The Asian Pacific American Inaugural Gala attracts hundreds from across the county.
WASHINGTON, DC: Some 700 Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders gathered at the Grand Ballroom of the downtown Mayflower hotel in Washington, DC, just three blocks away from the White House, on January 19, to celebrate the inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States.
Among the largely Republican crowd celebrating the change of guard in the US capital at the Asian Pacific American Inaugural Gala were roughly a hundred Indian Americans.
Dozens of dignitaries attended the event, including Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-VA), Guam Gov. Eddie Baza Calvo, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Gov. Ralph DLG Torres, and the ambassadors of India, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, South Korea and Singapore, as well as a number of Republican leaders from various Asian American and Pacific Islanders communities.
“The [Trump] administration is looking to increase its relationship with the Asian countries,” Royce said. “We should reach out to our friends in Asia. We will work to further and deepen this relationship.”
The California Republican is the chairman of the House Foreign Relations committee and one of the most staunchly pro-India voices in the US Congress.
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“This is a great celebration of Asian success,” said Indian Ambassador to the United States Navtej Sarna, speaking on the occasion. “I am very happy that Indian-Americans are part of the successful large Asian community.”
“It was a grand success,” Virginia Republican Puneet Ahluwalia, one of the organizers of the event, told The American Bazaar. “We were able to create a platform for the AAPI [Asian American and Pacific Islanders] community to come together and celebrate the Trump election. The gala also made a strong statement that we are very much part of the American mainstream and will play an effective role in the next administration.”
Ahluwalia added that by showing up in good numbers, the Indian American community has showed their desire for “the US-India relationship to be on the front and center for the next administration.”
Indian American Republicans who were present included Californian K.V. Kumar, Floridian Harry Walia and Ahluwalia. All the three are members of Trump-Pence campaign’s Asian Pacific American Advisory Committee. (A notable absence was the fourth Indian American member of the panel, Shalabh Kumar.)
Among the attendees from the Washington area were USINPAC founder Sanjay Puri and his wife, Aparna; entrepreneur and Washington-area Trump supporter Vinson Palathingal and his wife, Asha; Harsh Sethi, CEO of the Chantilly, VA,-based Punita Group; and Telugu Association of North America’s Rao Linga.
The formal part of the ball began with a rendition of the US national anthem by Ammad Ahluwalia. Indian food and Bollywood dance were other highlights of the event.