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India Culture Center (ICC) and India House (IH) are two of the most unique Indo-American community organizations in the Metropolitan Houston Area. These are the only two organizations that represent all of India, not just any one particular region of India. In addition, IHI has also extended its mission to serve the needs of the main stream Greater Houston Area communities.
As most long- term Houstonians know, the establishment of an Indo-American Community Center had been one of the primary goals of ICC. It was enshrined in its constitution and bylaws since 1973, the year of its creation. In relentless pursuit of this goal, and after many years of ups and downs, finally in the year 2000, ICC purchased the land on which the current India House Building stands. However, due to ICC’s many other community activities and for practical and economic reasons, an independent organization, India House Inc. (IHI), had to be formed in July 2002, for the express purpose of building and running the India House Building. As a result, ICC officially transferred the land title to IHI in July 2003 and the India House Building Project took off.
As usually happens during any structural changes in organizations, ICC and IHI had to work out the details about their mutual continuing relationship. This generated a certain amount of tension between the two organizations, during the initial period of transition. But slowly and surely, the spirit of partnership began to take hold.
On January 26, 2005, IH and ICC jointly organized a major event of groundbreaking for the India House Building and the 55th anniversary of India’s Republic Day, an annual signature event of ICC. However, this noble effort of joint celebrations remained somewhat lukewarm for years, although the leaders in both the organizations continued their efforts to forge a lasting unity. Fortunately, the initial difficulties were amicably resolved and a final Agreement was signed between the two organizations in 2011. Since then, the two entities have been consistently taking steps to forge a solid partnership and are NOW actively working hand-in-hand in carrying out most community service activities. In this regard, it is heartwarming to note the following additional concrete actions:
• ICC now has an office in the India House Building.
• ICC holds its monthly meetings at the India House Building.
• The Annual Diwali functions are being held jointly by ICC and IHI in the India House Building. The most recent such highly successful joint Diwali Celebration, with cultural program and dinner, was held on November 1, 205
• Along with other major Houston Area Organizations, India House Inc. (IHI), is also now one of the Partnering Organizations of ICC.
• IHI leaders are actively participating in ICC’s major functions such as Celebration of India’s Independence Day and Republic Day, every year.
• Likewise, ICC leaders are also actively participating in IHI events such as India House Annual Gala, Flag Hoisting Ceremony on India’s Independence Day, Hosting the visits of various dignitaries, to name a few events.
• When requested, ICC always provides a free booth to IHI during its signature events, currently held at the new Stafford Civic Center.
• Several of the IHI leaders have received ICC’s Community Service Awards.
• Space permitting, almost all of the ICC functions are now held in the India House Building.
• For the present, ICC’s two annual signature events—Celebration of India’s Independence Day (India Fest) and India’s Republic Day (India Fair) cannot be held in the India House Building, due to the unavailability of large indoor area required by ICC for these two functions. However, it is fervently hoped that as India House Building‘s future expansion plans materialize, these two functions will also shift to the India House Building.
In this spirit of continuing cooperation and coordination, I envision that the current and future leaderships of both ICC and IHI will continue to get together to expand their partnership, with the following goals in mind:
• ICC should, always hold all its functions and conduct all its activities at the India House Building and/or grounds, whenever possible, and nowhere else.
• ICC and IHI leadership should always make it a point to actively participate, both financially and physically, in each other’s functions such as India’s Independence Day and Republic Day Celebrations, the Annual India House Gala event, etc.
• IHI should count on, and receive ICC’s manpower support in promoting and executing all its functions and activities.
• All the Board and Council Members of India House, Inc. should also become paying members of ICC. Correspondingly, all the Board Members and Trustees of ICC should provide financial support to IHI during India House Gala and by becoming the IHI’s Council Members, and Board Members, if possible.
• Both the organizations should cosponsor as many community events as possible.
• The Greater Houston area indo-American community should feel that both the organizations are working hand-in-glove with each other to provide better service to the community.
• The goal of both the organizations should be to unite the community by pooling the resources of all major Indo-American organizations for the common good and common purpose.
• Both the organizations should be in the forefront in coordinating responses to major disasters locally and internationally. The money collected by individual organization should not be advertised as individual contributions, but collective community contributions.
• Although it appears far-fetched at this time, it is not hard to imagine and accept that ICC’s soul lives in the body of the India House Building. Perhaps, due to the realization of this concept of the spirit of cooperation and understanding, some of the leaders in both the organizations have privately expressed their wishful desires that the two organizations should ultimately merge.