While announcing that the 37th annual India Day parade will be on Sunday, August 20 on Madison Avenue in Manhattan, Andy Bhatia, who has assumed charge as the president of the Federation of Indian Association in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, in an exclusive interview with this writer, said, “The parade management will be totally different this year.”
India Day Parade is known to be the 2nd largest in the world after India’s own Republic Day parade in New Delhi. Describing that the 37th annual parade will be a way of presenting India’s unique culture and vibrancy, Bhatia, a well known community activist and leader said, “Th iconic India Gate will be installed in the food court area and we will reach out to the New Yorkers in advance to come and enjoy the Indian cuisine.”
According to Bhatia, the India Day Banquet to celebrate 70th Independence Day will be on Saturday, August 19. There will be a solid one hour entertainment and a well-known singer is expected to entertain by singing in different Indian languages. “This year it will be a sit down dinner with white glove service. We will announce the program and the menu in advance,” Bhatia said.
According to Andy Bhatia, “There will be the first ever fundraiser –GIFT BAZAAR- on April 29 & 30 at the TV Asia studios in Edison, NJ. The plan is seek the members of the Indian American community to donate to FIA unwanted gifts received and new merchandise. FIA will issue a tax deductible receipt for the value and sell them at the Gift Bazaar to raise funds for its community projects,” he said.
Its’ not all about fun with the new leadership of FIA under Andy Bhatia, he said. A college fair to target the second generation will also take place in the Fall this year. It will be open to all young people wanting to meet with college recruiters. In addition, FIA is also planning on holding visa camps in NJ, PA, LI and CT, making it easier for people to take benefit of the Consular services in their own neighborhoods, Bhatia said. .Among others, he said, there are plans being made to hold an event in Connecticut that will be of interest to South Asians and their friends,” Bhatia informed this writer.
Andy Bhatia, who is the president of American Sales and Marketing Partners LLC, who has extensive experience in the airline/travel industry. He retired as the Area Sales Manager for Air India in New York, where he worked for nearly 35 years, both in the field and at the North American Headquarters in various capacities.
He has served in the FIA in various capacities for several years. For a quarter of a century, he actively participated in organizing the India Day Parade and Diwali Festival in New York City and Diwali Mela in Jackson Heights, among other community events in the Tri-State area on behalf of Air India.
He was honored thrice by the FIA and the National Federation of Indian Associations (NFIA.) He is credited with conceptualizing and launching the ‘Know India Seminars’ in USA and Canada which were attended by more than 6000 American travel agents to qualify as India tourism specialists. He also formulated the concept of selling co-op tours by agents in non-conflicting sales territories to increase tourist bookings to India.
Organizations including the Gujrati Samaj USA, City Council of New York, and Jackson Heights Merchants Association too honored him. He was also selected for the Paul Harris Fellowship Award of Rotary International for International Relations in 1998. The travel industry honored him several times.
Another honor he cherishes was the WICC Radio Station’s Community Service Salute (1971, 1974) for community service in the Greater Bridgeport area. He was also honored by the Rotary Club of Bridgeport with the Outstanding Young Man of America award (1971 and 1974) for leadership qualities when he was a student.
He was also instrumental in the launching a bi-monthly India Travel newsletter and the Traveler’s India magazine. He continues to be engaged in the industry as a consultant and serves as a member of several travel trade associations including the Pacific Asia Travel Association’s New York Chapter and the American Society of Travel Agents, Airline Sales Managers Association and SKAL International.
He also worked at the Public Relations and Development Office at the University of Bridgeport as executive secretary of the Committee on Informal Education. He chaired the Halsey International Scholarship Program consisting of community support groups representing sixteen countries including India’s Shastri Scholarship Committee.
Andy Bhatia assumed charge as the President of FIA on January 1 along with a new team comprising of Srujal Parikh (executive vice president); Alok Kumar (vice president); Chhavi Dharayan (secretary); Jatin Patel (joint secretary); Himanshu Bhatia (treasurer); Anand Patel (immediate past president) promising that an all out effort will be made to expand the activities of the organization.
The signature events of the FIA, including the India Day Parade, India Day Banquet and the Dance pe Chance. Expanding the programs of FIA to Connecticut and Queens/Long Island areas are also being explored, he said.