“Individual commitment to a group effort–that is what makes a teamwork, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.” –Vince Lombardi
by Bangar Reddy
Two world champions of democracy, President Donald Trump and Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, together made history on Sunday, September 22, 2019 when they appeared before an astounding gathering of 50,000 Indian Americans at the NRG stadium in Houston. The event billed as “Howdy Modi!” was hosted by Texas India Forum to facilitate stronger ties trade between the two nations and Texas was chosen for its significance as the energy hub, and more importantly its diversity.
Much has been shown and relayed to the world on the success of “Howdy Modi!”, but the story isn’t complete without acknowledging the task force that put it together. One such was the Bus and Logistics Committee, spearheading the transportation of hundreds and thousands of commuters to the NRG Stadium on that day. With the single objective to provide superior experience to the bus riders while making Howdy Modi Community Summit a memorable event in their lifetime, Event Chair, Jugal Malani called on key organizers: Ramesh Shah, Swatantra Jain, Sharad Amin and Bangar Reddy to discuss the transportation and logistics needs. Without wasting time, the team began crunching numbers on how many people were in actual need of bus transportation, from which location, and by what time on the event day. Also, important was to know how many would drive on their own to NRG stadium. Any miscalculation or misrepresentation of logistics would have made it impossible for thousands of people who wanted to witness the historic moment from the very beginning.
“What we knew when we started planning was our intentions and commitment that our team wanted to do it no matter what it takes us to do it,” expressed Bangar Reddy, team lead for Bus Transport and Logistics Committee.
The magnitude of the event was beginning to dawn as bus riders from every corner of the Greater Houston as well as out of Houston started arriving and had to be taken to the NRG Stadium by 8:30 AM sharp. Any delays would have had a domino effect and seriously impacted the flow of transport. It was sheer spirit of volunteerism that made it seamless to transport approximately 8000 from Greater Houston and nearly 2000 others attending from outside of Houston, to the NRG Stadium on the day of the event.
“We are grateful to the support and kindheartedness of volunteers who did wonderful job in action,” said Ramesh Shah, one of the key organizers of the event.
This effort also involved meticulous planning and implementation by the transportation and logistics team consisting of 200 plus volunteers transporting thousands of people within an hour and half. Tremendous effort went into working with multiple agencies including City of Houston officials, NRG parking staff, partnering organizations, other working committees, Bus Transportation Company, schools and local security officials from the different areas. Safety of the riders was of utmost priority for the organizers, especially mindful of the protesters outside who planned to disrupt the transportation locations and corridors leading to NRG stadium. “What we accomplished in the midst of protests is remarkable and unthinkable few weeks ago,” remarked Mr. Swatantra Jain who has been the advisor for the team.
On arrival, the parking team helped with transporting seniors in golf carts from the parking location to the stadium entrance. “Hats off and kudos to the team, job well done,” praised Event Chair, Jugal Malani, whose constant encouragement and support boosted the team.
George Pickard of GETZ Transport solutions was astonished at the how the team managed in such a short time. “You have successfully completed at a level that ‘full time” groups take more than a year in planning the same,” he said.
The whole experience was rewarding for the team as the commuters applauding the efforts and shared their experience with the media channels. Hundreds of calls were received, mostly from the commuters, thanking the organizers for the comfort and care they have received at the bus boarding locations.
In turn, the Bus Transport and Logistics Committee would like to thank the Texas India Forum senior executive leadership for giving me the opportunity to serve. Special thanks to Anand Shah, and Roopal Shah for assisting in communications and notifications on clear directions and road closures and India web team for helping with IT tasks. Heartfelt thanks extended to: Nirmalya Roy, Nikunj Pathak, Indira Nimmalagadda and Nikita Khambe, Santosh Mahoorkar, Durga Prasad Seloj, Jigar Panchal, and Bharat Patel. A big thank you to Dr. Siddeshwar Gubba for working with FBISD Sheriff department on security, Bus Contractor George Pickard, GETz corporation and his well experienced staff, the City of Houston security team and NRG Park officials for helping with overall location logistics with road closures, onsite volunteers coordinating driving golf carts for senior citizens and the needy, our partnering organizations for being an integral part of planning providing the venue for car parking and bus boarding resources, other working committees e.g. volunteering coordination team, registration team, venue logistics team, students and youth organizing team, supplies and other teams working hand in hand.
It was proud moment to be part of an history making and thanks Prime Minister Narendra Modi in articulating India’s pride and partnership in shaping India-US bilateral relationship for the global peace and prosperity. Together we proved Houston Strong!