Reading a proclamation by the Mayor of Austin, Steve Adler, Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo declared January 28th, 2017 Indian Republic Day in Austin at the fourth annual Indian Republic Day Gala hosted by the Indian American Coalition of Texas (IACT). A wonderful evening of commemoration, community engagement, and culture was highlighted in a keynote address delivered by Texas State Representative Gina Hinojosa (District 49).

IACT holds this annual gala to commemorate the day that India’s constitution took effect, January 26, 1950. The event highlights the links between the Indian Americans residing in the world’s oldest democracy, the United States, and their homeland, the oldest.

Judge George Thomas, President of IACT addressed the audience, recapping IACT’s 2016 accomplishments. Key achievements included hosting the Surgeon General of the United States in April, hosting Candidate Forums during the election cycle, sponsoring an internship for area college students to intern in government offices, and a writing contest designed to engage local youth in the legacy of Mahatma Gandhi.

Representative Hinojosa delivered the evening’s keynote address. She emphasized the links between the democracies of the US and India. Hinojosa also discussed important legislation that she has authored in the legislative session on gun control, local control, and college readiness.

The Deputy Consul General of India, Surendra Adhana, took to the stage next and noted the achievements of Indian Americans. He talked about how impressed he was at what Indians had achieved in the US, while also discussing India’s rising growth and stature in the world.

Throughout the evening local dance groups performed for the audience. The evening concluded with a dance in which County Commissioner Gerald Daughtery showed off his Bollywood dancing skills! In addition to his prowess on the dance floor, Commissioner Daughtery’s birthday is January 26, 1950, India’s Republic Day, making his participating that much more poignant.

All in all, the event was a smashing success. Judge Thomas summed it up, “This year’s gala brought the local Indian community together with an impressive list of local and state dignitaries. This demonstrates IACT’s growth and success at driving civic engagement. We hope that this meeting and fellowship is a powerful springboard for our activities this year.”

The evening began with an informal cocktail hour complete with appetizers and conversation. A series of dignitaries attended, including State Representatives Donna Howard, Gina Hinojosa, and Paul Workman, Austin Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo, City Councilmembers Alison Alter, Jimmy Flanigan, Delia Garza, Ora Houston, Ann Kitchen, and Leslie Pool, County Commissioners Gerald Daughtery, Margaret Gomez, and Brigid Shea, Travis County Tax Assessor-Collector and Voter Registrar, Bruce Elfant, Board Chair of Leadership Austin, Ali Khataw and CEO Christopher Kennedy, and Chairwoman of the Asian Pacific Islander American Public Affairs Association, Victoria Li and President Alice Yi.