AAPI’s 40th Convention Inaugurated In San Antonio, TX

(San Antonio, TX. June 25, 2022) The historic 40th annual convention organized by the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI)  was officially inaugurated with ribbon cutting and lighting of the traditional lamp at the Henry B Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio in Texas on Friday, June 24th, 2022, celebrating the achievements of Indian American Physicians and focusing on the theme, “Physician Heal Thyself” with several unique and first of a kind opportunities to help AAPI members self-care, especially in the context of Covid related physicians burn out.

Describing it to be a “historic 40th annual convention celebrating 40 years of AAPI and India’s 75 years of Independence in collaboration with the Indian Consulate in Houston and Indian Embassy with invited dignitaries from the US and India,” Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, the only 4th woman President of AAPI in the four decades-long history of AAP,  expressed gratitude to “the entire AAPI leadership and members for their participation in AAPI activities, making AAPI stronger.”

Dr. Jayesh Shah, Convention Chair and Past President of AAPI said in Texan style. “It is with great pleasure that I, along with the San Antonio -2022 Convention Team, welcome you to the 40th AAPI Annual Convention in San Antonio, the 8th largest city in the US. I still have vivid memories of inviting you to San Antonio in 2014. This is going to be the 4th convention in Texas.”

Welcoming AAPI delegates to San Antonio, Ron Nirenberg, Mayor of San Antonio, whom Dr. Jayesh Shah called as the next Governor of Texas, declared June 24th as AAPI Day and International Yoga Day in the City of San Antonio. While praising AAPI and its members for their contributions, Nirenberg said, “We are honored to host the largest gathering of Indian American physicians in our vibrant city, home to some of the best healthcare facilities in the nation.”

Addressing the evening gala, Aseem Mahajan, Consul General of India in Houston, referred to the significance of “India and the United States, the two most vibrant democracies, representing two great multicultural societies with shared values, who are natural partners” working together in several areas of interest to both the nations.

He pointed to the immense opportunities for collaboration in healthcare between the US and India, as India is working towards “Expanding on the MedTech sector for global presence and position India as a global hub for medical devices.”

By encouraging manufacturing, innovation, and R&D based on emerging technological landscapes, and transforming India into a hub for medical devices, India may emerge as the “diagnostic capital of the world,” Mahajan said.

Dr. Jack Resneck, President of American Medical Association praised the contributions and achievements of Indian American physicians, who serve and provide best healthcare to every 7th patient in the United States. “It’s time our nation renews our commitment to you for the incredible services you provide to our nation,” he said. During a Plenary session, he provided a detailed description of the many steps AMA has been undertaking to root out the causes for physician burn out and enhance healthcare delivery in the nation through education and advocacy at the state and national levels.

Keynote speaker for the noon luncheon event, Little Master Sunil Gavaskar was introduced by Venky Adivi, Chief Executive Officer of the Convention. Gavaskar, a record holder of numerous international Cricket matches, in his address shared with the audience about his own personal life story of how his life was “transformed” at birth. He said, “It’s a unique honor to be part of the important AAPI convention in Texas.”

Gavaskar said, he had wanted to be a Doctor as a youth, after he was a witness to how his aunt, a Doctor by profession had touched so many lives by the care she had provided. “Yours is the greatest of all professions in the world. You have put your lives at risk during the Pandemic to save the lives of others. Yours is the noble profession that I have admired always.”

He eloquently described the similarities between Cricketers and Physicians, especially for the need for preparations in cricket matches and surgery, the need for focus and concentration in  both the professions, the need for physical and mental fitness, choosing the right kind of movements and actions in both the fields, and so forth. However, a physician needs to have empathy with the patients, while a cricketer wants to achieve and win the game. Doctors serve for a very long time, the life span of a cricket’s professional life is very limited. A doctor’s work schedule is 24/7 – 365 days, while a cricketer’s professional life is seasonal. Gavaskar referred to his association with the Heart to Heart Foundation and how the Foundation is “touching many hearts around the world”.

In her spiritual discourse, Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati, PhD, Spiritual leader, teacher and author, said, “It’s such a joy to be here. Such a deep gratitude. Covid did not create you as heroes, but you have been heroes all along.” Sharing her own personal journey, she said, we all have only one life and how her coming to the banks of the Himalayas, transformed her own lifafter having experienced the unique culture and wisdom of India. While pointing to how we are creating a vicious negative health through fear, stress and anxiety in this country, her message today was to focus on the Synonym for HEALTH: Health, Embrace, Allow, Love, Time for yourself, and Help others.

Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati said, she flew in from the Banks of Mother Ganga where she celebrated International Yoga Day. “Let all of us together bring that practice of yoga and meditation into the practice of healthcare. Be the best for ourselves, for the community and for the universe,” she said.

In his live video message, Paramaguru Sharath Jois, Lineage holder of Ashtanga Yoga, told AAPI leaders as to how “each of you have sacrificed your life. I congratulate the organizers for focusing on heal the healers and using Yoga our traditional method to help us in our daily lives.” In his message, he said, “We all experience similar things in life, but respond from our inner self. How we tend to react to people and situations makes the difference.  When you abuse a situation it’s agitation, but when you use them effectively it’s liberation.” Referring to the 7th anniversary of India’s Independence he said, “It must help us transcend all that divide us on the basis of caste, creed and status.”

The Women’s Forum, organized by the Convention Committee led by Dr. Chaithanya Mallikarjun, Chair in association with the National AAPI Women Physicians Committee Chair, Dr. Seema Arora,  put together a galaxy of successful women, who shared with the AAPI delegates their own stories of growing up and facing challenges with conviction and courage, and have today become role models for other women around the world.

The panelists at the prestigious Women’s Forum included: Dr. Juby A. Jacob-Nara, a Public Health Physician, Vice President and Head of Global Medical Respiratory Allergy & Gastroenterology (Sanofi-Genzyme) who has been a part of over 50 new medicines successfully launched including vaccines in the US and globally; Dr. Kalpalatha Guntupalli, Endowed Professor for Pulmonary Disorders, Baylor College of Medicine; Dr. Sowjanya Mohan, Group Chief Medical Officer, Texas Group/Tenet Health; and, Ms. Rosemary Hickman, Semmes Foundation Education Manager at the Mcnay Art Museum.

Dozens of local children from ages 8 to 16, trained by Yoga Masters in San Antonio by presenting and demonstrating multiple Yoga Aasanas to the tune of Vande Mataram provided valuable education on Yoga and its importance in life. Every evening the popular AAPI Got Talent and Mehfil gave AAPI members to showcase their skills. Dr. Satheesh Kathula in the incoming Vice President of API was declared the winner of the contest. During the popular Fashion Parade presented by world renowned fashion designer Archana Kochar had beautiful and handsome young men and women wearing handmade colorful apparel made by villagers in Madhya Pradesh, cat walked on the ramp.

Some of the major themes at the convention include: Yoga and Meditation practices, Welcome kit with books & self-care supplies, A Personal Reflexology Session, Take home wellness routine, Ailment based yoga therapy sessions, Workshop on Spiritual well-being, Book talk with Yoga Gurus, including on the science of Yoga & Lifestyle medicine. Yoga gurus and experts leading the wellness sessions include Paramguru Sharatha Jois, Sadhvi Bhagawati, Saraswati Eddie Stern, Dr. Sat Bir Khalsa, Dr. Dilip Sarkar, Dr. Pankaj Vij, and Dr. Param Dedhia.

Each day of the convention has a specific theme. On Thursday, the theme chosen is “Unity in Diversity” and the delegates showcased one’s own state dress code. Heritage India is the theme for Friday honoring and celebrating India’s rich culture and diversity. On Saturday, the focus is on the much loved Bollywood with special performance by popular Bollywood singer Shaan, The cuisine served each will day match the theme chosen for each day.

Some of the major events at the convention include: Workshops and hands-on sessions on well-being, 10-12 hours of CMEs, Women’s Forum, CEOs Forum, AAPI Got Talent, Mehfil, Bollywood Nite, Fashion Show, Medical Jeopardy, Poster/Research Contest, Alumni and Young Physicians events and Exhibition and Sale of Jewelry, Clothing, Medical Equipment, Pharma, Finance and many more.

AAPI delegates have the opportunity to attend a multidisciplinary CME conference that allows specialists and primary care physicians to interact in an academic forum. World-renowned speakers discussed gaps between current and best practice of wide-ranging topics at the CME sessions.

“Physicians and healthcare professionals from across the country and from around the world have convened and are participating in the scholarly exchange of medical advances, to help develop health policy agendas, and encourage legislative priorities in the coming year. We are excited to have you in San Antonio!” said Dr. Gotimukula. “Representing the interests of the over 100,000 physicians of Indian origin, American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI), the largest ethnic organization of physicians is 40 years old.” For more details, please visit:  https://aapiconvention.org

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