IACT - Annual Gala 2022
By Sumeet Dasgupta
The Indian American Coalition of Texas (IACT) held its annual gala at the Asian American Resource Center on Saturday, May 7, 2022 to celebrate democracy in the US and India. Much-delayed due to COVID, this event was well worth waiting for since the 2021 gala had been canceled due to the pandemic. IACT’s goal is to Educate, Engage and Empower the Indian American community in Austin and surrounding counties on civic and political activities. As a non-partisan organization, IACT uses the gala to engage elected leaders from the city, county, state and national levels with leaders from the Indian American community.
The gala is also a fundraising event to support activities that align with IACT’s three afore-mentioned goals.
The 2022 gala was very well-attended, given the number of guests and elected leaders who kicked off the event with a “meet & greet” over appetizers provided by Bamboo Biryani. Emcee Vyasar Ganesan, a budding author and college counsellor at AISD’s Liberal Arts & Science Academy (LASA), began the formal event with the national anthems sung by singers from Musica followed by a fashion show choreographed by Shweta Padmanabha.
IACT president, Jayant Sheth, gave a short presentation enlisting activities in 2020 and 2021 --- co-hosting a candidate forum before the 2020 elections, hosting two COVID-19 webinars and in partnership with APAPA, sponsoring young adults (college freshmen and sophomores and HS seniors) to serve as interns in the offices of elected leaders at the city, county and state levels. He took this opportunity to also warn of the dangers faced by democracies, particularly in India. The mayor of Austin, Steve Adler, gave a short speech on the importance of this event, reminding all that he has attended every IACT gala during his time as mayor and then presented a proclamation to celebrate this event. Congressman Lloyd Doggett spoke next underscoring the transcendent power of democracy and warning against threats to it in India and the US.
A buffet dinner catered by Bamboo Biryani followed, accompanied by a dance performance by Monsoon Dance, that led to the keynote address by Judge K. P. George, County Judge of Fort Bend County, TX. His speech focused on the twin themes of IACT, civic and political activism, with personal anecdotes injected from his life story, from his rise from humble roots in a village in Kerala,
India to his arrival in the US, learning English for the first time, creating a career in personal finance, then election to a school board and finally to the office of County Judge. To paraphrase him that if he could do it, so can everyone else and that he stands ready to assist IACT in expanding to his county.
One of the highlights of the evening was an interview with three interns from 2021 who spoke eloquently about their experiences during the prior summer underscoring the richness of their experiences and encouraging others to capitalize on similar opportunities.
A fundraiser to collect funds to finance IACT events, like the annual summer internship, followed. The last formal event was recognition of three individuals in the community – Pooja Sethi (Trailblazer Award), Alice Yi (Community Impact Award) and Raji Parameswaran (Community Impact Award).
The event concluded with some music and dance, with music provided by DJ Tej.