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Pratham Houston Gala rakes in a record-breaking $1.2 million in quest to make India poverty free

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Vibhu Sharma, Shreela Sharma Photo by Anthony A. Hynes
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Manny Chana, Payal Chana Photo by Anthony A. Hynes
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Naach Houston performers Photo by Anthony A. Hynes
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Gwen Emmett, Ed Emmett Photo by Anthony A. Hynes
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Mahesh Mahbubani, Ruchi Mukherjee Photo by Anthony A. Hynes
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News_Pratham Gala_April 2012_Manny Chana_Payal Chana
News_Pratham Gala_April 2012_Naach Houston Performers
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News_Pratham Gala_April 2012_Mahesh Mahbubani_Ruchi Mukherjee

Indian saris mixed with ball gowns at the Hilton Americas-Houston as more than 800 people from a cross section of the city’s diverse communities gathered to support the annual Pratham Houston Gala, raising a whopping $1.2 million. Pratham is a Mumbai-based nonprofit that helps educate underprivileged children in India. 

The organization was founded in India in 1994 in the slums of Mumbai, and was later launched in Houston by Vijay Goradia, founder and chairman of Vinmar International. Today, Pratham is one of India's largest non-profits, with a presence in 21 of India's 28 states, and it has touched the lives of millions of children.

 "This means that over 60,000 children in India can get educated for an entire year,” Jain said. 

"We are One World" was the theme co-chairs Marie Goradia and Medha Karve chose for the evening, which began with cocktails in the foyer, where guests noshed on chicken tikkas, kabobs and other delicacies. Guests displayed a colorful array of Indian fashion wearing designers like Satya Paul, Manish Malhotra and even outfits tailored by Houston refugee women from Bhutan.

In a keynote addresses, Ajay Banga, president & CEO of Mastercard Worldwide, and Rukmini Banerji, director of Pratham programs, talked about Pratham's aim to make India poverty free by eradicating illiteracy and lifting the prospects of millions to make the country a success story. In between speeches and a three course Indian dinner, Naach Houston dancers entertained the audience.

With a target of $1 million, Pratham president Swatantra Jain was overjoyed with the record breaking, unprecedented amount. "This means that over 60,000 children in India can get educated for an entire year, be rescued from a vulnerable lifestyle or attend a vocational training institute and have a shot at a brighter future,” Jain said.

Seen in the crowd: Judge Ed Emmett and Gwen Emmett, Asha Dhume, Pradeep Anand, Vibhu and Shreela Sharma, Subodh Bhuchar, Sam and Omana Abraham, Virendra Mathur, Manish Jain, Vijay and Marie Goradia, Suresh and Renu Khator, Bobby and Priti Singh, Akku Patel, Sanjay and Savita Rao.

Ruchi Mukherjee is a lifestyle feature journalist for TV Asia and host of Lights Camera Action, an online magazine that covers Houston Indo-American society news.

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