BEVERLY HILLS, CA – In his first encounter with the SoCal Indian-American community, the new Consul General, San Francisco, Venkatesan Ashok, came across as a straight shooter and a man with a specific agenda. Speaking to a select audience at the Spice Affair Restaurant (formerly Gaylord) here, on Jan.11,
Earlier, the new Consul General was given a rundown of the accomplishments of individuals in the SoCal community in various areas. Inder Singh, the organizer of the event, opened by saying, “Southern California has been home to Indian-Americans for over 100 years. They have made it their Karmabhoomi.”
Baljit Toor spoke of business and religion, Kewal Kanda on education and philanthropy, Dr.Parvin Syal on health, Dilip Butani on youth and Vinod Manchhani on the grand annual celebrations of the India independence day.
Ashok in turn, lauded Indian-Americans and said, “you have forged a path which has left us amazed and proud.” Pointing toward the syncretic relationship between India and Indian-Americans he added, “as India grows, you grow; as you grow, India grows.” On the relationship between the consulate’s work and the community the diplomat said, “the greater number of linkages we can build with the (mainstream) community here, it will help us and you.”
The latter point was focused on by Dr.Prakash Narain, the former mayor of the city of Cypress. It was key, he said, that philanthropy for instance, be extended to the local Boys and Girls Club. Getting involved in the communities we live in was important.
Harry Sidhu, also a former mayor – city of Anaheim- and now a member of the Orange County Water District Board of Directors, said his involvement in politics was because of his desire to give back to the community he lived in. He also made a pitch for support from the community to make him the first Indian-American in the California legislature. The Republican is seeking the 68th District Assembly seat. CA State Treasurer John Chiang struck optimism by saying the state finances was getting better, and that strength lay in different peoples coming together and contributing to the economy. He promised any support he could give to the work of the Indian Consulate. Vice Mayor of the city of Beverly Hills, Dr.Julian Gold presented the Consul General Ashok with a certificate of appreciation and a city pin.
Education – U.C.
Present in the audience were college professors, authors, physicians, engineers, charitable organizations linked to education and academic philanthropists. And for them, it was particularly pleasing to hear Ambassador Ashok say that what he saw as his remit during his tenure here, apart from commerce, was greater ties in education between India and the U.S.
With the vision of “pushing collaboration between the US and home,” he said, he was engaged in talks in San Francisco and scheduled shortly to meet with University of California, Los Angeles officials.
The aim, he said, is to have “formal linkages,” greater student and faculty exchanges, have technological partnerships in moving prototypes and other projects in incubation and to see it to fruition.
Ashok said another aspect he hoped to move forward, was culture. He said he wanted to see Indian culture exposed more and collaboration with the mainstream in making this happen through joint projects or fusion works.
The event, spearheaded and emceed by Inder Singh who has been instrumental in starting several organizations in the greater Los Angeles area, was supported by the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin – L.A. and Orange County Chapters, National Federation of Indian American Associations, India Association of Los Angeles, India Association of Inland Empire, Indian American Heritage Foundation, Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation, Caring Hand for Children, Rajput Association of America and Indian Muslims Association. The Q&A session was conducted by Ashok Madan.