“Bold” and “mainstream” would be the words I’d use to describe how Indian community leaders achieved their goal.
A decade ago, the Indian population in Washington state was barely noticeable. Today, Indian immigrants are a visible force.
It has been interesting to watch the youngest group of the Asian community. Last year, the Indian community had successfully installed Mahatma Gandhi’s statue at the Bellevue Library. There will be an Indian consul office in Bellevue. The Chinese and Filipino communities are much bigger than the Indian community, but neither have a consulate in Seattle.
This year, the Indian community is organizing its first trade mission from Washington state to the state of Orissa in India. It took the Chinese, Filipinos, and Japanese more than a century to realize what they need to do in order to organize trade missions from Washington state to their native lands in Asia. It took additional years to realize their dreams. But the Indian community, who just got here, understands the importance of trade missions.
The Washington State India Trade Relations Action Committee, led by Debadutta Dash and Habib Habib, got it done in a short time.
The dynamic duo went straight to the mainstream and received backing from the Port of Seattle’s Chief Tay Yoshitani, Liet. Gov. Brad Owen, and Congressman Jim McDermott (who has been to India 22 times).
To kick off the event, the Committee gave out its first Building Bridges Across the Nations Award at the Space Needle. Most Asian groups would do it the old way, use the occasion to raise money. There’s nothing wrong with using an event to raise money except it is time-consuming and energy-draining, which could distract from its main purpose.
Dash and Habib did it without raising a dime from the Asian community. They had only one sponsor, Akshya Parija, a shipping tycoon from India.
Dash is a Hindu from Orissa, and Habib is a Muslim born in Tanzania, Africa. They met in Seattle. Dash said Habib is his mentor. The two leaders show that differences should not be a hurdle and diversity is their strength. ♦