After Miss America controversy, Indian Embassy opens cultural center

The Indian Embassy plans to open a Cultural Heritage Center in DC, citing Photo: Associated Press

WASHINGTON, September 24, 2013 — The Indian Embassy intends to open a cultural heritage center in Washington D.C., said the Hindustan Times, a mere one week after media sources noted widespread racist reactions to the selection of Nina Davuluri as Miss America. While born and raised in the United States, Davuluri was born to a family of immigrants from India. 

The Indian Ambassador to the United States, Nirupama Rao, dismissed the notion of widespread racism against Indians.

“At the popular level, there is a tremendous interest and goodwill that Indian culture enjoys in the United States.

“To sustain this spirit of inquiry about India among our American friends, we hope to establish an Indian Cultural Center in Washington D.C. soon, which would provide a platform for exchange of ideas and intellectual discourse between our two peoples in the coming years,” said Ambassador Rao in public remarks last year while speaking at Harvard. 

The negative reactions against the selection of Davuluri were mostly confined to Twitter, and did not seem to reference the judges of the pageant, many of which are regarded as “American icons” including former NSYNC singer Lance Bass, New York Knicks forward Amar’e Stoudemire, and “Top Chef” contestant Carla Hall. Amongst others, Davuluri faced five other Asian American contestants for the title.

According to the Hindustan Times “Once done, the building will have an auditorium, a gallery for paintings and pictures, a library, a conference hall and more - modeled on other Indian cultural centers around the world.”

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The Indian people have many names for their country, one of which is “Hindustan.” Literally the name means “Land of the Hindus,” however the name is used affectionately by many of the country’s Hindus, Muslims and Christians.

India maintains cultural centers in major cities throughout the world, spanning such countries China, Russia, Germany, England, Indonesia, Uzbekistan, and Nepal.

“My dream, really, is to see a cultural center for India here in Washington, D.C.” said Ambassador Rao.

“And this is a dream that we have been aspiring to see fulfilled for some time now.  I think we are nearer that goal.”

The Indian Embassy has purchased the building at 1438 U Street, in Washington DC for the venture. The site is formerly home to “Cada Vez” and “Station 9” and is a block and a half away from the U Street-Cardozo Metro station. 

The U Street Neighborhood Association reports that “The 12,000 square foot building has a total mixed use development potential of approximately 25,000 square feet.”

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Rahat Husain

Rahat Husain has been working as a columnist since 2013 when he joined the Communities. With an interest in America and Islam, Rahat is a prolific writer on contemporary and international issues.


In addition to writing for the Communities, Rahat Husain is an Attorney based in the Washington DC Metropolitan area. He is the Director of Legal and Policy Affairs at UMAA Advocacy. For the past six years, Mr. Husain has worked with Congressmen, Senators, federal agencies, think tanks, NGOs, policy institutes, and academic experts to advocate on behalf of Shia Muslim issues, both political and humanitarian. UMAA hosts one of the largest gatherings of Shia Ithna Asheri Muslims in North America at its annual convention.


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