IACCGH Gala Draws Attention to Indo-American Business Ties
By Paul Pass
Hundreds of guests were feted to a celebration of Indian and American partnership on Saturday, November 12. The Indo-American Chamber of Commerce of Greater Houston (IACCGH) hosted its 12th annual gala “Transforming the World” at the InterContinental Hotel near the Galleria.
Sonia Azad of KTRK (ABC), channel 13, was emcee. Devinder and Gina Bhatia served as gala chairs and Her Excellency Nirupama Rao, Ambassador of India to the United States, delivered the keynote address.
IACCGH Executive Director Jagdip Ahluwalia began the evening highlighting the organization’s growth. According to Ahluwalia, the IACCGH began with only a few dozen companies under its membership in 1999 and has since grown to become one of the strongest voices for Indian business in the southern United States.
Mona Parikh, IACCGH President, discussed the importance of Indians in the U.S. and the expansion of trade between the two countries. Parikh mentioned that 3 million Indians live in the United States, including 100,000 in the Greater Houston area. She added that India-U.S. trade has tripled in the last decade and that the two economies remain “committed to integrating industries and ideas.”
The Honorable Sanjiv Arora, the Indian Consul General in Houston, pointed out the role of IACCGH in the southern United States. The IACCGH is the oldest Indo-American chamber of commerce in the nine states that the Houston consulate covers. Arora also noted that India and the U.S. have a unique partnership as the world’s largest and oldest democracies, respectively.
Her Excellency Nirupama Rao, Ambassador of India to the United States, gave a keynote address that emphasized growth and cooperation. She noted that Indian growth was built by domestic demand and financed by domestic savings. Ambassador Rao also commented that Indian energy consumption has only been one-fourth of the global average during its ascendancy to the world’s fourth largest economy; however this rate may increase as India continues to grow.
As her last diplomatic post in the U.S. came in the mid 1990s, Rao was quick to stress the change in Indo-American relations over the past fifteen years, “There is a new level of excitement for increasing the bilateral partnership.” She ended by encouraging an Indo-American forum on small and medium-size enterprises.
Distinguished guests included members of U.S. Congress Al Green and Sheila Jackson Lee. Some of the numerous award recipients included entrepreneur and philanthropist Swatantra Jain, as well as Jugal Malani, businessman and President of India House.
International cirque performer Cristin Sandu and globally recognized hula hoop champion Daniella Jack added entertainment. The menu honored Indian culture as it included marinated paneer, masala grilled fish, and tadka dal.
Paul Pass works on educational programming for the Asia Society Texas Center. He received his bachelor’s in International Affairs from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio and his master’s in European Affairs from Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana.