The Global Organization of People of Indian Origin – Central New Jersey Chapter (GOPIO-CJ) honored Indian American achievers and community leaders at its 10th Anniversary Gala & Awards Banquet on Sunday, June 3rd at Ember Banquet, Monmouth Junction, NJ. Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. was honored as Friend of India. Ten Indian Americans were being honored for their achievements in their profession and service to the community.
Ambassador Sandeep Chakravorty, the Consul General of India in New York was the Chief Guest. Other dignitaries include New Jersey State Assemblyman Raj Mukherji and Andrew Zwicker, West Windsor Mayor Hemant Marathe and South Brunswick Mayor Charles Carley and Council Woman Archana Grover. Close to 400 people attended the gala dinner and award ceremony which included entertainment choreographed and presented by Rina Shah, founder of AUM Dance Creations.
Ambassador Chakravorty, in his speech, praised GOPIO for its work, noting that the Government of India looks to this organization when it is engaged in policymaking for the diaspora. He appealed to Indian- Americans to encourage youth to apply for the Know- India program which sends second generation diaspora youth to India.
The program started welcome remarks by Dr. Rajeev Mehta, who founded the chapter in 2008 who is also the Secretary of GOPIO International followed by lighting of the lamp by immediate past president of the chapter Mr. Dinesh Patel, who also serves as Chairman of GOPIO International’s Chapter Review Committee and Automation.
During the event, Dr. Tushar Patel took over as president of GOPIO-CJ which was formed 10 years ago, from outgoing president Suresh Reddy. Dr. Patel told the media that his agenda was to increase the membership and take the organization to the next level to help the local community on issues such as health, discrimination, domestic violence, seniors issues, etc.
Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr., D-NJ, representing District 6, was inducted as a ‘Friend of India’ in absentia. He has served as co-chair of Indian Caucus in the U.S. Congress; The Shri Krishna Nidhi (SKN) Foundation was recognized for its longstanding community service with a mission to improve total well-being; Ashok Luhadia, founder of US Pharma Labs, and Siby Vadakekkara of MarLabs, were recognized as an outstanding entrepreneur; Rina Shah, the director and founder of AUM Dance Creations, was honored for her contributions to the performing arts.
Two awards were also presented for achievement in media to Dr. Parikh, philanthropist, and chairman and publisher of Parikh Worldwide Media Inc., the largest Indian-American publishing group in the United States, which recently also acquired the television channel ITV Gold. Dr. Parikh has worked to improve U.S.-India relations, and encouraged second generation Indian- Americans to engage with the political process; and H.R. Shah, the chairman and CEO of TV Asia, who supports various social works, cultural, educational and related activities.
A special award was presented to Sparsh Shah (aka Purhythm), a 15-year-old multi-talented singing prodigy who was born with an incurable disease called Osteogenesis Imperfecta, a condition that makes his bones extremely fragile and brittle.
Amit Jani, the president and co-founder of the NJ Leadership Program was recognized for his contribution to the Indian American community’s political involvement. He serves in Governor Phil Murphy’s Administration. Pinakin Pathak, was recognized for his contributions to Public Service. He is an entrepreneur and community activist, a member of the Hindu-Jewish coalition, BAPS, and March of Dimes.
North American Telugu Association (NATA) President Rajeswar Gangasani Reddy was recognized for community service. In his acceptance speech at the event, Dr. Parikh reminded the audience of the need to do more for the community and for India. He also urged GOPIO to use his newly acquired TV channel to broadcast community events and for the public good.
TV Asia’s H.R, Shah told the audience that the community organizations should use TV Asia to convey its message to the Indian Diaspora community. The event was a “huge success.” Only 200 people were expected but some 370, attended, Dr. Mehta noted. “These awardees are role models and recognition of their achievements will motivate our new generations to contribute to our community and society at large,” Dr. Mehta said at the event.
“With a fast-growing Indian American population, we had a large number of nominations and we picked the best in the various categories.” GOPIO-CJ past-president Dinesh Mittal who is the Chair of GOPIO International’s Chapter Validation Committee said.
Dr. Thomas Abraham, founder of the umbrella GOPIO back in 1989, also spoke at the meeting. “I bring greetings from GOPIO-International. Which has a global network of several hundred Life Members and about 100 chapters in 35 countries,” he said, and noted the achievements of Indian-Americans on the national stage and in local elections, and in New Jersey in particular this past year, which saw an Attorney General, a Senator, Assemblyman, and Mayor as well as several other offices won by members of the community.
The June 3 gala included a cocktail reception, the awards ceremony, entertainment, dinner and dancing. GOPIO-CJ Founder President Dr. Rajeev Mehta who now serves as the Secretary-General of GOPIO International, said, “These awardees are role models and recognition of their achievements will motivate our new generations to contribute to our community and society at large.”