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India House gala celebrates 15 years of Houston community participation

COMM_India House Gala_Agarwals

COMM_India House Gala_Honoreesby Shobana Muratee
HOUSTON – India House, Houston’s landmark community center held its 15th Annual Gala on Sunday, March 24, at the Sugar Land Marriot Town Square celebrating Indian American ties with the Houston communities since its opening 2008.
Over 500 guests attended the fundraising gala that started at 7:45 PM sharp following a social hour. Welcoming the gathering, Jugal Malani, President, India House said “I believe that India House is the platform which gives us an opportunity to give back to the community through the wealth of expertise and diversified that has been expanding unconditionally toward supporting and helping the less fortunate.” He also thanked India House Trustees, Board of Directors, donors, staff and volunteers for their continued support.
India House programs and services cover a wide range of activities that include: medical assistance through Charity Volunteer Clinic, Legal Consultation by volunteer attorneys, Urban Youth Program hosted for the After-School program and Summer Camp for neighborhood students, Wellness programs with free Yoga and Meditation; Taekwondo and Language learning courses and many more activities. Sareen Harris Health Clinic is one of their successful collaborations with the Harris County, towards providing medical and health assistance at a nominal cost.
Speaking on the occasion, Consul General of India, Houston, Dr. Anupam Ray called India House a “secular temple.” “It’s not just about religion but more,” he said. “It’s about people who are likeminded, getting together for good reason: for giving back, helping each other, reaching out to the society in which they live.” Dr. Ray said India House was the “pillar of Indian presence in Houston,” recounting how the community came together during hurricane Harvey raising close to $2 million for Mayor Turner’s Harvey Relief Fund.

India's Consul General in Houston, Dr. Anupam Ray addressing the gathering at India House gala.

India’s Consul General in Houston, Dr. Anupam Ray addressing the gathering at India House gala.

Bal Sareen, Gala Co- Chair

Bal Sareen, Gala Co- Chair

Jugal Malani, President, India House

Jugal Malani, President, India House

At last year’s gala India House had donated $100.000 to Ian Grillot, a young American who was shot while trying to intervene in a Kansas bar shooting that killed an Indian, Srinivas Kuchibhotla and injured his friend Alok Madasani. This show of support defies the ‘spirit’ of the Indian community here, Dr. Ray commented. “You are also a bridge between the United States and India.” Dr. Ray referred to Texas Governor Greg Abbot trade delegation in Mumbai and the prospects on increased trade. “We have taken in the first shipment of the $2 billion worth of gas per annual that we will be buying for ten years from Texas,” Dr. Ray said. He also mentioned that Congressman Pete Olson and Mayor Turner plan to visit India as well. “We are the fastest growing economy in the world,” currently, 3 Indian Public Sector Companies are head quartered in Houston: Gas Authority of India Limited, (GAIL), Oil India Ltd. and Oil and Natural Gas Commission of India (ONGC), he mentioned.” India has fastest growing market for tires in the world. We are going to buy 800 airplanes over the next 2-3 years and will build 76 airports over the next 2 years. We just launched the world’s most ambitious and largest medical insurance scheme,” Consul General listed. He mentioned that Air India will be coming to Texas soon.
Introducing the Keynote Speaker Congressman Kevin Brady, Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, India House Trustee Dr. Durga Agrawal mentioned that when Brady attended the ground-breaking ceremony had brought the ‘soil from his house, to your house, India House.”
Brady, who chairs the most powerful committee in Congress with jurisdiction over taxes, health care, Social Security, Medicare, international trade and welfare said the “support for India is one of issues that brought both Republics and Democrats together all the time.” He mentioned about Pete Olson’s and Mayor Turner’s upcoming visit to India. He also mentioned other strong supporters like US Senator John Cornyn, Congressman Ted Poe, and Congressman Al Green.
Brady touched upon the new tax reforms and said it would be ‘something different’, and every family whether they are making $20,000 or $500,000 would be impacted. “Filing would be simplified he said, “ in a way almost nine out of 10 Americans next year will be filing on a postcard style system.” Small business will not be left behind he said. They now get a 20% discount after they pay their local taxes he said.
Dr. Durga Agrawal and his wife Sushila Agrawal were honored with “Lifetime Achievement Award” for their indelible contribution to India House since its inception. Together, they serve as a strong pillar of support to India House and the community at large. Dr. Mathur, India House Trustee read he citation for the Award.
Gala Co-Chair Bal Sareen in his message said” this gala is true celebration of our past, present and future efforts in uniting the cultures and serving the communities.” Chowdary Yalamanchili, a major donor of India House and Swapnil Agarwal also served as co-chairs.
India House donors Chowdary Yalamanchili, Hari Agrawal, Dr. Virendra Mathur, Bal Saeen, Dr. Durga Agarwal and Jugal Malani were recognized on the occasion.
Col. Vipin Kumar, (Retd.), Executive Director, India House, gave an overview of India House activities and presented video messages from Senator John Cornyn and Governor Greg Abbott.
Rashi Vats, news anchor, Fox 26, was the Mistress of Ceremonies. The event opened with the signing of national anthem of the United States by Apurva Ghosh and Indian national anthem by Prasun Kolhe. Entertainment was by Payal, Anish, Serene and Dipayan. A 22k gold necklace donated by Karat 22 was auctioned as part the fundraiser. Dinner was catered by Bombay Brassiere.

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