Minister Lakshmaiah Invites NRIs to AP, Agrees to Attend PanIIT Conference

Ponnala Lakshmaiah, Information Technology Minister of Andhra Pradesh with Lavika Bhagat Singh, President of the Washington DC Chapter of the Indian National Overseas Congress (I), US

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Washington, DC – Ponnala Lakshmaiah, a former NRI in the US and present day Information Technology Minister in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, highlighted at an event here on January 22 the touching experience he had at the inauguration of President Barack Obama.

Speaking to Tejinder Singh, editor of India America Today, on the sidelines of a roundtable event, the minister shared his experience of sitting for five and a half hours in bitter cold and watching nearly a million people enduring the elements for the inauguration festivities.

Asked what he is taking back from the official inauguration, the minister said, “Democracy, equality, no discrimination, equal opportunity and that a human being is a human being. All must be given equal opportunity. Race, religion, caste, creed should not come in the way of opportunities.”

Although the primary purpose of his visit was to represent the people of India at the inauguration of President Barack Obama, the minister took the opportunity to interact with IT professionals and entrepreneurs and discuss the various openings and incentives that the Andhra Pradesh government is offering as Hyderabad, one of the emerging prime IT centers, develops by leaps and bounds.

Minister Lakshmaiah, who had attended the Obama inauguration ceremony the previous day, said, “The best day of my life was yesterday, hailing from the largest democracy of the world at the inauguration of the President of the oldest democracy of the world and the second best day is today when I am amongst all of you at this elite venue, the Fulbright Center.”

“Hyderabad has a wonderful infrastructure today and it is rated as third least expensive place in the world after two places in China and Malaysia,” the minister told India America Today.

Eulogizing the role played by NRIs over the decades, the minister said, “Both Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. B.R. Ambedkar were NRIs and see what happened with their efforts.”

“Since 1991, when there was a financial crisis in India, the NRIs came forward to help then Prime Minister late P.V. Narsimha Rao and his finance minister Manmohan Singh,” said the minister, who belongs to the ruling Congress party. He added that NRIs, with the passage of time, “have a greater role to play, with their knowledge of technology.”

The roundtable discussion was organized by the Washington, DC Chapter of the Indian National Overseas Congress (I), US.

Other prominent attendees included Mark Brunner, representing Senator Mark Warner who had taken a trip to Hyderabad 11 months previously; Mohammed Reda, Incoming Chair of the Northern Virginia Technology Council, International Affairs Committee; Christine Warnke, Senior Governmental Affairs Advisor at Hogan Lovells and a Board Member of UDC Foundation, a co-sponsor of the event; Professor Paul Nehru Tennassee, along with Lavika Bhagat Singh, President of the Washington DC Chapter of the Indian National Overseas Congress (I), US.

Moreover, accepting the invitation, Minister Lakshamaiah confirmed that he would be attending the PanIIT 2013 Global Conference to be held in Houston, Texas from December 6-8, 2013.

According to the organizers, the aim of the conference is to bring together “the best and the brightest”- graduates of the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), many of whom have been responsible for advances and innovation in engineering, science and technology, in the US and other countries.

The conference is typically attended by IIT alumni and other technologists and scientists who wish to connect with and learn from leaders and innovators, and participate in inspiring discussions.

Previous keynote speakers have included Bill Gates, Bill Clinton, and Jack Welch. As in previous years, the 2013 event will have sessions focused on innovations in Information Technology (IT), Energy, Biotechnology, Healthcare, Policy, Social Entrepreneurship, and General Business and Financial Management, designed to inspire IITians and others to develop and deliver the next big idea for tomorrow.

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