IAFPE hosts reception for Ambassador Nirupama Rao
Ambassador Nirupama Rao with IAFPE president Dr Emandi Rao, Indian American Forum national president Dr.Sampat Shivangi and Dr.V Kabaria at Tampa reception
The Indian American Forum for Political Education (IAFPE) hosted a reception for Indian Ambassador to the USA Nirupama Rao on the sidelines of historic Republican National Convention at India Cultural Center in Tampa, Florida on August 29.
Tampa area Indian Americans and community leaders were at hand to receive and welcome the Ambassador who was accompanied by Pranay Verma, Political Consul at Indian Embassy in Washington DC.
South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley with Dr and Mrs Sampat Shivangi at Republican National Convention 2012
Dr. Sampat Shivangi, national president of Indian American Forum, along with the Host Committee of Florida chapter IAFPE president Dr. Emandi Rao welcomed the Ambassador and invitees.
Dr. Sampat Shivangi in his welcome address gave a brief history of Indian American Forum which is one of the oldest Indian American organizations in the country and its contributions to the Indian American community in lobbying for the Family Reunification Bill in the Congress and successfully testifying in the US Congress, which paved the way for thousands of Indians to immigrate to the USA.
Other notable causes it worked for include hate crime and discrimination, voter registration, political awareness and increase political participation of Indian Americans to be part of mainstream America.
At present Indian immigrants have no representation in the US Congress or the Senate in spite of their large contributions and increased Indian population compared to Jewish Americans, who have almost 15- 20 per cent of Congressman and Senators in the US Congress. Indians have made some inroads in South with the election of Governor Jindal and Governor Haley, which is definitely positive development. Dr. Shivangi recalled the efforts of Condoleezza Rice as the US Secretary of State, and President George W. Bush in bringing India-US closer with the landmark US-India Civil Nuclear Treaty, which was his biggest Foreign Policy statement and role played by the Indian American Community with IAFPE playing a major role in lobbying the US Congress and the Senate.
Dr. Shivangi spoke about renewed efforts of Forum with other like-minded Asian American organizations in filing Amicus brief in the US Supreme Court against discriminatory practices of Elite college admissions for Asian Americans.
The Ambassador appreciated the efforts of the Indian American community, which by sheer hard work and ethics have marvelled in their adopted country of the USA. She spoke about extensive reforms in India that brought economic boom in the country.
The Ambassador asked the Indian American community to be supportive of their motherland in spite of a few shortcomings India might have at this time.
Dr. Shivangi and Dr. Rao thanked the Ambassador for her being there to greet the community in spite of her busy schedule.
Indian-American businesses take part in AARA trade show
The AARA Board of Directors
Hundreds of manufacturers and distributors of household goods and food items competed with each other to capture a share in the retail market dominated by Indian-American businesses. The vendors and retailers showcased their products and services at a Sept. 12 trade show organized by Asian America Retailers Association, (AARA) at Raritan Center Exhibition Hall in New Jersey. It was attended by approximately 3,000 retailers. According to Prashant Desai, president of AARA, the group organized its first trade show in 2005. "We have grown multifold since then," said Desai, who owns a few convenience stores in the state. "As Indian owned businesses grew in recent years in New Jersey, we are being noticed and targeted by wholesalers and distributors," he said, adding, "They can no longer ignore us." He pointed out that his association facilitated a platform for hundreds of vendors to intact face to face at the trade show.
The AARA trade show in progress
Richard McKenney, regional business manager of Unilever's ice cream division, who was showcasing brands like Beyers, Good Humor, Ben&Jerry's said, "We want to increase our sales in the retail sector. In order to do so, it is necessary to maintain a presence among the retailers who cater to the Indian American community."
Displaying exotic bottles of spirits and liquors, Vance Burgess watched his sales girls offering glasses of Hendrick's brand of gin to visitors. "We are unique as our gin is made of cucumber and rose flowers," he said.
Bipin Patel, chairman of AARA feels the group has been successful in bringing retailers and vendors face to face at one platform. Some of the reasons for this success, Patel said is that the group provides a variety services for their members who are not able to keep track of changes in market trends. "We advise them on taxation and other business related issues as well as assist them with advice about techniques that help them about when and where to buy the right product for their stores", he said.
AARA represents 1,300 retailers who own convenience stores, gas stations, and liquor stores in New Jersey. The organization is based in New Jersey but has expanded in neighboring states of Delaware, New York and Pennsylvania. "Our vision has been to empower store employees to become employers," said H.R. Shah, former chairman of AARA, who is one of the founders of the organization. "Two decades ago there were very few Indian-Americans who owned stores, but in within years more than 300 employees became store owners in the state," he said.
[ BY RITU PANDEY]