- Classifieds – Main
by Shobana Muratee
HOUSTON – The India House 14th Annual Gala, held on March 25 at the JW Marriot Galleria, shifted its primary focus on fundraising to one which was morally uplifting, inspirational, and which drew global attention almost instantly by honoring Ian Grillot as a ‘true American Hero’ that night.
Special Guest of Honor Ian Grillot, 24, who was injured when he tried to chase away the shooter who killed an Indian engineer Srinivas Kuchibhotla and wounded another Indian engineer in a Kansas bar recently, is still recovering and was accompanied by his parents to the gala.
India House raised $100,000 in a short span of time with the support Consul General of India in Houston, Anupam Ray, who backed the initiative and the generous offer by Chowdary ‘Charlie’ Yalamanchili, a noted businessman and India House Trustee, to match every dollar raised to help Grillot buy a house in his hometown in Kansas. Other India House Trustees Dr. Durga Agrawal, Brij Agrawal, Hari Agrawal, Bal Sareen, Dr. Virender Mathur and prominent leaders Dr. Arun Verma and Abeezar Tyebji were among the significant donors recognized on the occasion. The check was presented by India’s Ambassador to the US Navtej Sarna at the gala. Notably, this was Ambassador Sarna’s first visit to Houston.
“It is not every day that one meets a genuine hero – a person who risks his life for another and takes a bullet for a complete stranger. Ian Grillot is a man who reminds us of the promise of America and its greatness,” said Jiten Agarwal, Chairperson of the gala. “India House and Ian share similar values – serve all human beings in need irrespective of their race, religion, caste, color and language,” he added. The event’s Co-Chairs were Shalu Agarwal, Amit and Arpita Bandari, and also Pershant and Nikita Mehta.
In a profound message of courage and character, Hon. Ambassador Navtej Sarna said about Ian, “He is a young man who has shown exceptional courage – which is obvious – but also he has shown the strength of very fundamental human values.” Values that were essentially from parents, “so deeply imbued in a human soul that they come out instinctively,” he said. Commending India House, he praised the organization “which not only brings Indians together but is a symbol of your engagement with a larger American landscape.” Dr. Anupam Ray, Consul General of India, Houston described the Hon. Ambassador as, “A man of many parts; a man whose life was well lived,” when he introduced him.
Speaking briefly, Ian said, “The hate, it has to stop. It’s running rampant through our streets, our neighborhoods, and throughout our communities. We have to tear down the walls of racial and religious divide and build bridges of hope and compassion in the community.”
Mayor of Houston Sylvester Turner recognized India House as the ‘nerve center’ for the Indo-American community. He thanked Ian Grillot for “stepping up and doing what it means to be our brother’s keeper.”
India House honored its Trustees Dr. Virendra S. and Mrs. Nalini Mathur with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the gala. Dr. Mathur, a renowned cardiologist of Houston, has built on 60 years of professional success. Together, the couple have worked for 50 years as a team and recently celebrated their golden jubilee.
Earlier, Manish Rungta, MD, President of India House welcomed guests, donors and distinguished dignitaries that included: Indian Ambassador to USA Navtej Sarna, Kalikesh Deo, Indian MP, Consul General of India in Houston Dr. Anupan Ray, Nisha Biswal, Former US Assistant Secretary of State, David C Mulford, Former US Ambassador to India, Congressman Al Green, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, Mayor Sylvester Turner, Harris County Judge Ed Emmett, Ed Gonzalez, Sheriff office, Sen. John Cornyn’s representative Jay Guerra, Tory Mcfarlin representing Congressman Pete Olson, Sam Merchant with Congressman Al Green, Dr. Renu Khatoor, UH President and Chancellor, Neeta Sane, HCC trustee and Harish Jajoo, former councilman, City of Sugar Land. Dr. Rungta also recognized India House Board of Trustees and gave an overview of India House activities and achievements for 2017.
Guest Speaker Chef Vikas Khanna, an award winning Michelin-starred India Chef and TV celebrity of the popular ‘Master Chef India’ shows shared his success story, starting with his humble beginning in the United States. Khanna is also known for his humanitarian efforts through the Smile Foundation that provides 25,000 meals a day to underprivileged children in India.
Vipin Kumar, India House Executive Director spoke of the success of India House programs like free yoga classes, Charity Clinic Immigration Law Consultation, an afterschool program and many others which cater to the growing needs of the community.
The program began with the National Anthems of the United States and India rendered magnificently by sisters Amiya and Apurva Ghosh, daughters of Pandit Suman Ghosh. Vibrant and exhilarating entertainment was by Karmagraphy and dinner was catered by Bombay Brasserie restaurant. Pooja Lodia, news anchor for ABC13 Eyewitness News was an excellent Mistress of Ceremonies for one of best evenings of coming togetherness.