The Art of Giving: AIF Raises $1.8 Million

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AIF Spring Gala - Ajit and Tinku Jain with guests

AIF Spring Gala - Ajit and Tinku Jain with guests

AIF Spring Gala 2011

There were hugs and handclasps galore as New York’s rich and powerful mingled in the beautifully lit up Cipriani Wall Street which is located, appropriately enough, in the Financial District where so many fortunes are made. Over 500 movers and shakers had gathered to applaud another great performance in the art of giving. The occasion was American India Foundation (AIF) Spring Gala to felicitate not the biggest spenders – but the biggest givers of them all, the leading philanthropists.

AIF Spring Gala -Grammy Nominated singer Chandrika Tandon

Chandrika Tandon, who was nominated for a Grammy, performs at the AIF Gala

AIF’s Decade of Giving

The glittering cavernous ballroom glowed with beautiful, coiffed and jeweled guests, a virtual who’s who of the business, technology, entrepreneurial and society world. You could spot many noted names from Victor Menezes to Ajit Jain to Sant Singh Chatwal. The highlight of the evening was a soul-stirring performance by Grammy Nominated Chandrika Krishnamurthy Tandon and her musicians, a little taste of heaven.

TV personality Tinku Jain, the mistress of ceremonies and a long time supporter of AIF, spoke eloquently about her own experiences in giving and introduced the giving tribe: Shiv Nadar, founder and Chairman of HCL Group, and the Citi Foundation were honored for their contributions to philanthropy in India and around the world. .The leadership in Philanthropy Award went to Dr. Suri Sehgal, Chairman of the Sehgal Family Foundation, Raj B. Vattikuti, Chairman of the Vattikuti Foundation, and Dr. Romesh Wadhwani, Chairman of the Wadhwani Foundation.

AIF Spring Gala - Romesh Wadhwani, CEO Managing partner, Symphony Technology Group, Ravi Reddy, Co-Founder, Managing partner, Think Capital LLC, Lata Krishnan

Romesh Wadhwani, CEO Managing partner, Symphony Technology Group, Ravi Reddy, Co-Founder, Managing partner, Think Capital LLC, Lata Krishnan

Guests enjoyed a simple, elegant meal by Chef Hemant Mathur of Tulsi.  At this exclusive club for givers, Rahul Kadakia, a senior vice president at Christie’s, turned a savvy auctioneer for a good cause and raised lots of cash for AIF – not through bids on art or jewels – but on projects to help the needy.

Since its founding a decade ago, AIF has raised over $70 million for its programs in education, livelihoods and public health, affecting millions of lives in India.  All in all, the evening had many reaching for their checkbooks and a whopping $ 1.8 million was raised through auctions, raffles and pledges.

The majority of these funds are earmarked for AIF’s educational program Digital Equalizer, a computer aided learning program which bridges the learning divide in India for children in governmental schools.

(This first appeared in Hi Blitz)

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Lavina Melwani is a New York-based journalist who writes for several international publications. Twitter@lavinamelwani & @lassiwithlavina Sign up for the free newsletter to get your dose of Lassi!

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