BY JYOTHSNA HEGDE
Atlanta, GA, September 6, 2018: IACA’s Festival of India, a 22-year-old signature celebration of India’s Independence Day in Atlanta was held at the same location as it is every year since its inception – the Infinite Energy Center in Gwinnett on August 4th this year. The landmark festival showcased India’s cultural and educational best, and also provided a fine platform to promote Indo-US relations.
Presenting a day filled with back to back cultural performances from popular dance and music academies across Atlanta, the gala offered several activities catering to all ages. An art competition for the kids and a kids’ play area, health fair, blood donation camp with Red Cross, yoga, fashion show and several informational seminars engaged and entertained the visitors throughout the day. Food stalls, vendors at the booths displaying varied collection of products and concepts, a bazaar of table top products only enhanced the Indian aura spread across the sprawling arena. The FOI Flag March marshaled a huge group with representations from diverse community organizations of various states of India across Atlanta, community leaders including Ani Agnihotri, Vishwanath Ganti and members of Prem’s Dance studio carrying the 300 ft long Indian flag.
In her address, U.S. Congresswoman Karen Handel accentuated the growing Indo-US bilateral relations. “Never has there been a more important time for theUSandIndiato have this friendship and our shared goals for our economies and national security.United Statesis the oldest democracy in the world.Indiais the largest democracy in the world. Together, we have witnessed an incredible enhancement ofIndia’s reputation on the global stage,” she said.
Highlighting partnership between the two countries Handel noted that the US is India’s second largest trading partner and India is the 9th largest trading partner for the US. “The US is India’s largest direct investments partner. India has contributed $10 billion in direct investments in the US,” she quoted.
Handel spoke about the importance of a pending legislation in Congress- the Fairness for High Skilled Immigrants Act- which will remove the limitations on employment-based visas and clear out the backlog. Handel said she was expecting that piece of legislation to come out of the committee for final passage by the House after Labor Day. She promised to be a strong and vocal advocate for the legislation to get the votes it needs for passage.
“Tax cuts and regulations have brought in an era of economic growth that most of us have never experienced. Our economy is growing now at 4.1% compared to about 1% last year. We have the lowest unemployment in decades. Consumer confidence and small business confidence is at record high. In the 6th district, the per person average increase in take home pay is $2200 a year. The average tax cut for a family of four is $4400 a year,” Handel said.
The Acting Consul General said the Festival of India is an event where Indians and well-wishers are united at least once a year.
“I love the Festival of India and have been here at least three times,” said Rep. Mike Glanton, adding that he has adopted India as a second home, and has been to Chennai, Mumbai,Delhi,Hyderabad, Kolkata and all over India. He said he was well-versed with the country, its people and its cuisine.