by Shobana Muratee
SUGAR LAND – On Saturday, February 23, India House showcased its success as a well-rounded community center when it celebrated its 16th Annual gala at the Sugar Land Marriot Town Square.
Lt. Governor of Texas Dan Patrick delivered his keynote address and touched on policies, trade, economics and growing population of the state. “We are the America where all Americans want to be,” Patrick said. “Since 2000, a thousand people a day moved to Texas, growing to 18 million. Today, it’s 28 million. And by 2040-45, another 15 million more will be added,” he said. “In 40 years it would touch an 80 million mark if the growth rate continues.” The reasons why people move to Texas is because, “there’s no income tax, more businesses, and we are working on bring down property tax,” Patrick said. “Texas has 48 Fortune 500 companies and we are number one in CEO magazine for the last decade; this is where CEOs like to do business.” he said. “It’s not the policy we created, but what really attract people to Texas are the people, the work ethics, family ethics and belief in God.”
“This community is symbolic of who we are as a state,” Patrick said about Indian Americans. He also, mentioned about how the people of Texas came together during Hurricane Harvey and during the two mass shootings. “We have been exceptional over the last year and a half,” he said.
Patrick reflected on his early radio broadcasting days in Houston and his acquaintance with Indian music through Meena Datt’s program. Because of that, he said his popularity grew within the Indian American community.
US Congressional Representative Pete Olson spoke of the increasing Indian American population in the Greater Houston area, which stands at 140,000. “After the 2020 census, we expect that Fort Bend County would be 25% Caucasian, 25% African Americans, 25% Asian Americans and 25% Hispanic Americans” he said. However, he expects Asian Americans to be the bigger group in Fort Bend County, “bigger the better.” Olson mentioned how the Indian Americans here have impacted the economic growth like the export of LNG, from Texas to India, and their contribution in US and India relationship overall.
Earlier, Jugal Malani, President of India House welcomed the gathering and introduced Lt. Governor Dan Patrick. In his address, he highlighted the vision and scope of the India House spanning from education, health, a center for events, and overall wellness.
India House Executive Director, Col. Vipin Kumar (Retd.) expanded on the vison with a video presentation of the programs at the center that included free food distribution, dance and music, cricket, after-school programs, yoga, free language classes for Hindi and Sanskrit, and timely seminars on legal and financial matters. He made special mention of Manav and Manasi who taught tech classes to seniors.
India House Trustee Chowdary Yellamanchalli and wife Angela Yellamanchalli were honored with a ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’. ‘Entrepreneur of the Year Award’ was presented to restaurateur Kiran Verma, and the ‘Community Service Award’ was presented to Gitesh Desai, President of Sewa International – Houston Chapter.
On the occasion was introduced the new Trustee of India House Hersh Kumar, CEO, A.K Shipra Group. Kumar shared his success story and stresses on the need for social entrepreneurs for the success of any non-profit organization. “Because they get the job done and manage more strongly,” he said in his remarks.
Dr. Stephen J. Spann, Dean, University of Houston, College of Medicine also spoke of the new medical college that is under construction, and how once opened it will be collaborating with the health clinic at India House.
A spectacular segment of entertainment was emceed by DJ Dholi Deep and co-ordinated by Vanshika Vipin Verma. A rich blend of fabrics and jewelry created a wedding mood. The fashion show, sponsored by designer Manyavar Mohey, displayed bridal and wedding outfits. Fashion Show Makeup as done by Wajeeha Rashid. Jewelry was sponsored by Amy’s Jewelry that added to the glitz and glam. Infused Performing Arts group performed Bollywood-style dances. A Silent Auction by Manyavar Mohey and Amy’s Jewels followed.
Emcee Pooja Lodia, ABC news anchor, added vibrancy to the event. Earlier, Jiya Ghei sang the American National Anthem while Malikka Ghei presented the Indian National Anthem. She later presented a few songs for the audience.