More than 1,500 doctors gathered in Atlantic City for the five-day Gujarati Physicians Convention June 7-11, 2023. Organizers described it as very successful, and probably the most value-added, low-cost event for attendees, of any convention held before.
“Hundred and fifty percent of the opinion we got was that everybody was excited and had a great time,” Convention Chair Dr. Ajeet Kothari told Desi Talk.
The event was held at Harrah’s Resort & Convention Center. It included several days of Continuing Medical Education forums, a trade exhibition where 60 exhibitors participated; entertainment programs from Karaoke Mehfil to “Surmayee Shaam” singing program, a visit to Akshardham temple in Robbinsville, NJ, live Bollywood music with Jalpa and Dhiren Buch, Ras/Garba, Yoga and meditation- there was something for everyone.
The cuisine ranged from Indian, to Mexican and Chinese to Continental; a fabulous fashion show took place, another Bollywood night with singer Kanika Kapoor and Abhijeet Pichgaokar, and by other artists on following days, alumni meetings of various medical institutions of India on the last day, were part of the full and vibrant program.
One major highlight was the three-day Scientific Program with the theme of ‘Futuristic Medicine’ chaired by Dr. Gunjan Shukla and Dr. Mohan Durve. Subjects covered ranged from hair growth technology to wheat-related medical problems, advances in neuro-oncology, heart valves, rising cancer numbers in US, and plant-based diet for metabolic syndrome reversal in South Asian populations.
“We had a reasonable price, value-oriented approach to the Convention,” Dr. Kothari said. “While it was meant to give Gujarati doctors an opportunity to meet and network, it was open to all. Many AAPI doctors came as well. It was ‘an all-star convention at zero-star price.”
Along with Drs. Kothari, Dr. Shukla, and Dr. Durve, other main organizers were Dr. Shirish Patel, Dr. Dalsukh Madia, Dr. Madhu Parikh, Dr. Mukesh Pate, Dr. Sumul Rawal, and Dr. Raj Bhayani, organizers told Desi Talk.
They expressed the hope that the Gujarati Physicians Convention would stand as an example for other conventions – with low overhead costs, a collective approach, not many frills, but offering high quality entertainment, and unity.
“We plan to hold a convention in 2024 as well,” Dr. Kothari said. “This year we approached it less formally because we were very cost-conscious. Our balanced budget is our formula, and we save money for the poor in India and for Indian education system, health care reform, stopping health care wastage. No fundraising is allowed in our conventions,” Dr. Kothari told Desi Talk.
Among the high-profile attendees was Padma Shri recipient Dr. Sudhir Parikh, chairman of Parikh Worldwide Media/ITV Gold, which covered the convention.
“I feel we Gujaratis are always the number one community in the world. Gujaratis were the first to venture out of India, all over the world,” Dr. Parikh noted, from Fiji and Mauritius to South America, and Southeast Asia. “Our community is not only (traders) but spiritual, philanthropic, and humble,” he added.
Speaking to ITV Gold, Dr. Gunjan Shukla said it had been a “great joy” to help bring the Convention to reality. “Some 25 to 30 percent of the 100,000 physicians in the US are of Gujarati origin. And we have so many alumni associations. That’s how the idea (for the convention) started,” Dr. Shukla said, adding, “We almost doubled the number from the 2019 convention in Florida. It has been a great joy to organize the conventions. We did not expect it to be so big. But the interest gave us more energy. We had to shut down registration,” early because so many people wanted to come, he indicated. (Courtesy: News India Times)