AIA takes lead in celebrating India Day in Chicagoland

CHICAGO: Rain or shine, the Indian Diaspora in Chicagoland would not miss attending the celebrations associated with Indian Independence Day. This was once again in evidence at Daley Plaza in Chicago Downtown with hundred plus members of the community gathered to be part of the Flag hoisting ceremony associated with the celebration of India’s 66th Independence Day on Monday, August 13.
Organized by the Association of Indians in America (AIA) Illinois chapter the event would have attracted a much larger number of attendees, including many Americans, but the continued drizzling since morning turned out to be a distraction. The part of the celebration, the cultural program and speeches from the dignitaries, had to be done inside but the main part – the flag hoisting – was done outside as usual with Indian Consul General Mukta Tomar, Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White, Cook County Clerk of Circuit Court Ms. Dorothy Brown, Air India Manager Rishikesh Singh, AIA President Salil Mishra and host of other members of the Indian community, actively participating.
The near three hours program was gracefully emceed by Anil Sharma, a former AIA President. He commenced the program with singing of national anthems of India and America, followed by introducing the guests. Jesse White, in his brief speech, talked about the great collaboration between India and USA in various fields and underlined the similarities in their approach to governance and social justice.
He was followed by Salil Mishra who started his speech paying tributes to those who died at Sikh Gurudwara in Milwaukee a few days ago and asked those present to observe a moment’s silence in their memory. He underlined the importance of non-violence as preached by Mahatma Gandhi in liberating India from British yoke and observed that it was equally relevant in the present day violent prone society.
Mishra also paid tributes to number of freedom fighters who laid their lives in gaining freedom for India.
He saluted them not only for political independence but also for providing Indians with an opportunity to gain economic independence and make the country prosperous.
The limelight in a way was stolen by Ms Dorothy Brown who donned Indian attire and looked every inch an Indian.

She talked about the stupendous growth that India notched in recent years and observed that it has become the fifth largest economy in the world and pitched for closer ties with India.
She reminisced about her recent visit to India and had wholesome praise for the Indian people. She underlined the contributions that Indian immigrants here have made to mainstream society in various fields and observed that a good number of Indian Americans work in her office. “I am proud of their work ethics,” she said.
Naren Patel, a former AIA President, talked about various activities undertaken by AIA and was profuse in his praise for the support that elected officials like Ms Brown show to the Indian community. He welcomed the new AIA President, his successor, and said that the association would continue to work realizing its goals under his leadership.
Salil Mishra invited Indian CG to say a few words but she disappointed many among those present by not obliging. Beena Patel, an AIA executive team member proposed a vote of thanks and mentioned the support that the elected officials like Ms Dorothy Brown extended to the Indian community thru their presence and by helping its cause.
Another highlight was a scintillating cultural program coordinated by Beena Patel, Ken Contractor and Hina Trivedi. The items presented covered Spanish style Bollywood dance, Slumber Party dance, Garba and India mix patriotic song.

Ramesh Soparawala
India Post News Service

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