AIF Spring Gala: Helping Young Indians to Shine




AIF Spring Gala

AIF CEO Ravi Kumar, Ritu Banga, Honoree Ajay Banga, WaterHealth International VP Corporate Affairs Jacqueline Lundquist

AIF Gala Raises $1.5 Million

When Amartya Sen, Professor of Economics and Philosophy at Harvard University, Ajay Banga, President and CEO, MasterCard and Prannoy Roy, Executive Co-Chairperson, NDTV speak, people listen.  The three had a thoughtful panel discussion on India’s development at the recent American India Foundation’s (AIF)  Annual Spring Gala in Manhattan at the Sheraton Hotel. They were the honorees of the evening, along with Radhika Roy, co-chair of NDTV, who was unable to come in from India.

It  was a power-packed evening with over 580 people from the worlds of business, arts and philanthropy. AIF, whose honorary chair is President Bill Clinton, has impacted the lives of more than 1.7 million of India’s poor. This glittering gala was chaired by Chip Kaye, Co-President of Warburg Pincus LLC. The evening’s emcee was Sheila Dharmajaran, Markets Reporter for Bloomberg Television. Guests mingled at a packed cocktail party before moving in to a sit-down dinner.  The evening had a music performance by noted jazz pianist Vijay Iyer,  dinner by Jehangir Mehta, chef of  Mehtaphor and Graffiti, and this was followed by a  silent auction of luxury and desired objects which included a cricket bat signed by Shah Rukh Khan.

AIF supporters had come in from India, California, Boston and Chicago, all for a cause, and welcoming them were Pradeep Kashyap, Vice President of AIF and AIF board members – Lata Krishnan, Victor Menezes, Dinesh Paliwal and Arvind Raghunathan. Menezes who is the founding chair was recently elected as Chair Emeritus of AIF.

This gathering of the power people raised big bucks – $ 1. 5 million – for AIF’s Market Aligned Skills Training (MAST) Program which provides underprivileged youths skill training in India. As AIF’s CEO Ravi Kumar pointed out, 100 % of the funding goes towards the AIF programs, and the impact is multiplied with collaborations with corporations, foundations and state governments.



Photos by Mark Bennington



Changing Children’s Lives

The effect these dollars have can be seen in the real changes in children’s lives. The star of the evening was Rubeena Mustafa, a young Muslim girl from a poor background who, thanks to MAST and its partner Vatsalya, not only received skill training but also the spotlight as a performer on the popular TV show ‘Bharat Ki Shaan’. She performed at the AIF Gala and there was a genuine sense of accomplishment for both the singer as well as for the donors and supporters. After all, the only thing that tastes sweeter than success is success one has helped initiate.


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About Author

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

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