It was one big Washington party where Indian America power, influence and glamour converged.
Billed as an event to “celebrate the community going from success to significance,” the Indiaspora gala lived up to the hype, as more than a dozen congressmen, several key Indian Americans in the Obama administration, diplomats from a number of countries, and representatives of Washington’s native idea industry toasted the five newly elected members of Congress on Tuesday evening.
Four of the so-called “Fab Five” — Rep. Ami Bera (D-CA), Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA), Rep. Pramila Jaypal ((D-WA) and Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) — were also in attendance at the event, held at Marriott Marquis roughly two miles away from the Capitol Hill where these lawmakers and the newly minted senator from California, Kamala Harris, were sworn in as members of the 115th US Congress.
They were joined by dozens of prominent Indian Americans who flew in from coast to coast to attend the star-studded event.
Speaking at a press event prior to the gala, Indiaspora founder M.R. Rangaswami explained why his organization was hosting the event. He said: “We have come a long way. We have established ourselves, and this is a reason for us to celebrate.”
Among prominent members of Congress who were present there to celebrate included House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA); Sen. Time Kaine (D-VA) — the running mate of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton last November — his senior Senate colleague Mark Warner (D-VA); Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK); and a number of congressmen, among them Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), Todd Rokita (R-IN), Joseph Crowley (D-NY), Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) and Carolyn Maloney (D-NY).
Other dignitaries who were present included Sri Srinivasan, the US Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit; Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Global Markets Arun Kumar; Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Nisha Desai Biswal; Vinai Thummalapally, Executive Director of SelectUSA at the US Department of Commerce; Surgeon General Vivek Murthy; Indian Ambassador to the United States Navtej Sarna, and top diplomats from Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Gabon.
A red carpet walk by the dignitaries and Bollywood dance and songs were other highlights of the evening.
Prior to the red carpet and gala, the group hosted a panel and press conference, moderated by Rangaswami. The panelists were Ashley Tellis, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; Neera Tandon, the president of the Center for American Progress; Indiaspora board member, tech entrepreneur and philanthropist Sunil Wadhwani; former Miss America Nina Davuluri; and Vamsee Tirukkala, co-founder of the management consulting firm Zinnav.