Indo-American News: December 16, 2022

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Indo-AmerIcAn news • FrIdAy, december 16, 2022 • Connoisseurs Club Reboots Indo American News 2470 Dairy Ashford, Houston, TX 77077 • 713.789.NEWS (6397) • Special Reports Community Briefs Local Politics South Asians in the News Published weekly from Houston, TX W E D D I N G S , S P E C I A L E V E N T S , T E N T E D E V E N T S , O U T D O O R C O U R T Y A R D 3 3 3 0 F M 1 4 6 3 | K a t y , T X 7 7 4 9 4 | 8 3 2 . 8 5 5 . 5 5 2 0 | p a l m r o y a l v i l l a c o m Friday, December 16, 2022 | Vol. 41, No. 50 $1 P8
P4 Galas Galore : Sewa International and IACF P2-P3
Bhalla Pavilion at Methodist Sewa International’s Houston Chapter held a vibrant annual gala on Sunday, December 4 (left). Likewise, The Indo-American Charity Foundation (IACF) held
its annual gala on Friday, December 2.

Sewa International Houston Chapter’s Vibrant & Successful Annual Gala

Houston: Marking another successful year, Sewa International’s Houston Chapter held a vibrant annual gala on December 4, 2022 to showcase both its work and to raise money for all the benefictory causes it supports and serves. Titled “H.E.L.P. 2022 – Local Presence, Global Impact”, the annual event concluded a highly successful year of work and dedication.

Held at the GSH Event Center, the Gala had 550+ supporters and was sold-out within a few days of opening of the booking. The Emcee of the evening, Nithya Hari of Bollydood Dancing Stars, was introduced by Sewa Houston Chapter Executive Director, Kavita Tewary.

The event began with a Ganesh Vandana (prayers to Lord Ganesh) dance performance, by students of the ‘Kathak Beats’ (Guru Manjusha Jadhav). Gitesh Desai, the President of the Houston Chapter of Sewa International welcomed the gathering highlighting that the strength of the Houston Chapter is its volunteers, who exhibit both ‘amity and unity’. He appealed to the community to contribute to the betterment of society through, ‘time, talent and treasure’. This was followed by a video showing Sewa Houston Chapter’s contribution to the society as well as its Disaster response efforts.

The heart of the gala were the live testimonies from some of the beneficiaries of Sewa, which included verbal accounts from Ms. Constance Swift, Dr Katherine Garcia, Ms. Roche Angelique, Mr. Kartik Trivedi, Ms. Sunita Shahi, Ms. Mehzabeen Sayani, Mr. Akash Rami & Mr Siddarth Chauhan. They spoke about their experience working with Sewa Volunteers and how Sewa helped them immensely, be it medical support, bereavement or working with underprivileged school kids in Alief ISD. The Fundraising appeals were made by Nikhil Jain, Dr Madan Luthra, Carol Juarez and Nithya Hari.

28 youth volunteers from Sewa International received PVSA award during 2022 and those present amongst the audience were felicitated. Just before the start of the Gala, these young awardees were presented with their PVSA certificates by Raj Salhotra (co-founder of two educational non-profits). The President’s Volunteer Service Award (PVSA) is a prestigious national honor offered in recognition of volunteer commitment.

Sam Merchant, the Outreach Liaison of Office of Congressman Al Green read out the proclamation issued to the Sewa International Houston Chapter, by the Congressman, on the occasion of this

annual Gala.

Anis Chandani, the ‘One Man Band’ and flute maestro from Los Angeles, provided wholesome entertainment, mesmerizing the audience with his melodious flute tunes, and Bollywood songs. He performed live, table to table in the audience enthralling the entire audience. He was ably aided by talented local vocalists from the ‘Sargam Group’, Rashmi Nayar & Sankar, who renditioned Bollywood melodies making the audience dance and swoon.

Houston Chapter Jt. Coordinator, Anup Bhasin concluded the evening by thanking all those who put together this gala that included the donors, organization partners, media partners, performers volunteers, Sewa’s core team and the elected officials present at the event. A scrumptious multi course dinner was served by Madras Pavilion. Anis Chandani continued performing during dinner time, with the audience dancing and singing around him, which continued till late in the evening.

About Sewa International Sewa International, a leading Hindu faith-based Indian American nonprofit organization with 43 Chapters in twenty-five US States, has extensive experience in disaster rescue, relief, and rehabilitation operations having responded to 25 disasters in the US and abroad. Since early 2020, Sewa International has been in the forefront in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2017, after Hurricane Harvey struck the Houston area, Sewa volunteers helped in the rescue of nearly 700 people and have served thousands of affected families since then through their case management services. Sewa raised over $3 million for Hurricane Harvey recovery to rebuild homes and greenhouses that serve as means of livelihood. Sewa International has also rendered relief in the wake of Hurricane Maria in 2018, Hurricane Imelda in 2019 and Hurricane Ian in 2022. Sewa’s team in the San Francisco Bay Area continues to build and donate tiny homes for those rendered homeless in California Camp Fire of November 2018.

Among its accolades, Sewa International has been recognized by Charity Navigator – the premier nonprofit rating agency – as the number five among the “10 Highly Rated Charities Relying on Private Contributions.” Sewa has for the last three years continuously scored the topmost-rated 4-star from Charity Navigator, and has earned perfect scores for its Financial Health and Accountability & Transparency

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Photo credit: Navin Mediwala and Thiru TA.

Indo-American Charity Foundation 2022 Gala Features Bollywood Night

Houston: The Indo-American Charity Foundation (IACF) held its annual gala on Friday, December 2nd 2022, at Knanaya Community Center in Missouri City. The theme for this year’s gala was “Bollywood Night”. The event showcased IACF’s supporting charities, individuals and organizations that share its mission to serve communities in the Greater Houston area.

The evening highlighted new collaborations and initiatives accompanied with great food, drinks, and dancing.

The following dignitaries were present during the gala among many other notable personalities.

KP George, Fort Bend County Judge Robin Elackatt, Missouri City Mayor

Ken Mathew, Councilman, City of Stafford

Juli Mathew, Judge Teana Watson, Judge Kali Morgan, Judge Christian Beccera, Judge Tameka Carter, Judge Surendran K Pattel, Judge Elect Sonia Rash, Judge Elect

Bangar Reddy representing Congressman Troy Nehls

Judge KP George spoke at the event especially thanking IACF for its support to Fort Bend County during the COVID Pandemic. He also presented IACF with Proclamations from his office.

Mr Bangar Reddy presented a Proclamation on behalf of Congressman Troy Nehls.

Mayor Elackatt in his speech welcomed everyone to Missouri City and also announced the participation and support of City of Missouri in the proposed annual Indian Authentic Cuisine Festival (IACF) by IACF within Missouri City.

Chief guest Mr Atul Vir founder of Equator Advanced Appliances, a hands-on CEO and a business ethics thought leader, addressed the audience and shared his life journey.

The non-profit organization is excited to involve the local community and recognized these contributors as Friends of Charity

from the local community.

Mr Amrik Singh Nijjar

Mr. Rajasekhar Chappidi Mr Kanwar Suri

Mr Bobby Singh

Dr Swaminathan P Iyer

Mr & Mrs Anuradha & Mani Subramanian

Also this year IACF introduced its Champions Award to recognize Mr Mahesh Wadhwa, past board member for his exemplary service and contributions to the community in many ways.

The evening was highlighted by performances from St. Stephen’s Shingari Melam group, Sreepadam School of Dance, Sunanda Nair Dance School, Anjali Center of Performing Arts, Fashion Show by Minhaz

Guests also had the opportunity to participate in a silent auction featuring artwork from local talent.

For over 34 years IACF has raised funds to help support local organizations that are new and/or in need of aid to provide services to thousands of Houstonians. IACF invites you to come support their mission “We live here. We give here.” With the support of all the participants we were able to raise over $75,000 during the evening.

Funds raised during the 2022 Gala will support IACF’s programs and services and will support thousands of Houstonians.

The Indo-American Charity Foundation (IACF) is a non-profit charitable organization that helps the underprivileged and needy with monetary contributions and volunteer work through established and emerging organizations in the Greater Houston Area.

IACF was founded in 1988 by a group of Houstonians of Indian origin (Indo- American) compelled by an altruistic desire to give back to their local community. Their mission to help the underprivileged, and has now developed into a multi-faceted philanthropic endeavor to help those in need of health, education and human services in the Greater Houston Area.

Indo-AmerIcAn news • FrIdAy, december 16, 2022 • December 16, 2022 3

Dedication of the Bhalla Main Pavilion at Methodist Hospital Sugar Land


ancestral home of India decades ago

come to the US, both Dr Raj and Kanwal Bhalla never forgot the Indian


so dearly treasured – of love for family and friends, discipline to forge an identity, culture, food, religion and above all, to help their fellow men and women.

Dr. Rajinder Pal Singh Bhalla, a veterinarian in the Indian Army, first came to the US in 1960 for a year of study and then went returned to India. After he retired from the Army, he and his wife came back with their two young boys to settle in Long Island, New York. Raj went to work at Charles River Labs in Port Washington, Long Island while Kanwal owned and operated an Indian restaurant called Paul’s Mughlai for ten years. Nineteen years ago, Raj was transferred to Houston and the Bhallas later retired in Sugar Land.

Inducted as a Freemason from an early age, like his father and brothers, Raj became a Master Mason in June 1964. Soon after moving, he found a Masonic Lodge in Richmond where he has been honored for his acts of service, generosity and brotherhood.

In 2020, realizing that the corona virus had badly damaged many organizations and depleted many of their resources, the Bhallas decided to donate a million dollars

to many of their favorite charities. That same year, the Bhallas made a major donation of $500,000 to the Houston Methodist Hospital Foundation, which was completely taken aback by this unexpected gift from a total stranger.

Now, two years later, at a reception held on Friday, November 9 at the Brazos Pavilion Conference Center at the Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital, Hospital executives showed their appreciation in front of over 70 guests - family and friends – of the Bhallas. Alicen Swift, Regional Development Director of the Foundation, Dr. Mark L. Bloom, President & CEO of Houston Methodist and Chris Siebenaler, Regional Vice President and CFO of Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital talked about the value of community philanthropy.

It was with thoughts of that spirit of Sewa – service – that Dr Bhalla capped his speech, hailing it as a central Tennent of his Sikh faith. He quoted an invocation from the Granth Sahib and asked for a bright future for the Hospital.

After the reception, a plaque bearing the picture of the Bhallas and a description of their generous gift, was unveiled in the lobby of the newly named Bhalla Main Pavilion, in front of admiring family and friends. The new name is already attached to the outside top edge of the port cochere, where the guests later assembled for a memorable picture.

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IAPAC Hosts Thanksgiving Luncheon to Celebrate Gratitude with Global Cultures

Houston: On December 3, 2022, the Indian American Political Action Committee (IAPAC) of Greater Houston hosted their last event of the year, a Thanksgiving Luncheon celebrating Gratitude with Global Cultures and Religions at the Alief Campus of Houston Community College (HCC).

Dean Rima Adil opened the event by thanking all guests to her campus and graciously hosted the luncheon at her campus. Samia Ahsan, co-chair for this event, acknowledged community leaders and elected officials before inviting Dr. Roopa Gir, president of IAPAC,who opened the afternoon with the reason behind IAPAC and its goal for the Indian American community.

Next, Vivek Menon, co-chair of the event, brought up a quote by Mahatma Gandhi- “I am a Hindu, a Muslim, a Christian, a Jew, and so are all of you”- to open the floor for global prayers. Sartaj Bal opened with a Sikh prayer, Amy Henry with a Christian prayer, Swatantra Jain with a Jain prayer, Tara Narasimhan with a Hindu prayer, Helen Shih with a Buddhist prayer, Andrew Friedberg with a Jewish prayer, and Yasmin Udawala with an Islamic prayer.

After the prayers, Vivek Menon invited KP George, Fort Bend County Commissioners Court Judge, to say a few words. George,

with great emotion, thanked all the people who supported and helped him throughout his re-election campaign and overall journey. He continued to talk about the importance of diversity in Fort Bend County, the most ethnically diverse county in the country.

Supporting IAPAC’s mission, George hopes to see more ‘Americans of Indian descent ‘ at the poll, exercising their rights properly and engaging in the community. He ended with saying how thankful he is for the people who believed in him and how that thought is enough motivation to keep trying. He expressed his heartfelt gratitude by saying, “Ev-

ery morning when I get up, I say thank God. One more day to do my job.. to serve.”

Next, Sam Merchant, representing Congressman Al Green, called Dr. Gir to present a Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition to IAPAC. He expressed his thanks for all the work IAPAC has done and how much the organization has grown. “The Thanksgiving that we are here to celebrate today is not just thanking us for being part of what we do, but to thank them, the organization, for making all of this a possibility.”

Sheriff Ed Gonzalez thanked all the speakers and acknowledged that this is the season to reflect

and be hopeful for the possibilities ahead.

He specifically noted that IAPAC, being non-partisan and uplifting the community through similar events, is exactly what the community needs during a time when engaging in politics seems to be very toxic. “We must always remember our humanity. We enforce the law, we protect people, but it doesn’t mean we have to leave our humanity at the door. We can still be just and fair.”

Bangar Reddy, representing Congressman Troy Nehls, expressed his thanks for the event and to IAPAC. He noted how IAPAC brings two parties togeth-

er, inculcating awareness.

Finally, Gene Wu, Texas State Representative-District 137, passionately shared an important message. “It is time to be active. We need to start doing things in our communities, representing them…, and start demanding action.”

He exclaimed that hate crimes are through the roof, and now people must fight for their communities. “Success and wealth does not insulate you from violence and discrimination.” He shared a story of how people ask where he is from. When he says he is from Houston, they ask back, “Where are you really from?” This means something. This says that he doesn’t really belong here, that he is not really American. He concludes by saying his children, natural born American citizens, should never have to encounter this question. They will be treated as Americans.

After the speeches, food, catered by Biryani Factory, was served, along with huge thanks given to the people who conducted the prayers, elected officials, HCC for graciously allotting their campus on the day, as well as the audience for contributing their time and effort to important causes. “Let gratitude be the pillow on which you kneel… and let faith be the bridge you build to overcome evil…”

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Indo-AmerIcAn news • FrIdAy, december 16, 2022 • December 16, 2022 7 COMMUNITY

Houston: Three years in the making and the Connoisseurs Club had a lot of bottled up – no pun intended for a social group that isn’t bashful about the liquor that it drinks - information to share with each other. Each couple brought in their favorite wine or liquor to share at the private hall of Nirvana Restaurant on the westside on Thursday, December 8

This was the Connoisseurs Club’s first meeting in three years and the Club’s creed was still alive and kicking to share experiences with that can expand the knowledge and enrichen the outlook of its members.

The ten-year-old social group meets infrequently, but ties each event with a chance to learn something new from a member’s experience and its other constant is that each member brings a bottle of their favorite – or unusual – bottle of Scotch whisky to sample, and a dish for snacks or dinner.

Sipping from their glasses, Club cofounder Atul Vir and his wife Aarti presented an account of their trip to the Big Bend area which they visited in their RV, covering the distance in ten days. They shared their experiences at stops

in many little towns in West Texas and their near escape with running out of gas through a barren part of a rugged mountain road.

The Virs ended their trip in the town of Terlingua which was holding its annual Chile Cookoff from November 2 through 5. This was

Indo American News

Founder: dr. K.L. sindwani

PuBLisHer: JawaHar MaLHotra

editor: PraMod KuLKarni

CorresPondent: sanCHaLi Basu

the highlight of their long tour of what is commonly known as the Badlands.

Not only did the Virs share much from their trip, but they also treated the 34 members and guests to snacks and dinner, served shortly after the presentation.

Indo-AmerIcAn news • FrIdAy, december 16, 2022 • December 16, 2022 8
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Over 34 members and guests attend the event on December 8. Atul Vir, Jawahar Malhotra and Parul Fernandes The liquor bottles brought in by the club members to share.
Indo-AmerIcAn news • FrIdAy, december 16, 2022 • December 16, 2022 9

new deLHi: Hours after Defence Minister Rajnath Singh told Parliament that “PLA troops tried to transgress the LAC in Yangtse area of Tawang Sector and unilaterally change the status quo”, the PLA claimed that the clash in the early hours of December 9 took place after Chinese troops on regular patrol on their side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the “Dongzhang” area were blocked by Indian soldiers who had “illegally crossed the line”.

A PTI report from Beijing quoted Senior Colonel Long Shaohua, spokesman of the PLA’s Western Theatre Command, as saying, “Our troops’ response is professional, firm and standard, which has helped to stabilise the situation… We ask the Indian side to strictly control and restrain the frontline forces and work with the Chinese side to maintain peace and tranquility.”

The PTI report also quoted Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin as saying that “the current border situation between China and India is generally stable”.

The clash in Tawang took place two and a half years after the deadly encounter between the two sides in the Galwan Valley in Ladakh in June 2020.

Soldiers of the two sides clashed in an area called Yangtse, in the upper reaches

of Tawang sector in Arunachal Pradesh. Tawang, indeed nearly all of Arunachal, is claimed by China. It is one of the more serious dispute points between India and China in the overall border question.

Tawang is the birthplace of the sixth Dalai Lama and an important pilgrimage centre for Tibetan Buddhists. The 14th Dalai Lama took refuge in Tawang after he crossed over from Tibet to India in 1959, spending some days in the monastery there before proceeding further.

Within Tawang, there are three “agreed areas” of differing Indian and Chinese perceptions of the LAC. Yangtse, which is about 25 km from Tawang town, north of the Lungroo grazing ground, is one of these areas. As a result, it has been the site of regular “physical contact” between the Indian Army and the PLA, especially as the high ground is on the Indian side, giving it a commanding view of the Chinese side.

In statements to the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, Defense Minister Rasjnath Singh said the Indian troops had confronted the PLA troops and a “physical tussle” ensured, which compelled the Chinese to return to their posters. There were injuries on both sides, but no deaths. -- Indian Express

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Indo-AmerIcAn news • FrIdAy, december 16, 2022 • December 16, 2022 12

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