By Chitti Babu Pacharu
A rare thing happened in in the United States for the Indian community recently at the era where we see some disturbing hate crimes; news about the Congressman from North Carolina George Holding should work as a ray of hope for Indian community in USA.
Congressman George Holding expressed his care for the Indian community in a unique manner recently when he got the US flag to fly over the US Capitol in remembrance of Indian born businessman Vimal Kolappa’s mother who died in India on February 26, 2017.
Congressman George Holding, known for his caring nature to all his constituents, including Indian community, expressed his care in a unique manner when he got the US flag to fly over the US Capitol in remembrance of Indian born businessman Vimal Kolappa’s mother, Mrs Vimala Padmanabhan Kolappa, who had died in India.
This is the first-time that the flag hoisting was done for an Indian mother of an Immigrant in USA. This is what Congressman George Holding said in his personal message: “I was pleased to honor Mrs. Kolappa by having a flag flown over the Capitol in her memory. Vimal Kolappa is a good man and an example of the American Dream. I am proud to call him and his family my friends.”
Kolappa said, “It is a great honor. It is one of the greatest honors for the Indian community, consolidating the bonding of Indian community and Congressman.”
It is through his fund-raising and support to Rep George Holding that Vimal Kolappa met him. Congressman Holding has been instrumental in helping Indian community in different ways and making inroads for doing business with India. “He has always been very helpful not only to the Indian community, but for all of his constituents”, Kolappa said.
Though Vimal Kolappa and Congressman George Holding have been friends since last few years, it was an invitation to son Kamal’s wedding that led to Holding’s introduction to Kolappa’s mother. At the news of her death, Holding requested that a US flag be flown in her honor, courtesy of the Capitol Flag Program.
Under the program each flag thus flown is issued a certificate stating when the flag was flown over the Capitol and the name of the group or individual for whom it was flown. With Kolappa’s flag also came a note of condolence from Holding.
This episode has come in an era of hate crimes in USA and this caring gesture shows how much the Congress member cares for the community. Congressman is also working on strengthening the security of the Indians across the country by bringing awareness about this issue and supporting the new legislations on stopping the hate crimes.
Being India-caucus chair, George Holding was also very active in the large delegation of 22 Congress members that visited India on Feb 20th 2017. India-USA Caucus plays a critical role in the lobbying of the Bills which are significant for mutual India –USA benefit.
One Such example is passage of Civil Nuclear Bill. The primary purpose of India - USA caucus is to promote relationship between India and the United States, based on mutual trust and respect, to increase close collaboration across a broad spectrum of strategic interests, such as combating terrorism and promoting democracy, economic development, human rights, scientific research and natural disaster relief.
It is worth noting that Holding was also instrumental in blocking the sale of F35 to our neighboring country Pakistan. George Holding opposed the sale, calling Pakistan “an unreliable and unwilling partner” in the war against terrorism. He also said that he did not see how F35s could help Pakistan’s military operations against terrorists. Eventually the sale to Pakistan got blocked.
Such gestures show us genuine empathy that Holding has for India and Indian community. It also tells us the importance of George Holding as the co-chair of India-USA Caucus in strengthening of India-US relations.
Vimal Kolappa currently owns and operates 16 franchise hotels, employs around 300-400 people and is constructing 8 more hotels to take the tally to 24 hotels. He serves on the board of Economic Development Public Private Partnership of North Carolina (EDPN), Trustee of North Carolina Science and Math school and serves on the board of Philanthropic efforts.
As Holding pointed out, Kolappa and his family are the epitome of the American Dream, fulfilled at least in part by the tolerance and kindness experienced by them in their American journey. His wife Kalavathi Kolappa is outpatient director with Vidant Behavioral Health; daughter Kavitha is a psychiatry postdoctoral fellow working at Harvard Medical School; son Kamal is a cardiologist in North Carolina.
Kolappa came to USA with $10 in hand and whatever he made now its all due to American people and its great Country. Many kind gestures from American people made Kolappa grounded in his attitude and work harder and harder for the success of his adopted country and employ more people. He wants to give back to the community. With his collaboration with Congressman George Holding, he hopes to work for betterment of US as well as India.