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Several Indian Americans on the White House State Dinner guest list

BY VEENA RAO
Cover photo: President Biden and Jill Biden with PM Modi during the ceremonial welcome at the White House. Photo courtesy: White House

Washington, June 23: Several Indian Americans were part of the State Dinner hosted by President Biden in honor of Prime Minister Modi on Thursday, June 23. The guest list included the who’s who from the political, business, entertainment, and media fields including Vice President Kamala Harris, Google’s Sundar Pichai, Microsoft’s Satya Nadella, Savannah native Kiran Ahuja who is the Director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, Netflix’s Bela Bajaria among others.

For the first time in recent history, the menu for the State Dinner was entirely plant-based. Prime Minister Modi is a strict vegetarian.

The five Indian Americans in the US Congress– Ami Bera, Ro Khanna, Raja Krishnamoorthy, Shri Thanedar, and Pramila Jayapal were on the list. Interestingly, Jayapal, a progressive Democratic, has in the past spoken out against some of Modi’s policies.

Other notables from the political world included Aruna Miller, Lieutenant Governor of Maryland, Mala Adiga, Deputy Assistant to the President, Salman Ahmed, Director of Policy Planning Staff, U.S. Department of State, Vivek Murthy, US Surgeon General and Shekhar Narasimhan, Chairman and Founder of the AAPI Victory Fund.

Apart from Pichai and Nadella, the list of guests from the business world included former Pepsico CEO Indra Nooyi among others. Mukesh Ambani, Anand Mahindra, and Nikhil Kamath were the only three Indian businessmen to be invited to the State Dinner.

Hollywood director M. Night Shyamalan, author and self-help guru Jay Shetty, and author Abraham Verghese were some of the other notables on the list.

Indian Ambassador to the US, Taranjit Singh Sandhu, who played a key part in organizing the 7000-strong diaspora at the South Lawn of the White House for the ceremonial welcome for Modi on Thursday morning, was also on the dinner list.

The vegetarian dinner was not Indian, but included some Indian influences. The first course was a salad made with marinated millet, grilled corn, and compressed watermelon with an avocado sauce.

The main course was a stuffed portobello mushroom with creamy saffron-infused risotto.

The dessert was a rose- and cardamom-infused strawberry shortcake.

Earlier in the day, President Biden and PM Modi addressed a 7000-strong crowd of predominantly Indian Americans who had gathered from around the country to witness a historic event.

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