This Article is From Jan 13, 2013

Top US leaders to attend first Indian-American inaugural ball

Top US leaders to attend first Indian-American inaugural ball
Washington: The who's who of America, including several governors, lawmakers and government officials, are expected to participate in the 'Indiaspora 2013 Inaugural Ball' being organised by Indian-American community to honour President Barack Obama's second term and highlight the benefits of Indo-US ties.

More than 1,000 people are expected to participate in the event on January 19 here.

"We want the Indiaspora ball to be more than a fantastic party. Many of Indiaspora's leaders have called for us to raise our voices together with the aim of setting an Indian- American policy agenda," California-based M R Rangaswami, the brain behind the first of its kind event, told PTI.

"With hundreds of influential community members in the same room as local, state and national political officials, there will be no better time to start a national conversation," he said.

The interest level of the community is very high, Mr Rangaswami said. "People are excited and enthusiastic about getting together this coming weekend in Washington DC."

Prominent among those to have confirmed their participation are Senator Mark Warner, who is also Co-Chair of the Senate Caucus; and Congressman Joe Crowley, Co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian-Americans.

Delaware Governor Jack Markell (Chairman of the National Governors Association); Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick; California Attorney General Kamala D Harris; and Mayor of Los Angeles Antonio Villaraigosa have also confirmed their attendance.

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Congressman Ami Bera, only the third Indian-American lawmaker ever, and Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, who is the first-ever Hindu lawmaker, would also attend the inaugural ball.

US Ambassador to Belize, Vinai Thumalapally, the first Indian American to occupy such a post, and USAID Chairman Raj Shah, the highest ranking Indian-American in the Obama Administration, are among the many to participate in the ball from the US government.

Mr Rangaswami said the Indiaspora Inaugural Ball will serve as a catalyst for supporting Indian-American candidates at all levels of US government regardless of party affiliation; raising the awareness and resources needed to take care of the underprivileged and "invisibles" in the US community, and a kick-start for Obama's second-term "strategic partnership" with India.

The evening of festivities, being organised by the small but powerful Indian-American community, will underscore the strengths and benefits of the US-India relationship.

"Entertainment will be headlined by Red Baraat, The Mona Khan Company and Shankar Tucker. Food Network star Maneet Chauhan will create an exquisite meal which will be accompanied by exotic Indian drinks," Mr Rangaswami said.