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Celebrity Power in Houston

Celebrity Power in Houston

Society with Ruchi

Just when we are wrapping up October with a big Halloween bash, I could not resist reflecting on the celebrity moments that Houston received in the month of October. The month started with the surprise visit of superstar Beyoncé Knowles at the University of Houston. If that was not enough Economics Noble Prize winner Amartya Sen and business tycoon Ratan Tata were both spotted in Houston, Texas.

On behalf of the Dean of the Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management, University of Houston, the Indo American Chamber of Commerce was happy to host Mr. Ratan N. Tata, Chairman, Tata Sons, into the Hospitality Industry Hall of Honor. Previous inductees have included Ray Kroc, founder of McDonalds, Bill Marriott, Barron Hilton and Michael Eisner of Disney.

Mr. Ratan N. Tata has been the Chairman of Tata Sons, the promoter company of the Tata group, since 1991. Also the Chairman of the major Tata companies, including Tata Motors, Tata Steel, Tata Consultancy Services, Tata Power, Tata Global Beverages, Tata Chemicals, Indian Hotels and Tata Teleservices. During his tenure, the group’s revenues have grown nearly 12-fold, totaling $67.4 billion in 2009-10.

The event was hosted at the Hilton University of Houston in mid October as part of the 16th Annual Hospitality Industry Hall of Honor Conduction Ceremony. This black tie event inducted Ratan N. Tata along with Randy and Carolyn Smith, co founders of STR (Smith Travel Research, Inc).

A packed event with a sophisticated crowd of Indo Americans of Houston present to show their love and honor for Mr. Tata.

Local businessman and entrepreneur Ash Shah who attended the event was thrilled by his presence here in Houston. “It was a great event and I was especially impressed by Mr. Ratan Tata’s modesty and humility. Mr. Tata is so humble that in his speech he said he was quite surprised that he was selected to receive the ‘Hotelier of the Year’ award. He very well deserved the award,” added Shah. Ratan Tata came to Houston on the day of the reception but he was very active in meeting with students and generously posed with the guests. “A thorough gentleman and a perfectly generous human being,” says Ash.

While UH was stealing all the limelight with celebrity visits, Rice University was not far behind. Last weekend the prestigious university along with the Program in Poverty, Justice and Human Capabilities in the Center for the Study of Women, Gender and Sexuality at Rice University hosted Dr. Amartya Sen to lecture on the topic, ‘The Reach and Limits of Growth: Economic Recession, Development and Human Capability’.

An economist and an educator, Sen is known for his work on the causes of famine and poverty. Born and raised in West Bengal, India, I had the privilege to have a tête-à-tête in our native language Bengali. He informed about his regular visits to Kolkata, India and he is looking forward to spending the winter in Shantinekaten.

Amartya Sen was also in Houston to speak at the Rothko Chapel 40th Anniversary Lecture. Houston based lawyer and past board member of the Rothko Chapel Dinesh Singhal had the privilege of hosting an intimate Diwali dinner party for Amartya Sen at his residence. Along with his family and chapel board members, important members of the Indo American community were spotted. “I am absolutely in a state of awe after meeting Dr. Sen. He has to be among the greatest thinkers of our time, despite his stature he has stayed very humble and down to earth,” says Dinesh. Also present, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, Murthy Divakaruni, Gayle Deguerin, Sissy Farenthold and others.

Well while that’s that for October, let’s see what November has to offer.

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