By Ajay Ghsoh
New York: To expand the Indian National Overseas Congress (INOC) in the US, and to inaugurate the Kerala chapter and induct its first president, Varughese Kalathil, hundred of its members gathered in Long Island on September 17.
The historic event had several distinguished guests, who were eager to extend their felicitations to the opening of INOC’s 15th chapter. Har-deep Singh Puri, Indian Aambassador to the United Nations, inaugurated the event by lauding Kerala as a state of many socio-economic successes, including the highest national literacy rate and a renowned culture of women’s empowerment. The Ambassa-dor explained that despite his role as a non-partisan civil servant, he was pleased to participate in the function given the crucial role that the Congress Party played in the freedom struggle. He encouraged members of the community to continue to practice their rich civic heritage in the United States.
Other distinguished speakers included New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, who ex-pressed his full confidence in the community’s choice of Varughese Kalathil as the first president of the Kerala chapter, a George Washington of the community in that sense. As a former student of history, DiNapoli said he valued the importance of ethnic communities that enriched the cultural and democratic fabric of New York. Nassau County Police Commissioner, Law-rence Mulvey stated that the diversity and safety of Nassau County was what truly made it a unique place to live.
President of INOC Dr. Surinder Malhotra, appreciated the complexity and participation that Malayalees brought to the long history of INOC. He recognized the tireless efforts of INOC executive general secretary George Abraham in forming of the Kerala chapter over the past years. Dr. Malhotra testified to the character and caliber of Varughese Kalathil, and voiced his expectation to see great work emerge from the chapter under his leadership.
Varughese Kalathil promised to do his utmost to motivate the Kerala community’s support of the INOC goals and objectives. He exhorted the committee to move forward in unity, promoting democracy and secularism in India through continued close cooperation between two great democracies — India and the USA.
George Abraham explained the structure, goals and objectives of the newly created Kerala chapter that would have an executive committee and a national advisory committee. These bodies would have focal points from across the country, who would be encouraged to plant new units of the Kerala chapter in their respective states.
On September 29, George Abraham, and Chakot Radhakrishnan, executive vice president of the Indian National Overseas Congress, also paid a visit to Minister A.K. Antony at the Willard Hotel in Washington DC.
Abraham briefed him on the recent activities of the INOC that included the inauguration of the Kerala chapter and discussed a number of issues that are of concern to the Diaspora.