US Congress pays tributes to publisher Raju

May 25th, 2008 - 6:39 pm ICT by admin  

New York, May 25 (IANS) In a rare honour given to an Indian American, rich tributes were paid in the US House of Representatives to pioneer publisher Gopal Raju, who passed away last month at the age of 80. Speaking in the House last week, Congressmen Frank Pallone from New Jersey and Joe Wilson from South Carolina praised Raju’s lifetime work of empowering the Indian American community and promoting a stronger relationship between India and the US.

Pallone said:, “I rise today to honour Gopal Raju, a visionary who bridged the American and Indian communities through journalism and activism.”

Pallone pointed out that Raju, who arrived in the US from India in 1950, sought to connect the Indian American community with India.

“Raju launched the news weekly India Abroad in 1970. He served as its publisher for 31 years. Raju’s journalistic reach spread to other media endeavours including Desi Talk, Gujarat Times, and News India-Times,” he said.

Pallone further said that Raju founded the Indian American Centre for Political Awareness (IACPA) in 1993 to encourage the community’s participation in the political process in this country.

“The IACPA developed the Washington Leadership Programme (WLP), which gave university students the opportunity to intern on Capitol Hill and develop a broader understanding of public policy,” he said.

Wilson added that WLP has allowed nearly 200 Indian Americans to participate as interns on Capitol Hill - some of whom have even served in the office of the Second Congressional District of South Carolina.

He also recalled that Raju was instrumental in launching the Indian American Foundation (IAF), which raised millions of dollars for causes in India.

Wilson noted that Raju started the India Abroad News Service, now known as (IANS), which has been “a vital channel for information sharing between the United States and India for more than 20 years”.

He named some of the honours Raju had received including the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, which is given to immigrants for their contributions to the US, Asia Society’s Leadership Award 2000, the 2006 Taraknath Das Foundation award, and the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman by India in 2007.

On a personal note, Wilson said: “I was honoured to have met this incredible individual. I know his humility and selfless contribution to the lives of the millions his programmes and publications touched will be missed.”

A memorial service for Gopal Raju was organised May 17 in Fords, New Jersey, by India Abroad and the South Asian Journalists Association. Several lawmakers, community leaders and mediapersons paid tributes on the occasion to Raju, who passed away April 10 after a brief illness.

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