BY NEETU CHAUHAN
Atlanta, GA, February 7, 2022: Despite the complications of cold weather and Covid protocols, the evening event in honor of Shantanu Gupta, the writer of the book The Monk Who Transformed Uttar Pradesh, was a sold-out event, attended by more than 250 members of Indian American community at GokulDham Haveli, Atlanta. Well-organized and engaging, the event was led by Dhiru Shah and Rajeev Menon and a team of the India Awareness Foundation– Amitabh Sharma, Shobha Swamy, Himanshu Kanwal, and Neetu Chauhan.
The event began with a sumptuous dinner provided by GokulDham, during which the audience enjoyed a Meet and Greet hour to socialize with other attendees and secure autographs from Shantanu Gupta, a world-renowned author and TEDx speaker. The audience were treated to an artistic showcase, with a vintage repertoire of songs starting with Vande Mataram and Bharat Mata, a self-composed song by Jyothsna Nanu. Students from Deeksha School of Performing Arts, Sanjana Menon, Manasa Prasad, Maya Narayanan and Ashwika Anil Nair, presented a beautiful dance based on one of the famous kritis of Saint Thygaraja “Samaja Vara Gamana”, choreographed by their teacher Anupa Thakurta.
The attendees were warmly welcomed by emcee Neetu Singh Chauhan with an introduction of Shantanu Gupta. Dhiru Shah, President and one of the founding members of India Awareness Foundation (IAF) welcomed him and gave a brief introduction of IAF.
IAF was started in 1996 and was later registered with IRS as a non-profit organization with the main objective of creating awareness amongst Indian Americans and mainstream American society about the glory of India’s ancient civilization, its contributions to the world civilization in every field of human endeavor and Dharmic traditions. IAF has organized several lectures and seminars by prominent speakers and writers including Dr. Subramanian Swamy since its inception. Amongst a few noteworthy actions included petition to the Indian government in the year 2000 for removal of the article 370 of the Indian constitution, Appeal to CA Education Board in 2004 to change the curriculum of Indian history in the six grade schoolbooks and a petition to the AAR (American Academy of Religion) to investigate the prevalence of Hindu phobia in the American academia.
The renowned author had kickstarted a multi-city tour of the US with some of his bestseller books based on UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. Gupta’s tour of 3 weeks included events in New York, New Jersey, Boston, Washington D.C., Raleigh, Chicago, Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles and San Diego and San Francisco. Each of these events were organized by the Indian American diaspora strongly connected with their motherland. The guest was honored by many eminent figures in Atlanta, including Dhiru Shah, Rajeev Menon, Ashok Patel, Pravin Patel, Himanshu Karnwal, Bob Erramilli, Amitabh Sharma, and Tejas Patwa.
Earlier in the morning the author was given a tour of CNN & Olympic Park and was honored by Prof. Jagdish Sheth, author of numerous articles and books, a recipient of Padma Bhushan award and is well-known for his scholarly contributions in consumer behavior, relationship marketing, competitive strategy, and geopolitical analysis.
The evening session began with a Q & A session moderated by emcee Neetu Chauhan where Shantanu Gupta detailed the themes of his two bestseller books—The Monk Who Transformed Uttar Pradesh and The Monk Who Became Chief Minister. According to Shantanu, with the election approaching in the coming weeks, many are curious as to how a monk could transform the situation of a state once titled “bimaru rajya”. He explained that the incumbent Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh has renovated the state in terms of development, bringing crime under control and priming Uttar Pradesh for industrial investment. He elaborated on how Yogi Adityanath has recast U.P. into a peaceful state, where people can move freely, and women feel safe. Checking other boxes like handling the COVID-19 pandemic, increasing health and transport infrastructure across districts and regions like Purvanchal and Bundelkhand, and supporting the livelihoods of common people and workers inclined to migrate, Shantanu’s evaluation and reasoning resounded strongly with the audience and their values.
Before concluding his talk, Shantanu played an online quiz about the CM Yogi Adityanath. All in all, it was a thought provoking, enjoyable, enthusiastic, and much-appreciated program, providing insight into the progress and development of UP to the Indian diaspora in Atlanta.
The Vote of thanks was given by the organizer Rajeev Menon who thanked all the volunteers who worked tirelessly in a short span of time to organize the event, all the artists who performed, all media personnel who covered the event and all the attendees who showed up despite the bad weather and bought all the books.