The English-Speaking Union

News and Events

Still the Promised Land - Wednesday, September 30th at 4:00 PM (EDT)

This is a fascinating and deeply personal story of how an impoverished immigrant made his way to the new world, remade his life and ultimately became the chief financial officer of Washington, D.C., playing a key role in transforming the nation's capital from a near-bankrupt municipality into a financially healthy major American city.  His life is a harrowing and inspiring account of how to survive seemingly hopeless circumstances, with an uplifting message for present-day America, where immigrants are often reviled and immigration itself is denigrated. It reaffirms faith in the United States' future as a great nation; indeed, it puts forth that the 21st century will be an American century that embraces all cultures—still the promised land.

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About Dr. Natwar Gandhi and Ms. Panna Naik

Natwar M. Gandhi retired in January 2014 from his long tenured position as the District of Columbia's independent Chief Financial Officer (CFO) where he was first appointed in 2000.  In his CFO capacity, Gandhi was responsible for Washington, DC's finances, including its approximately $12 billion in annual operating and capital funds.

During Gandhi's tenure as CFO, the District was transformed from a deficit-plagued, junk bond rated jurisdiction with $550 million negative fund balance into a financially healthy municipality with a string of balanced budgets and a fund balance of $1.5 billion at the end of 2013.  Gandhi secured multiple rating upgrades from the major rating agencies for its general obligation bonds, which are currently rated AA.

Gandhi is a Distinguished Policy Fellow at Georgetown University's McDonough School of Business, Center for Financial Markets and Policy and consults with the World Bank in its efforts to create sustainable cities around the world. 

A distinguished Gujarati poet, Ms. Panna Naik has been active on Gujarati literary front for about four decades and has established herself as a major writer. She has written several volumes of path breaking poetry and short stories and has given a distinct voice to Indian women as evidenced by her world-wide following. Her poetry has been amply recognized and awarded by Gujarati literary establishment both in India and here. Recently she published 'The Astrologer's Sparrow' a volume of poetry in English.  In addition, she has also done pioneering work in the teaching of Gujarati language and taught second generation students for years in her capacity as Adjunct Professor at the University of Pennsylvania.

Signature Cocktail

Panna has provided the recipe for a non-alcoholic beverage to enjoy at the Happy Hour. Please see below for the ingredients and recipe for Panna's Masala Chai!

¼ tsp ginger powder
¼ tsp black pepper
¼ tsp cinnamon powder
¼ tsp clove powder (please adjust)
3 tsp sugar (optional or to taste)
3 tsp loose tea leaves or 3 round tea bags (they are stronger)
1 cup whole milk
2 cups water

Boil water with first four ingredients for a couple of minutes. Add milk, bring it to a boil. Add tea leaves or tea bags. Boil for two minutes.

Tea color should be light brown. Strain and serve. Yields 3 cups. Tea would taste spicy and somewhat sweet. Please adjust spices, if too spicy to your taste

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