The South Asian Studies Association (SASA), the 13-year old alliance of scholars, as well as leaders of academia, business, NGOs, and philanthropy, devoted its annual weekend conference to shine a spotlight on South Asia’s diverse peoples, cultures, histories, challenges, and opportunities.
Close to 100 attendees gathered for SASA 2019 – Taking South Asia to the World, at Claremont McKenna College, in Claremont, California, March 1-3. Attendees came from around the United States and other parts of the world, to listen to 65 scholarly presentations within 16 panel sessions, as well as three major SASA Plenary Sessions.
Additionally, presentation of SASA’s prestigious annual Exemplar Awards were made to three individuals representing Academic Achievement, Business Leadership, and Community Service.
The 2019 Exemplar Award for Community Service was presented to Dr. Sudhir Parikh, noted physician, publisher, philanthropist, business and civic leader, who has previously received India’s Padma Shri and Pravasi Bharatiya awards, as well as the Ellis Island Medal of Honor. Dr. Parikh is CEO of Parikh Worldwide Media and ITV Gold, as well as CEO of Centers for Allergy and Asthma.
In his speech read out at the conference, Dr. Parikh urged all those present to take up community service as an ambition they would pursue just as they are ambitious about other goals, noting, “The beauty of Community Service is that it can be pursued at any time in one’s life …. identify your interest – an area that you feel passionately about – children, women, men, economic development, religion, health, job creation, skills training — I am only naming a few of the many, many areas where you could direct your community service activities.”
“I hope that all of you present here have ambitions for doing Community Service?” Parikh’s speech which was read out at the event, went on to ask, adding, “Because ambition is a tool for change. It is a good quality to have ambition even in the field of service. Look around you in your neighborhood, in your town, city, state and national level, as well as the international level. Opportunities are waiting for you to take on.”
The 2019 Exemplar Award for Academic Achievement was presented to scholar Sudha Pai, Ph.D., president of India’s Policy Research and Management Network, who also delivered the SASA 2019 Academic Keynote Address.
The 2109 Exemplar Award for Business Leadership went to Andy Kaplan, longtime President of Sony Pictures Television Networks, credited with building Sony’s networks in India into marketplace leadership, and taking Sony’s India networks across South Asia and worldwide, the press release said.
“SASA 2019 included the most diverse array of academic papers and presenters in our history. From ancient and contemporary geopolitics, to religions and meditation, to economics and the environment, there were indeed topics of great scholarship, interest and value for all attendees, SASA Chairman and CEO Ken Silverman is quoted saying in a press release.
The three plenary sessions were the highlight of the conference. They looked at the application of artificial intelligence in addressing research in higher education, especially across South Asia, led by Claremont McKenna President Hiram Chodosh; insightful looks at both personal and planetary wellness, jointly led by Dr. Christopher Chapple of Loyola Marymount University and Rafiq Dossani, Ph.D., of the RAND Corporation’s Center for Asia Pacific Policy; and an assessment of the streaming media revolution across South Asia, led by US-India media attorney, Arnold Peter, and featuring media experts from the two countries.
In addition, the SASA Conference’s Arts Festival featured visual and performing arts from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Nepal.