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More than Rs 6 crore raised for Modi's Silicon Valley event

Last updated on: September 22, 2015 09:38 IST

The organisers of Modi's Silicon Valley event will have only a few hours to get the stage ready after the Shark Tanks' ice hockey game at the SAP Centre ends.

Ritu Jha/Rediff.com reports from California on how volunteers are working night and day to make the event a success.

Organisers of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's reception in Silicon Valley on Sunday, September 27, have raised over $950,000 (around Rs 6.25 crore/Rs 62.5 million) for the event.

Indian-American comedian Rajiv Satyal, television journalist Raj Mathai and Bollywood actress Ashwini Bhave will emcee the reception.

Modi will speak from a stage built atop an ice floor in the middle of the SAP Centre arena in San Jose.

Khanderao Kand, director, Indo-American Community of West Coast, the organisation set up to host Modi's SAP Centre event, told Rediff.com that the Indian national anthem will be sung by students of Mahesh Kale, who teaches North Indian classical vocal music in Sunnyvale, California.

Veeru Vuppala, who is in charge of the stage arrangements, told Rediff.com its dimensions would be 40 feet by 40 feet with a 8-foot round platform in the middle that would rotate very slowly. "It's a 360-degree rotation and everybody can see him," Vuppala said.

"Typically at the arena, concerts are held in one corner, but here we are building the stage in the middle of the arena. This will help an extra 2,000 people to view him," Vuppala addded.

Modi's speech will be telecast live and can be viewed at www.pmmodiinca.org

The SAP Centre hosts several events annually, but its primary tenant is the San Jose Sharks of the National Hockey League, a professional ice hockey league nicknamed the Shark Tank.

"Until Saturday night they have a Shark Tank game," Vuppala said. "So the conversion of the rink into a stage will happen only after the game."

"It was challenging at the beginning, but now I think we have things under control," Dr Vijay Chauthaiwale, the global convener of the Bharatiya Janata Party who is coordinating the event, said.

Modi, Dr Chauthaiwale added, will appear on stage by 5.30 pm. He will return to New York the same night.

Asked about the protest planned by the Sikhs for Justice outside Facebook's headquarters when Modi will host a town hall event on Sunday morning, Dr Chauthaiwale said the prime minister was unconcerned about it. "This is more a technology trip," Dr Chauthaiwale said.

Venktesh Shukla, TiE Silicon Valley president, said the organisers had initially committed to raise $300,000 from corporates, but in fact raised $400,000.

"We got funds from Adobe Systems Inc, SanDisk Corporation, Sify, Lockheed Martin, Juniper Networks, The Wadhwani Foundation and Sanmina Corporation. Most of them gave $50,000," Shukla told Rediff.com

Over 40,000 people have registered for the event, Naren Gupta, co-founder, Nexus Venture Partners and co-chair, Indo-American Community of West Coast, said. The SAP Centre can seat 18,500 people.

"It was like a start-up project," Gupta said, "lots of people involved with great ideas. Some worked, some did not. The level of thinking is tremendous and I feel fortunate working with them."

The gates at the SAP Centre will open at 2.30 pm and close at 5 pm. Cell phones will be allowed inside the venue, but no cameras will be permitted.

Modi will speak in Hindi and since the San Francisco Bay Area has a high number of South Indians, there is some concern about the language barrier. There will be some closed captioning and headphones for dignitaries, the organisers said, though they were not clear about the arrangements for the rest of the audience.

Rakhi Israni, media chair, Indo-American Community of West Coast, said over 300 mediapersons have registered for the event, 80 from India.

Janardhan Jampala of the registration team told Rediff.com he has taken a week off from work to work for Modi's community reception.

"We have been working not just on weekends, but on weekdays as well," Jampala, a software engineer, said.

Also working on the ticket registration team is Nitin Joshi who said, "We have to follow up logistics with the SAP Centre as well as cooperate with 400 organisations."

"That is challenging," Joshi added.

Ritu Jha in California