IADO celebrates 38 years of activism for S. Asians

IADO Board of Directors with US Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal from Washington State, (center), the Keynote Speaker
IADO Board of Directors with US Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal from Washington State, (center), the Keynote Speaker

CHICAGO: With over 200 elected officials, candidates and South Asian community leaders, the Indo-American Democratic Organization (IADO) celebrated its 38th year of political activism for the growing South Asian American community in Chicago and Illinois. This year’s theme was: “This Is What Democracy Looks Like”.

Welcoming members and the guests to the banquet, Ram Villivalam, President IADO highlighted how engagement in the political process through grassroots efforts has led to more South Asian Americans winning seats in various local and national races, including Illinois’ very own Raja Krishnamoorthi, a strong supporter of the organization.

“We did more than elect an Asian American to every level of government. We got out the vote,” said Villivalam, serving his second term as President of IADO. He added “but with President Trump, we’re appalled by his anti-immigrant policies and reject in the strongest possible terms an ugliness in American politics which had led to hate crimes and harassment against members of our own community.”

The evening was also an opportunity for board Vice President Tom Kalayil to announce its recent endorsement of former IADO Board member, current Illinois State Senator and gubernatorial candidate Daniel Biss. Kalayil highlighted State Senator Biss’s many accomplishments while he has served in office. Biss then talked about the failed policies of Illinois current Governor, Bruce Rauner as well as highlighting his vision for Illinois including a balanced budget, reformed property tax code and job growth.

Shajan Kuriakose, IADO’s current Secretary paid tribute to the organization’s founding Secretary, Philip Kalayil, who passed away in March of this year. He talked about Kalayil’s journey to America in 1956, the challenges he faced in building a better future for his family, his involvement with the South Asian community and dedication to service.

Founding President Ranjit Ganguly and current President Ram Villivalam presented the award to Tom Kalayil, Sales Kalayil, Ann (Lata) Kalayil and son in law Tom Pullakat. An additional presentation was made by Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi who entered into record the United States’ House of Representative record a proclamation honoring Mr. Kalayil.

The Indian community’s adopted daughter and Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky introduced the Keynote Speaker of the evening, the first Indian American in the U.S. House of Representatives, Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal -who received a standing ovation.

Pramila Jayapal from Washington State talked about her familial roots, her early advocacy work and success in negotiating Seattle’s $15 minimum wage among her current work. She also addressed the need for more work and further action in order to elect more South Asian Americans in office.

Founded in 1980, IADO is a leading political action committee for the South Asian American community. Led by a new dynamic board of directors, IADO engages and mobilizes South Asian Americans in the political process and represents the needs and priorities of the community to Chicago’s and Illinois’ political leadership.

Ramesh Soparawala
India Post News Service

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