CHICAGO: Many believed that it was storm in a tea cup but it soon developed to be a Thunderstorm engulfing the entire gamut of Indian Diaspora – from Chicago, New York, California and to faraway India. It was an ugly turn to the celebration of India Day by a recently (six years old) formed Federation of Indian Association featuring Rakhi Sawant, a Bollywood celebrity as one of the main attractions.
Rakhi Sawant came dressed highly untypical for a somber celebration like Indian Independence Day but more befitting a New Year gala celebration (see the picture). She had Indian PM Narendra Modi’s pictures placed in the back and front of her dress. This triggered a murmur within a section of the audience and soon turned into a vocal resentment. Once it was on the social media, there were boos and a chorus of demand for an explanation and apology from the organizers.
For Chicagoans it was talk of the town with many questioning if they should be supporting this type of buffoonery. A group of Indian Americans sought a meeting with the Indian Consul General Dr Ausaf Sayeed and pressed him to take appropriate steps against the group that ultimately was responsible for this act of commission insulting the person of Indian PM Narendra Modi and the national flag.
In a note signed by all the nine members group, it was pointed out that Rakhi Sawant had been here on B2 Visa and had no work permit but still receiving $5000 from the FIA group that hosted the India Day celebrations. This amounted to violation of Visa agreement and generation of un-declared income, both unwelcome, it was pointed out.
The Chicago Indian consulate had to take note of it and it forwarded all the details to concerned Indian authorities in Washington DC and in New Delhi. In a separate meeting the FIA team that included President Dhittu Bhagwaker, Neil Khot, former president Sunil Shah among others, the CG impressed upon them the gravity of the situation and according to FIA sources; they tried to explain how come the situation had come to this pass
The FIA team assured more vigilance and extra monitoring in their future handling of these type of events. The FIA officials reported that they had no clue about Rakhi Sawant’s dress as she came at the nick of time and had small time to change, if at all. Dhitu Bhagwaker in a talk to this paper said that as the President of this organization, he would be glad tendering any apology if needed for this unseemly costume and any poor mentoring of the event.
A formal explanation and regret note from the FIA Officials came a little too late to soothe the community feeling. But there is an old saying Better late than Never. Neil Khot, Executive Vice President, in a communication to this paper said “An unfortunate incident happened, of which we were not aware of, was the outfit of Bollywood artist Rakhi Sawant who wore the dress (which she herself admitted was her choice in her own video) with our honorable PM Narendra Modiji’s picture on that.
She came late and entered the stage and we didn’t have time to review her dress as we were in the midst of an ongoing event.”
He further said “It was a perfect celebration with national anthems, patriotic songs, kids and youth classical dance performances, paying tribute to freedom fighters, recognition of community leaders.
Of course looking back, we regret this happened at our FIA event and going forward we assure to our community, friends, sponsors and well wishers that in our future events we will be careful and vigilant to not repeat this.”
India Post News Service