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Indian Americans throughout Florida are gearing up to celebrate the 60th annual India Independence Day festivities. Here are a few of the events we have put together that are happening in your community.


The Federation of Indian Associations of Tampa Bay will hold the free event on Saturday, Aug. 18 at India Cultural Center. Cultural/folk dances will kick off at 3 p.m. followed by a best-dressed freedom fighter show from 4 to 4:30, with flag hoisting between 4:30 to 5 p.m. Thereafter, awards for best children’s folk dance, best dressed freedom fighter, best academic student of Tampa Bay, best regional state booth, best young entrepreneur, and certificates to cultural program participants, as well a Bharat Seva Award will be given.

India Cultural Center is at 5511 Lynn Road, Tampa. For information, call FIA President Dr. V. Rao Emandi at (727) 842-1005 or President-Elect Dr. Krishan Batra at (813) 963-9857 or click on


The Indian American Chamber of Commerce of Central Florida (IACC) will commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Indian Independence Day at 7 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 17 by holding a big party with music, DJ, dance and dinner.

IACC is inviting everyone to attend the party to celebrate the growth of India as a democratic nation with an amazing and successful economic future. The event will be held at Clarion Hotel (Orlando International Airport), 3835 McCoy Road, Orlando.

Tickets are $50 per person and free for IACC members. To RSVP or more information, call Laurie Mooty at (407) 481-8191 or email


The Indian Association of the Space Coast (IASC) will observe India Day on Saturday, Aug. 18 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Melbourne Auditorium, 625 E. Hibiscus Blvd. The association is inviting participants, choreographers and vendors.

For information, call Kumkum Pandit at (321) 761-0284, Rekha Vyas at (321) 727-0844 or check out


More than 25 local Indian organizations, under the umbrella of the South Florida chapter of the Association of Indians in America (AIA) will hold Independence Day celebrations on Sunday, Aug. 19 in the South Florida area. The noon to 3 p.m. event at the Omni Auditorium (BCC North Campus), 1000 Coconut Creek Blvd., Coconut Creek, will be held indoors. Parking and admission to the event is free.

"We bring to the local community again, a joint celebration of this historic date in South Florida, and take pride in exhibiting our unified diversity," says Sabiha (Saja) Khan, president of the South Florida chapter of AIA.

This family-oriented event will feature a cultural program with a patriotic flavor, indoors in the auditorium from 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.

For the food lovers, local Indian restaurants will offer a mouth-watering selection of Indian cuisine. An outdoor food court will provide ample seating.

For information, call Sabiha (Saja) Khan at (954) 577.9330, Joyce Campos at (954) 752-7573 or Kitty Singh (954) 753.1635.

To participate in the cultural program, call Jayashree Sivaraman at (954) 428-3476 or email


The India Association of Tallahassee (IATLH) will hold Indian Independence Day celebrations on Saturday, Aug. 18. The 4 p.m. event at Heritage Hall, 500 S Bronough St., Tallahassee will be accompanied by a variety entertainment program.

IATLH also is inviting members and non-members to submit a logo for IATLH on or before Aug. 2. For the exact specifications of the logo and procedure for submitting it, check the IATLH Web site at The winner will be announced during the Independence Day celebrations on Aug. 18 and the logo will be adopted as the official logo of IATLH.

For more details, call Srinivas Kishore at (850) 321-4705, Priya Ashok at (850) 907-2022, Soma Thayumana at (850) 219-9799 or click on


The Indian Cultural Society in Jacksonville will celebrate India’s 60th Independence Day on Sunday, Aug. 19 at Mandarin High School, 4831 Greenland Road. For more details, email


It’s been challenging but fun. We have continued to grow in the three years since we launched Khaas Baat. The fruits of our dedication to serving the vast and ever-burgeoning Indian American community in Florida are evident as we reach 22,500 households throughout this wonderful state of ours.

Khaas Baat is now mailed free to homes and offices of our readers throughout the entire state of Florida every month, including the East Coast, greater Miami area and West Central Florida. Indeed, we are proud to be the ONE AND ONLY Florida publication to offer comprehensive coverage of events in the Florida Indian community.

We are pleased to present original articles and columns mainly written by Florida-based writers. A special thank-you to all our columnists for their sincere efforts. Also, our readers have come to depend and rely on our Events Calendar before making plans to attend the functions in their hometowns. Essentially, we present all the news about upcoming events in one place – Khaas Baat.

We hope that this will continue to bring in more advertisers so we can focus on the job of serving you – our readers. If you have a Florida-related story idea or know about an upcoming event in your city, drop us a note.



The Shakti Dance Company of Los Angeles ( will present an Indian classical dance, “Shiva-Shakti” on Saturday, Aug. 25 in south Florida. The 7 to 9:30 p.m. event will feature legendary vocalist Lakshmi Shankar.

Presented in the grandeur and beauty of Bharata Natyam, “Shiva-Shakti” is inspired by hymns and chants, and mythological stories based on ancient Hindu texts and scriptures. It recreates the powerful dance of Shiva-Nataraja along with his consort Shakti.

The dancers include Mythili Prakash, Ajit Bhaskaran Das of Malaysia, Viji Prakash and an ensemble of 15 dancers of the Shakti Dance Company. The musicians include vocalists Debur Srivathsa and Vidya Harikrishna, VedaKrishnan on the tavil, Mahesh Swamy on the flute, Krishna Kutty on the nattuvangam and Harikrishna Kalyanasundaram on the violin.

The presentation will be at Broward Center for the Performing Arts, 201 S.W. Fifth Ave., Fort Lauderdale. Tickets range from $39 to $100. For more information, click on or call (954) 462-0222.

Story provided by Gandhi Memorial Society

The Gandhi Memorial Society is inviting high school and college students to submit entries for the first annual Gandhi Memorial Essay Competition 2007, celebrating the anniversary of dedication of the Mahatma Gandhi statue on the University of North Florida campus in Jacksonville.

The competition is open to students studying in Northeast Florida. There will be I, II and III place awards for entries each from college and high school students.

Each essay may address one of the following or related topic – “Mahatma Gandhi/The relevance of Gandhi in Today’s Society,” “The teachings of Mahatma Gandhi,” and “The message of Mahatma Gandhi.”

The length of the essay is between 500 to 600 words for college students. It should be 300 to 400 words for high school students. Completed essays must be submitted by Aug. 31.

The essay can be emailed to Ramesh Vashi, chairman, Gandhi Memorial Society, at

All the entries should include the name and address of the student author, name and address of the school the student is attending as well as the name of the lead administrator from the college or school (e.g. president, principal), and an e-mail contact address for the student author and his/her lead administrator.

The awards will be announced at the Gandhi Memorial site on UNF’s campus on Oct. 2, at 6 p.m. during the celebrations of “Conflict Transformation and Peace Awareness Week”. The award-winning essays will be read by the student authors on that day at the monument site. Judges for the essay competition include Dr. Ravindra Kumar (ex-vice chancellor of CCS University, Meerut), Dr. Tom Serwatka (vice president, University of North Florida) and Sarla Vashi (educator). For more information, call Ramesh Vashi at (904) 519-7907, Ashok Bazaz at (904) 642- 6139 or Rajiv Gupta at (904) 745-3765.

By Shephali J. Rele

For the first time this year, there will be a new event at the India Festival organized Gujarati Samaj of Tampa Bay on Oct. 27 at the USF SunDome in Tampa. Called Voice of Florida, the singing competition in collaboration with the Pandit Jasraj School of Music will feature some of the best vocal talent in the state.

If you would like to participate in the vocal contest, applications with entry fee and audition tape must be submitted by Sept. 15. For further details and to print out an application, click on the Samaj Web site at or e-mail Smita Patel at

Contestants should be over 18 years of age. Singers will be chosen through advance auditions to perform during the festival. The winner will be announced in a grand finale at the end of daylong program and will receive a round trip ticket to India, courtesy of Travel Kings.



Hopefully, some of you have heard of Behram Contractor. And if you have, you must have read the “Round and About” column by the late and renowned Mumbai columnist and co-founder of “Mid-day” newspaper. This column and many others, hopefully to follow, are a tribute to the greatness of the popular figure in Indian journalism that was Mr. Contractor a k a Busybee.

Read “Over & Above” by our columnist, who uses the pseudonym Scribbler for now. Do e-mail us your views at Maybe we can urge our columnist to contribute more such pieces for publication in Khaas Baat on a regular basis.

So the rain gods blessed the Indian cricket team during the first test match with England at the historic Lord’s, which resulted in a draw. The best batting lineup in the world, only on paper of course, failed against the inexperienced English bowlers. Maybe, India doesn’t need “star batsmen” like Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly and WS Laxman but some fine young pace bowlers. Besides, bowlers win matches, do they not?

On the eve of India’s 60th Independence Day celebrations, it’s sad to see its President Abdul Kalam retire gracefully to private life. The largely ceremonial post of the head of state of the world’s largest democracy is now occupied by India’s first woman president, Pratibha Patil. Welcome to Rashtrapati Bhawan, Madam President.

Say what you may about U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney, the man is going to ensure that the Indo-U.S. civilian nuclear energy deal goes through. We learn that he has personally expressed an interest in making it happen. “A strategic partnership in the 21st century also requires a new and realistic approach to nuclear energy,” says Cheney. And as we know, what Dick wishes, happens (look at Iraq!)

Mr. Amitabh Bachchan has pledged never to return to politics again. Well, that’s good to hear. As long as the Superstar of all Superstars (A “Baadshah” is no Superstar, by the way) continues to act in meaningful roles (“Cheeni Kum”), we say Mr. Bachchan, stick it to ’em critics, ponytail or no ponytail!

London Mayor Ken Livingstone has kicked off a three-month India Now season by sailing a replica of the Taj Mahal on the Thames River. The mayor’s office says that more Indian companies are listed on the London Stock Exchange than in New York. And London accounts for a third of India’s rapidly rising overseas investment in Europe. Thank you, Mayor Livingstone and Namaste London!

Harpal Kapoor
Story provided by Miami-Dade Transit

Harpal S. Kapoor, who has served as interim chief for Miami-Dade Transit since March, has been permanently appointed as director. Kapoor has more than 28 years of professional experience, with 22 years in public transportation. As MDT's director, he heads the largest transit system in Florida and the 12th largest in the United States, with a fleet of about 1,000 buses, the 23.5-mile Metrorail system and the 8.5-mile downtown Metromover system.

“I’m honored and grateful to have the opportunity to continue to serve Miami-Dade Transit and our customers in my new capacity as director,” Kapoor said. “I look forward to working with the mayor, the board of county commissioners and all our employees as we continue our efforts to enhance customer service while further improving the efficiency of our operation.”

Kapoor holds a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from Kurukshetra University in Haryana, as well as a degree in business administration.

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