Indiaspora to highlight rich, vibrant Indian Americans’ contribution.
By Isha Roy
WASHINGTON, DC: The Indiaspora 2013 Inaugural Ball, in honor of President Barack Obama’s second term at the White House, will be held at the Mandarin Oriental, Washington, DC, on January 19th.
The gala affair, with a choice of black tie or traditional Indian attire – which has pegged some tickets in the four figures, is likely to see the crème de la crème of the Indian and Indian American community from all over the United States, as well as political and diplomatic heavyweights in attendance.
According to the organizers, The Indiaspora Ball will highlight the very best in Indian American cuisine, culture and music. Guests will enjoy a night of networking, cuisine from the four corners of India, live music entertainment and Bollywood dancing.
The Honorary Host Committee for the event include top politicians from all over the country, who have been staunch India supporters over the years: Senator Mark Warner (D-VA), Co-Chair, Senate Caucus on India and Indian Americans; Congressman Joe Crowley (D-NY), Co-Chair, Congressional Caucus on India and Indian-Americans; Congressman Mike Honda (D-CA), Chair Emeritus, Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus; Congressman John Carney (D-DE), Governor of Delaware; Jack Markell (D-DE), Chairman of the National Governors Association; Governor of Maryland Martin O‘Malley (D-MD); Governor of Massachusetts Deval Patrick (D-MA); California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris; freshman Congressman Ami Bera (D-CA); first-time Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI); Mayor of Los Angeles Antonio Villaraigosa (D-CA), and Ambassador Vinai Thumalapally from the Indian Embassy in Washington, DC.
In an interview to Isha Roy of The American Bazaar, M.R. Rangaswami, Founder of Indiaspora, outlined the vision and inspiration behind the initiative, what it hopes to achieve, and where he expects the organization to go forward in the years to come.
An entrepreneur, Rangaswami co-founded Sand Hill Group LLC, and has been a strategic advisor to several fast-growing companies. He has held global VP marketing positions at Baan Company, Avalon Software, and Oracle Corporation. He was profiled on the front page of The Wall Street Journal and has been named in Forbes’ “Midas 100 List” as one of the most influential investors in technology. He holds an MBA from Kent State University and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Madras.
Excerpts from the interview:
What is Indiaspora? What are the organization’s missions, goals and objectives?
Indiaspora is an organization which was founded in 2012 and is aimed at getting the Indian Community together and representing all the various professions and facets which are found within the community rather than just a specific niche of the community. Indiaspora includes people from fields such as technology, academia, business, non-profits, arts and media.
The goal of Indiaspora is to raise the visibility of the Indian Community which now makes up roughly one percent of the U.S. population. While Indians have had tremendous success in so many different fields it doesn’t equate to a similar level of influence or stature the community has.
At a broad level, Indiaspora strives to use the increased visibility to raise awareness of issues affecting our community such as the estimated 10 percent Indians in America who are living at or below the poverty line. In addition, Indiaspora strives to help understand how we can get more Indians into elected office. Finally, Indiaspora is very interested in helping build the partnership between the United States and India.
Who are the people in Indiaspora’s Host Committee?
Similar to the rest of the organization, the Indiaspora Host Committee includes professionals from various fields. Some members of our host committee include, Romesh Wadhwani (founder and chairman of Symphony Technology Group and member of the Forbes 400), Desh Despande (President and Chairman of Sparta Group LLC), Arun Kumar (Partner & Board Member, KPMG LLP), Srinivas Aravamudan (Dean of Humanities, Duke University), Sheena Iyengar, (Professor of Business, Columbia Business School), Rajan R. Navani, (Managing Director, Jetline Group of Companies), Sree Srinivasan (Dean of Student Affairs, Columbia School of Journalism).
This is the first ever Presidential inauguration ball of this magnitude organized by the Indian American Community. What does this event hope to accomplish besides the obvious celebration?
I felt like the time was right to do something on the national stage. This is the first ever inaugural ball that the community is putting on. We expect to get around 1500 people. Our goal is to convey to the President, Congress, and policymakers that the Indian American community is rich, strong, and vibrant; a community that wants to work with the government and really show our strength. We have never brought all the professions together in one place, at a scale like this. The primary goal of this event is to raise the visibility of our community tremendously. So it’s a celebration of the President’s second term and a celebration of our community.
What will the night entail in terms of program lineup, chief guests, entertainment and any surprise appearances? How can people still obtain tickets for the ball?
We have a program much like any ball. These events are more about celebration and less about substance. The focus will be on a few key speakers representing our host committee. The host committee is a stellar group that we have assembled for the Ball. We will have Senator Mark Warner, Co-Chair of the Senate India Caucus, Representative Joe Crowley, Co-Chair for the House India Caucus, Governor Jack Markell, Chair of the National Governors Association, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa of Los Angeles, Attorney General Kamala Harris of California. We have a very diverse group of Senators, Congressmen, Governors, and Mayors. Please visit http://indiaspora.org/inauguration to obtain tickets for the Ball.
How does one get involved with Indiaspora and what are some activities or events that it hopes to organize in the future?
Over the next few months, we hope to carry out discussions in the community on various issues and initiatives and the Ball is just a means to get the community together. Our next Forum will be in the Fall to address various initiatives that the Indian community has felt are priorities. Our goal is to throw out various issues and initiatives to the community and see what resonates and then we start working on the important ones.