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India House Gala: An Evening of Hope & Heroism

Indo American News (March 31, 2017)

Added by Indo American News on March 31, 2017. Saved under Charity, Community, Current Stories Tags: 14th Annual India House Gala, Baytown, Chef Vikas Khanna, Clear Lake, Col. Vipin Kumar, Consul General of India, Cypress, Desi news, Dr. Anupam Ray, Dr. Durga Agrawal, Dr. Manish Rungta, Executive Director- India House, Former US Assistant Secretary of State, Greater Houston, Harris County Judge Ed Emmett, Houston, Houston Desi news, Ian Grillot, India, India House, Indian American community, Indian News, Indians in America, Indo-American News, Jiten Agarwal, Katy, Nisha Biswal, NRI, pearland, President-India House, south asia, South India, Sugar Land, Texas, USA

By Vanshika Vipin Varma

HOUSTON: J W Marriott was a place beaming with stars and VIPs on Saturday, March 25, as it was the chosen venue for the 14th Annual India House Gala. The grand and successful festal, graced by the presence of numerous dignitaries and prominent Houstonians overwhelmed over five hundred people.

Constant endeavors by India House has led to stronger ties between the Indian and mainstream American community. But what made this gala extra special was the felicitation of Ian Grillot, the hero who was shot in hand and chest trying to save the life of a fellow human in the ill-fated Kansas shooting of February this year.

Being consistent in approach, the opening ceremony of the show began with the traditional singing of national anthems of both countries. The American national anthem was followed by the rendition of the Indian Anthem by Pt. Suman Ghosh’s disciples and daughters Amiya and Apurva Ghosh. While Pooja Lodhia from ABC 13 played the perfect emcee with her delightful presentation skills, Dr. Manish Rungta, India House President, welcomed the guests warmly and then went on to highlight the various feats achieved by India House in 2016. Eminent guests, trustees and renowned elected officials were lauded and notable events of 2016 were shared followed by a video message from Senator John Cornyn.

The audience was delighted with what followed next. Col. Vipin Kumar, Executive Director of India House introduced the Board of Directors, Council members, staff and volunteers of India House. It was amazing to note that various legends and dignitaries such as the Former President of India Dr. Abdul Kalam, Governor Rick Perry, Governor Nikki Haley, Senator John Cornyn, Baba Ramdev, Pandit Jasraj, to name a few, had participated at numerous India House events in the past.

The Consul General of India, Dr. Anupam Ray, called up Navtej Sarna, the Indian Ambassador and the guest speaker of the evening on stage. Sarna exclaimed, “This is the first time I am visiting Houston and India House has made it a memorable visit”. By praising and wishing India House for its continued success he mentioned that he was happiest to be a part of the gala that planned to honor Ian Grillot. Navtej Sarna expressed his honor in meeting with the hero and his parents. He had unlimited words of praise for the courageous young man. Magnifying his heroic deed, the Ambassador added, “No amount of honor that the Indian American Community or India bestows on him will be recompensed enough for that moment of exceptional fortitude and character”. True that!

And finally, the moment to felicitate Ian Grillot had arrived. A check of $100,000 was presented to Ian as the video of God Bless USA played in the background. Ian is a true hero of America who risked his own life to save another. Emotions ran across the hall as Ian was greeted with a standing ovation and endless applause. Charlie Yalamanchili, a trustee of India House matched every dollar raised by Jiten Agarwal, India House Gala Chair to present the money that will help Ian to buy a house in his hometown in Kansas. “No money can compensate for the heroism and true spirit of America that Ian has shown but we can all appreciate his extraordinary courage. Ian has given us an occasion to reaffirm a tie that binds us all as Americans, irrespective of where we come from. This also reminds us of the famous Shakespearean quote- ‘For he that sheds his blood for me today is my brother,” said Jiten Agarwal.

Speaking of Ian’s heroism, at a young age of 24 he selflessly stood up to save a fellow human being in a shooting incident in Kansas. On February 22, 2017 a navy veteran was targeting Indians at a bar and went on a shooting spree. Unfortunately, Srinivas Kuchibhotla could not survive the attack but Ian’s heroic deed saved the life of his colleague Alok Madasani. Like a true hero, Ian mentioned, “I don’t know if I could’ve lived with myself if I wouldn’t have stopped or attempted to stop the shooter because that would’ve been completely devastating. I do now have a very powerful message and if I can help empower people and spread hope and love, then why not? I am honored to be at India House that serves so many families from so many communities in the Houston area.” Amidst a roar of thunderous applauds and cheer, his emotive speech did led to a tear or two rolling down a few eyes. 

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