Ladies & Gentlemen: Welcome to our second annual Advisors’ Dinner. IACCGH has been extremely fortunate in attracting the attention and support of our august body of advisors. Today we shall report our activities for the year 2001 and our plans for the future activities. Today is also our report-card day from our advisors.
2001 will always be a very special year not only for us in America but throughout the world. From an economic point this has been, to put it mildly, a tough year with recession nibbling at our heels. It has also been complicated by mother nature’s Allison in June and the horrific attack by foreign terrorists on our citizens and our way of life. This chamber and the Indo-Americans rose to our country’s challenges.
Allison affected our local economy just days before our annual gala in mid June. IACCGH donated $3000 of the gala fund to MD Anderson for the victims of the flood in Houston.
September 11 was a black day in all our memories. IACCGH directors met that afternoon at 3:30 P.M. and immediately put into action two plans. A very successful blood drive was held at MD Anderson’s blood bank on September 15th.
Secondly, we also took the leadership position in collective fundraising by the Indo-American community of Houston. Through donations by individuals, giving part of a day’s salary such as at Digital India and Piping Technology, and donations by the several Indo-American organizations, we raised almost $250,000 within a month. On October 30th we presented these funds in a symbolic check to the Mayor Brown and the Red Cross at the Houston City Council.
The spirit of giving and sharing was unanimous, and the Indo-Americans gladly and with pride announced “We Stand Together as Americans! We Stand United!”
India has experienced this terror and the loss of innocent lives for decades. In these times we must know who our true friends are and be able to count on them over the long haul. Short term needs must not cloud long term goals of our national and business interests.
The Chamber’s mission has been to facilitate Economic Development for the Greater Houston community and its members, both individuals and corporate, in the US, in India and across the globe. Business networking has been the order of business and this has resulted in successes and put many other projects in the pipeline. Indian Governmental and Private Delegations have come to Houston as our Guests and they have promoted their businesses to our members and to this city.
Mr. Ram Naik, Indian Central Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas, along with the Minister of State, Mr. S. K. Gangawar and his team visited Houston in January. The Naik team was promoting the New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP) and made a now famous statement that “the old red tape has been thrown in the dustbin”. We applauded. Recently, however, one of our members quipped, and I quote, “Yes, 20% of the red tape is in the dustbin and that has helped but we are still waiting for the trashing of the 80% that is still on the table”. A McKenzie report states that the foreign investment in India is woefully behind other countries in Asia. Our task is to assist in further dialogues and bring about an improved atmosphere for Investments in India. For this we have slated an Energy and IT-Energy Conference sometimes in the First Quarter or Second Quarter of 2002. We hope to bring the parties from India and the IOCs together for further dialogues.
In April the Trade Delegations from Indian Petrochemicals Corporation Ltd was headed by Mr. S. K. Chawla. At an IACCGH Dinner meeting this delegation met the petrochemical sectors in Houston and our members. Our own Director, Dr. Krishna Rao has announced that Exxon-Mobil has sent a delegation following this visit and is planning to send a second delegation to IPCL and NCL in 2002 to undertake Research programs and conduct licensing opportunities, i.e., Joint Ventures.
The Rubber Delegations from India came to Houston in October. IACCGH in conjunction with Greater Houston Partnership arranged for them to network with our members and the US companies. The feedback received was that they went back happy with numerous positive business contacts.
Our own director, Pankaj Dhume, is not here today because he is in India since last July starting a successful BMC Software center in Pune. He is also acting as our ambassador to the similar organizations in India.
March Meeting was addressed by P. S. Raju of Anderson. He covered the key aspects of the Management Consultancy for his company in India.
In April Dr. Neal Lane, former director of National Foundation and Science and Advisor to the Clinton Government, talked about Nanotechnology and pointed to the great benefits and potential for the future. He also talked about the Need for Protection of the Intellectual Properties – a topic touched by Mr. Capellas few months later. Dr. Lane informed us that agreement has been signed between the US-India Science & Technology Forum.
Ambassador Roy Huffington in the month of May shared his Indonesian experiences of deal making, and advised us of the importance of professional and contractual agreement in order to attract more foreign investments to India. These pointers are very pertinent in terms of the recent happenings in Eastern and Western India, especially in the Power Sector.
Mid June saw our gala with an audience of about 450 participants. The participants very sucessfully networked amongst themselves and also with the Indian Ambassador, Lalit Mansingh and the Central Minister of External Affairs, Krishnam Raju. Our Featured speaker was none other than our advisor, Mr. Michael Capellas, who was introduced by our newest and youngest advisor, Mr. Bob Beauchamp. It has been reported by some of our corporate members that this venue provided them with the best meeting they had in regard to their business interests in India.
Since then we have been fortunate in adding two other new advisors: Dr. Ray Bowen, President of Texas A & M and Mr. Joe Berardino, CEO of Anderson. We welcome you and look forward to your advice and support. Bob, you are still the youngest star of this constellation.
Satish Pai, President of Schlumberger, talked about “I-Transformation of the oil and Gas Industry” in September. The Down-hole logging in Russia being monitored in Houston in real time was indeed impressive.
Mr. Paul Frisson of Houston Technology Center addressed us in October regarding Houston’s key technology sectors. These being Aerospace, Energy, Information and Life Sciences. Incidentally, our board in August had formed committees divided along similar distinctions, also adding Education and formed a fifth one to address the concerns of the Indo-American community and small-scale businesses.
Dr. Raymond Flumerfelt, Dean of Cullen Engineering at U of H, last month talked about the bright future of the Science and Engineering graduates in the Management Sector of the workforce. This was broadcast over the KUHF and is still being talked about for the great insights and pointers to the future Management Teams of Compaq, BMC and other Industries of our country.
I must tell you that our fondness for Education is insatiable and we can’t wait to hear from Dr. John Lienhard of U of H in February 2002 and know more about the Engines of Our Ingenuity. You are all invited to this delightful event. Please, come.
Last December at the Advisors’ Dinner, our advisor Mr. George Hrdlicka, asked us to remain focused and have the near patience of Buddha. We have followed his advice of not expecting instant gratification.
Our efforts and investments in two categories are long term projects and will need patience with the slow-mo action of plays.
The American University of Cutting Edge of Technology in India is slowly taking shape. Dr. Bowen of Texas A & M has given us his encouragement along with Dr. Gillis of Rice University. Indian Institute of Technology from West Bengal has visited Rice University. Also Reliance Industry’s Dhirubhai Ambani Foundation is studying the feasibility of joining this venture. We are continuing our efforts to make this become a reality by discussions with all parties concerned. A lot more work is ahead.
MD Anderson in India Project had a slight setback due to September 11. A planned trip by Dr. Thomas Brown to India got postponed from early November to the first part of 2002. Tata Memorial Center and the associated research branch ACTREC in Mumbai, the IHRDC of New Delhi and Sankara Netralaya Eye Institute in Chennai have all invited MD Anderson and Dr. Brown’s team to visit them for exploration of joint ventures to eradicate cancer. Some of us will accompany this delegation.
We are still waiting to join the trip to India with Mr. Capellas, Dr. Gillis and others that got postponed this year due to the bear march and economic slowdown. We also hope to assist in Mayor Brown’s visit to India next year.
Hurricane Allison flooded U of H main campus also and has slightly delayed the Joint Graduate Degree program in Financial Mathematics from U of H and St. Stephan’s College in New Delhi. IACCGH is continuing to help both parties. They will need our assistance in the near future.
Our internship program for this year fell victim to the economic conditions. Ten positions each from Compaq and Texas Instruments and more from other companies did not materialize. There are silver linings, though. Our interns loved and immensely gained from their mentorships at BMC Software, Chamberlain – Hrdlicka, and at Piping Technology. We thank you and we need your continuing support for this program for year 2002 summer. We are also hoping for improved business climate.
On December 20, IACCGH with the assistance of the Indian Consulate in Houston is arranging a seminar to inform and assist the H1-Visa professionals who are without employment and are at risk of losing their residency status. This is being led by our director, Attorney Deepa Thakur.
Our Chamber has also networked with other similar chambers in other cities in the US. Common ties are being made with the ones in Dallas, Tampa and Atlanta. Thus we shall reach a vast number of Indo-Americans and the corporate members of this country. Similar arrangements have been or, are being made with the USIBC in Washington, FICCI in India and even CLAEDF close to home.
Honored Advisors, we seek your inputs and assistance in attracting more organizations to join IACCGH and also more eminent people like yourselves to join our Advisory Board. Your Support and the Industry support are very vital for our efforts in making this chamber into a tool for economic development for Greater Houston. We have rather ambitious plans and we realize that these plans need proper funding for the infrastructure and personnel. We are the only Indo-American Chamber with a full time Executive Director and need at least two other support people. Our main target now is to increase corporate membership for the source of these funds. Your stamp of approval and encouragement will help in this quest.
Next year annual gala speaker is Ambassador Frank Wiesner, now with USIBC. We are hoping to have with us Central Ministers and representatives of the government of India along with Ambassador Mansingh from Washington.
I want to end with big thanks to all our advisors, the Indian Consulate and the board of Directors. Special thanks to Jagdip Ahluwalia and Durga Agrawal for being there in the forefront of every activity that we have had. Thanks also to HP Bhagat our Treasurer, our executive Director, Chitra Shanbhogue and our financial man Ajit Thakur.
However, the biggest thanks are reserved for our wives who have put up with us for all the times throughout this year. Without their supports we would all have been in the dog-house. One of them even braved through all the corridors of the buildings when three of the IACCGH directors went to Washington to meet the Senators and members of the Congress last February immediately after the earthquake in India. But that is another story for our website.
Now, it is my distinct pleasure to invite to the podium Hon. Rinzing Wangdi, The Consul General of India, our very first Advisor and someone I am proud to call a friend.