Photography by: Bijay Dixit
Article by: Manu Shah
When India’s Consul General Rinzing Wangdi came to Houston eighteen years ago, one of his objectives was to bring about a deeper, long lasting and transformative change in the economic engagement between the US and India.
This vision led to the creation of the Indo American Chamber of Commerce of Greater Houston or IACCGH as it is better known. The organization, started in 1999 with 40 Indo American business leaders has become in the words of its Founding Secretary and Executive Director Jagdip Ahluwalia “the force that it is today.”
On February 13th, Founding members, Past Presidents, community leaders, elected official representatives and IACCGH members turned out to meet and reconnect with “the founding father of the Chamber” Rinzing Wangdi. In a gracious move that has become his hallmark, CG Dr. Anupam Ray invited the Chamber to host former CG and former Ambassador Wangdi’s luncheon at the Consulate.
IACCGH President Allen Richards welcomed the gathering. In his address, he described the Consulate as a “great location” and added that this venue “reinforces our vision as a Chamber and the commitment of the Consul General to foster the cultural and economic development we are trying to do within the community.”
Consul General Dr. Ray also mirrored the thought that the venue to welcome the former Consul General is fitting because it is “institution builders” like Ambassador Wangdi who pave the way for diplomats like himself. The CG also described the India US relationship as a “story which only has upsides” and reiterated the Consulate’s efforts to address all calls, complaints and emails in the shortest time possible.
The armchair conversation between Past President Sanjay Ramabhadran and former Ambassador Wangdi was rich in wit and wisdom and provided a glimpse into the fascinating life of a diplomat. The former Ambassador emphasized that the Foreign Services is more a “calling” than a service. His vision in creating an economic chamber, he elaborated, was not only to enable people, business and our countries to connect but to show the US that Indo Americans are serious about “being a part of the community.”
When asked what he thought was the game changer in the relationship between the two countries, the former Ambassador observed that public perception about India changed during President George Bush, Jr’s presidency and reached greater heights with President Obama. He also alluded to the early successes of the Chamber’s efforts with BMC Software and United Airlines and admitted that Houston ranked as one of his favorite postings.
Shell’s VP Fred Whipple, in his vote of thanks, noted that it was a privilege to sponsor the Series and added that he had been enriched by the lectures over the years. He also thanked the Chamber for their impact locally.