AIA-NY honors six at glittering Benefit Gala

Tagline: Highlights of the Deepavali Fest on October 1 released

Hicksville, NY: The Association of Indians in America (AIA-NY) held its Benefit Gala under the Presidentship of Dr Jagdish Gupta to raise funds for the iconic Deepavali Fest at South Street Seaport in Manhattan on October 1.

The glittering gala was held on September 17 in the chandeliered ballroom of the newly opened Pearl Banquet Hall in Hicksville, NY. It was attended by over 200 prominent people including past presidents of AIA and advisory board members.

The Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Asmita and Arun Bhatia, Founder and CEO of the Arun Bhatia Development Organization. Excellence in Healthcare Administration Award was given to  David Seligman, Deputy Regional Executive Director for Northwell Health Western Region.

Dr V. K. Raju, Clinical Professor of Ophthalmology at West Virginia University was honored for Excellence in Ophthalmological Surgery & Prevention of Childhood Blindness. On his behalf, his daughter Dr Leela V. Raju, herself  an eminent ophthalmologist, accepted the award.

Dr Subhash Kini, Director, Center for Bariatric and Minimally Invasive Surgery, Icahn School of Medicine, Mount Sinai (Morningside), received the Excellence in Bariatric & Minimally Invasive/Robotic Surgery Award.  Businesswoman/Entrepreneur Award went to Sharda Haridas Kotahwala, for their family business in Diamond & Precious Stone Jewelry business. Dr Saurabh Lodha, of the Department of Dermatology, Columbia University, was given the Excellence in Dermatology – Special Young Physician Award.

New York Life Insurance Company, a major sponsor of AIA’s  Deepavali Festival, was honored for Community Service  Excellence. NY Life’s Corporate Vice President, Srinivas Ranga received the plaque.

In his President’s address, Dr Gupta said that the honorees tonight are the crème de la crème of our community, including physician leaders, philanthropists, educators, and entrepreneurs.

Dr Gupta, an eminent gastroenterologist who took over as AIA-NY president on June 2, emphasized that “AIA-NY has been organizing the Deepavali Festival in New York for the past 36 years, and it has become an iconic event, attended by thousands of people from the Tri-State area, including both Indians and non-Indians.

Highlights of the free-to-public Deepavali festival at South Street Seaport on October 1 include: Children’s Program (1.30-3 pm), Nach Inferno (4-5.30 pm), VIP Hour (3.30 – 5 pm), and the finale – Fireworks on East River at 7 pm. Many lawmakers,  dignitaries and entertainers are expected to participate. Print and electronic media are invited to cover the mega event.

At the gala, Dr Gupta congratulated the community as Diwali has been declared a school holiday in New York City. “Over the years, it has come to symbolize our culture and heritage in the USA  as Diwali is a manifestation of Indian culture.”

Dr Samin Sharma, Advisor and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of AIA-NY, in his address, highlighted the stellar achievements and contributions of Indian Americans, particularly in healthcare.

Citations for AIA-NY from Indian Consul General Randhir Jaiswal, Nassau County Chairman Bruce Blakeman, and New York State Senator Kevin Thomas were received by Dr Gupta.

AIA Board members at the gala included Dr Samin Sharma, Dr Nirmal Mattoo, Animesh Goenka, Dr Shashi Shah, Dr Buddhadev Manvar, Sunil Modi and Smiti Khanna. Past Presidents in attendance included Harish Thakkar, and Dr Narinder Kukar.

Nilima Madan was the Gala Chair.

Dr Gupta, former President of IALI, AAPI-QLI and Nargis Dutt Memorial Foundation, thanked Fareportal-CheapOair/Qatar Airways Alliance, New York Life, Mount Sinai Hospital, and the Northwell Health System for their generous contributions toward Deepavali Fest.

A sumptuous dinner followed.

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