The daylong event to honor five from the community elected to 115th Congress.
Indiaspora will host a daylong leadership conference and gala to celebrate the election of five Indian Americans to the 115th Congress on January 3, the day the lawmakers will be sworn in.
The event will honor Kamala Harris, a California Democrat who was elected to the US Senate last month, and Ami Bera (D-CA), Ro Khanna (D-CA), Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), and Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL). It will be held at Marriott Marquis Hotel in downtown Washington, DC.
Save for Bera, who was reelected from California’s 7th congressional district for the second time, the others are entering Congress for the first time.
“Five Congresspeople including two women on the main stage,” Shekar Narasimhan, an Indiaspora board member, told The American Bazaar. “Indian Americans have arrived!”
Sanjeev Joshipura, Director of Special Projects at Indiaspora, said the organization has plans to also honor Indian Americans chosen by President-Elect Trump to serve in his administration. So far the New York billionaire has picked two from the community: Gov. Nikki Haley to serve as the US Ambassador to the United Nations and Seema Verma to head the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
Indiaspora, whose mission is to act “as a catalyst to transform the success of Indian-Americans into meaningful impact worldwide,” said it also expects a number of members of Congress and members of the incoming Trump administration to attend the event.
According to a press release issued by the organization, there will be two sessions: a daytime conference and an evening gala.
The gala will include “Michelin Star Indian cuisine, music and dancing,” it said, adding that it “is expected to have a truly international flavor with dignitaries and diplomats from several countries in attendance.”
The daytime session will include of a Leadership Conference featuring “high level keynote speakers and panelists discussing events of importance to the Indian-American community,” the release said.
Specifically, some of the issues that are likely to be discussed include “the future of US-India relations, Indian American success stories that break stereotypes, the increasing popularity of elements of Indian culture in the United States, and the political maturation of the Indian American community,” it added.
“The Indian American community has come of age as it is an active participant in American civic life, and our Leadership Conference and Gala will personify our move from success to significance,” Narasimhan, a Washington, DC, area entrepreneur, said.
The five newly elected Indian American Congresspersons are a record high in US history. Until this year, only three Indian Americans have served in Congress: Bera, former Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, and California Republican Dalip Singh Saund.
Jindal represented Louisiana’s first congressional district from 2005 to 2008. The Punjab-born Saund, the first Asian American to be elected as a voting member to Congress, was elected from California’s 29th district thrice, 1956, 1958 and 1960.
In the last Congress, Bera was the lone Indian American member. This year, he earned a right to represent the 7th district for a third term by overcoming a spirited challenge from Republican Scott Jones by more than 4,800 votes.
Khanna defeated fellow Democrat Mike Honda, a party stalwart, from California’s District 17 by a margin of 20 percent.
Jayapal will represent Washington’s 7th congressional district after defeating Brady Walkinshaw by nearly 12 percent. Jayapal will be the first Indian American woman to serve in the House of Representatives and the first woman to represent the 7th District in Congress.
Krishnamoorthi won the election from Illinois’s 8th congressional district by defeating Pete DiCianni by more than 16th percent.
Harris, the California attorney general, became the first Indian American senator when she beat fellow Democrat Loretta Sanchez. Harris polled 6,495,907 (62.4 percent) votes against Sanchez’s 3,918,486 (37.6 percent).
Harris, who becomes the second African American women in the US Senate — her father is a Jamaican American — will replace outgoing Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer.
“Indian-Americans make up 1% of the U.S. population, and now we celebrate that they represent 1% of the U.S. Congress!” said Indiaspora founder MR Rangaswami.
In 2013, Indiaspora had hosted an inaugural ball in Washington during the inauguration of the second Obama administration. This time around, the organization had initially announced a similar event, but the plan was changed after the November 8 elections.
“[The victory of five Indian Americans] is a big achievement to be celebrated, and we wanted to hold our gala coinciding with the date of the congressional swearing-in of the “Fab 5” Indian-Americans, which is January 3,” Joshipura told The American Bazaar.
Congressman Ami Bera wins tight race to retain California’s 7th District (November 21, 2016)
Raja Krishnamoorthi routs Peter DiCianni in Illinois, elected to US Congress (November 9, 2016)