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Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Big names in fashion, tech, entertainment rub shoulders at India’s Modi’s White House dinner


WASHINGTON (AP) — Big names from business, fashion, entertainment and more were on the guest list for Thursday’s White House gala dinner honoring India’s Narendra Modi, including designer Ralph Lauren, filmmaker M Knight Shyamalan and tennis legend Billie Jean King, among others. Stand shoulder to shoulder with technology leaders from Apple, Google, and Microsoft.

Shyamalan greeted reporters after arriving at the White House, saying it was “a pleasure” to be at the White House. Lauren, who paired her tuxedo with gray New Balance sneakers, revealed he designed first lady Jill Biden’s off-the-shoulder green gown, calling her style “chic and elegant”. After-dinner entertainment violinist Joshua Bell said the evening was “a little bit different than anything I’ve ever done before”.

“I’d jump out and practice for half an hour” at dinner, Bell says. He said he wished he could perform first and then have some wine.

Sarees – some of which are downright modern, including a Barbie doll fire pink sari – and sequins stood out among the crowd at the striking formal evening, which featured a guest list of around 400, most of them Is a famous Indian-American. Politicians from both parties have also weighed in on the cuts, notably Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and House Majority Leader Steve Scalise.

Other notables include big Democratic donors such as social media influencer Jay Shetty, Florida attorney John Morgan and civil rights activist Martin Luther King III. The ranks of CEOs include Apple’s Tim Cook, Google’s Sundar Pichai and Microsoft’s Satya Nadella.

Guests can enjoy a plant-based menu including millet, portobello mushrooms and strawberry shortcake, catering to the prime minister’s vegan tastes. For guests who want something more, grilled sea bass is available on request.

Despite deep divisions over human rights and India’s stance on Russia-Ukraine war, President Joe Biden Invitation issued to Modi for third government state visit.it includes state banquet, A high diplomatic honor reserved by the United States for its closest allies.

Biden hoped that all the pomp and attention for Modi — from the thousands who gathered on the White House lawn to cheer his arrival in the morning to the lavish dinner at the end of the day — would help him cement his relationship with Modi . The US sees the country’s leader as a key force In Asia for decades to come.

Guests took a trolley ride to a pavilion south of the White House decorated in the green and saffron colors of the Indian flag.

Despite fears of a rollback of democracy in India, Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Washington, said she was attending the meeting to send a message that this country of 1.4 billion people matters, “we have to say Some real issues that threaten India.” The viability of democracy in all our countries. ”

A group of more than 70 lawmakers organized by Jayapal wrote to Biden this week urging him to raise concerns with Modi about the erosion of religious, press and political freedoms.

Jayapal praised Modi’s leadership, telling The Associated Press earlier that Modi “has the ability to bring India and the people in his party back to the values ​​we hold dear as a nation.”

Pichai said he looked forward to the dinner as “an exciting time for US-India relations”.

“I think our two countries have a lot of common ground, great democracies and values,” Pichai said in an interview earlier Thursday. He sees technology as one of the areas of mutual interest between the two countries. “So I think it’s an exciting opportunity. I’m delighted that there’s been a lot of investment in the bilateral relationship.”

Jill Biden hired California chef Nancy Curtis to help in the kitchen. Curtis specializes in plant-based cooking and says the menu “showcases the best of American cuisine with an Indian twist and twist.” Saffron risotto is served with mushroom entrees and cardamom and rose syrup for dessert. She uses millet because India is leading the International Year of Cereal Recognition.

Native to Asia, the lotus is a feature of Indian design and can be seen throughout the pavilion, with saffron-hued floral arrangements varying from table to table.

“We want guests to feel as if someone has set the table just for them — because that’s how we do it,” the first lady said as she previewed the set-up with her staff.

After-dinner entertainment is provided by Bell; Penn Masala, a South Asian a cappella ensemble founded by Penn students; and the U.S. Marine Corps Chamber Orchestra.

The last time India was honored to pay a state visit to India was in 2009, when US President Barack Obama went out of his way to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. More than 300 guests attended the first major social event of the new government.

But after a celebrity-seeking couple was admitted, despite not being invited, they were able to interact with the two leaders, making headlines around the world.

The embarrassing incident led the White House and the U.S. Secret Service, which protects presidential and executive residences, to overhaul their clearance and security procedures.


AP Philanthropy Editor Glenn Gamboa in New York and AP Congressional Correspondent Lisa Mascaro in Washington contributed to this report.


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