

Though billed as a debate, the program was actually opinions and comments by individuals on each side of the political divide, and moderated by the attorney Scott Brasington, who displayed an easy sense of humor. On the Republican side were Kendell Baker, State Rep Candidate, Dist 137; Dr. Nik Nikam, producer NNN Radio; Ramesh Cherivirala, community activist; Sangeeta Dua, Houston Diversity TV talkshow and Len Swanson, advisor to Donald Trump on Veterans Affairs. On the Democrat side were State Representative Ron Reynolds, K. P. George, Ft Bend ISD Trustee Position 5; Amee Patel, President of the Gujarati Samaj; and this journalist and Publisher of Indo-American News.

Though no major flashes or discussions ensued, the preamble to the speakers took way too long and distracted from what could have been a more lively dialogue between the participants and the eager audience.

Apart from the speakers, perhaps the best part of the evening was the performance by Grady Long, a strong voiced American singer who began singing in Nashville at the age of 20, is married to Suja, a South Indian nurse who grew up in Houston and lives by the border in McAllen, Texas. His website labels him as a Hindi vocalist who has deep appreciation for Bollywood and Carnatic musical styles and has toured across the country. Long sang three songs – the film song “Aayiram Kannumai” in Malayalalee; “Haan yeh rasta hai tera” from the movie “Lakshya” in Hindi and finally “America the Beautiful”, a Ray Charles tribute, in English to close out the event.