Disappointed and dissatisfied with the $ 10 million Washington has given for relief work in earthquake-devastated Gujarat, a bipartisan group of prominent Indian Americans, some of whom are active fund-raisers for Republicans and Democrats, are leading a rally in Washington.
Their demand: At least $ 100 million in emergency funding.
If at all there was hesitation to make the demand, it began to evaporate when such influential Senators as John Kerry (Democrat, Mass) and Sam Brownback (Republican, Kansas) criticized the George W Bush Administration for doing too little for the victims of the Gujarat quake.
The rally will take place at the East Side of Capitol building at noon on February 28 and will end three hours later. Several influential Indian community leaders and activists have planned to meet with their Congressional leaders a day before the rally. Organizers expect several law-makers to address the rally.
US Airways is offering fares to participants in the rally; tickets have to be purchased by February 21. Prominent Florida businessman Mahendra Gupta has offered to help with the hotel accommodation for February 27.
Meanwhile. Gujarat fund-raisers continue across the country.
"You must remember this," said Dr Mihir Meghani, a physician who addressed over 450 people at the Jain Bhavan in Milpitas, California, on Sunday. "This disaster is not over just because you have written your check."
The Jain Bhavan, situated in the heart of Silicon Valley, plans to raise at least $ 500,000. Dr Meghani says it is a noble aim, but he wants something more. "Be involved with the organizations that are doing relief work," he suggests. "And don't forget that it will take many years to rehabilitate the victims. Perhaps it would be a good idea to spend a few days in the state with relief organizations."
An emergency room physician, he spent nearly a week in Gujarat after the earthquake. He cancelled his pilgrimage to the Kumbh Mela, telling himself that serving humanity was more important than taking a sacred dip in Allahabad.
The Jain Bhavan, which has raised nearly $ 180,000 in pledges and donations, plans to adopt at least five villages in Gujarat.
It is one of the many organizations that have come forward to rebuild Gujarat. The Swaminaryanis at BAPS want to raise $ 100 million. The IndUS Entrepreneurs plans for at least $ 25 million; TiE has also floated an umbrella organization that could raise many more million dollars.
While community activists are aware of the ongoing efforts to raise money, many of them are worried that after a few weeks people could forget the tragedy in Gujarat. "The sense of urgency should not be allowed to slacken," said Jeevan Zutshi, a Bay Area businessman and activist. "We need to be behind Gujarat for many more years."
Washington DC: Shambu Banik, 202-342-3832
Atlanta: Krishna Srinivasa, 770-443-4300; Mike Patel: 770-938-2060
North Carolina: Swadesh Chaterjee, 919-859-3328
South Florida: Jack Curtis, 954-236-2933; Jitu Patel, 954-932-9200
New York: Dr Vijaypal Arya, 516-625-5886; Dr Kalpana Gupta, 718-326-0400
Houston: Sam Kannappan, 281-484-2270; Dr Durga Agrawal, 713 731-0030 extn 138
Columbus, OH: Nirmal Sinha, 614-846-4638
Pittsburgh: Shiv Sharma, 412-264-3334
New Jersey: Dr Sudhir Parikh, 908-755-5781
San Jose: Pratibha Mittal, 650-962-8742
Chicago: Nirmal Garg, 630-920-1989
Florida: Mahendra Gupta; fax 954 463-7100, firstname.lastname@example.org
US Airways confirmed their offer to fly participants into Washington's Dulles Airport or Baltimore, MD. Attendees will receive benefit of the discounts outlined below or special pricing. Restrictions apply.
Fares range from $ 200 to $ 300 roundtrip from around 40 states.
Call US Airways toll free at 877-874-7687 (press prompts 2, 1, 2) and refer to Gold File Number 67671905.
Web sites: http://www.hcsglobal.com/earthquake
Design: Lynette Menezes
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