Unity Dinner 2011

IACF Recognized for Unifying Diverse Communities

IACF Recognized for Unifying Diverse Communities
By Archi Sarkar
Special to India-West

Fremont, Calif. – The Indo-American Community Federation’s Tenth Anniversary “Unity Dinner,”co-sponsored by the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin – San Francisco chapter, was a remarkable mélange of cultures.

More than 300 guests of varied ethnicities, including elected officials, gathered to celebrate and recognize extraordinary contributions made by individuals and organizations for the development of the community.

Since 2002, the “Unity Dinner“ has attracted the involvement of the Chinese, Korean, Filipino, Bangladesh, Hispanic and Afghani communities, presenting them with a forum to address and discuss common social issues, effectively strengthening unity through diversity.

The Bay Area’s ethnic organizations and elected city, state and federal representatives have also supported this endeavor over the years.

“The Silicon Valley is truly representative of what can be achieved when multiple cultures work together for a common cause,” San Jose city council member Ash Kalra told India-West

“It is important that we appreciate this unity and strive to strengthen it, so that we can continue to achieve greater things.”
Jim Wieder, former KGO-TV Channel 7 reporter/anchor and former president of the Hayward Chamber of Commerce, introduced the evening’s guest speakers.

State Assembly member Mary Hayashi was the first to address the audience and spoke about the advantages of diversity in Alameda County.

“The city of Fremont has the largest Asian population in all California,” Hayashi told India-West.” This is such a great celebration to be having here.”

Guest of honor Congressman Jerry McNerney,who acknowledged each of the elected public officials at the dinner for their hard work and support for the community, presented IACF founder Jeevan Zutshi with a certificate in recognition of his efforts to unite the community.

Cupertino Mayor Gilbert Wong also presented IACF with a commendation note from the City of Cupertino.

Supporting organizations at the event were the city of Fremont, Citizens for Better Community, Roman Reeds Foundation, Hispanic Unity Council, Ohlone College Foundation and the Federation of Indo-American Associations, among many others. 

One of the Bay Area’s Bollywood dance groups, Dance Identity, performed an entertaining medley of numbers from all over the world.

Creative director Shaira Bhan choreographed the numbers, drawing from more than five global dance styles that complemented the vibrant costumes.

CSU East Bay president Dr. Mo Qayoumi, as the keynote speaker, congratulated the IACF and Zutshi for their contributions to the community.

“Social science has shown that humans are highly social beings with very strong family associations, since they share common experiences,” Qayoumi, who is set to join San Jose State University as president this summer, said.
“Diversity helps us leverage different social experiences to enrich our social fabric.”

During the awards ceremony that followed the various speakers, the IACF recognized individuals and organizations for their extraordinary contributions toward promoting unity within the community. 

Assembly member Bob Weickowski and San Jose council member Ash Kalra were honored for “Unity through Politics”; the Hindu American Foundation received the “IACF Organization of the year” for Religious Diversity” award; and Anil Yadav was presented the “Unity through Business Development” award.

Other recipients included Trilochan (Bobby) Singh for “Unity through Service”; Lena Zee and Mahesh Nihilani for “Unity through Selfless Community Service”; Vandana Kumar of India Currents, “Unity through Journalism “ award; and Sujoy Sarkar, “Unity through Films and Broadcasting”  award.

“The support from the community at the ‘Unity Dinner’ has just been overwhelming”,” said Zutshi.

“It is gratifying to see that the vision we began with in 2002, after the twin towers collapsed, to unify and strengthen the community is gradually being realized.  We do hope to keep the annual event on-going, making it better with every year.”