Washington, DC – The Indian American community welcomed the top Indian diplomat with a short cultural program and a long list of speeches – followed by a sumptuous dinner. Harsh Vardhan Shringla, who took charge as the Ambassador of India to the US in January – hit the ground running and has been well liked by the Indian diaspora for his open doors policy.
The function kicked off with the national anthems of both the US and India and continued with speeches from a host of Indian Americans. The inimitable Nilima Mehra welcomed the participants who addressed more than 480 attendees. After a round of speeches, dancers arrived as part of the cultural program.
Sanvi Das, the little girl mesmerized the audience with a beautiful Odissi dance presentation. The next item was a Bollywood dance with a group of kids in shimmering costumes, followed by an energetic performance of the Gidda dance by seven Punjabi girls of Virginia Gidda Group as the hall reverberated with dhol beats. Kamal Sachdeva who organized the Gidda dance told IAT: “We actually have ten girls in the group but today only seven came.”
Following the three cultural items, the speeches were back as David J. Ranz, the Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for South Asia in the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs at the US State Department, highlighted US-India equations. Incidentally, he is going soon to India as the US Consul General in Mumbai.
Mark Elrich – county executive of Montgomery County in Maryland – attended and highlighted the positive points of the county for the business community as he addressed the audience
Finally, the ambassador was introduced and he started in Hindi – thanking the organizers, and shifted into English – congratulated the hosts, the National Council of Asian Indian Association (NCAIA) – thanking nearly 500 people for taking time to attend. He acknowledged the distinguished invitees – telling Ranz, the next US Consul General in Mumbai, that he will be no less than a Bollywood star in his official capacity representing the US in Bombay.
Noting some similarities between the US and India, Ambassador Shringla stressed, “We both (India and the US) have vibrant media.” Commenting on the ongoing General Elections in India, Ambassador Shringla called it unprecedented and the biggest as it enters the 4th round this day in India.
With the evening fading into a beautiful night, Ambassador Shringla made it a point to oblige all with pictures at their dinner tables, thus ending on a positive note with a sumptuous dinner.