MU’s first India day, hosted by the Cultural Association of India, is an event two years in the making.
India Day will showcase academic achievements by Indian students, professors and those studying the country. Just four days after Republic Day, the second half of the event will commemorate the 67th anniversary of the new constitution.
This free event will take place from 2 to 6 p.m. at the Anheuser-Busch Conservation Auditorium.
In addition to campus recognition, CAI will host distinguished speakers. The chief guest, Consul General of India Ausaf Sayeed, will be traveling to MU from the Indian embassy in Chicago to speak about India-U.S. diplomacy and career development. Dr. Surendra Gupta, president of American Radiolabeled Chemicals, Inc. will discuss his transition from academia life to becoming an entrepreneur and his life in the U.S. MU Interim Chancellor Hank Foley is set to introduce the speakers.
CAI, one of the oldest student organizations on campus, supports students who have ties to India and hosts primarily cultural events.
Smita Aggarwal, vice president of CAI, looks forward to the guests and sees this as a great opportunity for students to learn from the careers and lives of people who travelled far from home and had incredible success.
“It highlights the achievements of the Indian community at Mizzou, and it also brings together people from different walks of life,” Aggarwal said.
In addition to the research that will be presented during India Day, cultural performances by Bal Sabha Group will be showcased. The organization also plans to honor both Indian and American culture by playing the respective national anthems.
The planning of India Day was not all smooth sailing. Initially, CAI officers had a difficult time conceptualizing a focus for their event since they had never hosted India Day before, President Prathamesh Bandekar said. They struggled with structure, and their original budget was not approved.
“We were not sure who the guests would be and we did not have any kind of a time frame, so it took some time to work on that,” Treasurer Piyashi Bhattacharyya said. “Finally we had that approved.”
Aggarwal, Bandekar and Bhattacharyya first came to the U.S. for graduate school at MU. They said that one of the first organizations they interacted with was CAI, and that they want other incoming students to feel just as welcome as they did upon arrival. Another goal is to make sure their events are accommodating not only to MU’s campus, but the broader Columbia community as well.
“We have common roots,” Bhattacharyya said. “We are all Indian. We want to contribute to that and have the home feeling.”
The organization also hopes to reach out to other members of the community interested in learning about India and its campus connections.
“It’s an opportunity to showcase Indian culture, the deep and rich culture of India,” Bandekar said.