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IACA Celebrates 63rd Republic Day With National Pride And Patriotic Fervor
BY MAHADEV DESAI
Photos by Soham Patel
India American Cultural Association (IACA) celebrated India’s 63rd Republic Day with great joy, patriotic fervor and national pride on Saturday January 28, 2012. The celebrations were attended by representatives of Atlanta Punjabi Society, Telugu Association of Metro Atlanta (TAMA), Greater Atlanta Telugu Association (GATA), VIBHA and Greater Atlanta Tamil Sangam (GATS), past and present IACA Board of Governors and Executive Committee members and IACA members. The event was graced by the presence of the Chief Guest, Consul General of India in Atlanta, Hon.Ajit Kumar.
As the sun shone down on Atlanta, Hon. Ajit Kumar unfurled the tricolor in the presence of the attendees amidst ecstatic shouting of ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ and ‘Jai Hind’. This was followed by fervent renditions of the Indian National Anthem, ‘Jana Gana Mana’ by the assembled dignitaries and members and the U.S.National Anthem by Anu
The celebrations continued in the auditorium. The program was emceed by IACA Vice President Nivedita Garabadu and Secretary Rina Gupta. Padma Rallapalli extended her warm greetings to all and said that IACA was honored with the presence of Hon. Ajit Kumar at the Republic Day celebrations, as well as many of the past IACA offcers.
Giving a brief history of IACA, President Kaushal Tripathi said that the Association founded in 1972 has now grown into a robust one,with membership representing the entire Indian community in Georgia. IACA backed by a strong community, Constitution and Board of Directors ,with the support of Atlanta’s several non-profit organizations, celebrates all major Indian festivals, organizes beauty pageants, health fairs, spelling bee contests, seminars, and awards scholarships to deserving students. Tripathi invited IACA 2012 Executive Committee members on stage and introduced Chairperson, Board of Directors, Padma Rallapalli, Executive Vice-President Lakshmi Vedala, Vice-President Nivedita Garabadu, Secretary Rina Gupta and Treasurer Ravi Tripathy to the audience. He recognized some of the past and current Board Members. Addressing Hon. Ajit Kumar he said,” We are thankful to the Government of India, and to Prime Minister Dr.Manmohan Singh for opening a Consulate in Atlanta. Not only that, they sent a young, energetic Consul General. We assure you of our southern hospitality and full cooperation.”
Speaking on the occasion, Hon. Ajit Kumar said, “I am very grateful for the invitation. 26th January is a very significant date for all of us as the Constitution of India came into effect on 26th January 1950, hence the Republic Day is celebrated on 26th January each year ever since. The Constitution laid the foundation of world’s largest democracy India.”
He added, “In the last six decades India has made rapid progress. We are the second fastest economy in the world and according to the analysts India would become the third biggest economy by 2040. But we have lot of work to do to get there to realize our objectives. And the rate of growth needs to be consistent and inclusive.”
The Consul General briefly mentioned the India-USA bilateral relations which has undergone a rapid transformation in the last decade or so.
Dr.Manmohan Singh’s visit to Washington in 2009 was the first State visit by any world leader and later President Obama’s visit to India in 2010 when he turned the this relationship into one of the strongest between two countries. He also defined Indo-US relations as a defining partnership of the 21st Century. “Today India and US are collaborating in every dimension of human endeavor whether it is health, or education, science and technology, defence,entertainment and so on, and here I would like to pay a tribute to the vibrant Indian –American community and Organizations like yours which are real ambassadors of India making our task that much easier. Culture is very important. Soft power is as important as the economic and political dimensions of foreign policy. I am glad to see that Indian culture, cuisine, yoga, Ayurveda, Bollywood also are flourishing and making inroads into US. I am very grateful to all of you for upholding our rich culture and heritage and I wish you all the best in your endeavors.”
Anjali Tripathi presented a bouquet to Hon.Ajit Kumar.
Bubbly emcees engaged the audience, especially the children into an instructive and amusing Trivia quiz on India’s Constitution, population, States, languages, name of the first woman Minister, names of Mahatma Gandhi's sons, etc. They invited Ajit Kumar on stage who participated jovially in the fun. If the audience failed to answer, he helped out with correct answers in a flash! The emcees cheerful rapport with the audience and with the Consul-General made this item an exciting and enjoyable one.
Sujatha Rayburn’s students, Satya and Nitya Jella, Amoolya and Ankita Vayala sang two uplifting patriotic songs-‘Bharat make maan chitra’ and ‘Jaya, jaya priya Bharata Janani’. And Banhi Nandi’s students, Saikat Das, Priyansha Das, Mohana Das,Sharmila Ramprasad,Ariya Ramprasad,Kriti Nandi,Briti Nandi and Eleena Ghosh,in appropriate saffron,white and green costumes engrossed the audience with their scintillating dance to A.R.Rahman’s fabulous and inspiring patriotic song, ‘Vande Mataram’. The dance with well executed synchronized moves and the ending where they were shown rowing a boat elicited a loud applause.
Executive Vice-President, Lakshmi Vedala informed the attendees of the programs planned for the current year,viz.,Valentine Day, Holi festival, a play, Scholarship awards, a picnic, Festival of India, and Senior Citizens Day.
After a few more Trivia quiz questions, Kaushal Tripathi recognized some of the new IACA members, including new life member Robin Mathew. He called out their names and requested them to come on stage and meet with Hon.Ajit Kumar.
Students of Kala Vasudevan’s Shruthilaya also sang two well-chosen and applause-winning patriotic songs for the occasion-‘Vande Mataram’ and Jai Jai, jai Janmabhoomi and ‘Jai jai Matrubhoomi’.
Global Mall owner and President of Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation, Atlanta Chapter gave a brief history of the Foundation and requested all to attend its charity musical program,’ Reaching one million children ‘ at the Ashiana Banquet Hall on March 2,2012 at 7.00 p.m.
Tripathi said he was very happy to see some of the stalwart members and past Officers of IACA who were present-Bhagirath Yadav,Vir Nanda, Ani Agnihotri,Chand Akkineni, Tushar Sanghvi,Ramanbhai Patel, Devyani Desai, Sneha Mehta, Vasav Mehta,Syam Yellamraju,Bharatbhai Kotecha,Mustafa Ajmeri, Chaitanya Bhatt, to name a few. Anilbhai and his grand-kid Tilak helped with the sound management.
IACA’s past President and Board member Ani Agnihotri spoke about ’The Eye on Crime Organization in Atlanta formed to protect Indian-American residents against home invasions, robberies, burglaries and home-break-ins and requested those interested in becoming members of the Organization to attend the Organization’s Meeting on Sunday, January 29,at the Palace Restaurant.
Another long-serving and dedicated IACA’s past President and Board member Ramanbhai Patel remarked that twenty years ago IACA had Indian Youth Association(IYA), as a part of IACA.. He exhorted the youth in the audience to again form a vibrant IYA.
Nivedita Garabadu expressed a Vote of Thanks, following which delicious refreshments and beverages were served to all at the end of the program.
Hon.Ajit Kumar later on visited the Gandhi Room and toured the entire IACA/ICRC facility.