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September 1, 1999

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Kargil Fundraiser In Atlanta Big Hit

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NFIA Leader Moots The Idea of Adopting Jawans's Families

A P Kamath

Subhash Razdan, one of the main organizers of a cultural event that grossed over $ 40,000 to help the families of soldiers killed in Kargil, knows exactly why the concert clicked.

"We were focussed," he says. "Our fundraiser was not a byproduct of a parade or a similar event." The organizers -- including the National Federation of Indian American Associations, the Hindu Temple of Atlanta and other members of the Indian American community in Atlanta -- also collected medicines worth $ 10,000

Two thirds of the net collection will be sent to India; one third will go to the Children's Wish Foundation, an American charity.

"After accounting for the expenses, we should be able to send over $ 20,000 in cash, and medicines worth $ 10,000 to India," Razdan, a former president of the NFIA, and chairman of NFIA trustees, said.

"We know several other cities have had fundraisers exclusively for the Kargil cause. But if every major city had one big event like ours, focussing solely on Kargil, we could raise huge money."

The Soor Milap concert held last weekend to benefit the Kargil cause was sold out, drawing about 600 people, Razdan said.

"Our effort showed that Kargil is remembered beyond the big cities of New York, Chicago and Los Angeles," Razdan said. He added the NFIA has plans to start a program in which Indian Americans will adopt families of soldiers killed in Kargil.

"NFIA will be a broker between the Indian and American families," Razdan said, adding that newsletters about the program will be sent to the ethnic media soon.

"Indian families here could do a lot of things for the families of Kargil soldiers," he said. "They could help the children get first rate education in India, they could help the families start business and who knows, if some of the children want to study in the United States, and if they are qualified, their host family in America could be of help."

The Soor Milap concert was a joint performance by Raj and Smruti Pandya and an American band Catawampus Universe, assembled under the banner of the Gandharva Orchestra. In a two-and-a-half hour concert, the two groups blended Hindi and English songs and Eastern and Western beats.

Classical Indian dances were followed by Flamenco and Middle Eastern dances.

The program started with the Indian and American national anthems. The evening included the rendering of Ae Mere Watan Ke Logon by Smruti Pandya.

"One of the most important achievements of the fundraiser was the involvement of second generation Indian Americans," Razdan said. "They helped creating the event, they performed for the event, and they helped keep the logistics working."

At the event, Tanya Finley who accepted the contributions on behalf of the Children's Wish Foundation, expressed her gratitude by presenting a plaque to NFIA and the Hindu Temple for helping her charity with this donation. The Foundation was started on the premise that seriously ill children are not able to experience a normal, carefree childhood, and thus the Foundation would strive to provide an experience of a lifetime in the form of a favorite wish for these children.

Mahesh C Patel, the overall coordinator of the event, said the Atlanta event's success should lead to more fundraisers across America.

At the event, Patel recognized a special guest, Sonia Masih, a coach of the Indian Olympic contingent for winning numerous medals for India during the recent Special Olympics for the disabled in the USA. He said it is commendable that Masih has started a special school for the disabled in New Delhi.

For additional information, please contact Subash Razdan at 770-333-9781 (h); 404-603-9271 (w); email: subashrazdan@yahoo.com

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