Indo American Community Foundation Holds Virtual Unity Dinner Amid COVID 19 Pandemic

By SUNITA SOHRABJI/India-West Staff Reporter
May 28, 2020

Jeevan Zutshi, founder of the Indo American Community Foundation, kicked off the 19 annual Unity Dinner May 23, held via Zoom this year due to the COVID 19 pandemic. “We have witnessed both positive and negative impacts during this crisis,” said the long-time Indian American community activist. “We have lost our freedom to venture out, but nature has defeated man for the rst time,” said Zutshi, seen here at the 2018 Unity Dinner. (IACF photo)

FREMONT, California — More than 2,800 people Zoomed in May 23 for the Indo American Community Foundation’s 19 annual Unity Dinner.

The annual event, which featured numerous Indian American political and civic leaders and local musicians, was held virtually for the rst time, as several Northern California counties reissued shelter-in-place orders amid the COVID 19 pandemic, which has killed more than 101,000 people nationwide as of May 27.

The usually peaceful event, however, saw long-time Rep. Anna Eshoo, who was scheduled to give a keynote speech during the dinner, reportedly nding herself unable to virtually enter the brieng when she attempted to speak on the call. Eshoo, who represents portions of the Silicon Valley, is being challenged by fellow Democrat Rishi Kumar, who enjoys support within the Indian American community. An insider speculated to India-West that Eshoo might have purposely been left on the sidelines by a supporter for the challenger.

But Jeevan Zutshi, founder of the Indo American Community Foundation, told India-West that Eshoo had accepted that it was a technical glitch on her part. “Due to technical issues, she was unable to connect,” he said.

Zutshi stands rmly behind Eshoo, who has served California’s 18 Congressional District since 1993. “Anna has been a key supporter for the Indian American community. We need to be ambitious, but not at the cost of members who have consistently supported us. I would love to see Anna win again and again,” he said.

During the March 3 California primary, Kumar took second place to Eshoo, with 16.3 percent of the vote. Eshoo garnered 61.7 percent.

“We have witnessed both positive and negative impacts during this crisis,” said Zutshi at the Unity Dinner. “We have lost our freedom to venture out, but nature has defeated man for the rst time.”

Speaking at the event, Rep. Ro Khanna, D-California, who represents portions of the Silicon Valley and Fremont, criticized President Donald Trump for engaging in demagoguery and racial proling amid the pandemic. He championed state and local leaders, who, he said, “are focused on science, solidarity, and facts.”

“We relied on our public health ofcials. We did not get on planes and we sheltered in place early,” Khanna said of Californians. “The situation is not like New York.”

New York state has seen a staggering death toll of 23,282 deaths from more than 360,000 conrmed infections.

Khanna extended his gratitude to front-line essential workers, including health care professionals and “the guy who picks our trash up.” He advocated for fair pay for essential workers.

Fremont Vice Mayor Raj Salwan also championed essential workers. “Our lives have been turned completely upside down. We depend on our front-line workers.”

Salwan optimistically said the crisis could bring about “our nest hour. Our children and our grandchildren will look back on this time and say we were strong.”

Other community leaders who spoke at the dinner included: Fremont Mayor Lily Mei; California state Senator Bob Wieckowski; California state Assembly member Kansen Chu; Dave Cortese, who sits on the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors; Fremont Police Chief Kimberly Petersen; former Fremont city councilwoman Anu Natarajan; and Fremont re chief Curtis Jacobson. A number of local business owners also spoke about the impact of the pandemic on their small businesses.

Maneshwar Judge and Dr. Amitesh Mihra gave a musical performance as well as a quartet from Sangam Arts featuring musicians playing cello, sitar, tabla, and pipa, a Chinese stringed instrument.

Unity Dinner 2023

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