Dr. Mathew Joys Honored With FOKANA Literary Award

Dr. Thomas Mathew Joys (Dr. Mathew Joys), a member of the Editorial Team at The Universal News Network (ww.theunn.com) and a prolific writer, commentator and social activist from Las Vegas in the United States has been honored with the FOKANA  Literary Award, which is described as America’s most popular literary award among the Malayalee American community.

Dr. Mathew Joys was chosen for the award for his book, American Aadukal (Goats of America), a collection of various articles published in various media, and compiled as a popular book, released by K P Publications, London.

FOKANA’s Literary works selected various branches of Malayalam literature and honored outstanding contributions with awards at a special ceremony in conjunction with the FOKANA Global Convention at the Hilton Double Tree Hotel in Disney Orlando in the summer of 2022.

Since its inception in 1982, FOKANA’s literary awards have been recognized by Malayalam literature lovers all over the world. The Fokana Sahitya Puraskar, which is one of the most important literary awards in Malayalam, has been awarded to many famous writers of Malayalam, both dead and alive.

Among other Awardees honored with Fokana Literary Award for Best Perspectives on Social Media include; Poem in Limca Books of Records Award-winning anthology, Gandhi Peace Global Essay Competition Award – Drug Free Kerala (2021).

Dr. Mathew Joys is a regular Columnist and Journalist in various print and digital media, in the US and India. He is also a creative author and authored many books including ‘Oh My Beloved’ an interpretation of the Song of Songs in the Bible, and ‘American Aadukal’ (the Goats of America) are a few. He is the Executive Editor for the JAIHINDVARTHA Newspaper from New York and Associate Editor for Express Herald and editorial board member for the NERKAZHCHA Weekly from Houston. He is the Regional Reporter for the Global Reporter TV channel.

After his studies in Bangalore, his career began in India at the Finance department of the Indian Government and extended his abilities to be the Rotaract/Rotary club Director and National General Secretary of Employees Federation (NTC) in India. His philanthropic activities and leadership in different projects of social importance at his homeland at Kottayam are commendable and recognized.

As a founder member of the Indo American Press Club, who had served as the secretary and as the Vice Chairman of its Board of Directors, Dr. Joys has been an active member and leader of the pioneering media group in the United States He has been the Chief Editor of IAPC Annual Souvenirs since its inception. He is also the Global Chairman of the Media and Publicity of the Global Indian Council. He is now settled in Las Vegas, Nevada with his wife Dr. Alice Mathew, who is also a Professor in UNLV and a renowned YouTube channel anchor on her own Cookery and Gardening videos.

India Assumes Leadership Of G-20 Presidency

Signaling the emergence of India as a significant player on the global scene, India will officially assume the Presidency of the G20 (Group of 20) countries, one of the most consequential amongst current-day multilateral bodies, on December 1st, 2022 at the conclusion of the Indonesian presidency.

Releasing the logo, theme, and website of India’s G20 Presidency, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on November 8th, 2022, “India’s G20 presidency is coming at a time of crisis and chaos in the world. The world is going through the after-effects of a disruptive once-in-a-century pandemic, conflicts, and a lot of economic uncertainty.’’

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The current G20 Summit is being organized in Bali, Indonesia from November 15-16, 2022. Heads of states from the world’s largest economies are attending – although Russian President Vladimir Putin has decided not to attend in-person. With unstable global political conditions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine, energy issues, as well as global economic downturn, this is believed to be the most challenging G20 summit yet.

President Joe Biden is confronting competing issues at home and abroad while he’s at the Group of 20 Summit in Bali this week, using the moment on the world’s stage to lean into international support for condemning Russia’s aggression.

The G20 was conceived in 1999, while the repercussions of the Mexican peso crisis (1994), Asian financial crisis (1997) and the Russian ruble crisis (1998) were still being felt. The G20 forum was first established to respond to the global crisis, including the Asian financial crisis in 1997, the September 11 attacks in New York in 2001, the US subprime mortgage crisis in 2008, and the European debt crisis in 2011.

In a meeting of finance ministers and presidents of central banks of the G7, it was decided to expand the group and make it more representative in order to generate policies that would have a wider impact on the global economy. A group of key emerging economies was invited to a new forum of finance ministers and presidents of Central Banks. This became the G20.

The G20 was upgraded to the Summit level from the finance ministers and presidents of central banks, and became the main instrument to face the global financial crisis of 2007-’08 and beyond.

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The G20 is an international forum that includes 19 of the world’s largest economies including both industrialized and developing nations, and the European Union. Its core mandate is to address the major challenges related to the global economy and financial architecture such as international financial stability, climate change mitigation, and sustainable development among others. It seeks to evolve public policies to resolve them.

Together, the G20 members represent 85% of the global gross product; 75% of international trade; two-thirds of the world population; 80% of global investments in research and development, and 60% of the world land area.

Because the G-20 is a forum, its agreements or decisions are not legally binding but they do influence countries’ policies and spur global cooperation. The G20 is small and cohesive enough to allow concrete in-person discussions to find solutions to the new challenges on the international economic and financial agenda, and is broad and inclusive enough to represent the vast majority of world economic production.

While economic and financial issues tend to lead the agenda, other areas have gained prominence in recent years. New additions include participation of women in the labour market, sustainable development, global health, fight against terrorism and inclusive ventures, among others.

The group’s stature has risen significantly during the past decade. It is, however, also criticized for its limited membership, lack of enforcement powers, and for the alleged undermining of existing international institutions. Summits are often met with protests, particularly by anti-globalization groups.

The G20 seeks to enrich the content of its dialogues by encouraging the participation of civil society through affinity groups. Each of them focuses on an issue of global importance and meets independently throughout the year. From the dialogue in the various meetings, each group delivers a series of recommendations to the G20. Currently, the affinity groups comprise of: Business 20 (B20), Civil 20 (C20), Labour 20 (L20), Science 20 (S20), Think 20 (T20), Women 20 (W20), Youth 20 (Y20).

Modi, Biden review India-U.S. ties during their meeting in Bali

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Joe Biden on Tuesday reviewed the state of India-US strategic partnership including in sectors like critical and emerging technologies and artificial intelligence.

The two leaders also discussed topical global and regional developments in their meeting that took place on the margins of the G-20 summit in this Indonesian city, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said. It is understood that the Ukraine conflict and its implications figured in the discussions.

The MEA said the two leaders expressed satisfaction about close cooperation between India and US in new groupings such as Quad and I2U2.

“Prime Minister Narendra Modi met President of USA, Joseph R Biden on the margins of G-20 Leaders’ Summit in Bali today,” the MEA said.

“They reviewed the continuing deepening of the India – US strategic partnership including cooperation in future oriented sectors like critical and emerging technologies, advanced computing, artificial intelligence, etc,” it said in a statement.

The MEA said the two leaders discussed topical global and regional developments.

“PM Modi thanked President Biden for his constant support for strengthening the India-US partnership. He expressed confidence that both countries would continue to maintain close coordination during India’s G-20 Presidency,” it said.

While the Quad comprises India, the US, Australia and Japan, the members of the I2U2 are the US, the United Arab Emirates and Israel.

India is currently part of the G20 Troika (current, previous, and incoming G20 Presidencies) comprising Indonesia, Italy, and India.

The prime minister is attending the summit at the invitation of Indonesian President Joko Widodo. Indonesia is the current chair of the G-20.

Harry Arora: The Most Qualified Candidate For CT State Treasurer

“I am running for Connecticut State Treasurer to bring leadership and experience to Hartford,” says Mr. Harry Arora, an Indian American and a State Representative of the Connecticut General Assembly. Mr. Arora has over 25 years of experience in investment management and running a successful business in Greenwich. Five years ago, the talented and experienced businessman pivoted to public service to give back to his community.  As a state representative for Connecticut’s 151st district, Mr. Arora has fought tirelessly for his constituents, and now he wants to play a bigger role at the state level, serving the 3.6 million people who have made this beautiful state their home.

Connecticut is considered one of the most expensive states to live. It’s residents have the second-highest tax incidence in the country after New York. According to WalletHub’s analysis, Connecticut proved to be the state with the most expensive residential energy bills, paying an average of $372 per month to keep warm, cool, lit, moving and entertained.

​ A new report by the Personal finance website Bankrate  has ranked Connecticut the 3rd most expensive, and 8th worst overall, in which to retire. Connecticut tied for 4th with Vermont in the crime category, and is ranked 8th overall for retiree “well-being,” but takes a beating in the data when it comes to affordability. The state ranks No. 48, right behind affluent enclaves Hawaii and California.

In this context, electing someone who understands the needs and the complexities of managing the finances of the state of Connecticut is very essential. “It’s time Connecticut has a Treasurer that actually has experience in the role they are elected for: managing our pensions and debt,” says Mr. Arora. “I ask for your vote on November 8th to fix Connecticut’s finances.”

Mr. Arora has extensive experience in portfolio management and investment analysis, with a proven risk manager with an excellent track record. He has a strong background in macro-economics and financial theory and has experience selecting third-party portfolio managers and fixed income experience, in managing duration and credit risk. All these endear him well to elect Mr. Arora as the next State Treasurer.

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“I am the most qualified candidate for this role. I am a finance professional with 20+ years as a portfolio manager and Chief Investment Officer,” says Mr. Arora. “I have led an investment firm for many years. My opponent is a lawyer with no formal education in business or economics and no experience in finance or investing. No private sector firm would entertain him to be their Treasurer.”

“My platform is to fix Connecticut’s finances,” says, Mr. Arora. “I want to work to improve returns on our $50 billion pension fund. We are lagging a passive index by billions of dollars. I will work towards managing our debt better and lower interest expense. We have $30 billion in outstanding debt and pay $1 billion + interest each year. I want to improve CT residents’ financial well-being by promoting financial education on budgeting, borrowing, and investing.”

Mr. Arora understands the need to be fiscally conservative and help lower the tax burden on the people of the state. “I have the plan to lower our interest expense, manage our debt and improve returns on our pension assets,” say Mr. Arora. “I will work to improve financial education and improve economic well-being of all residents in Connecticut. I hope to have your vote on November 8th to be Connecticut’s next State Treasurer.”

Mr. Arora, an immigrant American who came to the United States from India as a student and naturalized as a citizen 18 years ago, if elected will be the first Indian American to be in statewide office if elected. Reflecting on India and its steady growth to be a world leader, Mr. Arora says, “India has made significant economic and social progress in the last 75 years. This progress has improved the standard of living for hundreds of millions of people and created a vibrant middle class. India is ready for primetime with a younger, educated, and diverse workforce. It is also astounding how India has made this progress as a democracy with a free press and the rule of law. I left India 30 years ago to pursue graduate school. As an Indian American, I feel proud to see India – the country of my birth, make strides to become a leading nation in the world.”

“I have served two terms in the state legislature and have a proven record of working across the aisle and getting things done. My opponent has never served in elected office,” says Mr. Arora. “I started and ran an investment management firm for 15 years and have a proven ability to manage high-performing teams. As your next State Treasurer, I plan to improve returns on our pension assets, lower interest expenses, and focus on financial education for CT residents to improve their financial well-being.”

Mr. Arora is running to be the next State Treasurer, who manages the state’s $45 billion in pension assets for the state employees and teachers. With 25 years of experience in finance, Mr. Arora intends to leverage that expertise to produce higher returns for the state’s portfolio After years of underperformance, let us build a portfolio for outperformance.

Mr. Arora and his wife Nisha are raising their three kids in Greenwich. He came to the United States from India as a graduate student 27 years ago and naturalized as an American citizen in 2004. He truly represents the American dream.

Mr. Arora understands that this is a close race and every vote that is cast could be the deciding vote. He is urging every eligible voter in the state of Connecticut to come out and vote and help him get elected to be the next Treasurer of the state of Connecticut. “I ask for your vote on November 8th.” To learn more about the candidate and his vision for Connecticut, please visit: https://www.arora2022.com/

Sujata Gadkar-Wilcox, Democratic Party Candidate For CT Assembly Seat

“For too long we have allowed our representatives in Hartford to finger-point and leave messes for others to clean up,” Sujata Gadkar-Wilcox, a Democratic Party candidate, for the 123rd District seat in the state House of Representatives, said. “The time is now to take responsibility for getting our state back on the right path.”

Gadkar-Wilcox said her platform is based on creating a new kind of politics. Gadkar-Wilcox, an Indian American, is pitted against incumbent David Rutigliano, a Republican in the November 8th mid-term elections. Rutigliano has held the seat since 2012. An associate professor at Quinnipiac where she teaches Constitutional law and human rights, Gadkar-Wilcox spoke passionately about how she plans to represent the entire population in Trumbull that is fast growing and diverse.

Gadkar-Wilcox said she was running out of concern for the “contentious and divided” political environment. “The time is now to take responsibility for getting our state back on the right path,” she said. “We have an obligation to ensure that our children enjoy quality public education, preparing them to be innovators and problem solvers. We must find sustainable solutions to manage our budget while not imposing an undue burden on our residents. We must responsibly invest in upgrading our infrastructure, which is the economic lifeline to our state.”

A Trumbull resident for nearly two decades, Gadkar-Wilcox said she hoped to create a new kind of politics that would work for everyone. “I hope to earn your support so that I may carry your voice to Hartford, working to ensure that you are not only able to thrive, but that Connecticut remains the place you are proud to call home,” she said. “As we move towards election day in November, I will work to earn your trust (and your vote) by listening to your concerns and sharing my vision for a new kind of politics.”

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Gadkar-Wilcox is a Professor of Constitutional, Comparative and Human Rights Law. She was honored to receive a Fulbright-Nehru Award to support her research on the framework of the Indian Constitution. She also is a former director of juvenile law at Family Services in Westchester where she worked to train attorneys and law students in violence and delinquency prevention programs.

She was awarded the prestigious William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board, which enabled her to travel to India during the 2015-2016 academic year to continue her research on the framework of the Indian Constitution.

“I am delighted to be selected for a Fulbright-Nehru grant to continue my research,” Gadkar-Wilcox said. “My interest in understanding the pluralism informing the drafting of the Indian Constitution relates to my own experience of being raised in the United States by immigrant parents who instilled in us an appreciation and understanding of our own Indian cultural heritage. The process of operating in overlapping cultural spaces has always enabled me to approach issues from a different vantage point, which is what I see in the drafting of the Indian Constitution as well.”

“Both of my parents were born in India, and I was inspired as a young adult by my grandfather’s stories of his presence at Mahatma Gandhi’s ‘Quit India’ speech, his involvement in pro-Congress Party student protests, and his admiration for B.R. Ambedkar, both as a Maharashtrian and as an advocate for dalit “untouchables.” These led me to be intrigued by the issues of constitutional change at the time of India’s independence.

In 2017, Sujata received the James Marshall Award for Service to the Quinnipiac community. She serves as a faculty fellow with the Albert Schweitzer Institute, is a member of the Oxford Consortium for Human Rights and is a Carnegie New Leader with the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs. Sujata, her husband Wynn, and their two daughters live in Trumbull, CT.

The race is a rematch of the 2018 contest which she lost by just over 900 votes, the closest showing by a Democrat in the district in 46 years, according to Trumbull Democrats. Trumbull First Selectman Vicki Tesoro said she was “thrilled” that Sujata is running, and described her as “passionate about doing what is right for others.”

According to Regina Haley, Gadkar-Wilcox’s campaign manager, “What’s remarkable about Gadkar-Wilcox’s incredibly fast fundraising effort is that it happened organically,” said Haley. “We posted on Facebook and sent out an email. Then the word just started to spread. It’s like people have been waiting for a candidate like Gadkar-Wilcox. The energy behind her is enormous.”

“In the long run, Connecticut requires a politics characterized by careful deliberation, open and direct communication, and good decision-making,” says Gadkar-Wilcox. “Politics needs to move away from the back and forth of partisan commentary and get to issues beyond the headlines and sound bites. We need to discuss the more fundamental structural issues that will create a better political climate and a more vibrant economy.”

Confident and determined, Gadkar-Wilcox says, “I hope to earn your support so that I may carry your voice to Hartford, working to ensure that you are not only able to thrive, but that Connecticut remains the place you are proud to call home,” she said. “As we move towards election day on November 8th, I will work to earn your trust (and your vote) by listening to your concerns and sharing my vision for a new kind of politics.” For more details on Sujata Gadkar-Wilcox, please visit: http://sujataforct.com/

“US And India Need To Stand Together As Democracies That Stand For Values:” Rep. Jim Himes Says During Meet & Greet With GOPIO-CT Leadership

“The United States and India need to stand together as they are great democracies that stand for human values,” declared US Congressman Jim Himes, a Democrat representing the 4th district of Connecticut during a networking reception, Diwali Celebrations, Dinner, Music and Interactive Session With Congressman Jim Himes at the Hampton Inn and Suites, Stamford, CT on Friday, October 28th, 2022. 

Stating that the Indo-US relationship is fundamental to the stability of the world, Rep. Himes referred to the compulsions that led to India’s response to Russia’s unilateral invasion of Ukraine. “We underrated the long-standing relationship India has had with Russia. We understand the constraints India faces. No one needs to sit  in judgement of India’s position on Ukraine,” Rep. Himes said. 

Rep. Himes shared with the audience about his recent visit to Ukraine and meeting with the leadership in this war-torn nation. Describing the pain and the suffering inflicted on the people of Ukraine, Rep. Himes said, “Everyone we met in Ukraine stated, we will  do everything in our power to defend every inch of our territory.” 

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While hoping that the war ends soon, the Congressman pointed to how “Democracy is under threat today more than ever,” and he stressed the need for India and the United States need to “stand together to protect the democratic values.”

“There is a temptation to test the ties India and the United States have developed for centuries,” Rep. Himes pointed out. Stating that the this “friction is between India and the United States is only temporary” Rep. Himes said, “We will stand united and will work together towards the common values that are dear to both the nations.” Describing India and the United States as “cousin democracies” Rep. Himes said, “The Democratic party leadership is in understanding of the critical need for strengthening the relationship between India and the United States. We are very supportive of the need to build on the India US relationship,” he added. 

On the issue of long waiting, sometimes nearly 2 years to obtain an appointment for a Visa interview, while describing this as “a solvable problem, but the right intention and motive is essential,” Rep. Himes said, “We need to advocate with local representatives in every state to solve this back log.” As Chairman of the House Committee overseeing the State Department, Himes suggested that the US State Department will listen to Congressman Gregory Meeks of New York. “You need to have them understand the long delay in visa interviews,”  he said. 

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On the Green Card back log, Rep. Himes said, attracting skilled laborers is “central to our economy.” On a question, regarding the discussions about the Country-based quota not being used and unused visas could be used to allow Green Cards to other qualified individuals who are caught in the backlog for Green Card approval, Rep. Himes was unsure if the Biden Administration will embrace the policy.

Rep. Himes serves on the US Congressional Caucus on India and Indian-Americans, a forum in which Members of Congress address the issues central to our relationship with this important South Asian nation. By promoting dialogue on issues of interest to the Indian American community, the Caucus strives to strengthen bilateral relations between the United States and India, promote trade with India, enhance economic development in India and the United States, increase anti-terrorism cooperation.

While commenting on the recent US decision to sell F-16 Fighter Jets to Pakistan, Rep. Himjes said, “I have my personal perspectives on India and Pakistan. I understand who are our partners in security.” 

On the question of “cyber security” Himes said, “It is getting more and more a serious issue.” While acknowledging that “China is very targeted” Himes said, “Russia is not as sophisticated.” Himes stated, the US is investing heavily on cyber security to address the fast and ever evolving security threats posed by many rogue nations and people, around the world. “We need to be more resilient and there is an urgent need to fix ther problem.” 

Congressman Himes had all praise for the Indian American community. He referred to how he came to meet with a new entrepreneur of Indian origin in Bridgeport recently, who is setting up a large firm that will help manufacture semiconductors that is in huge demand now. He also spoke about the contribution of the Indian American community for their contributions to creating a hub of tech innovation in Stamford in CT. “The brains of tech innovations are here,” he said, while pointing to the Indian community. 

While acknowledging that “We have so much to do on immigration” to enable these tech savvy and entrepreneurial Indian American community to have a smoother and faster way to have Green Card and Job Visas,  Rep. Himes, whose District has a fast-growing South Asian immigrant community, praised them for their contributions. “You are a secret weapon for economic growth,” he told the Indian American community, and called them “the future of US innovations.”

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In his inaugural remarks, GOPIO International Chairman Dr. Thomas Abraham, said, “Every year, GOPIO-CT has had an interactive session with Rep. Jim Himes and other elected officials.” Dr. Thomas Abraham initiated the discussion by raising the “H1 and H4 visa issues and what needs to be done by the Biden Administration, especially for the need to clear the backlogs of pending Immigration numbers for our community.” Responding to these concerns that were shared in a series of questions by GOPIO leaders on the Immigration issues, Dr. Abraham described the immigration policy and the current situation as “messy.”

During the interactive session among members of GOPIO, who raised concerns about the Western Media being anti-India, Ritu Johorey, Board Member of GOPIO-CT refuted the claim and stressed that the Western Media is neither anti-India nor anti-Modi Government, and stated speaking of the realities in India and portraying what is happening in India today cannot be described as anti-India. The Diwali celebrations at an eloquently decorated Meeting Hall included Cocktail Dinner and a live Bollywood Music by popular Playback singers from across the state of Connecticut, emceed by Dr. Jaya West. 

The program started with a welcome by GOPIO-CT President Ashok Nichani who said that Rep. Himes is a great supporter of GOPIO and the Indian community. He said, over the last 15 years, GOPIO-CT, a chapter of GOPIO International has become an active and dynamic organization hosting interactive sessions with policy makers and academicians, community events, youth mentoring and networking workshops, and working with other area organizations to help create a better future. GOPIO-CT – Global Organization of People of Indian Origin – serves as a non-partisan, secular, civic and community service organization – promoting awareness of Indian culture, customs and contributions of PIOs through community programs, forums, events and youth activities. It seeks to strengthen partnerships and create an ongoing dialogue with local communities. For more details, please visit: http://gopio-ct.org/

Rishi Sunak Named Prime Minister Of England Amid Political Turmoil

History was made as Rishi Sunak, a British citizen of Indian Heritage has been chosen as Britain’s youngest Prime Minister on Monday, October 24th, 2002.  As the leader of the United Kingdom, Sunak has been tasked to steer the economically floundering nation days after his predecessor Liz Truss stepped down, conceding defeat. At age 42, he is the youngest and the first person of color to hold the post. The former Goldman Sachs analyst will be the United Kingdom’s first prime minister of Indian origin.

Rishi Sunak becomes Britain’s next prime minister after he won the race to lead the Conservative Party, leaving him with the task of steering a deeply divided country through an economic downturn set to leave millions of people poorer. In his first address to the people after being named Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak said it was the “Greatest privilege of my life…Will work day in and out to deliver”.

Sunak, one of the wealthiest politicians in Westminster has been asked to form a government by King Charles, replacing Liz Truss, the outgoing leader who only lasted 44 days in the job before she resigned. He defeated centrist politician Penny Mordaunt, who failed to get enough backing from lawmakers to enter the ballot, while his rival, the former prime minister Boris Johnson, withdrew from the contest saying he could no longer unite the party.

“This decision is a historic one and shows, once again, the diversity and talent of our party,” Ms Mordaunt said in a statement as she withdrew from the race just minutes before the winner was due to be announced. “Rishi has my full support.”

Sunak, the former finance minister, becomes Britain’s third prime minister in less than two months, tasked with restoring stability to a country reeling from years of political and economic turmoil. The multi-millionaire former hedge fund boss will be expected to launch deep spending cuts to try to rebuild Britain’s fiscal reputation, just as the country slides into a recession, dragged down by the surging cost of energy and food.

He will also inherit a political party that has fractured along ideological lines, a challenge that damaged the fortunes of several former Conservative leaders. Britain has been locked in a state of perma-crisis ever since it voted in 2016 to leave the European Union, unleashing a battle at Westminster over the future of the country that remains unresolved to this today.

Boris Johnson, the face of the Brexit vote, led his party to a landslide victory in 2019, only to be driven out of office less than three years later after a series of scandals. His successor Liz Truss lasted just over six weeks before she quit over an economic policy that trashed the country’s economic credibility.

Economists have questioned whether Sunak can tackle the country’s finances while holding the party’s multiple warring factions together. Rishi Sunak came to national attention when, aged 39, he became finance minister under Boris Johnson just as the COVID-19 pandemic hit Britain, developing the successful furlough scheme.

Sunak’s family migrated to Britain in the 1960s, a period when many people from Britain’s former colonies moved to the country to help it rebuild after the Second World War. After graduating from Oxford University, he went to Stanford University where he met his wife Akshata Murthy, whose father is Indian billionaire N. R. Narayana Murthy, founder of outsourcing giant Infosys Ltd.

The fact such a senior political leader in Britain has a family background that is nonwhite — with both his parents of Indian origin — has only become commonplace in the past handful of years. “That is a very, very recent development,” says Sunder Katwala, director of British Future, a think tank that researches issues around immigration, integration, race and identity.

He says since David Cameron became prime minister, the Conservative Party has placed an emphasis on putting more ethnic minorities in senior positions inside the government. “Ethnic diversity has become a new normal at the top table of British politics,” Katwala acknowledges. “In the last five years, we’ve seen ethnic minority chancellors of the Exchequer, home secretaries, foreign secretaries at a remarkable pace. Everyone’s got used to that and everybody thinks you shouldn’t make too much of that.”

Bronwen Maddox, the chief executive of the London-based think tank Chatham House, says that one silver lining amid all the chaos of recent weeks is that it “has forced someone with economic competence to the top of the Conservative field, and it has also forced Labour, the main opposition party, to put together a platform based on a claim to financial coherence, competence, things that Labor hasn’t always been associated with in the past.”

Congratulating Rishi Sunak, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted, “I look forward to working closely together on global issues, and implementing Roadmap 2030. Special Diwali wishes to the ‘living bridge’ of UK Indians, as we transform our historic ties into a modern partnership”.

Considered a centrist and pragmatic politician, he emerged in the latest leadership contest as a safe pair of hands to guide the U.K., after Liz Truss’ policy proposals around tax cuts and spending shook the government’s credibility and spooked markets.

Sunak’s rise in British politics has been nothing short of meteoric. After entering Parliament in 2015 after a career in banking, Boris Johnson appointed him just five years later as finance minister — a role formally known as chancellor of the Exchequer, the U.K.’s Treasury.

Financial markets have reacted calmly as it emerged that Rishi Sunak is set to be the UK’s next prime minister. The pound was broadly unchanged against the dollar on Monday afternoon and government borrowing costs stayed lower after Commons leader Penny Mordaunt dropped out of the leadership race.

NRIs Reflect On The Changing Landscape Of India After 75 Years Of Independence

On August 15th, 2022, as the nation celebrated its 75th anniversary of India’s Independence, a Letter was sent to the President of India, Droupadi Murmu, signed by 100  world renowned writers, journalists, creative artists, “to express our grave concerns about the rapidly worsening situation for human rights in India, specifically freedom of speech and creative expression, on the eve of India’s 75th anniversary of independence.”

Freedom of speech—the right to express opinions without government restraint—is a democratic ideal that dates back to ancient Greece. In the United States, the First Amendment guarantees free speech. When it comes to democracy, liberty of thought and expression is a cardinal value that is of paramount significance under our constitutional scheme.

However, this freedom of speech/expression, a fundament right enshrined in Article 19 of the Constitution of India is being eroded, more in the recent past. The many measures restricting freedom of expression, punishing and intimidating those who report corruption in the government, and the many evils prevalent in society have become a common practice for those in power at many state and federal levels.

The authorities in power have used and abused various sections of the Law to intimidate and punish those who criticize the people and policies of the ruling Party. Reporters Without Borders ranked India in 15-th place out of 180 countries in its 2022 World Press Freedom Index.

Human Rights Watch reported in 2022 that “Critics of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government in India including activists, journalists, peaceful protesters, and even poets, actors, and businesses increasingly risked politically motivated harassment, prosecutions, and tax raids. Authorities shut down rights groups using foreign funding regulations or allegations of financial irregularities.  ”

The Indian authorities routinely use vaguely worded, overly broad laws as political tools to silence and harass critics, Human Rights Watch said in a report. The government should repeal or amend laws that are used to criminalize peaceful expression, it stated. “India’s abusive laws are the hallmark of a repressive society, not a vibrant democracy,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Putting critics in prison or even forcing them to defend themselves in lengthy and expensive court proceedings undermines the government’s efforts to present India as a modern country in the Internet age committed to free speech and the rule of law.”

In addition to banning various authors and publications, “Charges of sedition have recently multiplied in India as a way to curb free speech and to intimidate government critics,” writes Mira Kamdar at the Pacific Council on International Policy. “India has become a dangerous place to be a journalist,” and adds, “India’s media has become increasingly concentrated in the hands of powerful. High-profile journalists whose views do not toe the new line have been pushed out or quit their jobs. Self-censorship by journalists is a growing problem. Those who do speak out regularly face harassment and threats.”

The Columbia Global Freedom of Expression pointed to the Supreme Court of India’s ruling that an indefinite suspension of internet services would be illegal under Indian law and that orders for internet shutdown must satisfy the tests of necessity and proportionality. The highest court in India ruled that “Restrictions under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure could not be used to suppress legitimate expression and are subject to judicial scrutiny.”

Romila Thapar, who has specialized in the study of early Indian history and historiography, and is a Professor Emerita at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, aptly describes the state of India at 75: “Some Indians in authority, seem averse to India being a secular democracy. Therefore, poverty and unemployment prevail, nationalism is being replaced by religious majoritarianism, freedom of expression is increasingly disallowed, the rights of citizenship have faded, and the security implicit in being a citizen is denied. How do we fulfill the aspirations of the national movement for Independence? That is the question we should be asking.”

At independence, India offered a beacon of hope—a secular society choosing democratic governance and a Gandhian vision of inclusion and tolerance. Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru spoke of India’s ‘tryst with destiny,’ and the hope is that the country will live up to the dream of Nobel Laureate, Rabindranath Tagore: “Where the mind is without fear,‘…. ’into that heaven of freedom, let my country awake.”

Ajay Ghosh

Chief Editor, The Universal News Network


India Is A Global Player

As an Indian American, who had left India more than 40 years ago, it makes me extremely proud to see how my Motherland has progressed over the years, especially since 2014 when Prime Minister Modi took the helm of the country.

The Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav honors the advancement of India and the culture of our people. On Oct. 1st this year, Modiji launched 5G services in India! And he spoke of the common people of India adapting to new technology at a greater speed.

Not only is India the world’s largest democracy, but as The World Bank says, “Over the past decade, the country’s integration into the global economy has been accompanied by economic growth. India has now emerged as a GLOBAL PLAYER.”

Just a couple of weeks ago, India surpassed the United Kingdom to become the 5th largest economy in the world. And in terms of purchasing power parity, meaning how much a rupee can buy, it is the world’s third-largest economy, according to World Bank data.

India’s recent growth has been a significant achievement. And since independence, its agricultural revolution has made it self-sufficient and a net exporter of food!

Since 2001, India has built all-weather rural roads for millions of people living in 171,000 small villages and habitations around the country, so they can increase family incomes, reach markets, hospitals, schools and entertainment. It is building infrastructure like ports and ships, defense equipment, strategic alliances in the Indo-Pacific and elsewhere, space technology, the list is endless.

And Modiji’s “Make In India” initiative is strengthening the country towards economic growth and independence.

India has taken global leadership in areas such as health and climate change. During COVID, it has been manufacturing vaccines that can be distributed to countries in Africa and Latin America, and other parts of the world; it has been producing medicines for HIV, Rotavirus, and numerous diseases that are available at low prices so that poor can afford them around the world!

India has spread the message of Yoga for health, non-violence for a more peaceful world, and solar energy for a sustainable planet. Its space program is the epitome of what can be achieved by its people. Its scientists, engineers, doctors and entrepreneurs are the envy of the world.

And Prime Minister Modi plans to get to India 2.0, through his Atmanirbhar strategy of independence. His Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav initiative which officially began on March 12, 2021 and ends August 15, 2023 – is the symbol of all that makes India into the vibrant and progressive country it is today.

Sudhir M. Parikh, M.D.
Chairman & Publisher-Parikh World Wide Media; Chairman-ITV Gold (24/7 TV Channel)’; Chairman-Life Global; Chairman-Center for Asthma & Allergy; Secretary General of Global Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (GAPIO); Padma Shri Awardee 2010; Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Awardee 2006; Ellis Island Medal of Honor 2005


Changing Landscape Of India After 75 Years Of Independence

From being an education hub of the world in ancient times to becoming the IT hub of the world today, the Indian landscape has come a long way.

The Landscape of Education and Health.

In 1947 India had a population of 340 million with a literacy rate of just 12%. Today it has a population of nearly 1.4 billion and a literacy rate of 74%. The average life expectancy has also risen from 32 years to 70 years in 2022. Even though India has shown remarkable progress in terms of literacy rate, the quality of higher education is still a cause of major concern.

However, some other fields like health and education still seem to be lacking behind as compared to the other developed countries. The health sector is also lacking behind. The doctor to patient ratio is merely 0.7 doctors per 1000 people as compared to WHO average of 2.5 doctors per 1000 people.

At present 65% of medical expenses in India are paid out-of-pocket by patients as per a recent study. The main reason behind this is that the patients have no alternative but to access private healthcare because of poor facilities in public hospitals.

The Economic Landscape.

India’s economy has expanded significantly in the 21st century. Under the Prime Ministership of Mr Narendra Modi many significant changes have taken place like the scraping of section 370, strengthening of the defense system, creating a startup-friendly environment, and much more.

In addition Mr. Modi’s administration launched several programs and campaigns, including ‘Make in India’, Digital India and the Swachh Bharat project. Today India is the fifth largest economy in the world with 147 lack crore GDP, accounting for 8% of the global GDP.

The Landscape of Defense Sector.

The Indian military is one of the largest Defense systems in the world because of the defense research and development organization established in 1958. In summary, analyzing the different landscapes of India we find that we have come a long way in our journey but still there is a lot to be done if we want to make India a superpower. A lot will depend on our people’s willingness to change, ensuring the equal participation of women in the workforce, including marginalized communities in our economic growth, and last, but not least is having a liberal and progressive and unbiased mindset.

Gautam Samadder, M.D

Past President, AAPI


Nurture Democracy To Be A World Leader

India Proudly celebrates Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav!

India @75 has emerged as the world’s largest sustainable democracy. A growing power with an aspiration to be the third largest economy after US and China.

For me, India’s biggest asset or strength is its constitution which talks about Unity in Diversity, which gives strength to live in an inclusive way in a diverse society and helps its people to rise not just at the national but international level.

Swami Vivekanand had rightly said: “The land where humanity has attained its
highest towards gentleness, towards purity, towards calmness – it is India.”

No doubt India has evolved since the Britishers left but it will be essential for India to stay focused on reducing inequality, nurture and value democracy, focus on proper education, and yes, check the growing population, which at present is 1.38 billion and will surpass China in 2023.

Ritu Jha

Chief Editor/Publisher, Indica News


I Am Proud Of India And I Am Proud As An Indian Immigrant.

Hearty congratulations to all Indians for a grand celebration of 75 years of independence!

India has achieved a lot during the last 75 years, especially during the last 25 years. India has become a world leader of Pharmacy and information technology. India has become one of the richest countries of the world. Infrastructure, Airline, Health, and travel industries have grown tremendously during the last 25 years.

India has produced some of the best Physicians, company CEOs, and great thought leaders.

Indian immigrants have done extremely well in several countries including the USA.

I am proud of India and I am proud as an Indian Immigrant!

Subrahmanya Bhat, MD, FCCP, FACP, DNBPAS

Board member, Georgia Composite Medical Board; Trustee, Clayton State University

Past President of the Association of Kerala Medical Graduates


This Century Belongs To India

August 15th, 1947! A day to remember all those who fought, laid their precious lives for us to enjoy this happy occasion.

Today is the day not to forget why they sacrificed their lives, their mission & purpose of the long struggle.

A day to reflect on what we can do so that each of our fellow citizens live a  life of respect dignity and prosperity.

In 75 years, we have achieved a lot.

At 75, India is full of energy, realizing it’s true potential, retaining its culture, and yet going modern. More needs to be done in the coming years so that India @ 100 will be a fully developed nation, the most powerful nation in the world and a Vishwa Guru.

This century belongs to India. In the coming years, India is going to be the manufacturing Hub . Also being the country with the youngest population, English Speaking population, and skilled labor, India is unstoppable. India will be the powerhouse of development. [email protected] 100 will be top three Economies in the world.

Vande Mataram! Happy Independence Day!

Jagdish Sewhani

President, The American India Public Affairs Committee


India Has A Rich History Engrossed With Thousands Of Years Of Civilization

I was born years after India gained independence. But so much have I heard from my grandfather, who was a freedom fighter too. He used to repeat that Gandhiji, Nehru, Netaji, Vallabhbhai Patel, and many others united the Indian people and fought to get India’s independence from the British. Later on, in school, it was the history of heroic stories of India. Looking back today, I am proud to be an Indian because India has a rich history engrossed with thousands of years of civilization and culture, absorbing and rise of religions and empires, British Rule, Revolution, Independence, and, no doubt, now emerging as a world power.

The world’s largest democracy and second-most populous country in this 21st century, India is a dynamic nation with a thriving economy, made up of a variety of beliefs and peoples united under one flag.

If small nations, like Japan could meticulously attain a leading position, India, with its large population and vast resources, could have emerged as number one by this time. For this world’s largest democracy, it is highly advantageous to remember that with British rule, English is the most important language for national, political, and commercial communication, and we can have instant contact worldwide.

The country has gone from having a GDP of just Rs 2.7 lakh crore at the time of Independence to now sitting close to Rs. 150 lakh crore. India is now a healthcare hub with exporting affordable medicines worldwide. Indian students are flying off to all developed countries for higher education in engineering, advanced medical research and the latest information technologies.

The new plans and projects are changing INDIA, its roads, railways, and digital telecommunication, with solar-powered airports of the highest qualities across the nation, and have multiplied the image and status of the New emerging INDIA.

Though we beat our trumpets a lot on our achievements, India appears to be suffering from a stinking bureaucracy and corruption among the administration and high political leaders. Whereby the country’s resources are underutilized or exploited. We must revive its democratic syncretic and inclusive credentials to be on the top list. We need to trim or eliminate all weeds that eat up tender growths.

India is not that India that the British left on 1947.  With its incredible progress, India’s present history continues to be the most enviable topic for developing countries globally. As an Indian American, I am proud to see India making hope- step- and jump each day to become a leading nation in the world, while celebrating Azadi ka 75th Amrit Mahotsav

Dr. Mathew Joys, Author, Writer

BOD Member, Indo-American Press Club

Editorial Board Member, The Universal News Network

At AAPI’s 75th India Independence Day On Capitol Hill, Key US Lawmakers Advocate For Stronger India-US Ties

The American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) organized the 75th Anniversary of the Independence of India/Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, September 21st, 2022, where key US Senators and Congressmen participated and stressed the need to strengthen Indo-US relationship and praised the contributions and achievements of Physicians of Indian Origin and the larger Indian American community.

A strong India means a strong US, influential US lawmakers from both sides of the aisle said, as they pledged to work towards strengthening the relationship between the two largest democratic countries of the world at a time when the world is undergoing several changes and facing numerous challenges. Attended by dozens of leaders of AAPI and several community leaders, a first of its kind, the India Day on Capitol Hill was a celebration of India as a nation that is a model and strong democracy and a fast-growing economy that has taken a central place on world stage.

Dr. Sampat Shivangi, Chair of AAPI Legislative Committee, who has played a lead role in organizing the India Day celebrations on Capitol Hill said, Indian-Americans have a key role to play in the India-US relationship. “It is a proud moment for every Indian, living in every part of the world to see the progress that our motherland has achieved since its independence 75 years ago.” Dr. Shivangi, a member of the National Advisory Council, Center for National Mental Health Services referred to India which has now become the fifth largest economic superpower in the world even surpassing India’s Colonial Masters, the UK, France, and Germany.

Quoting a White House Press Release last month, Dr. Shivangi said, “The QUAD agreement is a testimony of this the role for the promotion of human freedom and dignity, and ways to restrain the Chinese expansionism that is not respecting international laws, friendships, and relationships. “The United States sees India as an indispensable partner and confident in a relationship the two countries are pursuing their own national interests in Ukraine. The US-India strategic partnership is grounded in their commitments to the advancement of the free and open Indo-Pacific region.”

In his welcome address, Dr. Ravi Kolli, President of AAPI, “India @ 75! It is a milestone filled with feelings of sense of pride and joy for all the accomplishments and progress we have made, while preserving our integrity, unity, core values of freedoms, democracy and respect for diverse cultures and the groups that live and thrive in our beloved motherland. India has made great strides in various sectors of economy lifting over 270 million out of poverty in the past decade or so.

Referring to the unprecedented growth of India, Dr. Kolli said,  “It is the 5th largest economy in the world. In 1947 Maternal Mortality Rate was 2,000 for 100,000 births and Infant Mortality rate was 150 and now MMR is 150 and IMR is 27.6 in 2021. In the higher education sector India now has 1,043 universities and 42,000 colleges vs 27 universities and 578 colleges in 1950 and literacy rate is close to 75 % now as opposed to 20% in 1950. The number of medical colleges grew from mere 28 in 1950 to over 612 now in 2022. These accomplishments by themselves are worthy of a grand celebration, but India accomplished all this progress as a thriving democracy, with its steadfast commitment to freedoms with equity and inclusion of all faiths and creeds is a remarkable success story to be cherished and shared. We are proud to be part of this historic celebration of India on Capitol Hill, where we will have an opportunity to exchange views and express our concerns with the dozens of US Lawmakers, who will come to be part of the celebrations.”

“I am here today to say, thank you, from the bottom of my heart,” Senator Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat said. Recalling his visits to India, he said, he saw in action “the greatness of the largest democracy in the world in full action.”  While lauding the contributions of physicians of Indian Origin, “Had it not been for the Indian community that came to West Virginia to provide their services, most of rural West Virginia would not have health care today.” While observing that a major section of healthcare service in the rural US is provided by Indian American Doctors.

Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith, a Republican Senator representing the state of Mississippi stressed the importance of having strong relations between India and the United States. “The relationship between the United States and India is mutually beneficial for both of the countries and not just in the field of medicine and technology,” she said.

Senator Shelley Capito from West Virginia noted how the Indian American community is playing a key role in enriching the cultural experience of her state. “I live in Charleston, West Virginia, a small rural state. If we did not have any Indian American doctors, we would not have any kind of quality healthcare, we would not have the breadth and the depth and the richness of our communities that we have,” she said.

India’s Ambassador to the US Hon. Taranjit Singh, in his keynote address said that there is a close connection between the two countries and today it is driven by the leadership of the two largest democracies of the world. Indian American doctors have an especially key role to play in the India-US relationship, Sandhu said. “India today is one of the fastest-growing, major, emerging economies in the world,” he said. “We have such a vibrant and dynamic Indian American community represented in this country. The success of the Indian American community as professionals – doctors, technocrats, scientists and, entrepreneurs, has been an inspiration to many of us in India. And today, support of this community is vital to us” in forging a much stronger relationship with the US.

India and United States enjoy a comprehensive global strategic partnership covering almost all areas of human endeavor, driven by shared democratic values, convergence of interests on a range of issues, and vibrant people-to-people contacts, he said. Referring to the fact that within one month’s period, more than half a dozen senior Indian Ministers are visiting the US and a similar visit would happen from the US to India, he said. “This is a reflection of the relationship between India and the United States,” he pointed out.

Congressman Joe Wilson, a GOP lawmaker and co-chair of Indian Caucus in Congress, shared about his fond memories with India, going back to the days when his dad served in India during the World War. India and America – nations which respect individuals, freedom, human dignity, private property, and believe in free markets – have the potential to build on shared values, he said. “India has a major role to play in world peace, stabilizing world,” he added.

Rep. Michael Guest from Mississippi’s 3rd Congressional District, said, “We are so blessed to have you. I want to thank you for coming to the US from a great civilization.” Lauding the great contributions of AAPI fraternity, he said, “You reach out to when people are in crisis. You put yourself in arms way to serve your fellowmen, to serve others, especially during Covid.” Describing Indo-US partnership as “strategic relationship” the Congressman said, “We work together to protect freedom and democracies. We work together for the greater good of humanity.”

Indian American Congressman Ro Khanna from the California said, “US India relationship is more critical than ever for the world.” He said, “India should not be subject to (CAATSA) sanctions because of its historic relationship with Russia.” Praising the recent messaging of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the Russian leadership, Khanna said India can play a critical role in a peaceful resolution of the Ukrainian conflict. He referred to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who met Vladimir Putin last week on the sidelines of the 22nd meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Uzbekistan’s Samarkand, had told the Russian leader that “today’s era is not of war.”

Rep. Pramila Jayapal, the first and only Indian-American woman in the US Congress, said India and the US, despite being a world apart, have shared a very unique and important relationship over the years. India and the US have made tremendous strides in the promotion of public health. With the help of more than USD 200 million in aid from the US, India surpassed an important milestone in the fight against COVID-19 by administering two billion doses of vaccines, the second most of any country in the world, she said.

Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi said the Indian American community needs to make its presence known. Imploring more Indian Americans to run for office, Krishnamoorthi told the Capitol Hill gathering, “If you are not at the table, you will be on the menu.” India, he said, has done a lot in the last 75 years. “I want to talk a little bit about its (India’s) greatest export. Its greatest export is you – Indian Americans who are four million strong. They are the fastest-growing ethnic minority in America. They are the most prosperous ethnic minority and the most well educated.”

Congressman Ted Deutch said, India and the US are strategic partners and Indian Americans are the key assets in the India-US relationship. “We are not only strategic partners, but we are friends,” he said. Referring to the NRI community, he said, “This is the group in the US, of all the ethnic groups, with the highest income and the highest level of education.”

U.S. Congressman Pat Fallon (TX-04), who had attended both the Capitol Hill event as well as at the Embassy Reception compared India and the United States, as both have gained independence from Britain. Both are today the greatest democracies of the world, he said and added that India at 75th anniversary of Independence Day is doing better and greater than how the US did at its 75th anniversary. Lauding the contributions of Indian American Physicians and the larger Indian American community Rep. Fallon highlighted the strong and strategic relationship the United States and India have, that benefits not only the two nations, but the entire world.

“Indian American physicians have made vital contributions to the health care field,” said Dr. Kishore Challa, Co-Chair of AAPI’s Legislative Committee. “As physicians, we provide critical care to patients from rural & urban communities across the Country. Indian American doctors are playing a critical role in filling the nationwide physician shortage. The India Day on Capitol Hill is a unique opportunity for AAPI members to be part of the decision-making process on matters related to healthcare and advocate for stronger and closer ties between India and the United States.”

Dr. Anjana Samadder, President-Elect of AAPI said, “AAPI has been serving India and contributing to the effective healthcare delivery in the US and in India. In keeping with the mission of AAPI, the celebrations on the Hill provided us with a forum to facilitate and enable Indian American physicians share our concerns with the Lawmakers in pursuit of our aspirations in matters relating to professional and community affairs.”

“The historic 75th India Independence Day celebrations on Capitol Hill was an effective Forum to help renew our friendship with US administration under the leadership of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris and brief the Congressional leaders on issues that are important to us,” said Dr. Satheesh Kathula, Vice President of AAPI.

“AAPI’s India Day celebrations on Capitol Hill helped members rekindle and renew our energy in bringing up the issues to the attention of national policymakers and leaders of the US Congress on Capitol Hill,” said Dr. Sumul Rawal, Treasurer of AAPI.

A reception and dinner hosted by Honorable Taranjit Singh Sandhu, Ambassador of India to the United States, with several dignitaries at the Indian Embassy was the grand finale to the day-long event at the nation’s capital. India and United States enjoy a comprehensive global strategic partnership covering almost all areas of human endeavor, driven by shared democratic values, convergence of interests on a range of issues, and vibrant people-to-people contacts. “The relationship is very strong,” noting India and the US are connected in culture, democratic traditions, entrepreneurship, and innovation. “And we are connected because the Indian American community in the US is so very strong,” Ambassador Sandhu told an enthusiastic audience said.

In his vote of thanks, Dr. Ravi Kolli expressed gratitude to Dr. Sampath Shivangi, for organizing the event and bringing powerful senators and Congress Members and giving a forum and opportunity for AAPI members to participate in conversations with them. “Both the Senators form Mississippi referring him as the ‘Rockstar of Mississippi’ is the true reflection of his leadership and contributions at the national level.” He said. “I deeply appreciate Dr. Kishore Challa for personally arranging for both the Senators of WV to attend, both of them spoke so highly of Dr. Challa and his leadership in healthcare matters in the state of West Virginia and nationally and how he was instrumental in making Telemedicine Audio Service approved by Federal Agencies during the pandemic.”

“AAPI has been seeking to collectively shape the best health care for everyone in the US, with the physicians at the helm, caring for the medically underserved as we have done for several decades when physicians of Indian origin came to the US in larger numbers,” said Dr. Ravi Kolli. For more information on AAPI and its several noble initiatives benefitting AAPI members and the larger society, please visit: www.aapiusa.org

AAPI Observes World Suicide Prevention Day, Educating Members on Causes, Trends, Warning Signs, Treatment, & Ways to Prevent Suicide

Suicide, especially among children and adolescents is a growing phenomenon of concern and the numbers tell a shocking story. Every 40 seconds someone takes their own life according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Bringing awareness on this critical issue, September 10th is being observed each year as World Suicide Prevention Day across the world.

Observing World Suicide Prevention Day, American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) organized a live online seminar on “Treating Depression in Children and Adolescents in Primary Care” on September 10th, 2022. Attended by a record number of physicians from around the nation, the online seminar was led by Dr. Ravi Kolli, President of AAPI and a Board-Certified Psychiatrist from Pittsburgh, PA.

Dr. Kolli set the context for the Webinar, by drawing the attention of the AAPI members to the prevalence of suicidality among people of all walks across the United States. “Nationally in 2020, there was approximately one death by suicide every 11 minutes. In the same year, for people aged 10–14 and 25–34 years, suicide was the second leading cause of death. From April 2020 to 2021 over 100,000 people died of drug overdose alone,” Dr. Kolli said. “Over 44,000 people die by suicide annually. As many as 123 people die by suicide every day. Over 1.3 million people attempt suicide each year, and suicide is the 10th leading cause of death for all age groups,” Dr. Kolli pointed out.

Mental health issues like depression are known to be the leading cause for attempting suicide. Suicide often occurs in a moment of unbearable pain or deep despair. Millions of Americans consider suicide, make a suicide plan, or attempt suicide every year – especially young Americans for whom suicide is the second leading cause of death.

“By drawing attention to the problem of suicide in the United States, the suicide prevention campaign also strives to reduce the stigma surrounding the topic, as well as encourage the pursuit of mental health assistance and support people who have attempted suicide,” Dr. Kolli, a board-certified psychiatrist told the AAPI members. “With the objective of strengthening and expanding the Lifeline infrastructure to respond to crisis calls, texts, and chats anytime and establishing a system that provides more opportunities for crisis service, the Federal Government has initiated the soft launch of Emergency Suicide Prevention Number, 988, transitioning from 1-800-273-TALK to 988,” Dr. Kolli pointed out. Dr. Kolli educated the participants on ways to respond to crisis and talked about the impact from “Reaction vs. Response.”

Dr. Malti Mehta, a member of AAPI BOD and a moderator of the session, stressed the importance of understanding how from inception onwards, the family dynamics contributes to depression and suicidality among children, especially among children of Indian heritage. “Let us work together with our family, friends, healthcare workers, religious and political leaders to prevent suicide through active counseling and support. It is time we empowered others to be in charge of their lives and value the one life they have.”

In her eloquent and comprehensive presentation on “Treating Depression in Children and Adolescents in Primary Care” Dr. Aparna Vuppala, Medical Director, SPEAK project of       HHF -Huntsville Hospital Foundation and a Psychiatrist from Huntsville, AL educated the audience on: the prevalence of suicide in children; Criteria for depressive disorders in children; Etiology and stressors worsening depression; Screening u Differential Diagnosis and comorbidity; Suicide prevention measures; Non-pharmacologic Treatment and Pharmacologic Treatment available today.

“In 2011, for the first time in 20 years in the US, more teens died from suicide than homicide,” Dr. Vuppala pointed out. “In 2017, the suicide rate was more than twice the homicide rate. In 2018, Suicide has become the second leading cause of death in 10–24-year-old children.”  Dr. Vuppala shared with the audience her own experiences in efforts to prevent suicide among school-going kids in Alabama. “The mayor’s office has recognized our efforts, providing funds for the program,” she said. She offered her team’s services to other parts of the nation.

Addressing the challenges of Pediatric Depression, Dr. Vuppala said, “Most depression research has been done on adults. Childhood depression is not necessarily the same illness as adult depression. We use the same DSM-V criteria as for adults. Childhood emotional instability is a challenge to understand and treat. AAP Guidelines recommend screening all youth 12 years and older for depression.”

Educating the parents about the consequences of untreated depression with the need for treatment compliance, she said. It is possible that 9 out of 10 kids are likely to share their issues with someone close to them or express their views on social media. Identifying them and recognizing them in advance is a sure way to prevent suicidality, Dr. Vuppala said.

She recommended that “parents must ask directly and matter-of-factly about suicide with children. Do not underestimate the threat of suicide or invalidate feelings. Do not be judgmental. Do not argue or debate if suicide is right or wrong. Do not say that their pain/stressor is not a serious enough reason. Do not lecture on the value of life. DO NOT be sworn to secrecy.” Among other things, she stressed the need for a minimum of 8.5 hours of sleep at night and limiting screen time with less than 2 hrs./day of recreational screen time for school-age children, and less than 1 hr./day for 2-5 yrs. old children.

Referring to treatment modalities to address depression and suicidality, Dr. Vuppala highlighted the importance of individual psychotherapy and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), which helps increase awareness of thoughts-emotions-behaviors and change thinking pattern. In addition to Parent-child interaction therapy (PCIT) and medications to treat depression, she referred to Dialectical Behavior therapy (DBT) which has been found to be helpful in preventing SI/self-harm by offering techniques to cope healthily with stress, regulate emotions, and improve relationships with others. Mindfulness has been found to a way for compassion and being grateful, while pet therapy and nature therapy are found to be useful.

During the interactive session, Dr. Kolli and Dr. Vuppala shared their insights on how “mindfulness and meditation” have contributed to stress reduction and prevent suicidality. Research on meditation and mindfulness has been shown to improve holistic person. Spirituality is found to be a valuable resource in combating loneliness and depression, Dr. Vuppala said.

American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI,) the largest ethnic organization in the United States, representing nearly 120,000 physicians and Fellows of Indian origin in the United States. For more details on AAPI and its programs, please visit: www.aapiusa.org

MASCONN’s Onam Celebrates Kerala’s Culture, Traditions

Malayalee Association of Southern Connecticut (MASCONN) organized its annual Onam celebrations at Madison Middle School, Trumbull, CT on Saturday, September 17th, 2022.

Attended by nearly 250 people, the long awaited Onam celebrations brought together the fast growing community of people of Kerala origin from across the state of Connecticut to celebrate their culture, traditions, and fellowship.

The day long Onam celebrations began with the lighting of the traditional Nailavilakku or the lamp by honored guests of MASCONN and the executive committee members of MASCONN, including, Tijo Josh, President; Sreejith Mambarambath, Vice President; Giby, Vice President;  Veena Ramesh, Secretary; Reshmi Parakkal, Joint Secretary; and, Jacob Mathew, Treasurer; and members of the Board of Directors: Sujanan TP, Anitha Nair, Aswathy Rajeevan, Jose Kalarikkal, Kaushik Prakash, Prince Lal, Roy Sebastian, Sofia Salim, and Sudhi Balan. Kids Club President Lakshmi S Nair introduced the members of the Club and announced of the planned Blood Drive in collaboration with the local RED CROSS on October 4th.

The chief guests who graced the event and shared their Onam greetings and message included, Connecticut State Assemblyman Harry Arora and Sujata Gadkar-Wilcox, a candidate for CT State Assembly representing Trumbull. Both Mr. Arora and Ms. Gadkar-Wilcox urged the Indian community to come out and vote on November 8th and at every election cycle to make the voice of the Indian Americans heard on the corridors of power. They, later on volunteered and served food to the participants at the Onam Sandhya.

A colorful Pookoalm and the traditional lamp with a sandalwood tilak on forehead at the entrance of the school, welcomed the participants with a warm traditional Indian welcome. Legendary King Mahabali was given a traditional welcome as he mingled with the participants showering his blessings.

Earlier the legendary King Mahbali was welcomed on to the state in a procession led by children and women, including Veena, Aswathy, Nimmi, Roniya, Avani, Deepa, Hency, and Shreya, who set the stage for the Onam celebrations with their beautiful performance of Thiruvathirakali.

“MASCONN an offshoot of the natural growth of the Indian-American especially Malayalee Community in the southern Connecticut region,” said Tijo Josh, President of MASCON, in his welcome address. He led the participants to a moment of silence praying for those who lost their lives due to Covid and honoring those healthcare professionals who worked bravely to save the lives of those who were affected by the deadly virus. Tijo praised the Masconn Youth Group and the executive committee and the members for their dedication.

Eloquently emceed by Clarence Xavier and Mini Ajay, who explained the story behind this cultural festival of Kerala, a southern Indian state. “Onam awaits one very special visitor, Kerala’s most loved legendary King Maveli. He is the King who once gave the people a golden era in Kerala. The King is so much attached to his kingdom that it is believed that he comes annually from the nether world to see his people living happily. It is in honor of King Mahabali, affectionately called Onathappan, that Onam is celebrated,” Mini Ajay said.

The whole ambience was filled with nostalgia since it was an occasion for all the Malayalees in Connecticut to cherish their childhood memories, especially everyone enjoyed the sumptuous Onam Sadhya (meal), the most important and main attraction of the day with different traditional dishes and payasam that was served on banana leaves.

For the 1st time, MASCONN organized Onachamayam photo contest was held for Malayalee Manga and Family Chamayam photo contest and winners were awarded. The winners of the Chess and Cards Games were recognized with trophies.

In his Onam message, Mahabali told the audience that the “beauty of the festival lies in its secular fabric. People of all religions, castes and communities celebrate the festival with equal joy and verve. Onam also helps to create an atmosphere of peace and brotherhood by way of various team sports organized on the day,” he added.  Sreejith Mambarambath and Jaya Giby, Vice Presidents of MASCONN proposed vote of thanks, while thanking all the organizers for the great event they had worked so hard to put together.

Participants were dressed in their traditional attire. The most traditional costume for the men of Kerala is the “Mundu” which is mostly white in color. It is worn tightly at the waist with a knot and comes down till the feet. Women following Hinduism wear a blouse and mundu known as “Mundu neriyathu.” Children were seen elegantly in mundus, shirts, sarees and salwar.

The celebration of Onam festival provides them with a perfect opportunity to encourage the new generation of children of Indian origin to witness, learn and appreciate these rich traditions, even while it offers the first generation NRIs to stay connected and cherish the rich cultural heritage they hold so dear to them.

Living in countries that are far away from their homeland, in the midst of different cultures, busy with the day-to-day mundane work and home tasks, the Non Resident Indian (NRI) community made this “land of opportunities” their home, have brought with them these cultural traditions and have sought to pass them on to their children, who are often born and raised here.

Onam is a festival celebrated in the south-western state of Kerala, India. Keralites or the Malayalees, the illustrious people of the beautiful state are known around the world for their hard work and spirit of adventure, celebrate the festival of Onam wherever they are.

Malayalee Association of Southern Connecticut (MASCONN) which was formed a dozen years ago, the cultural extravaganza was in many ways “reliving the culture and traditions” and “cherishing the past with a view to pass it on to the future generation.”

 

Laxmi, The Leading South Asian Food Brand Celebrates 50 Years Of Bringing ‘Home’ To You

For many cultures and its people, the primary language of love is food. Mostly all immigrant families ensure their roots remain firm is by filling their dinner tables with dishes that represent their home countries Cooking ethnic foods allows them to experience a sense of comfort and belonging which is then passed down to generations keeping traditions alive!

For over 50 years  Laxmi has done just this – enabled millions of South Asian families stay connected to their roots by providing them quality ingredients to help them cook their traditional dishes and experience home away from home.

Established in 1970 in Jackson Heights, NY by G.L. Soni and his brother K.L. Soni, the impetus for their business venture , House of Spices was Mrs. Shobhna Soni who was tired of eating yogurt and potatoes as a new bride in a new country. This gave these entrepreneurs the idea to start a business that would bring Indian ingredients like daal and spices to the USA and allow the diaspora here to enjoy the taste of home. But it didn’t stop with dals and spices – their business soon expanded to include flours, rice, oil, ghee, juices and many other traditional ingredients essential for South Asian cooking. Their success was unstoppable, and the House of Spices’ flagship brand ‘Laxmi’ became a household name in no time.

As their family expanded so did their business and along with their children, the founders nurtured a growing line of products with a vast distribution network all over North America. Time flew and the torch was passed on to Neil and Amrapali Soni. They recognized the hard work and passion that built the business and decided to enhance the Laxmi brand by giving it a new look.

These exciting brand building efforts led to a logo update and the signing of Bollywood Superstar Shilpa Shetty as its brand ambassador. Ms. Shetty, who is known for her holistic approach to diet, nutrition, and fitness was the perfect choice to represent the renewed look for Laxmi, priming it for a perfect 50thth birthday celebration. The innovation continues with a new product lines that have been recently introduced on shelves throughout North America. Laxmi has now forayed into the convenience food category with a frozen range of products that includes vegetables, Samosas, Naan’s and many more items to be added to the roster in the following months.

According to Neil and Amrapali Soni, this journey to 50 would not have been possible without the support of the South Asian community. The family has never lost sight of this unwavering support and offer their utmost gratitude to the community for their loyalty over 5 decades. Many ingredients make this company special, but the one that got them to the top has consistently been their passion for providing quality products to their customers. The Soni family’s vision for their business continues to put quality at the forefront of everything they do and carry on the tradition of excellence.

To mark this legacy milestone ,Laxmi is currently Celebrating #50YearsOfLaxmi campaign. When asked about the campaign Suhasinee Patil ,VP Marketing shared that as Laxmi turns 50 we wanted to honor our consumers and our community by inviting them to share stories about their journey in US. We truly believe our success and the community success go hand in hand. Thus the next time you eat something that reminds you of someone, don’t just remember them, reach out to them.  And when you do, we would love to hear about your food memories. …

For more information on the contest and exciting prizes, please visit www.laxmihos.com and share your stories by submitting a video and using hashtags to participate: #LaxmiYadoonKiRecipe; #50YearsOfLaxmi; #ReachOutWithLaxmi

Dr. Sampath Shivangi Named Chair Of Mississippi Board Of Mental Health

The Mississippi Board of Mental Health named Dr. Sampat Shivangi of Ridgeland as Chair and Stewart Rutledge of Oxford as Vice Chair, in effect from July 1, 2022. Dr. Shivangi was first appointed to the Board in 2009 by Gov. Haley Barbour and reappointed in 2016 by Gov. Phil Bryant, the press release from MBMH said.

Dr. Shivangi currently serves on the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Center for Mental Health Services National Advisory Council, in the Biden administration, “A first for an Indian American physician, as well as Chair of Mississippi state Board of Mental Health,” Shivangi noted in an email message.

During his time on the Board of Mental Health, Dr. Shivangi has previously served as Chair, as well as numerous years serving on the Patient Care Subcommittee.

“He has taken an active role in efforts to promote suicide awareness and prevention, particularly those efforts related to postpartum depression awareness and treatment,” the press release said. In addition to his time on the Board of Mental Health, Shivangi previously served on the Mississippi State Board of Health. From 2005 to 2008, he served as Advisor to the US Secretary of Health and Human Services in the President George W. Bush administration. He is the founding president of the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin in Mississippi and is the past president and chair of the India Association of Mississippi.

Dr. Shivangi represents the physician category on the Board of Mental Health The board is composed of nine members appointed by the governor of Mississippi and confirmed by the State Senate.

Dr. Sampat Shivangi has been a conservative life-long member of the Republican party, hailing from a strong Republican state of Mississippi.  He is the founding president of the American Association of Physicians of Indian-origin in Mississippi and is the past president and chair of the India Association of Mississippi. Advisor to US department of Health & Human Services at NHSC Washington, DC 2005-2008 President Bush Administration

A conservative life-long member of the Republican Party, Dr. Shivangi is the founding member of the Republican Indian Council and the Republican Indian National Council, which aim to work to help and assist in promoting President Elect Trump’s agenda and support his advocacy in the coming months.

As the National President of Indian American Forum for Political Education, one of the oldest Indian American Associations, Dr. Shivangi, has lobbied for several Bills in the US Congress on behalf of India through his enormous contacts with US Senators and Congressmen over the past three decades.

A close friend to the Bush family, Dr. Shivangi has been instrumental in lobbying for first Diwali celebration in the White House and for President George W. Bush to make his trip to India. He had accompanied President Bill Clinton during his historic visit to India.

Dr. Shivangi is a champion for women’s health and mental health, whose work has been recognized nationwide. Dr. Shivangi has worked enthusiastically in promoting India Civil Nuclear Treaty and recently the US India Defense Treaty that was passed in US Congress and signed by President Obama.

Dr. Sampat Shivangi, an obstetrician/gynecologist, has been elected by a US state Republican Party as a full delegate to the National Convention. He is one of the top fund-raisers in Mississipi state for the Republican Party. Besides being a politician by choice, the medical practitioner is also the first Indian to be on the American Medical Association, the apex law making body.

While moderating a session on “Latte with Legislators” organized by AAPI, Dr. Shivangi lamented that there is “a new wave of Anti-Indian American sentiments especially against Indian Physician group which makes up 15% of Doctors in the US.” Dr. Shivangi feels, “It may be due to Indian Americans have the highest per capita income and highest education level in the nation.”

Calling it as “prejudicial” Dr. Shivangi, urged that “we need to resolve this prejudice against minorities. With this in mind, I requested Congressmen Jamie Ruskin from Maryland to seek his advice and possible way to resolve this. Congressman Ruskin was very supportive and offered his unconditional support.”

Droupadi Murmu Is The President Of India

Droupadi Murmu, a tribal politician from the Odisha (Orissa) state was sworn in as the 10th successive president of the Republic of India on Monday, July 25th, 2022 in the central hall of Parliament in New Delhi. The 64-year-old former teacher, the country’s first tribal leader has become the constitutional head of India. Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of India N V Ramana administered the oath of office to the youngest ever President of India. Murmu replaces outgoing President Ram Nath Kovind, whose term ended on July 24th. 

India, a country with 1.4 billion people and the largest democracy in the world, has a constitutional framework of India is parliamentary, which is led by the elected representative and overseen by the first person of the country, the President of India.

In attendance at the solemn ceremony were: The outgoing President Ram Nath Kovind; Vice President and Chairman of the Rajya Sabha M Venkaiah Naidu, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla, Members of the Council of Ministers, Governors, Chief Ministers, heads of diplomatic missions, Members of Parliament and principal civil and military officers of the government will attend the ceremony. After the oath ceremony, the President arrived at the Rashtrapati Bhavan, where an inter-services guard of honor was given to her in the forecourt.

The swearing-in ceremony was marked by pomp and grandeur. It began with the arrival of two presidents – the outgoing Ram Nath Kovind and the incoming Droupadi Murmu – in a procession from Rashtrapati Bhavan to the Parliament building. Murmu was then escorted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Vice-President and Chairman of the Rajya Sabha M Venkaiah Naidu, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla to the Central Hall. After the short ceremony, Murmu and Kovind were escorted out of the Central Hall amid the roll of drums and blowing of trumpets.

Dressed in a white saree with green-and-red border,  in her address immediately after she took the oath as the President of India, Murmu thanked all MPs and MLAs who elected her to the highest office. Murmu, supported by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP was elected by the members of both the houses of parliament and of the legislative assemblies of states and federally-administered union territories. “I thank all of you. Your trust and cooperation is my strength. I am the first president who took birth in independent India,” she said.

Murmu said that she started her journey of life from a small tribal village in Odisha in the eastern part of the country. From the background that she came from, it was like a dream for her to get elementary education, she said. Her election to the top constitutional post proves that in India, the poor can not only dream but also fulfill those aspirations, she added. 

“I have been elected during an important time when the country is marking 75 years of Independence,” she noted. “Reaching this office is not my personal achievement but that of all the poor people in the country,” Murmu said. It is a matter of great satisfaction that those who have been deprived for centuries and those who have been denied the benefits of development, poor, downtrodden, backwards and tribals are seeing their reflection in her, she pointed out.

Tracing her background to the humble beginning, Murmu said, “I belong to the tribal society, and I have got the opportunity to become the President of India from the Ward Councilor. This is the greatness of India, the mother of democracy. It is the power of our democracy that a daughter born in a poor house, a daughter born in a remote tribal area, can reach the highest constitutional post of India.”

This is the first time that India has a tribal — considered the most original inhabitants of the land but have been on the margins of socio-economic development — as the President. This is happening in the 75th year of Independence, which marks the beginning of the government’s celebration of Amrit Kaal.

At 64, Murmu becomes the youngest person to be the President of India. She scripted history last week, defeating joint-opposition candidate Yashwant Sinha, a former Union minister, in a one-sided contest. She polled 6,76,803 votes against Sinha’s 3,80,177 votes to become India’s 15th President.

Born in 1958 in Baidaposi village of Mayurbhanj district, Murmu belongs to the Santhal community, one of India’s largest tribal groups. Daughter of a village council chief, she studied at the Ramadevi Women’s College in the state capital, Bhubaneswar. 

Beginning her career as a clerk for the Odisha government, Murmu served as a junior assistant in the irrigation and energy department from 1979-1983. After she quit her job in Bhubaneswar and returned to Rairangpur to take care of her family at the insistence of her mother-in-law, she took up a job as a teacher at the Sri Aurobindo Integral School.

Her political career began in 1997 when she was elected as a councillor in the local polls in Rairangpur. She was often seen personally supervising sanitation work in the town, standing in the sun as drains were cleaned and garbage cleared.

As a member of the BJP, she was elected to the state assembly twice – in 2000 and in 2009 – from the Rairangpur seat. Murmu came into the limelight in 2017 when it was rrumoreded that the BJP was considering her name for the presidential election that year. She was then serving as the governor of the state of Jharkhand.

Murmu devoted her life to serving society, empowering poor, downtrodden and marginalized sections of society. She has rich administrative experience and an outstanding gubernatorial tenure in Jharkhand. Murmu has made a special identity in public life by spreading awareness about education in tribal society and serving the public for a long time as a public representative.

The Indian president acts as the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces but the prime minister holds executive powers. he president, nevertheless, has a key role during political crises, such as when a general election is inconclusive, by deciding which party is in the best position to form a government. “A daughter of India hailing from a tribal community born in a remote part of eastern India has been elected our President!” PM Modi said on Twitter.

Chinese President Xi Jinping was among the world leaders to congratulate Murmu and said he was “ready to work” with his new Indian counterpart to strengthen relations, according to Chinese state media.

After Droupadi Murmu took oath as India’s 15th President in Delhi on Monday, celebrations were held at her native place – Rairangpur. To celebrate Murmu’s oath, people from her native performed tribal dance on the beats of the folk music. Notably, Draupadi Murmu is the first tribal and second woman to hold the country’s highest constitutional office.

A Senator Representing Less Than 2 Million People, Hijacks The Agenda Of 330 Million Americans Multiple Times

West Virginia’s population shrank 3.7% to 1,782,959 in 2021, from the 1.9 million people who lived there in 2010. In contrast, as per a report by The Census Bureau’s Population Estimates Program, the population in the US grew 6.5% during that period to 330 Million people across all the 50 states and DC. The state of West Virginia ranks 50 out of all 50 US states in population. 

West Virginia’s gross state product (GSP) reached $72.2bn, with growth of 0.6% over the 5-years to 2019. West Virginia’s GSP growth ranks 45 out of all 50 US states. GSP is a measurement of a state’s output, or the sum of value added from all industries in the state. The state employs 0.9 million people with a growth rate of -0.2% over the five years to 2018, which ranks it 50 out of all US states.

Senator Joseph Manchin III, representing the state of West Virginia in the US Senate since 2010, is a politician and businessman. A member of the Democratic Party, he was the 34th governor of West Virginia from 2005 to 2010 and the 27th secretary of state of West Virginia from 2001 to 2005. As per his website, Senator Manchin currently serves as the Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and also serves on the Senate Committee on Appropriations, the Senate Committee on Armed Services, and the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs – four critical committees that tackle the important work of addressing our nation’s energy needs, overseeing discretionary spending, standing up for our Veterans, and defending our nation.

Democrats now have a thin majority in the US Senate, and passing sweeping legislation is not easy, due to a rule requiring votes from 60 of the Senate’s 100 members.  With just 50 members and a tie-breaking vote from Vice President Kamala Harris, Senate Democrats will have the power to confirm executive and judicial nominees and launch investigations in a range of areas.

The current predicament of a 50/50 split in the Senate gives the ruling Democratic party very little scope for legislating President Biden’s Agenda. And that makes every one of the 50 Democratic Senatorall a strong voice, allowing them to choose to support or reject any agenda or policy of the Biden administration. Manchin is powerful in part because of circumstance — in a 50-50 Senate, his party can pass almost nothing without him.

In order to advance any legislation, President Joe Biden’s administration may need to modify its priorities on economic relief, climate change, gun laws, electoral reforms, racial equity and immigration in order to gain support from Republicans and moderate Democrats like Manchin. 

One senator, who has exploited this position to suit his narrow political  agenda, is Sen. Manchin, who represents the less than 2 million people of West Virginia, against the well-being of the 330 million Americans. 

For instance, Manchin’s decision last week to move ahead with a reconciliation deal that doesn’t involve climate change and raising taxes on the wealthy, risks consigning the entire world to a warmer future, said scientists and advocates for a safer world, said while reacting to the news. Democrats, activists and scientists reacting to the news worried that the inability of Congress to take meaningful reaction would consign the U.S. to more heatwaves, floods, droughts and intense storms.  

 

Democratic senate leaders have been negotiating with Manchin for over a year to try to get him on board with investments that would dramatically reduce U.S. contribution to climate change.  But on Friday last week, Manchin said he’s not interested in immediately moving forward with a deal that includes those investments. Manchin, relaying a discussion he’d had telling Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) of his decision, suggested he might be able to agree to a deal at a later date. 

But those comments rang hollow with climate activists, who noted he has made similar remarks in the past. “Joe Manchin is waving the fate of human survival over our heads like a bone to hungry dogs and it’s really quite frightening,” John Paul Mejia, a national spokesperson for Sunrise Movement, told the media. 

Evergreen Action Executive Director Jamal Raad said in a statement that Manchin should not be considered a good-faith negotiator.  “Senator Manchin has lost all credibility and can no longer be trusted to prioritize the well-being of Americans and the planet over his own profiteering and political grandstanding,” Raad said.  

“Every ton matters,” said Dan Lashof, the U.S. director of the World Resources Institute, referring to tons of carbon emissions.  “Whether or not this bill gets done has a material impact on total emissions from the U.S. and that affects the magnitude of climate change that we will face,” he said.  Those who have studied the climate-saving potential of the Democrats’ climate bill agree that not passing it would likely lead to more emissions and a warmer planet.

Princeton professor Jesse Jenkins, who has modeled the potential emissions cuts of the legislation under consideration, told The Hill that based on what had been reported thus far, a climate deal would have probably cut emissions between 800 million and 1 billion metric tons in 2030. That’s the equivalent of taking between 172 million and 215 million cars off the roads for a year.  “We’re losing two-thirds to three-quarters of the progress we were hoping to make by 2030,” he said.  

Some argued that the rest of the world may be less inclined to take bold action without the U.S. participating as well.  “The U.S. is THE largest historical all-time emitter, and for that reason occupies a special role. We can’t expect other countries to act meaningfully if we fail to,” said climatologist Michael Mann.  

President Biden pledged “strong executive action” on climate change in reaction to Manchin’s move. But, with Trump appointed conservative Justices leading the US Supreme Court, Biden’s actions could be blocked and impact minimized. 

Most activists reacted in fury to the latest setback, castigating the West Virginia Democrat as potentially signing a death warrant for meaningful climate action against the backdrop of a generationally conservative court, the likely loss of a Democratic majority in Congress and the possible loss of the White House in 2025. 

“Joe Manchin has pretended to be supportive of certain investments for over a year now, and it turns out that that was bulls—,” Jamal Raad said.  “That will now be his lasting legacy — a person that tried to put his own profits and sense of his political standing over the planet.” 

This is not the first time, Manchin ditched Democrats. The 2018 confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh were tumultuous even by the standards of the Trump era. Kavanaugh, a staunch conservative nominated to replace a more centrist figure, Justice Anthony Kennedy, faced sexual assault allegations dating back four decades from Christine Blasey Ford.

Republicans had held a 51-49 majority in the Senate, but Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) would ultimately refuse to back Kavanaugh. That left Manchin and moderate Republican Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) as the crucial votes. Manchin was the only Democrat confirming him to the highest court. Last month, after the Supreme Court struck down the landmark Roe v. Wade abortion decision, Manchin said he was “alarmed” by the actions of Kavanaugh and Justice Neil Gorsuch, the other Trump nominee for whom he voted.

Again in December 2021, the West Virginia Senator’s single most dramatic intervention may have been his announcement that he would sink President Biden’s keystone legislation, the “Build Back Better” bill. The fact that he chose to announce his opposition on Fox News drove liberal Democrats to even more intense outrage.

Manchin said in a statement reiterating his opposition to the legislation, which would have extended an expanded child tax credit, helped with child care costs, taxed high earners more and taken significant action on climate change, among other things.

In June 2021, Manchin destroyed the potential party unity on ‘For the People’ voting reform legislation, one of the major goals of Democrats when they won back the White House — and control of the Senate — in the 2020 election. Many in the party see American democracy as being in existential danger. Schumer declared the protection of voting rights, and of elections themselves, to be a “top priority.” The legislation never had a clear path through the Senate, requiring 60 votes to pass in the absence of filibuster reform. But Manchin denied Democrats even the claim that they were unified behind the proposal. Manchin reiterated his opposition to filibuster reform, driving the final nail in the coffin of the “For the People” proposal.

Manchin has all along thwarted filibuster reform ever since he was elected to the Senate. Democrats often become enraged with Manchin because they believe he acts in bad faith.  In one of many statements outlining his position, Manchin’s office detailed his steady stance dating back to 2013, when he opposed such reform while Democrats held the Senate majority.

Manchin is the most conservative Democrat in the Senate — and perhaps the most controversial, at least with the rest of his party. He won reelection to a second full Senate term in 2018, just two years after President Trump carried his state by more than 40 points.

“Manchin is not particularly concerned about President Biden succeeding. He’s not particularly concerned about the needs of working people,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) told SiriusXM’s “Dean Obeidallah Show” last week.  

Manchin’s refusal to back any climate proposal could doom action for years to come, given the strong likelihood of Republicans flipping the House in November. Sens. Tina Smith (D-Minn.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) independently used the same term to describe Manchin’s stance this week: “Infuriating.”

Dr. Babu Stephen Elected President of FOKANA

Washington DC based entrepreneur and leading community leader Dr. Babu Stephen has been elected as the president of the Federation of Kerala Associations in North America (Fokana) 2022-2024. Dr. Stephan defeated his opponent Leela Marret by an overwhelming two third majority, during the elections held at the annual Convention in Orlando, FL on July 8th, 2002.

Federation Of Kerala Association In North Americais in operation for the last 38 years, an umbrella organization of mostly high-net-worth diasporas of Keralites in the USA and Canada, with more than 500,000 members, engaged in a range of social and philanthropic activities, promoting rich cultural traditions in North America.

An accomplished organizer, outstanding businessman, journalist and political activist, Dr. Babu Stephen is quite well-known among the Indian American community for his social volunteering activities and organizational abilities. 

Dr. Babu Stephen is the CEO of DC Healthcare Inc., and is the President of SM Realty LLC. One of the founding members of Kairali TV, Babu Stephen started two newspapers for Indians in the United States, Express India and India This Week. He was the producer of Summer in America, a popular series directed by Shaji M and aired on Kairali TV in 88 episodes. He is also the founding producer of Darshan TV in Washington DC. 

Dr. Babu Stephen has held many leadership positions in the Indian American community. He served as President of the Indian Cultural Coordinating Committee for two years and was a member of the United States Congressional Advisory Council and Regional Vice President of the Federation of Indians in America. He has also served as President of the Association of Indians in America. He was also the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Indo American Press Club and has chaired two international conventions.

Babu Stephen was honored by the Washington DC Mayor for his accomplishments in business, media and community organizationm. He was part of the Mayor’s delegation to China, which comprised the best business entrepreneurs in the US. This Thiruvananthapuram native has created such deep relationships among Americans but was never interested in holding official positions as he felt it would affect his business. 

Now that he has entrusted professionals to run his business empire which includes sixteen nursing homes and a construction company that has subleased 62 buildings, he wants to spend the rest of his life being more involved in social work. He has been running a voluntary organization, The Stephen Foundation, for the past few years. Every year a good portion of his profits is set aside for the welfare of the poor and needy around the world. The Stephen Foundation donated crores of rupees to the Kerala state government during the last floods and Covid pandemic. Dr. Babu Stephen has committed to provide $250,000 towards establishing FOKANA headquarters in New York. 

In his vision statement, Dr. Babu Stephen stated that as the president of Fokana,  he will be able to accomplish several things of things for American Malayalees, as well as for Keralites through Fokana, an organization he has been associated with for a long time in various capacities. He has served on the Board of Directors for the past two terms and has also been doing a commendable job as the Vice President of the Washington DC region. 

Dr. Babu Stephan, a winner of the NAMAM 2018 award, Dr. Stephan lives with his family, wife Gracy Stephan, daughter, Sindu Stephan, son-in-law, Jimmy George and three delightfully sweet and talented grandkids, Shriya, Pavit, and Tejas.

Rishi Sunak, A Front Runner To Be The PM Of UK

Indian Origin, Rishi Sunak, the Finance Minister of Great Britain has formerly launched his bid to be the next Prime Minister of England, reports here suggest. Sunak was until last year the favorite to succeed Johnson. While Rishi Sunak, has been praised for a rescue package for the economy during the Coronavirus pandemic, including a jobs retention program, including a jobs retention program, which prevented mass unemployment that could cost as much as 410 billion pounds ($514 billion). He quit the government on Tuesday saying “the public rightly expect government to be conducted properly, competently and seriously”.

The son-in-law of Infosys co-founder Narayana Murthy, Sunak has faced criticism for not giving enough cost-of-living support to households, his wealthy wife’s non-domiciled tax status and a fine he received, along with Johnson, for breaking Covid-19 lockdown rules. His tax-and-spend budget last year put Britain on course for its biggest tax burden since the 1950s, undermining his claims to favor lower taxes.

Also, seeking the top jonb in UK is another person of Indian origin, Suella Braverman, the attorney general, who has signaled her intention to be the PM. In an interview with ITV, Suella Braverman had called for Johnson to quit and said that she would join a leadership race to replace him, saying “it would be the greatest honor.”

Boris Johnson, Prime Minister of United Kingdom resigned on July 7th, 2022, bringing an acrimonious end to a nearly three-year premiership that has been beset by controversy and scandal. After many months of speculation, he quit as Conservative leader, saying it is “clearly now the will” of Tory MPs that there should be a new leader. And, he pledged to stay on as PM until a successor is chosen – but a growing number of Tory MPs say he has to leave now. Johnson’s decision to remain in office comes despite a clear lack of support from within his own party and a growing push across the political spectrum for him to step down immediately.

Johnson’s resignation came after Britain’s finance and health ministers resigned in quick succession on July 5, in moves that put the future of Prime Minister Boris Johnson in peril after a series of scandals that have damaged his administration. 

Speaking outside Downing Street, Johnson said the process for choosing the new leader of the Conservative Party should begin now, with a timetable to be announced next week. He said he intends to remain in place until a new Tory leader is elected. Johnson said that he was “sad to be giving up the best job in the world,” but conceded that “no one is remotely indispensable” in politics.

As per reports, Chair of the Commons foreign affairs committee Tom Tugendhat has launched his bid to become the next leader of the Conservative Party – and prime minister. In an article in the Telegraph newspaper, he stated he would bring a “clean start”. He wrote that he wants to build a “broad coalition of colleagues” to “bring new energy and ideas to government” and “bridge the Brexit divide”.

Setting out his stall, he wrote that “taxes, bluntly, are too high.” Specifically: “We should immediately reverse the recent National Insurance hike and let hard-working people, and employers, keep more of their money. Fuel tax must come down. And un-conservative tariffs, that push up prices for consumers, should be dropped.” He talks about the cost of living as an “national security issue” and says there should be more police on the streets to tackle crime.

Another leader hoping to fil the vacancy is Liz Truss, the foreign secretary, who is the darling of the Conservatives’ grassroots and has regularly topped polls of party members carried out by the website Conservative Home. Truss has a carefully cultivated public image and was photographed in a tank last year, evoking a famous 1986 image of Britain’s first female prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, who was also captured in such a pose.

Jeremy Hunt, the former foreign secretary, 55, finished second to Johnson in the 2019 leadership contest is  a likely contestant. He would offer a more serious and less controversial style of leadership after the turmoil of Johnson’s premiership. Over the last two years, Hunt has used his experience as a former health secretary to chair the health select committee and has not been tarnished by having served in the current government. Recently, said his ambition to become prime minister “hasn’t completely vanished”. Hunt said he would vote to oust Johnson in a confidence vote last month which Johnson narrowly won.

Ben Wallace, UK’s Defense minister, 52, has risen in recent months to be the most popular member of the government with Conservative Party members, according to Conservative Home, thanks to his handling of the Ukraine crisis. A former soldier himself, he served in Northern Ireland, Germany, Cyprus and Central America, and was mentioned in dispatches in 1992. He began his political career as a member of Scotland’s devolved assembly in May 1999, before being first elected to the Westminster parliament in 2005.

Nadhim Zahawi, the current education secretary impressed as vaccines minister when Britain had one of the fastest rollouts of COVID-19 jabs in the world. Zahawi’s personal story as a former refugee from Iraq who came to Britain as a child sets him apart from other Conservative contenders. He went on to co-found polling company YouGov before entering parliament in 2010. He said last week at some stage it would be a “privilege” to be prime minister.

Yet another contented for the top job in Britain is Penny Mordaunt, the former defense secretary, who was sacked by Johnson when he became prime minister after she backed his rival Hunt during the last leadership contest. Mordaunt was a passionate supporter of leaving the European Union and made national headlines by taking part in now-defunct reality TV diving show. Currently a junior trade minister, Mordaunt called the lockdown-breaking parties in government “shameful”. She said voters wanted to see “professionalism and competence” from the government.

Meanwhile, Downing Street announced 12 new ministers, filling some of the posts left vacant by the recent wave of resignations. Foreign Secretary Liz Truss – a possible leadership contender who has remained silent for days – says her party needs to keep governing until a new leader is elected by the Conservative Party MPS.

Kanchana and Jagadeesan V. Poola Honored as The South Asian Times-Couple of the Decade By Mayor Bill de Blasio

Kanchana and Jagadeesan V. Poola have been declared as “The South Asian Times-Couple of the Decade” during the 35th Annual Federation of Tamil Associations in North America (FeTNA) Convention in Queens, New York on July 2nd, 2002.  FeTNA is an umbrella organization of all Tamil Sanghams in North America.

Former New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio presented the award and acknowledged the couple for their social, cultural, and philanthropic deeds for the larger society in the USA. 

Kanchana Poola, a community leader and philanthropist, best described as the unassuming power-house of the Indian community, along with her husband, Jagdish, a highly successful businessman, were honored for their accomplishments, and service to the larger Indian American community. 

During the solemn ceremony attended by community leaders, diplomats, political leaders and hundreds of community members, including the President of FeTNA V. Caldwell, President-elect Bala Swaminathan, NYTS President Ram Mohan, NYTS leaders Ranga Purushothaman, K Kumaraja, The SA Times-Person of the year 2020 Ravi Bhooplapur, Eric Kumar, Anusuya, Amudha, and Anand Poola along with Nimmi and Kamlesh Mehta on the glittering stage of St. John’s University. The guest also includes Members of Parliament in India from Tamil Nadu. Over 1700 delegates attended the convention.

Kanchana Poola, who had served as the President of New York Tamil Sangam (NYTS) for several years, currently serves as an advisor of the decades old Tamill Sangam. She is a Life member of FeTNA and has been associated with American Tamil Entrepreneurs Association. 

Among the several philanthropic initiatives, Kanchana and Jagadeesan Poola have contributed generously to the Harvard Tamil Chair Fund.  They are Co-Chairs of The Asian Era and Aksharam magazines. In her acceptance speech, Kanchana Poola said her father instilled in her the value of giving —  for education, for the poor and the needy. The Poola couple were also honored by the NYTS.

“We are pleased to announce Smt. Kanchana and Shri Jagadeesan V. Poola as “The South Asian Times-Couple of the Decade” recognizing and honoring their exemplary and significant contributions to the community at large over the years. This week the South Asian Times also came up with a Special Section featuring the ‘Couple of the Decade’,” Kamlesh Mehta, Publisher of the South Asian Times said.

Nimmi Mehta presented flowers and Rajasthani bandhej saree to Kanchana Poola, and Kamlesh Mehta presented a shawl and flowers to Jagadeesan Poola as they welcomed them for the honor. Ex-Mayor De Blasio presented the plaque to Couple of the Decade. Mr. and Mrs. Poola gracefully accepted the recognition thanking The South Asian Times, FeTNA, New York Tamil Sangham, and Ex-Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Kamlesh Mehta, in his vote of thanks, appreciated FeTNA for providing the facility, Ex-Mayor DeBlasio for taking the time out, Eric Kumar and Mrs. Totee for extending the help in organizing the event and the Founding Editor Parveen Chopra for the special feature and profiling the Couple of the Decade.

AAPI’s New Leadership Under Dr. Ravi Kolli Commits To Strengthen AAPI’s Mission

“I will work towards strengthening the goals and mission of AAPI and help make AAPI a healthcare thought leader in the US and globally and work in the best interests of our Physicians and our community here in the US and serve our motherland, India,” Dr. Ravi Kolli, President of AAPI declared in his inaugural address immediately after being sworn in as the President of the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) in San Antonio, TX.

Dr. Ravi Kolli has a dynamic and diverse team comprising of Dr. Anjana Samaddar, President-Elect, Dr. Satheesh Kathula, Vice President; Dr. Meherbala Medavaram, Secretary; Dr. Sumul N. Raval, Treasurer; Dr. V. Ranga, Chair, Board of Trustees; Dr. Pooja Kinkhabwala, President of Young Physicians Section; and, Dr. Ammu Susheela, President of Medical Student/Residents & Fellows Section. Dr. Anupama Gotimukula will continue to guide AAPI as the Immediate Past President of AAPI.

Dr. Kolli, President of AAPI is a Board Certified Psychiatrist with additional qualifications in Addiction, Geriatric and Forensic Psychiatry, and serves as Psychiatric Medical Director of Southwestern Pennsylvania Human Services. A former Clinical Asst. Professor of Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh and West Virginia University, Dr. Kolli had served as the Vice President of AAPI 2020-21, Secretary of AAPI 2019-20, Regional Director of AAPI 2017-18, Past President of Pittsburgh Chapter of AAPI (TAPI), Past President of Rangaraya Medical College Alumni of North America and as the Past President of Association of Telugu Medical Graduates in USA

“In my role as the President of AAPI, I will be working closely with my entire leadership team to make AAPI a more dynamic and vibrant organization playing a meaningful and relevant part in advocating health policies and practices that best serve the interests of all patients and promoting the physician’s role as the leaders of the team-based health care delivery,” Dr. Kolli says.

While leading the largest ethnic medical organization in the United States, Dr. Kolli wants to “focus on battling the stigma of mental illness and access to quality mental health care broadly. I will be forming liaison with mental health professionals in India and globally and bring awareness of various biopsychosocial therapeutic options to promote wellness and recovery from mental illness and substance use disorders.  We will also actively promote physician wellness and self-care to address the challenges of physician burnout and suicide.”

Dr. Vishweshwar R. Ranga, Chairman of Board of Trustees of AAPI is a practicing Internal Medicine Specialist from Las Vegas affiliated with multiple local area hospitals and has had more than 35 years of experience in the medical field. Dr. Ranga has been associated with AAPI since his early days as a Resident in New York. “Since moving to the United States to pursue my career as a physician I have been closely following the entire spectrum of health care in the world’s largest economy,” recalls Dr. Ranga.

A team player and dedicated to the growth of AAPI, Dr. Ranga says, he wants “continue to work with the team and ensure that AAPI’s voice is heard wherever relevant decisions are made that impact the physician community.”  Dr. Ranga, who has worked hard towards the growth of this organization under the leadership of various presidents, is a medical degree holder from the Medical Academy of Sofia, Bulgaria. He has worked on several AAPI Committees including: AAPI Bylaws Committee, Membership Committee, Awards Committee, and Publications Committee.

Dr. Ranga says, “AAPI is very close to my heart and I want to see it as more of an inclusive outfit, making a clarion call to physicians of Indian origin serving in some of the remote areas of the country to be part of this great organization and be driving forces of change. My goal in the coming year is to formalize and create AAPI leadership academy working with executives from American College of Physicians for the development of leadership roles for all AAPI members. I want to work hard to engage young physicians and attract them to AAPI. They are the future of AAPI.” the newly elected Chair of AAPI BOT

Dr. Anjana Samadder, President-Elect of AAPI, says, “In my role as the President-Elect, I would like not only to carry on the good work initiated and started by prior presidents, but also like to address health care practice issues facing our members both in private practice and in academia. I would like to get AAPI represented in the US National Health care committee by organizing strong lobbying efforts. I will also address physician burnout and establish a networking platform for young physicians. I will be open to suggestions from members in order to make our organization one of the strongest ethnic organizations in USA.”

Dr. Samadder has shown great leadership qualities which she proved during her tenure as local chapter President (Central Ohio), Regional Director (Ohio and Michigan) and as AAPI National Treasurer. She has also served diligently in different capacities within AAPI including being National Coordinator for AAPI Annual Convention, 2018 in Columbus.  Dr. Smaddar served as the Chair, AAPI Women’s Forum and has organized first live conference of this year in Tampa, Florida (March 19 to 21,2021) with great success. Her vision for AAPI is “to help build an ethically strong, morally straight and fiscally responsible organization. It is also vitally important to bring much-needed diversity to keep AAPI thriving.”

According to Dr. Samadder, “My journey with AAPI in the past 20 years taught me lots of lessons, skills and molded me to take more responsibility in the organization. I will bring to the organization the level of commitment, hard work, experience and skill set needed to accomplish the various goals for AAPI and its members.”  Her vision for AAPI is “to help build an ethically strong, morally straight and fiscally responsible organization. It is also vitally important to bring much needed diversity to keep AAPI thriving. We, at AAPI, are a large extended family. I look forward to creasing the existing issues, besides bringing about reforms to further enhance the prestige that the AAPI commands.”

Dr. Satheesh Kathula, Vice President of AAPI assures that, “I will sincerely work for the betterment of our beloved organization, AAPI.” A board certified hematologist and oncologist from Dayton, Ohio, practicing Medicine for nearly two decades, Dr. Kathula is a clinical professor of medicine at Wright State University- Boonshoft school of medicine, Dayton, Ohio. He graduated from Siddhartha Medical College, Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh, India in 1992. He has been actively involved in community service locally, nationally and internationally for the last two decades. He has been awarded with the “Man of the year-2018, The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

At AAPI, Dr. Kathula has served in numerous capacities, before being elected as the Treasurer of AAPI-2020-21. He had served as the Chair, IT Committee- 2019-20; Editor, Enewsletter-2019-20; a member of AAPI’s Board of Trustees- 2014-17; and Regional Director- 2012-14, in addition t several roles at the local and regional level.  He has served as the President and founding member of Association of Indian Physicians from Ohio; President, Miami Valley Association of Physicians of Indian Origin; President, ATMGUSA; and has worked with Ohio State Medical Association on various issues.

A recipient of several Community Service/Awards, Dr. Kathula wants to “Make AAPI a mainstream organization and work on issues affecting physicians including physician shortage, burnout, and credentialing, while leveraging the strength of 100,000 doctors at legislative level.” Another area, he wants to work is to “Encourage and engage next generation/young physicians in AAPI activities. While working closely with other physician organizations such as AMA.” Dr. Satheesh Kathula says, “I will work with the entire AAPI leadership to the greatest of my abilities to reach our goals, addressing the challenges, and advance the issues important to our members. We will work together to promote our values of professionalism, collegiality, and excellence in patient care and enhance AAPI’s reputation as a premier professional organization offering educational programs and advocacy.”

The Secretary of AAPI, Dr. Meher Medavaram is a Board Certified in Family Medicine and is a Fellow of Academy of American Physicians. A graduate of Osmania Medical College, she is serving as the Assistant Director at St. Elizabeth Hospital, Family Medicine Residency Program. Dr. Medavaram is the Medical Director of Mount Sinai Hospital, FAQH Center, and a Staff Physician Advocate at Good Samaritan  Hospital as well as a Clinical Preceptor at UIC College of Medicine, Department of Family Medicine CMU School of Medicine and is the President of Naperbrook Medical Center.

In her role as the Secretary of AAPI, Dr. Medavaram wants to “unify and revitalize the AAPI, ensuring and advocating for physician rights and interests.” While recognizing the mission of AAPI, she wants to work towards making AAPI a purely professional organization, while forming a bridge between AAPI Senior Leadership and Young Physicians.” Committed to AAPI and dedicated to its continued progress, Dr. Medavaram wants to work towards “strengthening AAPI financially by securing a robust endowment fund and supporting and upholding AAPI’s vision of promoting professional solidarity in the pursuit of excellence in patient care, teaching and research.”

At AAPI, Dr. Medavaram has served in many capacities. She was the Chair of Women’s Forum GHS AAPI- 2022 and had served as the Convention Chair of the 38th AAPI Convention of Chicago 2019-2020. Being an active member of AAPI for several years, Dr. Medavaram has served as the Regional Director AAPI, Region 5 (IL, WI, IN) 2020-2022 and was elected President of the Indian Medical Association of Chicago 2020-2021. She served as a Board of Trustee member of OGKTMA from 2018 and was the National ATA from 2016 onwards.

Dr. Sumul N. Raval, Treasurer of AAPI is a board-certified neurologist and world authority on brain tumors, and is among the very few neuro-oncologists in private practice in the USs. The founder and director of the David S. Zocchi Brain Tumor Center at Monmouth Medical Center – New Jersey’s first and most comprehensive facility specializing in brain tumors, Dr. Raval completed his neuro-oncology fellowship at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. Dr. Raval is a humanitarian. “I believe, quality of life is just as important as battling the disease,” he says.

Describing his vision as a treasurer AAPI 2022-2023, Dr. Raval says, “My goal is to manage and maintain organized and consistent AAPI financial records. I will collaborate with the Executive team and our partners to ensure that our mission, vision, and values are being met from a financial standpoint. In addition to recruiting new members, in service to communities nationwide and remembering our collective tie to India, I will act as a trustworthy and effective advocate for all AAPI members. Through unity and transparency, my ultimate goal is to engage and empower all Indian-American physicians in local, state and national legislatures.”

Dr. Raval listens to patients with compassion and inspires them to think positively. Dr. Raval was presented with the GBM Heroes Award (Glioblastoma Multiforme) during the 21st Annual Scientific Meeting of the Society for Neuro-Oncology held in Scottsdale, Arizona organized by CURE® magazine. During his long association with AAPI, Dr. Rawal has served as the Regional Director of AAPI and as Vice President and President of MOCAAPI (a subchapter of AAPI) as well and as a newly elected Treasurer for the Medical Society of New Jersey (MSNJ) this year.

Giving representation and strengthening the voice of young physicians of Indian origin, Dr. Pooja Kinkhabwala will serve as the President of AAPI Young Physicians Section (YPS) and Dr. Ammu Susheela as the President of AAPI- Medical Student/Residents & Fellows Section (MSRF).

Dr. Pooja Kinkhabwala is a board certified Endocrinologist, currently practicing in Indiana. She graduated from Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine in Erie, Pennsylvania, and has completed her Internal Medicine Residency from Hackensack Meridian Health Palisades in North Bergen, New Jersey and her Endocrinology Fellowship from Larkin Community Hospital in Miami, Florida. She uses a holistic approach with her patients and focuses on preventative medicine.

An active member of AAPI since 2016, Dr. Kinkhabwala was the President of the MSRF Section from 2017-2018 and 2019-2020, and has worked on growing membership via grassroots efforts in Medical Schools and Residency Programs. She has served as the Chair of Obesity Awareness Subcommittee of AAPI and was the Alternate Delegate for AAPI to the AMA.  Dr. Kinkhabwala was the AAPI Representative of a Resident Well Being Task Force which included the ACP and ACGME and is also a part of the Physician Well Being Task Force of the American Osteopathic Association and is a co-author of the paper on Addressing Burnout through the Physician Life Cycle.

Dr. Kinkhabwala says, “This past year YPS has expanded our reach by holding virtual mentoring sessions, virtual wellness sessions, and a virtual career fair. Over the next year I plan on continuing with these virtual sessions and growing our mentoring and career development programming. I also plan on providing more networking and CME opportunities for our YPS members throughout the year. This year will mark the 10th anniversary of WMC and I am so excited to plan this amazing event. This year we plan on bringing WMC back to Las Vegas, Nevada.”

Dr. Ammu Thampi Susheela, President of the Medical Students, Residents and Fellows section of AAPI, is an incoming third-year Resident in Internal Medicine at Loyola-MacNeal Hospital, Chicago, IL. She completed a post doctoral research fellowship at Harvard Medical School-Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, MA. She co-founded a wearable Medtech company for patients with dementia. She is experienced in serving lead roles as vice chair of Harvard Medical Postdoc Association, task force member of Massachusetts Medical Society, national delegate of American Medical Association, and vice-chair of MSRF of Illinois State Medical Society. She is currently serving as a team lead for a reference committee section of the residents and fellows section to the house of delegates in the American Medical Association. She is dedicated to research, innovation, advocacy, and policy making. Over the years, she cultivated passion and enthusiasm to bring about policies and changes for the welfare of the medical students, residents, and fellows section.

 “As a platform that serves over 40,000 medical students, residents, and fellows of Indian Origin, my vision for AAPI is to build a welcoming and accommodating community of young physicians to help and support each other in their particular stage of their career,” says Dr. Ammu Thampi Susheela.  “I would also like to advocate for outreach of AAPI in the medical students, residents, and fellows communities throughout the USA and in India. I would like to promote research, innovation, and community outreach during my time as the president and intend to enhance mentoring in the AAPI MSRF community.”

Dr. Gotimukula, the Immediate Past President of AAPI said, “Since its inception in 1982, AAPI has been in the forefront, representing a conglomeration of more than 100,000 practicing physicians in the United States, seeking to be the united voice for the physicians of Indian origin. I hope and wish that the new Team under Dr. Ravi Kolli will continue the noble mission and strengthen our efforts to make AAPI reach greater heights.”

The growing influence of physicians of Indian heritage is evident, as increasingly physicians of Indian origin hold critical positions in the healthcare, academic, research, and administrative positions across the nation. We the physicians of Indian origin are proud of our great achievements and contributions to our motherland, India, our adopted land, the US, and in a very significant way to the transformation of Indo-US relations.  Serving 1 in every 7 patients in the US, AAPI members care for millions of patients every day, while several of them have risen to hold high-flying jobs, shaping the policies and programs, and inventions that shape the landscape of healthcare in the US and around the world. For more details, please visit: www.appiusa,org

After Boris Johnson Quits, Who Will Replace Him As PM of UK?

Boris Johnson, Prime Minister of United Kingdom resigned on July 7th, 2022, bringing an acrimonious end to a nearly three-year premiership that has been beset by controversy and scandal. After many months of speculation, he quit as Conservative leader, saying it is “clearly now the will” of Tory MPs that there should be a new leader. And, he pledged to stay on as PM until a successor is chosen – but a growing number of Tory MPs say he has to leave now. Johnson’s decision to remain in office comes despite a clear lack of support from within his own party and a growing push across the political spectrum for him to step down immediately.

Johnson’s resignation came after Britain’s finance and health ministers resigned in quick succession on July 5, in moves that put the future of Prime Minister Boris Johnson in peril after a series of scandals that have damaged his administration.

Johnson survived a vote of confidence on June 6 this year, but more than 40% of Conservative lawmakers declared that they had lost confidence in his ability to govern. And, in the intervening month, those who most wanted to see his downfall have been jockeying for his job.

According to media reports, after the partygate scandal over illegal gatherings held at Downing Street in defiance of coronavirus lockdowns, several senior members of Johnson’s cabinet began quietly preparing for a future leadership contest, courting influential members of parliament and dining with donors who could fund their campaigns.

A dramatic cascade of nearly 60 resignations by lawmakers and government officials followed, ultimately forcing Johnson to begrudgingly announce on Thursday that he would step down. Johnson’s decision to step down as the leader of the ruling Conservative Party will trigger a leadership race, with the winner set to become the United Kingdom’s fourth prime minister in the six years since the June 2016 Brexit referendum.

Indian Origin, Rishi Sunak was until last year the favorite to succeed Johnson. While Rishi Sunak, UK’s Finance Minister has been praised for a rescue package for the economy during the Coronavirus pandemic, including a jobs retention program, including a jobs retention program, which prevented mass unemployment that could cost as much as 410 billion pounds ($514 billion). He quit the government on Tuesday saying “the public rightly expect government to be conducted properly, competently and seriously”.

The son-in-law of Infosys co-founder Narayana Murthy, Sunak has faced criticism for not giving enough cost-of-living support to households, his wealthy wife’s non-domiciled tax status and a fine he received, along with Johnson, for breaking Covid-19 lockdown rules. His tax-and-spend budget last year put Britain on course for its biggest tax burden since the 1950s, undermining his claims to favor lower taxes.

Speaking outside Downing Street, Johnson said the process for choosing the new leader of the Conservative Party should begin now, with a timetable to be announced next week. He said he intends to remain in place until a new Tory leader is elected. Johnson said that he was “sad to be giving up the best job in the world,” but conceded that “no one is remotely indispensable” in politics.

Referring to members of his own ruling party who turned against him, Johnson said, “At Westminster, the herd instinct is powerful and when the herd moves, it moves.” Johnson thanked his wife Carrie Johnson, his children, the National Health Service, armed forces and Downing Street staff. “Above all, I want to thank you, the British public, for the immense privilege that you have given me.” He concluded his roughly six-minute speech by seeking to strike an upbeat tone. “Even if things can sometimes seem dark now, our future together is golden.”

Opposition Labour Party leader Keir Starmer was among those calling for Johnson to go now, saying the Tory leader “cannot cling on for months.” “If the Conservative party do not get rid of him, then Labour will act in the national interest and bring a vote of no confidence,” Starmer said via Twitter.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson reacts as British Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak delivers a statement at the House of Commons in London, Britain May 26, 2022. UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS – THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT. IMAGE MUST NOT BE ALTERED.

UK’s former PM Sir John Major says Johnson should go now for the good of the country. Johnson assured cabinet this afternoon he would only act as a caretaker PM while remaining in position, new Welsh Secretary Robert Buckland says

As per reports, Chair of the Commons foreign affairs committee Tom Tugendhat has launched his bid to become the next leader of the Conservative Party – and prime minister. In an article in the Telegraph newspaper, he stated he would bring a “clean start”. He wrote that he wants to build a “broad coalition of colleagues” to “bring new energy and ideas to government” and “bridge the Brexit divide”.

Setting out his stall, he wrote that “taxes, bluntly, are too high.” Specifically: “We should immediately reverse the recent National Insurance hike and let hard-working people, and employers, keep more of their money. Fuel tax must come down. And un-conservative tariffs, that push up prices for consumers, should be dropped.” He talks about the cost of living as an “national security issue” and says there should be more police on the streets to tackle crime.

Another leader hoping to fil the vacancy is Liz Truss, the foreign secretary, who is the darling of the Conservatives’ grassroots and has regularly topped polls of party members carried out by the website Conservative Home. Truss has a carefully cultivated public image and was photographed in a tank last year, evoking a famous 1986 image of Britain’s first female prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, who was also captured in such a pose.

Jeremy Hunt, the former foreign secretary, 55, finished second to Johnson in the 2019 leadership contest is  a likely contestant. He would offer a more serious and less controversial style of leadership after the turmoil of Johnson’s premiership. Over the last two years, Hunt has used his experience as a former health secretary to chair the health select committee and has not been tarnished by having served in the current government. Recently, said his ambition to become prime minister “hasn’t completely vanished”. Hunt said he would vote to oust Johnson in a confidence vote last month which Johnson narrowly won.

Ben Wallace, UK’s Defense minister, 52, has risen in recent months to be the most popular member of the government with Conservative Party members, according to Conservative Home, thanks to his handling of the Ukraine crisis. A former soldier himself, he served in Northern Ireland, Germany, Cyprus and Central America, and was mentioned in dispatches in 1992. He began his political career as a member of Scotland’s devolved assembly in May 1999, before being first elected to the Westminster parliament in 2005.

Nadhim Zahawi, the current education secretary impressed as vaccines minister when Britain had one of the fastest rollouts of COVID-19 jabs in the world. Zahawi’s personal story as a former refugee from Iraq who came to Britain as a child sets him apart from other Conservative contenders. He went on to co-found polling company YouGov before entering parliament in 2010. He said last week at some stage it would be a “privilege” to be prime minister.

Yet another contented for the top job in Britain is Penny Mordaunt, the former defense secretary, who was sacked by Johnson when he became prime minister after she backed his rival Hunt during the last leadership contest. Mordaunt was a passionate supporter of leaving the European Union and made national headlines by taking part in now-defunct reality TV diving show. Currently a junior trade minister, Mordaunt called the lockdown-breaking parties in government “shameful”. She said voters wanted to see “professionalism and competence” from the government.

Suella Braverman, the attorney general has signaled her intention to run in a future contest. In an interview with ITVSuella Braverman called for Johnson to quit and said that she would join a leadership race to replace him, saying “it would be the greatest honor.”

Meanwhile, Downing Street announced 12 new ministers, filling some of the posts left vacant by the recent wave of resignations. Foreign Secretary Liz Truss – a possible leadership contender who has remained silent for days – says her party needs to keep governing until a new leader is elected by the Conservative Party MPS.

Focusing On ‘Heal The Healers,’ AAPI’s Historic 40th Convention Concludes In San Antonio

The historic 40th annual convention organized by the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) concluded at the world-famous Riverwalk Henry B Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio in Texas on Saturday, June 25th, 2022 with a Gala Bollywood Nite, during which a new Leadership Team led by Dr. Ravi Kolli assumed charge of the four decades old premier Medical Organization, representing the strong and powerful 120,000 physicians of Indian heritage. 

The four days long annual convention and scientific assembly, attended by over 10,000 AAPI delegates, while celebrating the achievements of the Indian American Physicians, focused 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, paid tributes and celebrated freedom and democracy, honoring India and its  75 years of Independence Day celebrations- co-sponsored by the Embassy of India & the Consulate General of India (CGI) – Houston.

“AAPI’s strength is its numbers and members. Our Sakthi is in our Samkhya and our Sabhyas,” Dr. Ravi Kolli stated in his inaugural address immediately after he assumed charge as the 41st President of AAPI. “You are that powerful threads of this colorful and strong fabric, and your participation and contributions are essential for its continued success. So, thank you all,” Dr. Kolli told AAPI delegates and distinguished guests who had packed the Ball Room at the Henry Gonzalez Convention Center during the Presidential Gala. 

Dr. Kolli  will work with Dr. Anjana Sammadar, President-Elect; Dr. Satheesh Kathula, Vice President; Dr. Meherbala Medavaram, Secretary and Dr. Sumul Raval, Treasurer of AAPI for the year 2022-23. Dr. V. Ranga will serve as the Chair, AAPI Board of Trustees. Giving representation and strengthening the voice of young physicians of Indian origin, Dr. Pooja Kinkhabwala will serve as the President, AAPI Young Physicians Section (YPS) and Dr. Ammu Susheela is the President of AAPI- Medical Student/Residents & Fellows Section (MSRF). Dr. Anupama Gotimukula will serve as the Immediate Past President of AAPI. 

Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, the Immediate Past President of AAPI said, “Our leadership team has worked diligently on so many wonderful projects and activities including educational, philanthropic, legislative, networking, and many more activities benefitting our members and communities. This has been possible because of the incredible work and support from the dedicated team of leaders, members, and our supporting office staff,” the only 4th woman President of AAPI in the four decades long history of AAPI, said. 

“Our physician members have worked very hard during the covid 19 pandemic. The 2022 convention is a perfect time to heal the healers with a special focus on wellness,” said Dr.  Jayesh Shah, Chair of AAPI Convention 2022. Dr. Shah praised the dedication and generosity of each member for giving their best, to make this Convention truly a memorable one for every participant.

Put together by a highly talented and dedicated team of Convention Committee members, the convention was filled with programs and activities that cater to the body, mind and soul. The Convention was a unique experience for everyone, Dr. Sathessh Kathula, Secretary of AAPI said. 

During the BOT luncheon chaired by Dr. Kusum Punjabi, the youngest ever to hold the position, handed over the office to the new Chair, Dr. Vishweshwar R. Ranga. In her address, Dr. Punjabi highlighted the many initiatives under her leadership. She said, “The Board of Trustees this year has launched the AAPI Medical Project Grant (MPG). The purpose of this grant is to financially support AAPI medical students/residents/fellows/young physicians in various medical projects such as observerships, community service projects, entrepreneurships, innovation developments, etc.:

Dr. V. Ranga in his address he said, “My goal in the coming year is to formalize and create AAPI leadership academy working with executives from American College of Physicians for the development of leadership roles for all AAPI members. I want to work hard to engage young physicians and attract them to AAPI. They are the future of AAPI.”

Dr. Surender Purohit, Chair of AAPI’s Charitable Foundation provided a brief summary of the many initiatives AAPI has undertaken in recent years, especially benefitting the remotest villages in the country.

Welcoming AAPI delegates to San Antonio, Ron Nirenberg, Mayor of San Antonio, 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.”

AAPI delegates had a rare glimpse to the rich cultural heritage of India through a video presentation depicting the unique diversity of India and a variety of mesmerizing performances of Indian/Mexican Fusion Dances, ranging from Bharatnatyam, folk dances, and the traditional Indian dances in sync with Mexican pop dances, which were a treat to the hearts and souls  of everyone. National Spieling Bee Champion 2022 Harini Logan was recognized during the convention Gala. 

In his keynote address, Ambassador Taranjit Singh Sandhu lauded the several initiatves of AAPI over the past four decades and said, “Over the past four decades, AAPI has been doing an outstanding job in advocacy and health education. You play an important role, especially during the Covid Pandemic/” Speaking at length on the growing Indo-US relationship, the veteran diplomat said, “Over the last two decades, India and the United States have overcome the hesitations of history and fashioned a remarkable partnership, built on a bipartisan consensus in the U.S. and cross-party support in India.” Elaborating on the collaboration between India and the US, he said, “From the provision of active pharmaceutical ingredients to generic medicines that have lowered drug prices and created jobs and investments, India has demonstrated its reliability as a supply chain partner, especially as de-risking from single country supplies has become a priority.”

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.

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, 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 said, “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.” 

Dr. Rahul Gupta, the nation’s “drug czar” and top drug policy official, while conveying the greetings from President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris praised the contributions of Indian American Physicians. “The role of the Drug Czar has never been as critical as it’s today,” he told the AAPI delegates, who have been advocating for prize control of drugs to contain overall healthcare costs. “AS physicians of Indian Origin, we have learnt  to find simple solutions to complex problems. We need 21st century solutions to 21st century problems.” And he encouraged his colleagues to think and find ways to make a difference in the healthcare delivery in the country. 

Others who addressed the Convention included Dr. Bobby Mukamala, Chair of BOT at American Medical Association, Congressman Joaquin Castro from Texas, and Peter Jay Hortez,, who was part of the plenart session on “Covid Vaccination Globally and Vaccine Hesitancy.” 

In her spiritual discourse, Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati, PhD, Spiritual leader, teacher and author, 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. 

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.” 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 much anticipated wellness package in collaboration with all the 10 City Council Districts of San Antonio, TX and Mayor Ron Nirenberg and iDoYoga San Antonio organized its flagship Free Yoga Classes and Education on the benefits and ways to make yoga a part of one’s daily life during the course of the entire convention. The convention was focused on themes such as how to take care of self and find satisfaction and happiness in the challenging situations they are in, while serving hundreds of patients everyday of their dedicated and noble profession. 

Led by internationally famed yoga gurus, including  Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati, PhD, Spiritual leader, teacher and author; Paramaguru Sharath Jois, Lineage holder of Ashtanga Yoga; and, Eddie Stern, Yoga teacher, speaker and author, the highly anticipated and popular Yoga on the famous Riverwalk was part of the global celebration of the 8th International Day of Yoga (IDY).

Some of the major themes at the convention included: 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.

Dr. Anjana Sammadar, President-Elect , pointed out: “There was a sense of joy and relief on the faces of the over 1,000 physicians who have come together to celebrate their achievements, contributions, and to network and deepen their relationship even as the Covid Pandemic is waning and people are able to mingle freely and interact with one another cautiously.” 

 AAPI delegates attended a multidisciplinary CME conference that allowed 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. 

Dr. Satheesh Kathula, Vice President of AAPI said, as many as CME credit hours have been provided by outstanding speakers all year and provided cutting edge CMEs to members. He thanked the Chicago Medical Society, Dr. Vemuri Murthy, Dr. Amit Chakraborty, CME Chair  and Dr. Sagar Galvankar, & Co-Chair for their diligent efforts all the prominent speakers who shared their expertise with AAPI delegates. 

Dr. Meherbala Medavaram said, some of the major events at the convention included: 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.

According to Dr. Sumul Raval, the convention offered a venue for Physicians and healthcare professionals from across the country and internationally to convene and participate in the scholarly exchange of medical advances, to develop health policy agendas, and to encourage legislative priorities in the coming year.

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); 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.

The CEOs Forum moderated by Dr. Joseph Chalil had a panel of Industry Leaders including: Dr. Juby A Jacob-Nara, Vice President, Head of Global Medical- Sanofi-Genzyme; Robert Mattchione, from NOVA; Dr. Monika Kapur; Ms. Rebecca Seidel. Medtronix; and Mario Ball. A pioneering AAPI Medical Leadership Council is being formed to collaborate with Industry leaders and to be the voice of healthcare providers, said Dr. Chalil. 

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.     

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 each day of the convention had a specific theme. On Thursday, the theme chosen is “Unity in Diversity” and the delegates showcased one’s own state dress code. Heritage India was the theme for Friday honoring and celebrating India’s rich culture and diversity. On Saturday, the focus was 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.

Dr. Jagan Ailinani was honored with Life Time Achievement Award. The Distinguished Physician Award was given to Dr. Vijay Yeldandi and AAPI’s Most Distinguished Award was given to Dr. Ravindra Nathan.  AAPI’s Most Distinguished YPS Award was given to Dr. Sejal Hathi and the AAPI’s Most Distinguished MSRF Award was given to Aaiswariya Gulani. r. Gotimukula honored Dr. Udaya Shivangi, Dr. Sujeeth Punnam, Dr. Dwarkanath Reddy and AAPI’s Legal Advisor with Presidential Awards for their dedication and support during her presidency.

“Welcome to Philadelphia for the 41st annual convention which will provide you all with extensive academic presentations, recognition of achievements and achievers, and professional networking at the al and evening social events,” Dr. Ravi Kolli announced. For more details, please visit:  www.aapiconvention.org  and www.aapiusa.org

 

By, Ajay Ghosh

Khushi Patel From UK Is Crowned Miss India Worldwide 2022

Khushi Patel, a biomedical student from England was crowned Miss India Worldwide 2022 during a glittering ceremony of the longest-running Indian beauty pageant outside of India, on Sunday, June 25th, 2002 at the Royal Alberts Palace in New Jersey, organized by the India Festival Committee (IFC), which has been running the competition for the past 29 years.

Vaidehi Dongre of Michigan was declared the first runner-up, while the second runner-up title went to Shrutika Mane of Australia. The top 12 competitors at the pageant were the champions of other international competitions.

Patel, a biomedical sciences major with a psychology minor, expressed her happiness at having won the Miss India Worldwide 2022 competition. The model, who also has a clothing company, intends to participate in numerous charity events and support developing nations throughout the course of the upcoming year.

The Miss Teen India Worldwide 2022 title went to Roshani Razack from Guyana, while Navya Paingol, a University of Michigan, Ann Arbor student was the first runner-up. The second runner-up award went to Chiquita Malaha of Suriname. School teacher Swathy Vimalkumar of Connecticut won the Mrs. India Worldwide title.

Patel, who is majoring in biomedical sciences and minoring in psychology, expressed her happiness at winning the Miss India Worldwide 2022 competition. The model also has a clothing company, and “intends to participate in numerous charity events and assist third-world countries over the next twelve months,” as reported by the Press Trust of India. Over the next one year, the model, who also owns a clothing store, plans to do a lot of charity events and help third-world countries.

This year’s pageant was hosted three years after the last one, which was held in September 2019 at the Leela Hotel in Mumbai. “Pandemic has changed the way we think and live,” said IFC chairman Dharmatma Saran.

Dharmatma Saran, chairman and founder of the New York based India Cultural Festival (IFC) that organizes the trail blazing Miss India Worldwide, is a pioneer in entertainment, holding Indian pageants and fashion shows in the USA and worldwide.

In 1990, DharmatmaSaran, decided to take the pageant one step further to an international level and started The First Miss India Worldwide Pageant to identify and honor beauties of Indian origin the world over and the show graduated to become the top most international Indian pageant on the earth. “For the first time ever, Asian-Indian communities from all over the world came together in New York for this event,” says Saran with a sense of pride. “To the best of our knowledge, no other ethnic organi¬zation has ever conducted a pageant of this magnitude on an international level.”

The pageant was an instant success and was acclaimed as “the most glamorous Indian function in the world.”

The annual pageants started in a basement in New York in 1980 with the first ever Miss India New York and Miss India USA, has evolved and expanded, nowincorporating and having membershipfrom over 40 countries, that promote Indian heritage and providing a platform for people of Indian origin to unite and showcase their talents, skills and beauty.

The pageants aim to honor achievement, to celebrate our culture in many ways, among them, the ability to meet people, make friends, to respect and be respected, to continually strive to improve standards, and to live a life as close to the laws of nature.

The IFC selects distinguished local organizations in various parts of the world and authorizes them to conduct national pageants in their respective countries. The India Festival Committee, started in 1974 in a most humble way, has come a long way. While seeking to collaborate with internationally reputed groups, Saran joined hands with the Times of India group’s Femina that runs the beauty pageants in India until 1997.

Most of these women have set their sights on professions like medicine, public relations and the law. The contest gives them a chance to take a detour and explore their Indian identities through colorful Indian attire and dance. Many of them have set their eyes on Bollywood and Hollywood, and participating in the pageants is a stepping stone for many to climb up the ladder in the world of fashion, silver screen, politics and charity.

Saran has become an internationally well-known leader in promoting pageantry around the world. Support came from most unexpected quarters. Noted actress, social worker, feminist and leader, Shabana Azmi, who is known to blast all beauty pageants, endorsed Saran’s show as noble as it helped funds for the deserving children.

The IFC motivates andguides its winners and contestants to take up charitable causes. Many of our past winners have raised substantial amount of money for various charities, especially for handicapped children,” says Saran.

Saran and the pageant are “very proud of the fact that we have been able to provide a common platform for the international Indian community through pageantry. We are equally proud of the fact that we have been able to imbibe Indian values, traditions and culture among the youth of Indian origin around the world. We have also been successful in promoting Indian performing arts in the world.”

“AAPI has created a great track record, initiating several programs benefitting AAPI members and the larger community,” Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, Declares in Her Farewell Address

(San Antonio, TX. June 26, 2022) “This year, AAPI has created a great track record,” declared Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, the immediate Past President of AAPI in her farewell presidential address on the final day of her Presidency during the 40th annual convention of the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) in San Antonio, TX on June 25th, 2022. “Our leadership team has worked diligently on so many wonderful projects and activities including educational, philanthropic, legislative, networking, and many more activities benefitting our members and communities. This has been possible because of the incredible work and support from the dedicated team of leaders, members, and our supporting office staff,” the only 4th woman President of AAPI in the four decades long history of AAPI, said.

During a solemn ceremony, she handed over the presidency to Dr. Ravi Kolli as the next President of AAPI, the largest Ethnic Medical Organization in the United States, representing over 120,,000 physicians of Indian Origin, who have grown stronger and have become a powerful force and stronger voice  in the United States making a unique identity for themselves. Dr. Gotimukula gave the gavel to Dr. Ravi Kolli during the presidential induction ceremony attended by over 1,000 AAPI delegates and distinguished guests.

In her inaugural address a year ago, Dr. Gotimukula, the leader of the largest ethnic medical organization in the United States, had said: “I like to hope. I am a passionate people-person with a smiling calm personality. I strive to be an empathetic team leader and good listener, always seeking and doing my best in achieving the set goals. Thanks  Dr. Gotimukula had promised “to make AAPI a premium  healthcare leader, working towards reforms to the current healthcare system to help reduce the healthcare costs. I want to build a strong support system to protect the IMG physicians and their issues and help with physician burnout. I will further the existing educational goals and charitable goals and engage member physicians to support these goals.”

At the end of her Presidency, this soft spoken, gentle and visionary leader, Dr. Gotimukula, the only 4th woman president in the four decades old history of AAPI, has been proud that under her presidency, AAPI has been strengthened and grown, and reached newer heights.

Education has been a key area where Dr. Gotimukula’s focus has been during her year-long Presidency. “More than 45 CME credit hours have been provided by outstanding speakers all year and provided cutting edge CMEs to members.” She thanked the Chicago Medical Society, Dr. Vemuri Murthy, Dr. Amit Chakraborty, CME Chair  and Dr. Sagar Galvankar, & Co-Chair for their diligent efforts. In addition, AAPI members were offered Financial educational sessions on ways to wisely invest and improve their financial health. Thanks to our sponsors who supported these sessions. Dr. Sunita Kanumuri and team  were instrumental in organizing Healthcare Reforms Webinars, addressing health equity and disparities and physician burnout.

“Latte with Legislators” has been a new and pioneering program under Dr. Gotimukula’s leadership. Senator Dick Durbin, the High Ranking Senator from Illinois along with Rep. Mary Newman, Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthy, Rep. Danny Davis, Rep. Don Young, Rep. Alma Adams, and Rep. Frank Pallone addressed the AAPI members exclusively and answered questions on healthcare reforms and ways to make healthcare affordable, addressing the Medicare payment cuts for physicians, IMG issues of Green Card Backlogs, etc. Dr. Suresh Reddy and Dr. Sumul Raval organized these productive sessions for members.

“The Leadership Seminar on “Advocacy as a Critical Component of Patient Care: Why Physician Advocacy Matters and How to Succeed it” was addressed by Clarence Brown, MD, and Erin O’Brien, was coordinated by Dr. Meher Medavaram and the Illinois State Medical Society,’ said Dr. Gotimukula. The AAPI Women’s Committee organized two-panel discussions with motivational speakers on the “Domestic Violence Awareness” and “Women’s Health and Wellbeing,” which were coordinated by Dr. Seema Arora and the entire women’s committee.

Under her leadership, AAPI had two Family CME Trips: Serengeti National Park, Tanzania in July 2021, and to Peru in April 2022. “Both were beautiful rejuvenating breaks for our hardworking physicians and their families. We provided a total of 10 CME credits to the attendees during these trips,” Dr. Gotimukula said.

The Global Health Summit held in Hyderabad in January 20022 has been a major achievement under Dr. Gotimukula, focusing on “Prevention is better than Cure.” The GHS included a well-organized CEO forum with a panel of eminent healthcare leaders from the US and India, reinforcing the need for preventive care rather than disease management, to control the non-communicable diseases which are the biggest silent killers.

Dr. Gotimukula said, “AAPI presented a report to the Prime Minister of India with an emphasis on initiating an “Indian Preventive Health Task Force” with the development of Annual Preventive Healthcare Screening Guidelines for early disease detection and prevention, emphasizing disease prevention as more vital than disease cure. GHS organized panel discussions on medical education reforms to help establish Family Medicine, Emergency Medicine, and Palliative Medicine specialty PG courses in every medical college and to change the examination pattern from essay questions to all MCQ testing. The Women’s Forum with the theme ‘Women Who Inspire’ with inspirational speakers who came from both continents was outstanding under the leadership of Dr. Udaya Shivangi and Dr. Dwaraknatha Reddy Duvvuru.”

Dr. Gotimukula led AAPI leadership was able to establish Collaboration and multiple medical organizations – ACP – FSMB – ECFMG – NMC (India) – IMA (India)  GAPIO – UNICEF – Red Cross Society – CWC – Lifestyle Medicine – MDTok – Apollo 2nd Consult. “These connections and collaborations are vital for us to stay connected and make a powerful impact on our communities,” Dr. Gotimukula  assured.

A major theme under Dr. Gotimukula  has been initiating programs and activities that benefit not only AAPI members, but also the larger society. “It’s been an immense satisfaction to me leading AAPI’s charitable activities this year with service as one of our motto Dr. Gotimukula said. “Despite the Covid challenges of Delta and Omicron waves, in spite of limited resources, AAPI blood donation drives were done in over 30 cities with several of them organizing multiple events. . The same cities remained motivated and doing another round of blood donation drives. With the Red Cross Society partnership, we can reach many more cities in near future and continue the good work.”

Dr. Gotimukula had special emphasis on “Adopt a village” Rural Preventive Healthcare Screening Initiative in India, where free health screening camps with free physician consultations were done in 29 Indian rural villages in the middle of Delta and Omicron waves with additional 25 villages are pending to get initiated soon in all states. In her efforts for “Free for Life” Fight Human Trafficking in India, AAPI raised and donated $75,000 during the Fall Fund Raising Gala with the AAPI Nashville host chapter at our Fall GB meeting, Dr. Dotimukula said.

During the Global Health Summit in January 2022, an Awareness and Prevention Initiative for Cervical Cancer in India was conducted. AAPI donated 100 free HPV vaccinations to needy children in India. During the Spring GB meeting and Gala an awareness for Women’s Breast Cancer was conducted. Spring Fundraising gala along with IAMA/ IAMA CF-supported free Mammograms for underserved women in Chicago was also completed. AAPI supported “H2H Foundation” (Founded by Padma Shri Padma Bhushan, Little Master Sunil Gavaskar) to perform heart surgery for the poor and needy children. Each surgery costs $2,000. Fundraising for this event is done during the AAPI convention in San Antonio to support 25 – 50 needy below poverty kids born with congenital heart disease.

Continuing the efforts towards the Covid-19 Fund – Post-Covid Relief Activities, AAPI has raised over $5 million during the delta wave in India. “The ongoing Covid-19 relief work in India is in progress, donating lifesaving equipment to support critically ill patients – Biochemical Analyzers, Ventilators, Oxygen Flow Meters, and Oxygen Plants,” Dr. Gotimukula pointed out. “The funds will continue to support Covid patients in rural hospitals. AAPI is prepared to support and help any deadly Covid wave in near future in India.”

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 / Embassy with invited dignitaries from the US and India,” Dr. Gotimukula expressed gratitude to “the entire AAPI leadership and members for their participation in AAPI activities, making AAPI stronger than ever and bringing a strong impact to the communities we live in and globally as well.”

The leadership team under her Presidency included: Dr. Ravi Kolli, President-Elect of AAPI; Dr. Anjana Samaddar , Vice President; Dr. Satheesh Kathula Secretary; Dr. Krishan Kumar, Treasurer of AAPI. Dr. Kusum Punjabi served as the Chair of BOT. Dr. Gotimukula honored Dr. Udaya Shivangi, Dr. Sujeeth Punnam, Dr. Dwarkanath Reddy and AAPI’s Legal Advisor with Presidential Awards for their dedication and support during her presidency.

Dr. Anjana Sammadar, who has been serving AAPI as the Vice President in the current year also did not face elections, as she automatically becomes the President-Elect of AAPI for the coming year. Dr. Ravi Kolli will have a dynamic and diverse team comprising of Dr. Anjana Samaddar as the President-Elect, Dr. Satheesh Kathula as the Vice President; Dr. Meherbala Medavaram as the Secretary; Dr. Sumul Raval as the Treasurer; Dr. V. Ranga – as the Chair, Board of Trustees; Dr. Pooja Kinkhabwala – President, Young Physicians Section; and, Dr. Ammu Susheela, President, Medical Student/Residents & Fellows Section. Dr. Gotimukula will continue to guide AAPI as the Immediate past President of AAPI. For more details, please visit:  www.aapiconvention.org  and www.aapiusa.org

Pamela Kwatra From New Jersey Honored With The Lifetime Achievement Award

Pamela  Kwatra, a trailblazer and the only Indian American woman recipient of the prestigious Ellis Island Medal of Honor award in 2008, was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award during a solemn awards ceremony jointly organized by The Consulate General of India in New York and The Indo-American Press Club (IAPC), the largest organization of Indian descent journalists operating in North America , at the Indian Consulate, New York, NY on Saturday, May 21st, 2022.

Mayor Bill de Blasio, who was the guest of honor at the IAPC Induction Ceremony and the Awards Nite Gala presented the award at the Grand Ballroom of the Consulate in New York, which was attended by several community leaders, elected officials, diplomats, media personnel and professionals.

Calling her a “highly accomplished leader” Mayor Bill de Blasio praised her contributions to the larger American society and to the Indian American community. Mayor Bill de Blasio showered praises on Ms. Kwatra for taking up on herself a key role in his election campaign that no other individual has been able to do.

Mayor Bill de Blasio, while congratulating Pam Kwatra on receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award, described her as “a trailblazing businesswoman, a community leader, and a political force with executive chops. No wonder she worked on important projects in my administration at my request. I also came to know that her involvement with the community spans across culture, art & literature – preserving and promoting abroad the rich and varied culture of India.”

While extending his greetings to IAPC, the Mayor said, “Congratulations are due to IAPC for doing a good job, to Kamlesh Mehta, its new Board Chairman, new committee members and all the honorees. We will continue to support this media organization.”

Eric Kumar, a major supporter to IAPC introduced Mayor Bill DeBlasio. In his address, he described how closely Mayor Bill DeBlasio worked with the Indian American communities and made a law to support Ethnic Media.

Ambassador Randhir Jaiswal, Consul General of India, who was the chief guest presented the award to the other awardees with the Lifetime Achievement Award, including  Dr. Thomas Abraham, Dr. Sudhir Parikh, and Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, President of AAPI.

The awards ceremony was part of the Induction Ceremony of IAPC’s new office bearers, including Chairman Kamlesh C Mehta and Secretary Ajay Ghosh of IAPC Board of Directors, and members of the IAPC National Executive Committee led by President Aashmeeta Yogiraj and General Secretary CG Daniel.

In her acceptance Speech, Ms. Kwatra said, “I am truly honored to be chosen by the Indo-American Press Club for the Life Time Achievement Award. Your presence and this special occasion, receiving this honor makes its truly a memorable moment and I want to thank Kamlesh ji and the entire IAPC office bearers for bestowing this honor on me today, and wishing you, all the very best.”

While urging the media to a more active role, Ms. Kwatra said, “While the political and racial differences divide us, the role of the media is all the more important in keeping us all aware of and educating us about the need for a just and equitable world.”

While commenting on one of the hot button issues that is deeply diving the nation, Ms. Kawatra said, “We are concerned about the media reports about the Supreme Court draft to overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade case that legalized abortion nationwide, based on the Constitution that protects a pregnant woman’s right to choose abortion without excessive government restriction. We are worried about women being denied the right to her own health needs.”

She called upon Media to play a very critical role, “especially in these challenging timers, as the world is faced with the once in a century health crisis with the ongoing pandemic.  Organization such as the IAPC can play a major role in helping heal and unite the nation. Wishing you all the very best. Congratulations to all honorees today and best wishes to the new leadership of IAPC.”

Pam Kwatra has a proud record of civic-social and professional accomplishments and recognition. She was the first woman to launch an Indian American advertising, marketing and PR company, Kripari Marketing in 1992. Pam always keeps the interest of the community and society above personal interest. She has supported numerous community projects for decades and has personally supported many Indian victims of domestic violence in the US.  A member of and leader of several Indian American organizations,  active in politics and grass root organizations, Ms. Kwatra is a graduate of Delhi University.

Under “South Asians 4 Better New York” (SA4BNY) founded by her, she has held fundraisers for Gov. Cuomo, Public Advocate “Tish” James, Congresswoman Grace Meng, District Attorney Kenneth Thompson, John Liu, and NYC Council candidate Ali Najmi. Her involvement with the community also spans across culture, art & literature – preserving and promoting the rich and varied culture of India, abroad.

Ms. Kwatra has served on NYC boards like Mayor’s Fund, City Center of Music & Drama Inc., New York City Ballet, David H Koch Theater at Lincoln Center. She was also nominated to the NYC Democratic National Committee 2016 Convention. Pam has launched several successful cultural programs and dance dramas at the United Nations. She also organized two book reading events at the UN – Kiran Bedi’s biography and Kathleen Kennedy’s “Failing America’s Faithful”.

She is the recipient of “Mother Teresa Award” in 2011 in India. Special Recognition at the event was given to: Ambassador Randhir Jaiswal, Consul General of India in New York for his vision, dedication and community service; Mayor Bill De Blasio, Former Mayor Of New York City, for Excellence in Public Service and Leadership; Dr. Prabhakar Kore, Member of Parliament, India, for his distinguished services in Education and Public Services; and Kevin Thomas, New York State Senator For excellence in Community Service and leadership.

The induction ceremony was attended by elite members and community leaders, including, Padma Shri Dr. Nori, Kenny Desai of FIA,  Girish Patel of BAPS, Girish Shah of Jain Samaj, Babu Stephen, former Chairman of IAPC, Shashi Malik of Long Island Association. Harish Thakkar of the American Indian Association, Ravi Bhooplapur of Xavier University,  Dr. Neeta Jain, Nilima Madan, Darshan Singh Bagga, Arvind Vora of Shanti Fund,  and Vipul Dev, the Consular  at CGI.

Dr. Jagdish K. Gupta, President of Medical Society of County of Kings, NY Leads Year-Long Bicentennial Celebrations

“I am very humbled, truly privileged, and extremely honored to welcome you all to our 201st Bicentennial Stated Meeting by the Medical Society of The County of Kings and the Academy of Medicine of Brooklyn,” said Dr. Jagdish K. Gupta, a committed and highly regarded physician with a history of professional achievement and humanitarian philanthropy, who was inducted as the 174th President of the Medical Society of County of Kings (MSCK) on May 25th, 2022.
Dr. Gupta was addressing the delegates at the 201st Annual Stated Meeting of MSCK as a Bicentennial Event in person, after two years hiatus due to COVID Pandemic at El Caribe Country Club in Brooklyn, NY with full regalia. “The COVID-19 pandemic upended the rhythms of our personal and professional lives. Traditional workings of our medical society came to a screeching halt,” Dr. Gupta pointed out. “However, as an organization, we persevered, reimagined our operations, and implemented new strategies.  Overall, the organization was renewed and brought into the 21st century.”
Dr. Gupta expressed gratitude to “Dr. Valluru, Dr. Prasad Gudavalli & Dr. Larry Melniker, and everyone in our leadership team for all their hard work during possibly the most challenging time in our organization’s history.”
Dr. Gupta on behalf of the Team 2022-2023,  promised “to continue this progressive transformation. The central focus during my presidency will be to bring harmony to our efforts, empower ourselves to increase membership, enhance membership benefits, create programs for wellness, end disparities inpatient care, and bring equity in healthcare to all, irrespective of caste creed or financial status.”
Dr. Sanjiv Chopra, Professor of Medicine and the past Faculty Dean for Continu­ing Medical Education at Harvard Medical School for 12 years, serving as a Marshall Wolf Distinguished Clinician Educator at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and the author of more than 170 publications and ten books to his credit, was the keynote speaker at the gala. In his address, he pointed out to “The Two Most Important Days: Reflections on Lasting Happiness and Living with Purpose.”  He received a full-throttled standing ovation from the audience. Dr. Chopra is Editor-in-Chief of the Hepatology Section of “UpToDate”, the most widely used electronic textbook in the world subscribed to by more than 1.5 million physicians in 195 countries.
He is a sought-after inspirational speaker across the United States and abroad, addressing diverse audiences on topics related to medicine, leadership, happiness, and living with purpose.
Recognizing the contributions and accomplishments of the Medical Society of the County of Kings, the New York State Assembly commemorated the Bicentennial Stated Meeting of the Medical Society of the County of Kings on May 25, 2022 with a Proclamation sponsored by Assembly Woman Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn and Co-sponsored By Assemblyman Michael Tannousis.
Among the several distinguished guests who joined in and addressed the celebrations were Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez who spoke passionately about the need for Gun Control and on ways to prevent the violence in the City. Messages and proclamations were sent in by New York City Council Woman Ms. Mercedes Narcisse 46th Council District; Congresswoman Nicole Malliotakis from 11th District; President of SUNY Downstate Medical School, Dr. Wayne Riley who spoke about the contribution of Medical Society of County of Kings and Long Island College over 200 years; State Assemblyman Michael Tannousis; Dr. Ravi Kolli, President Elect, American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin- the largest ethnic physician organization in America; and, Multiple Citations for 50 years Medical School Graduates serving the Brooklyn Community.
The annual event also highlighted and honored the achievements and outstanding contributions of an impressive and inspirational set of honorees representing 50 years of continuous, diligent, and impartial services to the Brooklyn community. “These 12 esteemed honorees have distinguished themselves in the fields of community service, patient advocacy, medical innovation, and clinical practice. These honored physicians have saved countless lives and brought relief to thousands of patients over the last 50 years.
Their influence extends far beyond those in their direct care.  They have served as role models for numerous students, residents, and fellows for over five decades,” Dr. Gupta pointed out. Reflecting on the last 200 years of the most prestigious professional organization, Dr. Gupta said, “I am amazed at the caliber, intelligence, and forward-thinking ideas of all my great predecessors. They left indelible marks with their achievements and accomplishments in the fields of research, education, innovation in medical and surgical technology, and patient care. I am humbled to follow in their footsteps and am grateful to each of them.”
The Medical Society of the County of Kings (MSCK), the oldest scientific organization in Brooklyn, New York was established on March 2nd, 1822 by a group of doctors gathered at Auld Lang Syne Tavern on Fulton Street in Brooklyn Heights, with the lofty mission  “to foster progress in the science and art of medicine and to promote, preserve and enforce the highest of standards of ethical and proficient medical care”. In 1900, the Society opened its grand new colonial revival building at 1313 Bedford Avenue, the geographical center of Brooklyn and It was headquartered there until 1996.
The Society had hosted numerous Scientific Conferences at the McNaughton Auditorium where local, national, and international luminaries in medicine presented important and often original scientific works. The Medical Society grew exponentially to more than 3,500 members by the mid-20th century and according to the Directing Librarian for the Society, for some time boasted as the 5th largest medical library in the country.
The concept of Continuing Medical Education (CME) was developed in Brooklyn in 1922 and the Society published the Brooklyn Medical Journal from 1888 until it was succeeded by the Long Island Medical Journal in 1907. The Medical Society continues to serve the people of Brooklyn through the thousands of practicing physicians in the borough. MSCK through its various committees and in collaboration with other specialty organizations have been supporting Brooklynites for their healthcare needs uninterrupted — through political, economic, and various health crises — over the past 200 years.
MSCK represents the most populous County in the New York State and as such has the largest delegation to the Medical Society of the State of New York (MSSNY). It continues to provide leadership to organized medicine. Following the footsteps of its great predecessors, more than 11 Kings County leaders, who became President of the MSSNY, a matter of great pride for all members of the Society, its past president and current member, Dr. Parag Mehta, has become the first Asian American President of MSSNY on May 21st. 2022.
Born and raised in Hissar, Haryana, India, Dr. Gupta graduated from All-India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi in 1972 with distinction, and after coming to the United States, had his residency and fellowship at Long Island College Hospital (LICH). A diplomat of the American Board of Internal Medicine and the American Board of Gastroenterology, Dr. Gupta is an Assistant Clinical Professor at SUNY Health Science Center in Brooklyn, and has served as a role model and a mentor for a generation of young physicians who aspire to combine his clinical excellence with sensitivity and compassion towards patients and their families.
Dr. Gupta has been serving the Brooklyn Community for the last 45 years. He has been actively involved in Organized Medical Societies leadership at the Kings County and New York state Medical Society level for a long time. Through innovative research exploring the links between gastrointestinal and neurological diseases, Dr. Gupta has made his mark upon medical literature. In addition to his many contributions to peer review journals, he has co-authored chapters in many medical textbooks. As a researcher dedicated to the detection, prevention and treatment of GI disorders including cancer, he has been recognized and awarded numerous teaching awards. He has been on the TOP DOCTORS list of Castle Connolly for more than twenty years, consecutively and also has been designated as SUPER DOC by New York Times magazine for three years.
Dr. Gupta has served as President of the Medical staff of LICH and as a member of its Board of Regents. For his commitment to teaching, professional achievements, community services and leadership, the Long Island College Hospital bestowed the Spring Ball Honoree 2002 Physician of the Year Award upon him. He is currently serving as the Chairman, Board of Trustees of AAPI-QLI, and is very active in National AAPI and AAPI Charitable Foundation and serves on the Board of Trustees and is the Treasurer.

In his desire to serve the Indian American community Dr. Gupta has been a member of the Board of Nargis Dutt Memorial Foundation and has been privileged to serve as its President, fundraising large amounts during his tenure to sponsor many charitable projects in India. He was recognized  for his contributions with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006. He has been very actively involved with many community organizations in Long Island. He has served as President of India Association of Long Island (IALI) in 2010. He also serves on the Board of Trustees of the Hindu Center. He has been recognized several times for his outstanding services to the community. Most recently he was appointed an Honorary Police Surgeon for his patriotic dedication to the New York’s finest.  Above all, Dr. Gupta is a loving husband to his wife Meena and father of three children, Drs. Anu, Srishti and Vishal and grandfather to Sia, Kabir, Som and Sai.

IAPC Organizes Induction Of The New BOD And National EC And Awards Ceremony At Indian Consulate In New York

The Indo-American Press Club, the largest organization of Indian descent journalists and media persons working across North America, organized the swearing-in ceremony and inauguration of new office bearers on Saturday, May 21st during a solemn induction ceremony, organized at the Indian Consulate in New York.

Kamlesh C. Mehta was administered the oath of office as the Chairman of the IAPC Board of Directors by Ambassador Randhir Jaiswal, Consul General of India in New York, while Ginson Zachariah, Founding Chairman of IAPC administered the oath to IAPC’s new President Aashmeeta Yogiraj, while IAPC General Secretary CG Daniel and several others were given the oath virtually.

Four distinguished and accomplished community leaders/professionals were honored with the Lifetime Achievement Awards for their accomplishments and contributions to the larger society.

Ambassador Randhir Jaiswal, Consul General, was the chief guest, while New York Mayor De Blasio was the Special Guest of Honor during the ceremony. Mayor De Blasio presented award to Pamela Kwatra, a trailblazer and the only Indian American woman recipient of the prestigious Ellis Island Medal of Honor award in 2008, Pam Kwatra. She has a proud record of civic-social and professional accomplishments and recognition.

Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, the only 4th Woman elected to be the President of American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin in its nearly four decades-long history was honored fgor her visionary leadership of AAPI benefitting AAPI members and the larger societies in India and the United States.

Dr. Thomas Abraham, who has been honored with the Bharatvanshi Gaurav Award of Anthar Rashtriya Sahayog Parishad and Pravasi Bharatiya Samman for his services to the NRI/PIO communities for the last 49 years since he moved to New York as a graduate student at Columbia University, was another awardee whom IAPC honored today.

The other honoree whom IAPC recognized today was Sudhir M. Parikh, M.D., a physician by profession and currently the Chairman and Publisher of Parikh Worldwide Media Inc., the largest Indian-American publishing group in the United States, and Chairman of ITV Gold, a 24×7 TV news channel, and is one of the most honored Indian Americans with Padma Shri and Pravasi Bharatiya Samman, and the Ellis Island Medal of Honor.

Special Recognition at the event was given to: Ambassador Randhir Jaiswal, Consul General of India in New York for his vision, dedication and community service; Mayor Bill De Blasio, Former Mayor Of New York City, for Excellence in Public Service and Leadership; Dr. Prabhakar Kore, Member of Parliament, India, for his distinguished services in Education and Public Services; and Kevin Thomas, New York State Senator For excellence in Community Service and leadership.

In his address, while highlighting the many recent initiatives of the Government of India to lead India to prosperity and strength, Ambassador Jaiswal praised IAPC for its “significant contribution to promoting India-US friendship and the welfare of Indian diaspora in the United States. It has brought together people from the diaspora media fraternity under a cohesive umbrella so that the voice of the community could be heard in a meaningful manner.

We look forward to their continued support to bring developments from India to the readers in the US and carry all the excitement from the United States to the people of India. I invite Indo American Press Club to join hands with us in celebrating [email protected], our Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav. I wish the Club steady growth, progress and success,” he said.

Former NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, while congratulating Pam Kwatra on receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award, described her as a trailblazing businesswoman, a community leader, and a political force with executive chops. No wonder she worked with elan on important projects in my administration on my request.

I also came to know that her involvement with the community spans across culture, art & literature – preserving and promoting abroad the rich and varied culture of India.” While extending his greetings to IAPC, the Mayor said, “Congratulations are due to IAPC for doing a good job, to Kamlesh Mehta, its new Board Chairman, new committee members and all the honorees. We will continue to support this media organization.”

In his acceptance speech, Kamlesh Mehta said,  “These are unprecedented times for journalists and the media, when many have sacrificed their lives in the pandemic. At IAPC, we salute these brave men and women who risk their lives to bring to the world accurate reporting and being an effective voice of the media world.

IAPC envisages its vision through collective efforts and advocacy activities through its nearly one thousand members across the US and Canada, by being a link between the media fraternity and the world at large. We will work together with dedication to enhance the working conditions of our journalists, exchanging ideas and offering educational and training opportunities to our members, aspiring young journalists and media professionals around the globe.”

In her presidential address, Aashmeeta Yogiraj, Director – Programming & Marketing, JUS Broadcasting Corporation said, “I t is said that the media is the fourth pillar of democracy. Never was that statement truer than in the times we live in now. While media as an entity has certainly evolved to fit modern times, its invaluable service to society persists. As a member of the media, it is my honor to serve as President of the Indo-American Press Club. I look forward to furthering the principles of democracy alongside the rest of the IAPC leadership and team.” By becoming a member IAPC , she said,  You gain “access to a unique professional network, exclusive events with high-profile global influencers, cutting-edge Newswire services and an opportunity to network with others in the media industry.”

Ginsmon Zachariah, Founding Chair of IAPC BOD said, “Our homeland India is known to have a vibrant, active and free media, which plays a very vital role in the functioning and growth of the largest democracy in the world. And we recognize that as members of the media we have an important role to play in our adopted land. We are aware of our call to be a source of effective communication around the world. We as members of the media realize that we have a role to play in shaping our world to be a just and equitable place where everyone enjoys freedom and liberty.”

Providing the background to the formation of IAPC, Akay Ghosh, Founding President of IAPC  said, “We as individuals and corporations that represent the media world, consisting of print, visual, electronic and online, realize that we have a greater role to play. We have been working in this field for decades and often stand alone in a large media world. As individual members of the media, our voice is often drowned in the very large world of multi-media. We lack a collective voice to raise our voice, to pool our talents together and work as a cohesive group to reflect and respond to the challenges of the modern world. IAPC was  (IAPC), formed to fill this vacuum, and is committed to strive to be a common platform to raise the voice and explore the possibilities of helping shape the world to be a world that is fair, just and equitable for today and future generations.”

Eric Kumar, a major supporter to IAPC introduced Mayor Bill DeBlasio. In his address, he mentioned how closely Mayor Bill DeBlasio worked with the Indian American communities and made a law to support Ethnic Media. Famous Punjabi Singer Malkit Singh could not attend the event for delays in flight, he sent his gratitude for honoring him and best complements to IAPC for continued success.

The induction ceremony was attended by elite members and community leaders, including, Padma Shri Dr. Nori, Kenny Desai of FIA,  Girish Patel of BAPS, Girish Shah of Jain Samaj, Babu Stephen, former Chairman of IAPC, Shashi Malik of Long Island Association. Harish Thakkar of the American Indian Association, Ravi Bhooplapur of Xavier University,  Dr. Neeta Jain, Nilima Madan, Darshan Singh Bagga, Arvind Vora of Shanti Fund,  and Vipul Dev, the Consular  at CGI.

Parveen Chopra, past president of IAPC welcomed the audience. A souvenir with colorfully designed pages, depicting the history and objectives of IAPV, edited by Parveen Chopra and Dr. Mathew Joys was released.

A visual presentation of the Nine Years of IAPC history beautifully presented by Dr. Mathew Joys, IAPC BOD member from Las Vegas and Shan Justus from Texas provided a glimpse of the trajectory of IAPC’s growth since its inception in 2013. The closing ceremony included scintillating dances traditional folk dances and fast moving Bollywood dances by The Arya School of Dance and was followed by a sumptuous dinner. The hybrid event was also streamed simultaneously on social media platforms and watched live on YouTube by several members and supporters of IAPC.

Dr. Vishweshwar R. Ranga Elected Chair, AAPI Board of Trustees

A practicing Internal Medicine Specialist from Las Vegas affiliated with multiple local area hospitals, Dr. Vishweshwar R. Ranga has been elected Chairman of Board of Trustees of American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin for the year 2022-23.

Dr. Ranga with more than 35 years of experience in the medical field, has been associated with AAPI since his early days as a Resident in New York. “Since moving to the United States to pursue my career as a physician I have been closely following the entire spectrum of health care in the world’s largest economy,” recalls Dr. Ranga.

A team player and dedicated to the growth of AAPI, Dr. Ranga says, he wants continue to work with the team and ensure that AAPI’s voice is heard wherever relevant decisions are made that impact the physician community.

“My initiation into the Association of Physicians of Indian Origin to work on the membership drive and its directory during my residency at Mount Vernon Hospital in New York helped me understand more deeply the importance of community involvement and practices dear to this noble profession,”  Dr. Ranga says, who has worked hard towards the growth of this organization under the leadership of various presidents.

A medical degree holder from the Medical Academy of Sofia, Bulgaria, Dr. Ranga says, “AAPI is very close to my heart and I want to see it as more of an inclusive outfit, making a clarion call to physicians of Indian origin serving in some of the remote areas of the country to be part of this great organization and be driving forces of change.”

Dr. Ranga, who is known for his organizational skills helped to put together various national and regional AAPI events.

He has worked on several AAPI Committees including: AAPI Bylaws Committee, Membership Committee, Awards Committee, and Publications Committee.

Dr. Ranga has been recognized for his kindness, medical skills and going beyond the call of duty. “I was in good hands with him. I almost died from a car hitting me in a crosswalk. This man visited me every single day for one month. That is something I will never forget. Thank you, Dr. Ranga. Mom misses you,” Mike Cappello, a former patient of Dr. Ranga wrote on Social Media.

A visionary, Dr. Ranga began to work closely and encourage the second-generation Indian American physicians to be an active part of AAPI. In appreciation of his efforts, contributions and enormous support, YPS/MSRF recognized Dr. Ranga by making him the mentor of the group.

“My goal in the coming year is to formalize and create AAPI leadership academy working with executives from American College of Physicians for the development of leadership roles for all AAPI members. I want to work hard to engage young physicians and attract them to AAPI. They are the future of AAPI.” the newly elected Chair of AAPI BOT, says.

Jaishankar’s Tough Talk On India’s Foreign Policy Priorities

Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine has had geopolitical, military, and economic consequences for every nation on earth. The economic consequences is impacting every market and causing disruptions that will take time to recover. More than anything else, the invasion is causing a massive humanitarian crisis. Over two months into the war, with no end to the war in sight, the impact of the war has been felt in every corner of the earth.

As in any war, uncertainty of the outcome of this violent conflict is high. The escalation of conflict has triggered an immediate and steep rise in humanitarian needs as essential supplies and services are disrupted and civilians flee the fighting. The UN estimates that 12 million people inside Ukraine will need relief and protection, while more than 4 million Ukrainian refugees may need protection and assistance in neighboring countries in the coming months.

“I am here to focus on ways on how the UN can expand support for the people of Ukraine, saving lives, reduce suffering and help find the path of peace. I want the Ukrainian people to know that the world sees you, hears you, and is in awe of your resilience and resolve, UN Secretary-General António Guterres in remarks at a press encounter with the President of Ukraine in Kyiv, said on April 28th.

Countries across the globe have reacted to this situation in ways that suit their interests, based on their long standing relationship with Russia and the Western Alliance led by the United States. The message of the United Nations General Assembly is loud and clear:  End hostilities in Ukraine — now. Silence the guns — now. Open the door to dialogue and diplomacy — now.

President Joe Biden has condemned Russia for an “unprovoked and unjustified attack” on Ukraine while promising that his country and its allies “will hold Russia accountable”.

The Group of Seven industrialised nations strongly condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and said they would bring forward severe and coordinated economic and financial sanctions against Moscow.

“This crisis is a serious threat to the rules-based international order, with ramifications well beyond Europe,” the G7 leaders said in a joint statement, adding Russian President Vladimir Putin had re-introduced war to the European continent.

A majority of the nations at the United Nations were  unanimous in their condemnation of Russia’s unprovoked invasion and the implications of its war crimes on the innocent. However, India, the rising power on world stage, abstained on all the 12 United Nations resolutions condemning the invasion. Its initial statements at the UN Security Council were decidedly mild, while the Indian ambassador did not even mention Russia by name, and avoided criticizing Russia for the invasion. Another major world player, China rejected calling Russia’s moves on Ukraine an “invasion” and urged all sides to exercise restraint.

There has been mounting pressure on India to condemn Russia. The Western nations have implied that there could be consequences for India’s ambivalence. Shortly after the invasion, U.S. President Joe Biden warned, “Any nation that countenances Russia’s naked aggression against Ukraine will be stained by association.” During a virtual meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in early April, Biden pressed India to align itself with the Western nations in condemning Russia. Despite leaders from several Western during their recent visits to New Delhi expressing understanding for the Indian position, India has not heeded to the wishes of the West.

India has been focused on seeking to establish itself as a major player on the world stage, trying to be a moderate voice on international affairs, responding to the new realities of the world, establishing friendship with the US, sometimes in its own terms, less reliant on Russia and diversifying its dependence for military needs and trade with multiple nations.

India’s career diplomat turned politician, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has been talking tough on India’s position on Russia-Ukraine conflict. While responding to questions from world leaders on the crisis Jaishankar pointed to challenges in Asia and India’s neighborhood — in Afghanistan, and from China — and said it was a “wake-up call” for Europe to look at these instances where “problems have been happening”.

For instance, in response to Norwegian Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt at the Raisina Dialogue in New Delhi last week, Jaishankar said, “You talked about Ukraine. I remember less than a year ago what happened in Afghanistan, where the entire civil society was thrown under the bus by the world. We in Asia face our own sets of challenges, which often has an impact on the rules-based order.”

“For India, the past week, without a doubt, belonged to external affairs minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar. It is hard to recall another foreign affairs minister who articulated India’s views so firmly and well in international for a,” Sandipan Deb  wrote in the popular magazine, The Mint.

“In recent weeks, Jaishankar has been sharp in his comments on Europe. In Washington DC, he said India’s total purchase of Russian energy for the month was “less than what Europe does in an afternoon”. Days earlier, speaking on the issue of sanctions as British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss listened, he said “it looks like a campaign,” Deb pointed out.

According to Jaishankar, India is prepared to take a much bigger role in global affairs and would help the world with more supplies of wheat to tame food inflation if WTO rules allow. He asserted the West has been oblivious to the pressing challenges facing Asia including last year’s events in Afghanistan and the continuous pressure on the rules-based order in the region.

However, while refraining from condemning Russia and not offering to mediate in the conflict just as some other neutral nations have done, it has been noted by analysts on foreign policy that  India is abdicating its rising role as a model democracy and world leader.

“Despite the rhetorical care the administration of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has adopted to appear neutral, the time may have come for India, in its own interest, to rethink its stance,” Shashi Tharoor, an opposition member of India’s Parliament, a former Undersecretary General of the United Nations, who has served as Minister of the Government of India and Chair of the Indian Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, wrote in “Foreign Affairs.”

In recent days, India, still without naming Russia has criticized what is being done in Ukraine, in an effort to uphold the principles of international law India has traditionally upheld, especially, respect for the UN Charter and the sovereignty of states, the inviolability of borders, and opposition to the use of force to resolve political issues.

While pointing to the remarks by diplomat Shivshankar Menon, who stated, “Asia’s sense of its own difference—its focus on stability, trade, and the bottom line that has served Asian countries so well in the last 40 years,” Tharoor rightly says, “But it would be wrong to look at the reluctance to take sides that India and other developing countries in Asia have shown and conclude that a faraway war in Europe simply does not matter to the rest of the world. India’s dilemma is more complicated than its repeated abstentions on the Ukraine question imply, and it illustrates why the world order cannot simply remain what it was before the invasion.”

While describing India’s growing importance on world stage, Tharoor pointed out how in recent years has gained prominence and admiration. Tharoor wrote, India became a founding member of the G-20 when that organization was established in 1999; concluded a nuclear deal with the United States in 2005 that was portrayed as enshrining an “Indian exception”; took over the World Economic Forum in Davos in 2006, dubbing itself “the world’s fastest-growing free market democracy”; won then President Barack Obama’s endorsement of India’s claims to a permanent seat on the UN Security Council in 2010; got the UN to adopt an International Day of Yoga in 2015, showcasing its cultural soft power; and joined the quadrilateral security dialogue with the United States, Australia, and Japan known as the Quad.

With India’s recent stand in failing to condemn and isolate Russia, there are fears that India may face consequences for its ambivalence. Shortly after the invasion, U.S. President Joe Biden warned, “Any nation that countenances Russia’s naked aggression against Ukraine will be stained by association.”

“India’s lack of influence on Russia and failure to take a clear stand on the war have also undermined its case for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council,” Tharoor writes.

One way for India to salvage its reputation in the West would be to leverage its nonaligned position to play peacemaker on Ukraine. Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba had asked “India to use all influence in its relations with Russia to force it to cease military aggression against Ukraine.”

I am reminded of what Jaishankar elaborated in what has come to be called the “Jaishankar doctrine” in his 2020 book The India Way: Strategies for an Uncertain World. “Asserting national interests and securing strategic goals through various means is the dharma of a state,” he wrote. India must discard “political romanticism” and think in realpolitik terms. There are no true friends or allies; the world is a “transactional bazaar”, a fact that India has long been in denial of. In this marketplace, India must advance and maximize its “national interests by identifying and exploiting opportunities created by global contradictions,” he wrote.

If that principle “no true friends or allies” in the world market place, it is time for India to come out of the shadow of past dependence on Soviet Union and show the world that India stands with truth, condemn aggression, deny autocracy and tyranny, respect true freedom, human rights and true democracy, and stand with and lead by example in India and around the world, India respects and appreciates freedom and democracy in letter and spirit.

“India And Indian Americans Need To Think About The Possibility Of A Reduction In Defense Supplies From Russia:” Dr. Sampat Shivangi

The world order has changed since the Ukraine war, said Dr. Sampat Shivangi, National President of Indian American Forum and a past Legislative Committee Chairman of the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) after he attended a breakfast meeting last week with Senator Roger Wicker, the top Republican Senator from Mississippi.

“Here is a great opportunity for India that Senator Roger Wicker who is a great friend of India can help India in providing the defense needs of the country and with better technologies than Russia, even though Russia has been a steady partner of India,” said Shivangi, after his 1:1 meeting with the Ranking Member of the Senate Arms Services Committee last week.

“In a changing world order, post-Ukraine invasion, India and Indian Americans think about the possibility of reduction in defense supplies from Russia to India a steady friend and partner of India for many decades,” the veteran AAPI leader told this writer. “With plummeting and devastating effects of war, can Russia provide assured suppliers to India especially possible ban of Western digital supplies to Russia in their defense production?” Dr. Shivangi, a physician, and an influential Indian-American community leader asked.

The ongoing invasion of Ukraine by Russia has exposed the vulnerabilities of Russia made weapons and their effectiveness. While India has been a long-time friend and defense purchaser of Russia. According to the Congressional Research Service (CRS) report, since 2010, Russia has been the source of nearly two-thirds (62 per cent) of all Indian arms imports and India has been the largest Russian arms importer, accounting for nearly one-third (32 per cent) of all Russian arms exports.

Between 2016 and 2020, India accounted for nearly one-quarter (23 per cent) of Russia’s total arms exports and Russia accounted for roughly half (49 per cent) of Indian imports, the CRS report said.

Dr. Shivangi is of the opinion that “It is apt time India should think alternative suppliers source. What can be a better source than US? We have a great opportunity here as our Senior Senator from Mississippi has been elected as a Ranking member of the US Armed Service Committee of the US Senate.  With his assistance and good offices, especially after 2+2 summit, I hope and look forward to such increased collaboration with the successful Indo pacific QUAD treaty.

With India being in a tough neighborhood, Russia will not be able to provide or be a major supplier to India as with its war with Ukraine it has lost an enormous amount of its war machinery and a Western ban on high tech imports. As a result, it will be tougher for Russia to provide its arms and technology to India, Shivangi said in a statement after his meeting with Wicker. It’s noteworthy that during Monday’s 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue, India and the US have agreed to step up military-to-military cooperation.

Dr. Sampat Shivangi has been a conservative life-long member of the Republican party, hailing from a strong Republican state of Mississippi.  He is the founding president of the American Association of Physicians of Indian-origin in Mississippi and is the past president and chair of the India Association of Mississippi. Advisor to US department of Health & Human Services at NHSC Washington, DC 2005-2008 President Bush Administration

A conservative life-long member of the Republican Party, Dr. Shivangi is the founding member of the Republican Indian Council and the Republican Indian National Council, which aim to work to help and assist in promoting President Elect Trump’s agenda and support his advocacy in the coming months.

As the National President of Indian American Forum for Political Education, one of the oldest Indian American Associations, Dr. Shivangi, has lobbied for several Bills in the US Congress on behalf of India through his enormous contacts with US Senators and Congressmen over the past three decades.

A close friend to the Bush family, Dr. Shivangi has been instrumental in lobbying for first Diwali celebration in the White House and for President George W. Bush to make his trip to India. He had accompanied President Bill Clinton during his historic visit to India.

Dr. Shivangi is a champion for women’s health and mental health, whose work has been recognized nationwide. Dr. Shivangi has worked enthusiastically in promoting India Civil Nuclear Treaty and recently the US India Defense Treaty that was passed in US Congress and signed by President Obama.

Dr. Sampat Shivangi, an obstetrician/gynecologist, has been elected by a US state Republican Party as a full delegate to the National Convention. He is one of the top fund-raisers in Mississipi state for the Republican Party. Besides being a politician by choice, the medical practitioner is also the first Indian to be on the American Medical Association, the apex law making body.

Days after the high-profile visit to India and the remarks by Mr. Daleep Singh, Deputy National Security Advisor to President Joe Biden at the White House recently, Dr. Shivangi hoped that this would not have a major impact on the Indo-US ties. “Many in India and many Indian Americans felt that Daleep Singh’s remarks were abrasive, coming from a fellow Indian American. Hopefully, his remarks have not muddled the water as reported in Indian media,” Mississippi-based Shivangi said in a statement. “India is a major QUAD partner of the US and will continue to have strong ties and mutual respect and friendship in the coming days,” he added.

Singh got front-page attention as the architect of economic sanctions against Russia in its war against Ukraine, he said. During his visit to India, Daleep Singh, in his interaction with reporters, cautioned India against expecting Russia to come to the country’s defense if China were to violate the Line of Actual Control as the two countries are now in a “no limits partnership”.

While moderating a session on “Latte with Legislators” organized by AAPI, Dr. Shivangi lamented that there is “a new wave of Anti-Indian American sentiments especially against Indian Physician group which makes up 15% of Doctors in the US,” Dr. Shivangi, feels, “IIt may be due to Indian Americans have the highest per capita income and highest education level in the nation.”

Calling it as “prejudicial” Dr. Shivangi, urged that “we need to resolve this prejudice against minorities. With this in mind, I requested Congressmen Jamie Ruskin from Maryland to seek his advice and possible way to resolve this. Congressman Ruskin was very supportive and offered his unconditional support.”

After meeting with the top Republican Senator, Dr. Shivangi thanked the Senator Roger Wicker for advocating that the US should help India address its defense needs so as to reduce its dependence on Russia. Recently, Wicker introduced a Bill in the US Senate to cut the backlog of thousands of Indians who are waiting on their Green Cards for decades. “He was gracious enough to introduce this Bill at my request, which was a great honor for me and many Indian Americans. He continues to fight for the cause of Indian Immigrants,” Dr. Shivangi said.

New York & SIAEA With the Consulate General of India In New York Celebrate Culture of India at Virtual Holi Festival GOPIO

Holi is the national festival of colors, celebrated across India in different forms and traditions. The celebration of this colorful festival brings people of different faiths with diverse socio-political ideologies closer.

This message of unity in diversity was shared by the Chief Guest, India’s Consul General in New York, Randhirkumar Jaiswal during the annual Holi celebrations organized by GOPIO New York Chapter in collaboration with the Society of Indo-American Engineers Architects (SIAEA) in collaboration with the Consulate General of India In New York on Sunday, March 20th, 2022.

Chief guest and honored distinguished guests speakers of the event:

In his eloquent address to the Diaspora community, Ambassador Jaiswal greeted the participants from around the world on the occasion of Holi Festival, who had joined from all major continents on Earth, as hundreds of Indian Diaspora members came together virtually to celebrate the Festival of Holi. While describing the historical and symbolic traditions of the festival of Holi, the veteran diplomat said, “Holi is a very beautiful festival of color. A festival that helps us welcome spring. Holi has several connotations, social, religious, political, and rhythmic with nature. Holi is about togetherness, unity and oneness, and holding hands together, celebrating the goodness and kindness of humanity,” he said. He urged the participants to take a moment out to pray for peace.

Congressman Tom Suozzi of Long Island, NY greeted the community with “Holi Mubarak” to all. Describing Holi as an exciting time for all, a great friend of India and the Indian American community, Rep. Suozzi said, “It’s great to be with you all to celebrate the festival of Holi, which reminds us of all that Spring is in the air as the flowers start blooming and we await new life and happiness. Thank you for your continued support, and I will do everything in my power to represent the Indian American community in Long Island at the US Congress and the interests of India.” Recalling his childhood as a first generation Irish American, he was taught to remember the 3 Is, Ireland, Italy, and Israel, and now, “There are for Is: Ireland, Italy, Israel and India.”

In her message, NY Senator Ana Kaplan, greeted the Indian community in New York a very Happy Holi. She praised the contributions and achievements of the Indian American community. She recalled how in her own tradition; her community celebrates the arrival of the Spring. “New York is a melting pot that brings people of all faiths and of all backgrounds,” she said, and wished, May all of us experience peace, overcoming all hurdles on the way.”

New York Senator Kevin Thomas shared with the audience how he has made it a point to bring Holi and other Indian festivals to the New York State Chambers, distributing Samosas and sweets to the members of the elected officials in Albany. He invited GOPIO to join him and other elected officials in Albany to celebrate Holi in person, after having to celebrate Holi virtually in the past 2 years due to Covid. “We hope, this is the last of all virtual celebrations,” he said, and hoped that “From now on, we can celebrate the festivities in person, meeting one another, joining our hands together,” he said.

The colorful Holi celebrations depicting the rich cultural heritage of India, organized by the GOPIO New York, the first Chapter of Global Organization of People of Indian Origin, showcased the rich, colorful, and vibrant traditions of India, bringing them at the doorsteps of every household, as the audience from around the world were entertained with mesmerizing music, scintillating dance performances, and inspiring speeches.

Lal Motwani, Chairman of GOPIO New York and Executive Trustee of GOPIO International, and former president of the SIAEA, in his address, greeted Honorable India’s Consul General of New York, RandhirKumar Jaiswal and officials, members and the leaders of GOPIO from around the world who have joined virtually to celebrate the colorful festival of Holi.

“The vibrancy of colors is something that brings in a lot of positivity in our lives and Holi being the festival of colors is actually a day worth rejoicing,” Motwani said. “Holi is considered as one of the most revered and celebrated festivals of India and it is celebrated in almost every part of India, transcending every region, and people of all faiths, including Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Parsees, Buddhists, and Jains. It represents the uniqueness of Indian culture as we, from all backgrounds stand united to welcome Spring, as Mother Nature breathes freshness into our lives and that of every living creature on Earth. Welcome to each and every one of you and wishing you and your families A VERY HAPPY HOLI!”

Ketan Shah, President of SIAEA served as co-emcee and introduced the speakers, executive team of GOPIO and SIAEA boards at the event and thanked the several sponsors who made the event successful by their financial support. Major sponsors among all are ICC (Grand Sponsor), Monpat Construction and Nadiad Construction (GOLD Sponsors), Amil Patel, SIAEA president-elect, Gary Wowk Founder of K Construction, Bina Sabapathy, Navneet Kothari, Dhiraj Ahuja were among the SILVER sponsors. Swathi and Aaishwariya Gulani, Miss India USA 2020 were master emcees who gracefully presented the cultural part of the program. Dharmatma Saran of the Miss India Worldwide Pageants coordinated the cultural extravaganza. Dr. Thomas Abraham, Chairman of GOPIO International in his greetings to the community on the occasion of Holi, complemented GOPIO New York and SIAEA for hosting the Holi celebrations.

Second-generation Indian Americans, including a 16-yr old Aditi shared with the audience their perspectives, experiences of celebrating Holi and what it meant for them.  A beautiful Hindi poem on Holi composed and narrated by Anju and Sneha Singhi, a young artist was appreciated by one and all. Members of the dance troupe led by Staya Narayn Charka of the Ananda Ashram performed Kathakali, reliving the stories from the Indian Epic, Mahabharat. Navya Paingoal, Renu Kundem, and Michelle Sadat a fine vocalist also delighted the event with their beautiful singing.

A live Bollywood medley by Anwar Hussain and friends from Jaipur, India representing a family of 12 generations serving the royals, was much appreciated, and loved by all. Begum of Bollywood Maharaja from Jaipur, a famous singer who is the 1st woman from her community to perform publicly, mesmerized the audience with her beautiful voice. She was recently honored by the President of India for her contributions to art and culture.

Miss Teen India Sidhya Ganesh from the state of Washington delighted the audience with a live Holi Dance. The Chander family consisting of Anil, Harish, Gopi Arti Raj presented a Bollywood Medley, mesmerizing the audience with their beautiful voice singing some of the very popular numbers from the evergreen Hindi movies.  Dinesh Mirchandani, a founder, and CEO of Sargam Music Academy delighted the occasion with his classical vocal singing.

Anindita Nanda, a classical dancer and choreographer, who has presented and produced over 500 shows in the past two decades and a scientist in Pharma from Danbury CT presented Ganapathi Stothram and a Bharatnatyam Pallavi. A much sought-after touring artist, Anindita is regularly presented by Embassies, Museums, Universities, Libraries, Schools and Cultural Institutions across the United States, Europe, South America, and India. She is the founder and director of Sur-Taal, and She teaches in CT, NYC, Boston, West Coast, Germany, and Rome.

Beena Kothari, a prominent community leader and GOPIO – NY President poetically described the importance of Holi and served as an emcee of the event. Holi has become known as India’s most vivid, joyous festival.  Holi is being celebrated in the Indian subcontinent for centuries, with poems documenting celebrations dating back to the 4th century CE. It marks the beginning of spring after a long winter, symbolic of the triumph of good over evil. It is celebrated in March, corresponding to the Hindu calendar month of Phalguna. On the eve of the festival, large pyres are lit in many parts of India to signify the burning of evil spirits.

Talented Performers of the event:

In the end, Ketan Shah, Co-host and president of SIAEA thanked all Honorable guests, dignitaries, Performers, Participants, Viewers, Sponsors, and executive committees of both GOPIO-NY and SIAEA.

Shree Saini Crowned First Runner-Up At Miss World Pageant

Shree Saini, a former Miss India USA and Miss India Worldwide, has been crowned as the first runner-up at 70th edition of the Miss World 2021 pageant held in San Juan, Puerto Rico at the Coca-Cola Music Hall, on Wednesday, March 16th, 2022. The 26-year-old Ludhiana-born Indian American represented the United States at the beauty pageant.

Karolina Bielawska of Poland was crowned Miss World 2021, which was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Karolina is currently pursuing her Master’s in Management and hopes to get a PhD too, according to the Miss World organization.

Introducing the winners, Miss World organization tweeted: “Our newly crowned Miss World Karolina Bielawska from Poland with 1st Runner Up Shree Saini from US 2nd Runner up Olivia Yace from Côte d’Ivoire.”

Toni-Ann Singh, Miss World 2020, also graced the event by performing a special number ‘The Prayer’ to show her support for Ukraine in the midst of its conflict with Russia. “Our current Miss World Toni-Ann Singh performs ‘The Prayer’ as we light candles around the world to stand with Ukraine. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house #mwcandlesforukraine.” tweeted from Miss World’s handle.

Beautiful, compassionate, talented, ambitious, gentle, humble, determined and dedicated to achieving the lofty goals in life, she has set before herself at a very young age, Shree Saini is a woman with a golden heart.

Shree Saini is from Punjab’s Ludhiana, but moved to Washington, DC with her family when she was five. Shree grew up in Moses Lake in Washington state, has been living with a pacemaker since the age of 12. With a heartbeat rate of 20 per minute, doctors ruled her out for her first love — ballet. But, literally dancing against all odds, Saini became a trained ballerina and has been accepted as a trainee by the prestigious Joffrey Ballet, based out of Chicago.

The story of Shree is one of resilience over adversities that would daunt even the sturdiest individuals. In October 2019, Saini collapsed right before the final night of the Miss World America competition, where she eventually got to wear the crown, which she accepted from Miss World 1997 Diana Hayden.

Taking to Instagram that evening, Saini’s mother, Ekta Saini, said that doctors had kept her daughter on “cardiac arrest watch” because just 1 per cent of individuals around the world get a pacemaker implant. Undeterred by the episode, Saini went on to be crowned Miss World America 2020.

Before she left for Miss World earlier this month, Saini shared a “global message of hope and resilience” in which spoke about how she survived a “major rollover car accident that left my face with bleeding wounds” while she was still in university.

Recalling that horrific episode, Saini wrote: “I no longer had my face. I couldn’t even recognise myself. I couldn’t even cry because my tears would burn as they would pass down my wounds. It was the most excruciating pain I had ever endured.”

The Instagram post, which went viral after Saini became the first runner-up at Miss World 2021, concluded with her urging her social media followers “to keep being solution-oriented … to never lose sight of hope … to have a possibility mindset … and to apply solutions to everyday difficulties”.

Shree was crowned Miss World America 2021 in Los Angeles, CA on Saturday, October 2nd, 2021. Diana Hayden crowned Shree Saini, who is also the first Indian-origin contestant to represent America on a global stage. “I am happy and quite nervous. I can’t express my feelings (in words). All the credit goes to my parents, especially my mother because of whose support I am here. Thank you Miss World America for this honor,” Shree Saini said in her statement, after the crowning moment. Saini wrote on her Instagram, “I am the first American of Indian origin and first Asian to be crowned Miss World America.”

An advocate for heart health, Saini has had a permanent pacemaker since she was 12 and overcame a major car accident which left her with burns all over her face. But she rarely if ever lets any of that hold her back or define her.

Shree Saini, who has been recognized by several organizations and states and world renowned persons for her work and is aspiring to be an actor, told this writer during a recent interview “I am now “Miss World America Washington,” which is preliminary to Miss World America and Miss World! Miss World Titles have been won by Aishwarya Rai and Priyanka Chopra. It’s the largest and the most philanthropic pageant, having raised 1.3 billion dollars for charities around the world. And I want to promote the many charitable initiatives this noble organization does all around the world.”

The official Instagram handle of Miss World America shared the news with a caption that read as, “Shree, who is currently Miss World America Washington, also holds the prestigious position of “MWA National Beauty with a Purpose Ambassador,” a position she earned by working tirelessly to help those less fortunate and in need. Among her many accomplishments, her work has been recognized by UNICEF, Doctors without Borders, Susan G Komen, and many others. We are certain Shree will continue to immaculately embody Beauty With A Purpose, and no doubt will be successful in raising awareness and attention to the Miss World America mission. Stay tuned and follow the Miss World America 2021 journey!”

Shree Saini has also been crowned Miss India Worldwide 2018 at a pageant held in the Fords City of New Jersey. “My dance journey began when I was only 3 years old, but a substantial part of my dance journey was filled with both physical and emotional hardships. When I was 12, I was diagnosed with a complete heart block. I had to get a pacemaker surgery. The average age of a pacemaker recipient is age 80. Cardiologists told me I could never dance again,” Shree had noted on her social media.

Instead of giving up, Shree Saini went back to dance class with her left arm tied up in a cast and practiced up to 6 hours a day in order to regain her strength. Saini noted on media that even though “dance is a very competitive, cut-throat, high stakes sport”, she wants to “encourage teachers, students, parents to always be uplifting, emphatic, especially when it’s difficult. Real Love takes courage.”

Saini, who has studied at Harvard, has been trained in acting at the Yale actors conservatory. The Punjab native, who moved to Washington State when she was seven, experienced hardships while in high school, where she was bullied. For years, she said, she felt like an outcast at school for being a person of color. Shree has created an app on emotional heath at Stanford University. She has given hundreds of presentations in over 80 cities and six countries and written about 400 articles in newspapers on emotional fitness, via her non-profit shareesaini.org.

Shree says, “The best award is knowing that YOU made a POSITIVE difference in someone else’s life. A girl recently approached me after a talk and started crying. She mentioned that she had followed my journey for a while and felt encouraged to pursue her dreams, despite obstacles. I gave her a big HUG and started to tear up as well. WOW. Your positive words and actions do make a positive difference. Keep being EXTRA LOVING AND ENCOURAGING.

Being uprooted from one’s culture and dear ones was undoubtedly a major challenge. She had to experience hardships while in high school, where she was bullied. Young Shree fought bravely a heart ailment which required her to use a pacemaker. Shree, who had a pacemaker implanted at the age of 12 and was told that she would never be able to dance, is an inspiration for all. “I practice dance almost every day for several hours,” Shree says, pointing to the pacemaker she carries with her all the time.

After doctors diagnosed her with a congenital heart defect at the age of 12, Saini recalls how she struggled to adapt to the life-changing situation of needing a pacemaker while still in middle school, especially when other students did not treat her kindly as a result. “I truly believe your legacy is defined by how you make others feel and the positive difference you make in your lifetime,” said Shree, who started her non-profit organization, when she was 15. Shree said it was her dream to compete for a world title, which was started when she was in the elementary school.

“I have been the target of brutal emotional bullying. I was ridiculed in the most subtle ways, which is why I so often talk about ‘nonverbal’ bullying. For example, there were many instances where I was left out of events or edited out of pictures, and daily ‘whispered about’ by others. As a result of this treatment, there were many times when I would cry in my school’s restrooms or come home in tears after dance class… yet I persevered.

“My family helped me endure,” she explains. “My mom said, ‘the way people treat you has nothing to do with you, but has everything to do with them.’ She empowered me to step up and be even more compassionate towards those who hurt me, and to never give up on my true belief in always being kind.”

In order to reprogram her brain towards more positive thoughts and reach an understanding of how she could find inner peace in spite of all the negativity, she read extensively. “I read books and essays on achieving a more powerful mindset, responding to acts of hate with compassion, and the true value of emotional fitness and what can be done to address the lack of education around it. From what I have learned, I have formed my personal mantra: ‘Giving powerful responses to life’s struggles while being a positive contributor to every situation.’”

After dealing with her own personal experiences, Saini penciled her thoughts in a journal, which she said helped change her from a victim to an empowered young woman. The journals in her diary turned to newspaper clippings in local papers in Washington. “In a society mainly obsessed with physical fitness, emotional problems are dismissed,” noted the young activist. “Emotional well-being is necessary to have a healthy body and mind,” she says.

These experiences did not deter young Shree from pursuing her life’s mission.  “My journey went from a silent sufferer to a bitter person and finally an enabled victor,” she says. “If anything, the physical challenges and social pressures fueled her – all the way to the Joffrey Ballet and beyond, including winning the title of Miss India USA.”

Shree gives credit to her parents, Sanjay and Ekta Saini, who have not only supported her dreams, but have gone beyond to help her succeed at every step of the way. Pointing to her mother, Ekta, Shree says, “My mother is my role model, who has been with me, supported me and have encouraged me to work hard and realize my dreams.”

Regarding her future goals and ambitions, Shree is candid about her choices. If good offers come her way, Shree is open to acting in movies, whether it be in Bollywood or Hollywood. Another effective way to showcase her talents and still more importantly, another way to champion and spread her message for a better, just and peaceful world. “Meanwhile, I want to continue working on my nonprofit and become an ambassador of emotional health by continuing to visit as many places as possible, spreading my positive message of hope,” Saini says.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Im7eb8b68Ek

Rev. Thomas J. Netto Consecrated As Archbishop Of Trivandrum Latin Archdiocese

Rev. Fr. Thomas J. Netto, born on December 29th, 1964 was installed as the Archbishop of the Latin Archdiocese of Trivandrum during a solemn episcopal ordination ceremony, attended by tens of thousands of devotees, religious, community, and political leaders at St Sebastian’s Church Grounds, Chreuvettukadu, Thiruvanathapuram, Kerala on Saturday, March 19th, 2022.

Archbishop  Netto, 58, is the second Archbishop of the Latin Archdiocese of Thiruvananthapuram. Addressing the attendees at the conclusion of the ceremony, Archbishop Netto said the responsibility bestowed upon him was challenging but one he accepted with utmost humility.

Known among his priest friends and the larger Catholic community in Kerala, the state with the maximum number of Christians in the country, having as many as 20% of the state’s population being Christian, the newly consecrated Archbishop Netto is known for his simplicity, goodness at heart, down to earth approach and cordial relationship with one and all.

Archbishop Thomas J Netto was appointed as the archbishop of Latin Archdiocese of Thiruvananthapuram during the Holy Mass at St Joseph’s Cathedral at Palayam over two months ago. He is known for his oratory and writing skills and had a key role in the publication of diocesan mouthpiece Jeevanum Velichavum.

The nearly four hours long liturgical and felicitation ceremony began with a reception accorded to the Archbishop-designate who was led to the venue in the accompaniment of nearly 20 Metropolitans representing various dioceses and denominations and several clergy members. M. Soosa Pakiam, the Apostolic Administrator of the Thiruvananthapuram Archbishop, was the chief celebrant for the episcopal ordination. He presented the episcopal ring along with the staff and miter to the newly-ordained Archbishop.

Both the Latin and the Malayalam translation of the Papal order appointing Msgr. Netto as the Archbishop of Thiruvananthapuram was read out at the ceremony that was attended by Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli, the Vatican’s Apostolic Envoy to India. In his message, the Vatican ecclesiastical diplomat said he viewed Kerala to be known for its religious places of worship, Carnatic music that combines both Indian and Dravidian culture, the Periyar river that is its ‘lifeline’ and its highest literacy level in the country, among other unique features.

The archbishop was anointed with the oil of sacred chrism, ring placed on his finger, the miter on his head, and given the pastoral staff. Thereafter, the ‘Laying on of Hands’ ceremony was held followed by the Prayer of Ordination. Earlier, the installation commenced with the Archdiocesan Chancellor Monsignor C. Joseph making the customary request to ordain Monsignor Netto. The co-celebrants included Varappuzha Archbishop Joseph Kalathiparambil and Neyyattinkara Bishop Vincent Samuel.

Delivering the benediction, Cardinal Baselios Cleemis Catholicos, Major Archbishop-Catholicos of Malankara Syrian Catholic Church, called upon the new Archbishop to lead the coastal population from the front for their rights and betterment. The benefactors of such efforts must not be the parishioners alone, but the entire community in the region. He also recounted the selfless deeds of the fisher-folks in rescuing those stranded in the floods of 2018.

Elected representatives from the Kerala state, including Transport Minister Antony Raju, Shashi Tharoor, MP, Kadakampally Surendran, M. Vincent, several MLAs, were among those who turned up to witness the ceremony.

The new archbishop was appointed, after the retiring Archbishop Soosapakiam, who turned 75 last March, 2021, had submitted his resignation as per the Canon Law. His Holiness Pope Francis accepted the resignation of Most Rev. Maria Callist Soosa Pakiam (75) on February 2nd, 2022. Archbishop Pakiam, who was born on March 11th, 1946 at Marthandumthurai, Tamilnadu was ordained a priest on December 20th, 1969. At the age of 43, he was appointed Coadjutor Bishop of Trivandrum Diocese and ordained Bishop on February 2nd, 1990. He was succeeded Bishop of Trivandrum on January 31st, 1991 at the age of 44. When the Trivandrum diocese was elevated as the Archdiocese on  June 17, 2004 he became the first Metropolitan Archbishop and was installed as the Archbishop of Trivandrum on August 23rd, 2004.

Rev. Fr. Thomas J. Netto was born to Jessayan Netto and Isabella Netto on December 29, 1964.An alumnus of St. Xavier’s College, Thumba, he attended the St. Vincent’s Minor Seminary at Palayam. After attending St. Vincent’s Minor Seminary in Trivandrum (1980-1983), he studied Philosophy at St. Joseph’s Pontifical Seminary, Carmelgiri, followed by Theology at St. Joseph’s Pontifical Seminary, Mangalapuzha, Alwaye.  Archbishop Netto holds a M. A. Degree in Sociology from the University of Kerala and, in 1999, he obtained a Doctorate in Dogmatic Theology (Ecclesiology) from the Pontificia Università Urbaniana.

During his long pastoral ministry, serving the Church, Archbishop Netto has held the following offices: He was the parish vicar in Peringamala (1990-1991) and of the Cathedral of Palayam (1991-1995) and executive secretary for ecumenism and interreligious dialogue (1994-1995).  He then served as parish priest in Pettah (1999-2003), and executive secretary for the Basic Christian Communities (2000-2004) and rector of Saint Vincent’s Minor Seminary in Trivandrum (2003-2010).

Since 2007, he has served as a member of the College of Consultors, director of the Board for Clergy and Religious Life (2008-2010), chargé at Saint Anthony’s Forane Church in Valiayathura (2009-2010), parish priest in Thope, coordinator (2010-2014) and episcopal vicar of Ministers (2014-2018).  From 2018 to the present, he served as parish priest of Saint Augustine’s Church, Murukumpuzha, vicar forane of Kazhakkuttom and editor of the diocesan journal Jeevanum Velichavum.

Christianity claims its presence in Kerala since the 1st century itself. Its inception was supposed to be by 52 AD with the arrival of St. Thomas, the Apostle, in this land. However, Christianity in the Latin archdiocese of Trivandrum dates back to the time of the arrival of the Portuguese in India and perhaps earlier. With the arrival of the Portuguese but especially with the advent of the pioneer missionary, St Francis Xavier, Christianity spread far and wide in these parts with the result that by the close of the sixteenth century there were well-established Christian communities along the Trivandrum coast.

The saintly Bishop Benziger who became coadjutor Bishop of Quilon in 1900 and Bishop in 1905 was the apostle who propagated Christianity in the Diocese through the fragrance of his saintly life, wise leadership and unceasing assistance to his missionary priests. In 1931 when he retired to the Carmel Hill Monastery, Trivandrum, there were Christian communities established in almost all places of the interior region .As early as 1919, Bishop Benziger recommended the establishment of the Diocese of Trivandrum, but it materialized only after his retirement.

The diocese of Trivandrum was established by His Holiness Pope Pius XI on July 1, 1937 through the Bull “In Ora Malabarica” with the four taluks of Neyyantinkara, Nedumangad, Trivandrum and Chirayinkeezh bifurcated from the diocese of Quilon.

The Diocese is bounded on the north by the Diocese of Quilon, on the east by the Ghats, on the west by the Arabian Sea and on the south by the Dioceses of Kottar and Kuzhithurai. The Archdiocese of Trivandrum is one of the largest dioceses of Kerala, having a Catholic population of over 250,000 Catholics, with a majority of the 90 percent of the faithful belonging to the traditional fishing community, who are among the lowest ranks of the ladder of the social strata in India, but are rich in faith and customs/traditions.

In the year 2004 Pope John Paul II was pleased to elevate Trivandrum diocese as an Archdiocese with Alappuzha, Kollam, Punalur and Neyyatinkara as its suffragent dioceses. Bishop Soosa Pakiam was elevated as the first Archbishop of this ecclesiastical region.

The Archdiocese celebrated its platinum jubilee in 2012, marking the entry into the adult age of diocesan activities. A new diocese of Neyyattinkara was bifurcated from Trivandrum on June 14th, 1996 by His Holiness Pope John Paul II through the Apostolic Bull ‘Ad Aptius Provehendum.’  Trivandrum was raised to the status of Archdiocese on June 17th, 2004 by His Holiness Pope John Paul II. The archdiocese now comprises of a large part of the Trivandrum district and a section of the costal parishes in the district of Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu.

Previous Ordinaries, who had led the strong Latin Catholic community of Trivandrum archdiocese were:  Archbishop Maria Calist Soosa Pakiam (31 Jan 1991 Succeeded – 2 Feb 2022 Retired); Archbishop Jacob Acharuparambil OFM Cap (1979-1991); Archbishop Peter Bernard Pereira (1966-1978); and, Bishop Vincent Dereira OCD (1937-1966).  On February 2nd, 2016 Rev. Fr. Christudas Rajappan was appointed as the auxiliary bishop of the diocese and will continue to serve as the auxiliary bishop under the dynamic and talented leadership of the newly ordained Archbishop Thomas J. Netto.

Narendra Modi Invites Pope Francis To Visit India During Meeting With Pope At The Vatican

Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Pope Francis at the Vatican Saturday in his first meeting with the head of the sovereign of the Vatican City State on Saturday, October 30, 2021. The meeting between the Hindu nationalist party leader and Pope Francis, the head of the Roman Catholic Church, assumes significance as it comes at a time when Christians in many parts of India have been complaining of harassment and attacks on the community and its institutions.

The two leaders discussed with Pope Francis issues covering a range of areas of interest, including COVID-19, general global perspectives and maintaining peace and tranquility. After the meeting, Modi tweeted, with pictures of him embracing the Pope, “Had a very warm meeting with Pope Francis. I had the opportunity to discuss a wide range of issues with him and also invited him to visit India.”

A Vatican source has told the media that Vatican officials were “happily surprised” by the invitation, as they had no advance notice from either the government or from the Catholic Church in India that Mr. Modi would invite the pope to visit the country. Because Pope Francis and the Catholic Church and Christians in India consider the visit very important, it is likely to be given priority in Vatican scheduling; it could even take place in the second half of next year, according to reports.

The meeting took place in the pope’s private library on the second floor of the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican. Pope Francis, the leader of more than 1.3 billion Catholics worldwide, and Mr. Modi, who governs the world’s largest democracy of almost 1.4 billion people, sat at a table and talked together with the aid of interpreters for 55 minutes.

The meeting was long by Vatican standards. The Vatican issued a very brief statement that revealed almost nothing of the content of their conversation except to say that they acknowledged the good relations that exist between India and the Holy See. The Holy See and India established diplomatic relations in 1948, soon after the country gained its independence.

After their private conversation, Mr. Modi presented his five-person delegation, including the Minister for Foreign Affairs, S. J. Jaishanakar, the National Security Advisor, Ajit Doval, and India’s Ambassador to the Holy See, Jaideep Mazumdar.

Pope Francis and the Prime Minister then exchanged gifts. Modi gave the Pope a silver candlestick and a copy of The Climate Climb. Pope Francis gave Modi a bronze plaque with the inscription “the desert will become a garden,” and copies of the pope’s writings, including his encyclicals “Laudato Si’” and “Fratelli Tutti,” as well as the “Document on Human Fraternity” and his message for the 2021 World Day of Peace.

Pope Francis would be the third pope to visit India. Paul IV traveled to Mumbai in 1964 to attend the International Eucharistic Congress, while John Paul II visited India in February 1986 and again in November 1999, the latter time for the presentation of his Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation “Ecclesia in Asia.”

Modi is the fifth Indian Prime Minister to have visited the head of Roman Catholics, the largest religious denomination in the world. Before Modi, Prime Ministers Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, I K Gujral, and Atal Bihari Vajpayee had met the then Popes in the Vatican. It is not just Prime Ministers who have paid a visit to the Holy See. Communist veteran and former Chief Minister of Kerala E K Nayanar presented a Bhagavad Gita to Pope John Paul II in 1997 and he kept a rosary presented by the Pope throughout his life. Nayanar was accompanied by current Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who was then a minister in his government. When he visited Pope Francis in October 2019, Union Minister V Muraleedharan also gifted a Bhagavad Gita to him.

The Prime Minister’s meeting with the Pope has been welcomed by the Church. Major Archbishop Baselios Cardinal Cleemis, who was the President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India (CBCI) and who had requested Modi to invite the Pope to India in 2014, saw it as a fresh opportunity for dialogue between the government and the community. “This has a historical importance,” Cardinal Cleemis said.

“The meeting should not be seen merely as the one between two country heads, rather it was the head of the largest democracy and an ancient culture of the world meeting the head of the largest religious community in the world. This brings in hope for enhancing human fraternity and caring for the poor, because that’s what Christianity stands for. It would bring in positive efforts in India for a mutual trust and collaboration between people of different religious groups. It would also contribute to the very need for dialogues. We are very delighted that the Prime Minister has opened ways for a Papal visit to India,” the Cardinal Cleemis told the media.

Modi’s visit has been excitedly welcomed by the Catholic Church. Even before the government officially announced the visit, the president of the Kerala Catholic Bishops Conference, Cardinal George Alenchery, issued a statement that it would “add more energy and warmth to the relations between our country and the Vatican and the Catholic Church”. According to media reports, the welcome note by Cardinal Cleemis and earlier by Cardinal George Alencherry, President of the Kerala Catholic Bishops Conference (KCBC), have rekindled the BJP’s hopes on building confidence in the community towards the party, leaders said.

Christians account for some 2.3 percent of India’s population, behind Hindus who make up 79.8%, and Muslims are 14.2%. of the total Indian population. With over 28 million Christians living across India, including 20 million Catholics, the Catholic Church plays a significant social role in India—especially in the fields of education and health care.

One contentious issue between Christians and Modi’s political party, the Bharatiya Janata Party, is Christian proselytization in India, which Hindu fundamentalists and some politicians in the BJP have accused Christians and the Catholic Church of in the past. Pope Francis has stated clearly that the church has no intention of proselytizing in India.

A joint fact-finding team of non-governmental organisations, including the Association for the Protection of Civil Rights, United Against Hate and United Christian Forum, recently presented a report – after visiting Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand – which pointed out a series of attacks against Christians and churches in these states. Sources in the Catholic Church in the national capital said the influential Kerala Church has been ignoring the attacks against the community in northern parts of the country.

With Christians being a community that the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) wants to establish as its support base to retain power in poll-bound Goa and Manipur and to emerge as a formidable electoral force in Kerala,  Modi’s meeting with Pope Francis, and his invitation to the Pontiff to visit India assumes much significance, sources in the BJP said.

While Christians in Kerala comprise 18.38 per cent of its population, in Goa it is 25.1 per cent while the figure is 41.2 per cent in Manipur. Both Manipur and Goa are headed for polls early next year. Despite its desperate attempts, the BJP’s vote share has gone down from 15.53 per cent (2019) to 12.47 per cent in the Assembly elections held on April 6 this year. Political observers pointed out that the fall in vote share indicated that there was no overwhelming support for the party’s candidates from the Christian community.

Pointing out that minorities, both Christians and Muslims, have been the “subject of consistent attacks” by right-wing forces since the BJP came into power in 2014, Father Suresh Mathew, editor of church publication Indian Currents said, “BJP has spared no efforts and even supported every attack and hate speech against Christians. Several states have enacted anti-conversion laws which are in violation of the Constitution. Time has come for the Church leadership in India to shed diplomacy and express their concern for religious freedom and human rights protection,” Fr Mathew said.

The Prime Minister, who is in Italy to attend the G20 Summit, briefed the Pope about the ambitious initiatives taken by India in combating climate change as well as India’s success in administering one billion Covid-19 vaccination doses. Prime Minister Modi will also attend the Climate Summit to be held in Glasgow from Sunday. His Holiness appreciated India’s assistance to countries in need during the pandemic, the release said. At the end of the audience, Pope Francis escorted Modi to the door and said, “I am happy, very happy. Pray for me!” Mr. Modi responded, “I hope to see you in India.”

Dr. V. K. Raju Receives Excellence in Medicine Award from GOPIO – Virginia Launches UK Chapter of The Eye Foundation To Prevent Childhood Blindness

Dr. Vadrevu K. Raju, a renowned ophthalmologist, president and founder of the Eye Foundation of America was awarded with the Excellence in Medicine Award by GOPIO – Virginia on Sunday October 3rd, 2021.

Dr. V.K. Raju, who was born in Rajahmundry, AP, India, is a Clinical Professor of Ophthalmology at West Virginia University, Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons, Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, Director of the International Ocular Surface Society, Director of the Ocular Surface Research and Education Foundation, Chairman of Goutami Eye Institute in Rajahmundry and is the President and Founder of the Eye Foundation of America, a non-profit organization dedicated to realizing a world without childhood blindness.

Dr. Raju who was recently appointed to the Faculty of Department of Ophthalmology, Johns Hopkins University recently, traveled to London last month to chair the first Board Meeting of The Eye Foundation of America (UK).

Dr. Raju said, “A new beginning has been done in UK for the Eye Foundation. During a dinner meeting with the Board of Directors and the friends of The Eye Foundation of America (UK), I was encouraged by the warmth and enthusiasm shown by many about the nature and extent of the work the Eye Foundation has been carrying on across the globe, working tirelessly to make the world without childhood blindness.

The Foundation was fortunate to have Uzbekistan Ambassador, H.E Said Rustamov as an hnored guest. Dr. Raju was a special guest at the Embassy of Uzbekistan and had attended Uzbekistan’s 30th Independence Day celebrations at Lords.

Dr. Raju expressed gratitude to all the Board members of the Foundation in UK, particularly, Ashwini Misro, Radhika Misro, and Raj Koppada for their enthusiasm and generosity in helping realize the mission of the Eye Foundation in preventing and treating childhood blindness and beyond in Uzbekistan.

Dr. V.K. Raju’s crusade for the past four decades has been to achieve his vision of a world without avoidable blindness. Since 1979, the Eye Foundation of America has expanded its reach to over 25 countries, screened millions of patients, and provided hundreds of thousands of surgeries. As Dr. Raju points out, prevention is more beneficial than disease management, and lifestyle changes can be preventive. His organization’s programs, which aim at prevention through education and lifestyle modifications, include the 100,000 Lives campaign in India and the WV Kids Farmer’s Market Program in West Virginia.

In 1977, he began traveling home to India to offer his services as an ophthalmologist to those who could not afford, or access, desperately needed eye care. The Eye Foundation of America founded by an Indian-American physician, is entering a new phase in its mission of ending avoidable blindness by collaborating with GAPIO (Global Association of Physicians of Indian Origin) and AAPI (American Association of Physicians of India Origin).

These preventive services and medical and surgical interventions were delivered in the form of eye camps in the early days, and the EFA was initially founded to allow for easier transfer of state-of-the-art equipment and medicine from the United States to India. As the Foundation matured, it became so much more. The EFA is now a global organization responsible for treating millions of patients, performing hundreds of thousands of surgeries, and training hundreds of eye care professionals to join in the global fight against preventable blindness.

The EFA’s work spans 30 countries over several continents. One focus of current outreach efforts is in the prevention of diabetes. Diabetes-related complications typically strike during the prime of life and include the development of cataracts at an earlier age than normal, a two-fold increased risk of glaucoma, and small blood vessel damage (i.e., diabetic retinopathy). Retinopathy can cause blindness; however, early detection and treatment can prevent blindness in up to 90% of cases. The International Diabetes Foundation estimates that 20% of the diabetic world population resides in India, approximately 61.3 million diabetics.

In 2018, 34.2 million Americans had diabetes. There are 229,000 people with diabetes in West Virginia and 8.3% of adults are borderline diabetic. West Virginia is ranked the #2 state for deaths involving diabetes. According to Dr. Raju, the prevalence of diabetes among Indians in India and West Virginians in the United States continues to rise rapidly, and in many ways, the diabetes epidemic in West Virginia is similar to that of India, as the populations share similar characteristics: they tend to be rural, poor, and underserved. Born in Rajahmundry, Andhra Pradesh, Raju earned his medical degree from Andhra University and completed an ophthalmology residency and fellowship at the Royal Eye Group of Hospitals in London.

Dr. VK Raju was among the class of 2017 inductees into the University of Toledo Global Medical Missions Hall of Fame, the President’s Lifetime Achievement Award from President Barack Obama, and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the North America Telegu Society. Dr. Raju has published two books, seventeen chapters, and over 100 publications in scientific journals.

Dr. Raju has received numerous awards, including the AMA Foundation Nathan Davis Excellence in Medicine International Award, Four Time Awardee by The American Academy of Ophthalmology, Martin Luther King Jr Achievement Award from WVU, Distinguished Community Service Award from AAPI (American Association of Physicians from India), Pride of the Pride Award from Lions International District 29, Vaidya Ratna (conferred by Shankaracharya of Kanchi), Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Association of Ophthalmologists of Indian Origin, and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the WV State Medical Association.

Heart Disease Among South Asians Is Focus of AAPI Webinar

Cardiovascular disease is a leading cause of death in the U.S. and the nation spends over $500 billion on cardiovascular disease each year. Studies have shown that immigrants from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal are experiencing a dramatic rise in heart disease. South Asians make up 25 per cent of the world’s population but they contribute 50 per cent to global cardiovascular deaths.

In this context, as part of an ongoing awareness and education campaign about high risk heart disease in South Asians, American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) the largest ethnic medical organization in the United States presented two eminent speakers and experts, Dr. Enas Enas and Dr. Amit Kera, discussing ways to create awareness on Heart Disease Among South Asians during a webinar on Saturday, October 16th, 2021.

In her welcome address, Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, President of AAPI, said, ” Today is World Restart a Heart Day. Today’s conference is being organized to educate and create awareness about the major health issue faced by South Asians and offer ways to mitigate Heart Disease.” Referring to the American Heart Association, Dr. Gotimukula pointed out that approximately 70 percent of Cardiac arrests occur outside the hospital. “Sudden Cardiac Arrest could be due to multiple reasons. Today’s CME is focused on Recent Advances in South Asian Heart Disease by 2 eminent Indian Americans who are in the forefront of research on this deadly disease.

In his lengthy and detailed presentation with anecdotes from his personal experiences in studying and treating patients with cardio issues, Dr. Enas Enas, provided a broader perspective on the “History and Magnitude of Heart Disease Among South Asians.” Sharing with the audience, how, during his early practice of Medicine, his personal experiences inspired him to get engaged in the research, treatment and prevention, dedicating his life for the cause of heart disease.

Dr. Enas referred to several research/studies around the world, showing high prevalence of CAD among Indians. “Indians have a big problem with premature heart disease,” Dr. Enas said and pointed out that 185,000 people of South Asian origin die of heart disease per year as against 15,000 Whites die of the same health issue. While referring to Mitigating Risk Factors, Dr. Enas recommended Indians to follow the American Heart Association developed Life Simple 7 with additional requirement for exercise and maintaining sugar level below 140.

Dr. Enas Enas, a cardiologist from Chicago and also Director of CADI  Coronary artery disease in Indians ) presented a historical perspective as to why the south Asians and especially, Indians have such high risk for heart disease, starting at very young age. Dr. Enas emphasized that traditional factors do not capture the entire risk and suggested that genetics especially LPA plays equally important role and advised all south Asians to get measurement of LP (a) at least once  in their life starting at young age.

A true pioneer, Dr. Enas is the first cardiologist to sound the alarm on the strikingly high rates and malignant nature of heart disease among Indians in the US and around the globe Dr. Enas is the first cardiologist to sound the alarm on the epidemic of coronary artery disease among Indians worldwide. As the principal investigator of the landmark CADI Study, he scientifically proved a 3-4 fold high rate of coronary artery disease among immigrants from India to the United States. He is also the first physician to identify and report a genetic predisposition to CAD in Asian Indians, mediated through lipoprotein(a) – a genetic variant of LDL cholesterol.

Dr. Amit Kera, a new rising star in Preventive Cardiology, built on that argument and presented genomic data to fill the gap and also pointed out that usual risk scoring has been done on Caucasians and cannot be extrapolated to south Asians. He advocated for the need for our own data  base and especially genomic data to go beyond coronary calcium score and use “ Polygenic score,” which can predict even  more accurately the risk of heart disease individually what he calls “Precision Medicine,” a futuristic concept, which he is working on as Associate Director at prestigious Broad institute affiliated with MIT and Harvard. Pointing to international studies that point to prevalence of Cardiovascular diseases high among South Asians, he said, Diabetes is diagnosed four times more among the Asians in comparison with Europeans.

Dr. Khera is a physician-scientist with expertise in epidemiology, clinical medicine, and human genetics. Among his scientific contributions, he developed a new approach to quantify genetic risk for common diseases, as well as the biomarkers that provide new biologic insights, and analyzed large-scale gene sequencing data to highlight key pathways underlying risk for coronary artery disease. His research program uses genetic variation as a tool to uncover new biology and enable enhanced clinical care informed by inherited susceptibility. He serves as the Associate Director, Precision Medicine Unit, Center for Genomic Medicine, MGH; Associate Director, Cardiovascular Disease Initiative, Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard; Instructor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; and, Cardiologist, Corrigan Minehan Heart Center, MGH.

Dr. Brahma Sharma, Senior Faculty at the University of Pittsburgh affiliated Medical Center,  a co-host and moderator of the event, said, “While we are still trying to figure out different mechanisms for this enigma, that should not prevent but rather motivate to follow more aggressively life style modifications and pre-empt and prevent this silent epidemic that is taking a toll on young Indians and South Asians globally.” Dr. Sharma who is serving as the Chair of AAPI South Asian Heart Disease Committee and as the Chair AHA/ AAPI Liaison.

Dr. Amit Chakrbarty, who was a co-host and moderated the discussions, said, “In addition to educational webinars, we also plan to take this knowledge to grass root level via conducting mini- health screening camps across different cities with help of local AAPI chapters throughout USA and invite Global South Asian diaspora to join hands in this mission to prevent heart attacks and save lives.”

In her concluding remarks, urging the need for “Prevention is better than cure,” Dr. Gotimukula said, “Heart disease is the number one Global Public Health problem. South Asians are at a four-times greater risk of heart disease than their western counterparts and have a greater chance of having a heart attack before 50 years of age. Heart attacks strike South Asian Men and Women at younger ages, and as a result, both morbidity and mortality are higher among them compared to any other ethnic group. They tend to develop heart disease ten years earlier than other groups. Efforts to raise awareness of heart disease and promote “Healthy Heart” lifestyles is essential.”  For more information on AAPI and its programs, please visit: www.aapiusa.org

AAPI’s Panel Discussion Explores Ways To “End Domestic Violence”

An international web-conference on Ways to Prevent Domestic Violence, with renowned speakers from across the United States and India was organized by the Women’s Committee of the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) on Sunday, October 17th, 2021.

Describing Domestic Violence as “a serious public health concern” Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, President of AAPI, in her welcome address said, “October is Domestic Awareness Month. Nearly one in four women and one in seven men in the U.S. have experienced physical violence at the hands of their domestic partners, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The very important discussion today with an experts panel is aimed at helping AAPI members and the larger society to learn on ways to help promote healthy, respectful and nonviolent relationships.”

Dr. Seema Arora, past AAPI BOT Chair and currently serving as AAPI Women’s Committee Chair, introduced the panelists, and explained the significance of the Color Purple, which is a symbol of courage. Setting the stage and the context for this very important area of concern, Dr. Arora said, “October is ‘Domestic Violence Awareness’ month.  AAPI women’s physicians committee is trying to increase awareness towards this very prevalent but subdued age old problem that can affect any gender, race, region & socio-economic strata in a panel discussion with renowned panelists from around the world.”

Lata Rao, a Domestic Violence Survivor and Domestic Violence Advocate, referring briefly to her life in the past, focused more on her efforts to prevent domestic violence.  Describing her past and the “most dreadful events” she had experienced in her life, impacting her physical, emotional and mental wellbeing, she said, “I wanted to do something for myself” starting her own business which was resented by her ex- spouse.  “I encourage women not to be what I went through” but to be more independent. She told the audience how meeting with mentors and having a support system gradually changed her life, while forgiving and staying positive helped me start a new phase in her life. “Today, I use my experiences as a tool to support and educate other women,” Ms. Rao said.

Dr. Preeti Saran, Domestic Violence Survivor and currently practicing Family Medicine & Obesity Specialist at RNJ Barnabas Hospital, New Jersey, pointed out that Domestic Violence is prevalent in all parts of the world. Sharing her own life’s challenges and abuses, Dr. Saran said, “Coming from very traditional society back in India, initially I thought it was happening to me because of my background.” Married to a dominant person, who was demanding, but suspicious and with trust issues, she had suffered immensely with insecurity and complexities of married life with intimidation and fearful for her own life. But she was able to turn her life around and has made a positive impact in the society. “Now, I am to reach out to other women who need support,” she said.

Dr. Meher Medavaram, a member of AAPI’s Women’s Committee introduced Deanne Mazzochi, Illinois State Representative, Attorney Life Science Law.  Rep. Mazzochi shared with the audience about her work as a state legislator and as an attorney who works with women and families, ensuring the safety of those in DV situations. She described the many laws and legal systems that are available to victims of DV in the state of Illinois. She advocated that one should “ensure that you have a safe place to live,” if and when you want to leave an unhealthy relationship.

Dr. Manju Sheth, an Internist, practicing Medicine at Beth Israel Lahey, MA, Chair and Advisory Board Member at SAHELI, Member of Asian Task Force Against Domestic Violence, President of “Women Who Win,” urged fellow physicians “to stay vigilant and collaborate” and look for signs/red flags to identify violence “as the patients can present with a multitude of unrelated symptoms that only compassionate questions can reveal clearly.”

“Women are very reluctant to speak to you and we often notice PTSD, trauma, depression and anxiety.” She told the Fellow physicians to be prepared to collaborate with: Medical, Psychological professionals and refer for services. Dr. Sheth pointed to SAHELI, a very well known organization for its work, providing psychiatric and other services to victims of DV in the Boston region.

Dr. Saraswati Muppana while introducing Dr. Eshita Chakrabarti wanted to know the role of media in supporting survivors of DV. Dr. Eshita Chakrabarti, drawing from her own personal experiences told about the powerful medium of the Media, which has been instrumental and can be used an effective tool to educate the society about the impact of and to prevent Domestic Violence.

Dr. Malti Mehta, who has worked with “Battered Women” introduced Dr. Nandita Palshetkar Chair of GAPIO Women’s Forum and Medical Director, IVF & Infertility Centers, India and serving as the President of Federation of OB/GYN Society of India. Dr. Palshetkar shared her insights and offered a global perspective and how the pandemic has contributed to increase in incidents of Domestic Violence. “Nearly one third of women across the world face Shadow Pandemic Domestic Violence.”

Dr. Udhaya Shivangi, AAPI Mississippi Chapter president, in her remarks said, “The best way to fight this issue is to talk about it, create awareness and share resources to recognize the signs and take steps for prevention and protection. ASHIANA is one such organization that helps empower domestic violence survivors to achieve self sufficiency with a culturally sensitive approach for the past 25 years helping South Asians in USA.

“The best way is to create awareness and provide resources and help lead the victims of Domestic Violence to be strong and independent and safe,” said Jaya Nelliot, a Board Member and Outreach Director of ASHIANA has been passionate about serving the community, and been actively involved with ASHIANA since 2009. Describing DV as a “pandemic,” she provided an introduction to the mission of and the broad spectrum of work ASHIANA does among South Asians in the North America.

Dr. Hetal Gor, a member of AAPI Women’s Committee  introduced Navneet Bhalla, International Human Rights Law, UK and the Executive Director of Manavi Women’s Organization, NJ. Bhalla spoke about the legal support with an in-house staff attorney being provided by MANAVI to victims of Domestic Violence in its 35 year long history in the United Kingdom. Drawing from personal experiences, how often abusers frame and falsely charge victims as criminals and threaten deportation. “MANAVI supports such victims and help them gain justice and needed services. We take a survivor-center approach to understand and to provide support them holistically,” she said. For more information on AAPI and its programs, please visit: www.aapiusa.org

Governor Kathy Hochu Leads Diwali Celebrations In New York

Kathy Hochul, Governor of New York, joined by Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy, kick started Diwali celebrations in the state of New York while joining the South Asian community at the World’s Fair Marina Restaurant in Corona, Queens on October 11, 2021.

Governor Hochul delivered remarks and presented a Proclamation to celebrate the Indian festival of Diwali, one of the most significant festivals is Diwali, or the Festival of Lights. It’s a five-day celebration that includes good food, fireworks, colored sand, and special candles and lamps.

In her remarks, Governor Hochul said: “Thank you for allowing me the chance to share in the tradition of lighting the candles, to participate here tonight, to meet so many of you who have been my friends a long time on this journey, and your support means the world to me and I’ll never take that for granted.”

The first female governor of the great state of New York thanbked the organiZers and leaders of the Indian American community: “I want to just thank Uma SenGupta for all you’ve done for us, and to your family, your mother, and the influence of your late father – you are the reason why we celebrate today, people like you who came to this country humbly, not sure of what the future would bring, but you always had that deep rooted faith in your traditions and to know that Diwali followed you to this country, that you had this light within your heart that you could bring to America and let shine and let all of us gather here in honor of the Goddess Lakshmi. Many of the traditions honor the male gods but this is one that’s dedicated to women so I think this is particularly special as well. Dr. Sumita Sengupta, I want to thank you as well. Randhir Jaiswal, the Consul General, is here as well. Dr. Hari Shukla, I want to thank him for making me feel so welcome, the founder of South Asians of New York.”

“New beginnings, new endeavors and an opportunity to renew ties with family and friends” is what Diwali brings to people around the world who celebrate the Festival. Like food, fashion, and faith, Indians carry with them their beloved festivals wherever their livelihood takes them. It’s no different in the US where people of Indian origin have been living since the 1820s.

Governor Kathy Hochulm, who is seeking to be elected as the Governor in the polls next years, is leading in a new poll of likely Democratic candidates for the state’s top seat ahead of next year’s primary and election season, and the vast majority of New Yorkers don’t want disgraced ex-Governor Andrew Cuomo to run again. Hochul got 44% support from New York State residents, with State Attorney General Letitia James coming in second at 28% and New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams at 15%, with 13% unsure, according to the Marist Poll released Tuesday, Oct. 12.

Hochul added, “This occasion celebrates the eternal hope of human kind that guides all of our communities, and as Diwali inspires a spirit of festivity, New Yorkers extend appreciation to our Indian and South Asian communities for their contributions and commitment to upholding and sharing our wonderfully rich heritage story and time-honored traditions, and we extend the warmest wishes for joy and peace and prosperity in the future.”

Over the years, a growing Indian immigrant population has been celebrating Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, going all out to replicate the massive festivities from their motherland. The scale of celebrations has become such that popular US tourist spots like Disneyland in California and New York’s Times Square get painted in vibrant Indian colours. Even the White House has been celebrating the festival for many years. After all, the 3.1 million Indian-Americans form one of the most successful immigrant communities in the US.

Need For Management Of Perception About India:” V. Muraleedharan Tells Diaspora

“India is fully democratic. Judiciary is independent. Media is free. There is no substance to the claims that the media is controlled by the government,” declared India’s Minister of State for External Affairs Shri V. Muraleedharan on October 12th at the Mill River Hotel in Stamford, CT.

The visiting Indian leader from the ruling BJP Party was responding to a question raised by this writer about the “intimidation, influence and control” on the media by the government and about the negative image portrayed by the Western media due to the short-sighted and communalistic policies and programs of the ruling BJP.

Shri Muraleedharan urged for a “management of perception” to change the way India is being portrayed by the Media and appealed to the NRIs to be the “ambassadors of India” to help reshape the image outside of India. “I am here to listen to you. Want to make sure your suggestions are heard and implemented,” Muraleedharan said.

The young leader from the state of Kerala and elected from to India’s Upper House of Parliament from the state of Maharashtra was addressing the representatives of the Diaspora during a Reception and Interactive session organized by the Consulate of India in New York and the GOPIO – CT Chapter. Stating that the Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi calls himself a sewak of every Indian, Muraleedharan said, “The role of the Ministry of External Affairs is to care for the Diaspora. And my visit today is for the purpose of benefitting the Indian Diaspora,” he told the audience.

Shri Muraleedharan, who officially took charge as Minister of State for External Affairs and Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs in May 2019, is visiting the United States to address the United Nations. He took the opportunity to travel to Connecticut to “listen” directly to the Diaspora and address their concerns. “I’ve been in charge of the External Affairs Ministry for the last 2 years. I was feeling that there is a need for interaction with the Diaspora. And this forum is a place where people have an opportunity to share their problems and concerns,” he told the audience. While assuring the community that he has listened to the concerns of the Diaspora, he will address each one of them and find an amicable solution.

On Press Freedom in India, the Minister categorically denied that Government is interfering with or “controlling” the media. “Allegations that the Indian media is controlled by the government doesn’t have any substance to it,” he said. Pointing to the fact that there are several media who are openly critical of the government, he asked the audience, “If the freedom for the media is restricted, how can the media be allowed to be critical of the Government? How could the media publish the stories of the bodies floating in the Ganges during the peak of the Pandemic, even though the situation is far from what was reported?” He described such allegations as totally false and there is a need for the “management of perception.”

The event was led by Dr. Thomas Abraham, Chair of GOPIO International and GOPIO – CT leadership including President Ashok Nichani, Exec. VP Prasad Chintalapudi, Secretary Prachi Narayan, Treasurer Biru Sharma, and Joint Secretary Meera Banta. Several past presidents Sangeeta Ahuja, Shailesh Naik, Shelly Nichani and Anita Bhat.

Among others who attended the Reception and the Interactive Session with the Honorable Minister Shri V. Muraleedharan, included, Deputy Consul General of Indian in New York, Dr. Varun Jeph; Consul for Community Affairs at the Indian Consulate Mr. A.K.Vijayakrishan; CT Assemblyman Harry Arora, several community organizations including Milan cultural Association President Suresh Sharma; Past President of the Federation of Indian Associations of New York, New Jersey and CT, Andy Bhatia; CT Tamil Sangam President Shivakumar Subramaniam and past president Uma Sekhar; CT Telugu Association Past President Rao Yelamachali; Malayalee Association of Southern Connecticut President T.P. Sujanan; GOPIO Media Council Chair Nami Kaur; Sabinsa Corporation President Dr. Asha Ramesh; and former Provost and Vice President of Academic affairs of GOPIO, Dr. Rupendra Paliwal.

In his introductory remarks by Dr. Thomas Abraham, welcoming Minister V. Muraleedharan said, “After the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs was merged with the External Affairs Ministry, Cabinet Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar and his associate Minister Shri Muraleedharan have been dealing with Diaspora affairs. Minister Muraleedharan, we are so pleased that you took some time off your busy schedule at the UN to join us and interact with us.”

Dr. Abraham provided a brief history of GOPIO International, which was formed at the First Global Convention of People of Indian Origin in 1989 in New York, which has now grown into  a Pan-Indian community organization for NRIs and PIOs with over 100 chapters spread in 35 countries. “We at GOPIUO are a partner with Indian missions abroad to protect India’s interest around the world.

Drawing the attention of the Minister to some of the issues faced by the NRI/PIO community, Dr. Abraham said, “We campaigned for Dual Nationality and the govt. came up with PIO Card and later on with the OCI card. We asked for voting rights for Indian citizens living outside India. Although voting rights are given, there has been very little participation because of the requirements of physical voting in India. The Election Commission has recommended Proxy Voting, but not implemented yet.”

He urged the government of India to appoint at least two Members of Parliament in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, representing the 32 million people of Indian origin living outside India, more than half of them Indian citizens.

Other issues raised during the meeting included, violence against Indians in South Africa; post pandemic issues of Indian workers in the Middle East; Challenges for NRIs to open and operate banking accounts in India and the technical problems faced while submitting application for OCI Cards, removing travel restrictions to India for people of Indian origin who are citizens outside India and issues relating to OCI card holders doing business in India, but are treated as foreigners in some areas where changed government rules such as the Biodiversity Act are affecting them. “We also suggest some initiatives through ICCR for sending cultural troupes to PIO countries for India’s 75th Celebration next year.”

Dr. Abraham introduced Deputy Consul General at the Indian Consulate Dr. Varun Jeph, whom he described as a medical professional, “Dr. Jeph, and has joined the mission only last month and has already reached out all community organizations.”

The ministry of external affairs wants to offer opportunities for every Indian abroad the right to vote, the Minister Muraleedharan said. However, the practical aspect of this major issue has several challenges. Pointing to the fact that Indians are spread over more in almost all 193 countries and coordinating the efforts and ensuring that all those who are eligible are given the opportunity to vote has been a major challenge, while assuring the Diaspora that he will address the issue and follow with the concerned officials.

On Cronoa related travel restrictions, the Minister said, the situation is evolving. We want that every Indian should be given the opportunity to travel to India.  However, it’s based on international civil aviation authority and that commercial flight operations have not started to the full yet. In order to attract foreign tourists to India, the Government has announced that the there will be no charges for visa for the first five lakh Visa applicants to India, Muraleedharan said.

Responding to a question of NRIs not being allowed to own properties in India, he assured “you need not be worried” and said that he is not aware of any law in any state, including in the state of Andhra Pradesh that the properties of NRIs are going to be taken away by the state.

Muraleedharan said, the 75th anniversary of India’s Independence is “a celebration of Indians across the globe so I don’t think that you need to come to India to participate in that. All our Missions are organizing the events and I urge every Community organization to take the lead so that every Indian is involved in the celebration of the 75th year of India’s Independence.”

“I am here to listen to you. Want to make sure your suggestions are heard and implemented” V. Muraleedharan Tells Community Representatives During Interactive Session In Connecticut

“I am here to listen to you. Want to make sure your suggestions are heard and implemented,” India’s Minister of State for External Affairs Shri V. Muraleedharan during a Reception and Interactive session with the Indian Diaspora on October 12th at the Mill River Hotel in Stamford, CT. Stating that the Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi calls himself a sewak of every Indian, Muraleedharan said, “The role of the Ministry of External Affairs is to care for the Diaspora. And my visit today is for the purpose of benefitting the Indian Diaspora,” He told the audience.

“India is fully democratic. Judiciary is independent. Media is free. There is no substance to claims that the media is controlled” by the government, declared Shri V. Muraleedharan, who is visiting the United States to address the United Nations.

Muraleedharan, who officially took charge as Minister of State for External Affairs and Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs in May 2019, took the opportunity to travel to Connecticut to “listen” directly to the Diaspora and address their concerns. “I’ve been in charge of the External Affairs Ministry for the last 2 years. I was feeling that there is a need for interaction with the Diaspora. And this forum is a place where people have an opportunity to share their problems and concerns,” he told the audience. While assuring the community that he has listened to the concerns of the Diaspora, he will address each one of them and find an amicable solution.

The event was jointly organized by the Consulate of India in New York and GOPIO – CT, led by GOPIO-CT President Ashok Nichani, Exec. VP Prasad Chintalapudi, Secretary Prachi Narayan, Treasurer Biru Sharma, and Joint Secretary Meera Banta. Several past presidents including Sangeeta Ahuja, Shailesh Naik, Shelly Nichani, and Anita Bhat joined in at the reception.

Among others who attended the Reception and the Interactive Session with the Honorable Minister Shri V. Muraleedharan, included, Deputy Consul General of Indian in New York, Dr. Varun Jeph; Consul for Community Affairs at the Indian Consulate Mr. A.K.Vijayakrishan; CT Assemblyman Harry Arora, several community organizations including Milan cultural Association President Suresh Sharma; Past President of the Federation of Indian Associations of New York, New Jersey and CT, Andy Bhatia; CT Tamil Sangam President Shivakumar Subramaniam and past president Uma Sekhar; CT Telugu Association Past President Rao Yelamachali; Malayalee Association of Southern Connecticut President T.P. Sujanan; GOPIO Media Council Chair Nami Kaur; Sabinsa Corporation President Dr. Asha Ramesh; and former Provost and Vice President of Academic affairs of GOPIO, Dr. Rupendra Paliwal.

In his introductory remarks by Dr. Thomas Abraham, welcoming Minister V. Muraleedharan said, “After the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs was merged with the External Affairs Ministry, Cabinet Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar and his associate Minister Shri Muraleedharan have been dealing with Diaspora affairs. Minister Muraleedharan, we are so pleased that you took some time off your busy schedule at the UN to join us and interact with us,” Dr. Abraham said.

Dr. Abraham provided a brief history of GOPIO International, which was formed at the First Global Convention of People of Indian Origin in 1989 in New York, which has now grown into  a Pan-Indian community organization for NRIs and PIOs with over 100 chapters spread in 35 countries. “We at GOPIUO are a partner with Indian missions abroad to protect India’s interest around the world.

Drawing the attention of the Minister on some of the issues of the NRI/PIO community, Dr. Abraham said, “We campaigned for Dual Nationality and the govt. came up with PIO Card and later on with the OCI card. We asked for voting rights for Indian citizens living outside India. Although voting rights are given, there has been very little participation because of the requirements of physical voting in India. The Election Commission has recommended Proxy Voting, but not implemented yet.”

He urged the government of India to appoint at least two Members of Parliament in the Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha, representing the 32 million people of Indian origin living outside India, more than half of them Indian citizens.

Other issues raised during the meeting included, violence against Indians in South Africa; post pandemic issues of Indian workers in the Middle East; Challenges for NRIs to open and operate banking accounts in India and the technical problems faced while submitting application for OCI Cards, removing travel restrictions to India for people of Indian origin who are citizens outside India and issues relating to OCI card holders doing business in India, but are treated as foreigners in some areas where changed government rules such as the Biodiversity Act are affecting them. “We also suggest some initiatives through ICCR for sending cultural troupes to PIO countries for India’s 75th Celebration next year.”

Dr. Abraham introduced Deputy Consul General at the Indian Consulate Dr. Varun Jeph, whom he described as a medical professional, “Dr. Jeph, and has joined the mission only last month and has already reached out all community organizations.”

The ministry of external affairs wants to offer opportunities for every Indian abroad the right to vote, the Minister said. However, the practical aspect of this major issue has several challenges. Pointing to the fact that Indians are spread over more in almost all 193 countries and coordinating the efforts and ensuring that all those who are eligible are given the opportunity to vote has been a major challenge, while assuring the Diaspora that he will address the issue and follow with the concerned officials.

On Cronoa related travel restrictions, the Minister said, the situation is evolving. We want that every Indian should be given the opportunity to travel to India.  However, it’s based on international civil aviation authority and that commercial flight operations have not started to the full yet. In order to attract foreign tourists to India, the Government has announced that the there will be no charges for visa for the first five lakh Visa applicants to India, Muraleedharan said.

On Press Freedom in India, the Minister categorically denied that Government is interfering with or “controlling” the media. “Allegations that the Indian media is controlled by the government doesn’t have any substance to it,” he said. Pointing to the fact that there are several media who are openly critical of the government, he asked the audience, “If the freedom for the media is restricted, how can the media be allowed to be critical of the Government? How could the media publish the stories of the bodies floating in the Ganges during the peak of the Pandemic, even though the situation is far from what was reported?” He described such allegations as totally fals and there is a need for the “management of perception.”

Responding to a question of NRIs not being allowed to own properties in India, he assured “you need not be worried” and said that he is not aware of any law in any state, including in the state of Andhra Pradesh that the properties of NRIs are going to be taken away by the state.

Muraleedharan said, the 75th anniversary of India’s Independence is “a celebration of Indians across the globe so I don’t think that you need to come to India to participate in that. All our Missions are organizing the events and I urge every Community organization to take the lead so that every Indian is involved in the celebration of the 75th year of India’s Independence,”

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Shree Saini Is Crowned Miss World America 2021

Indian-American Shree Saini from Washington State was crowned Miss World America 2021 at a glittering pageant held at Miss World America headquarters in Los Angeles, CA on Saturday, October 2nd, 2021. Diana Hayden crowned Shree Saini, who is also the first Indian-origin contestant to represent America on a global stage.

“I am happy and quite nervous. I can’t express my feelings (in words). All the credit goes to my parents, especially my mother because of whose support I am here. Thank you Miss World America for this honor,” Shree Saini said in her statement, after the crowning moment. Saini wrote on her Instagram, “I am the first American of Indian origin and first Asian to be crowned Miss World America.”  An advocate for heart health, Saini has had a permanent pacemaker since she was 12 and overcame a major car accident which left her with burns all over her face. But she rarely if ever lets any of that hold her back or define her.

Saini, who has been recognized by several organizations and states and world renowned persons for her work and is aspiring to be an actor, told this writer during a recent interview “I am now “Miss World America Washington,” which is preliminary to Miss World America and Miss World! Miss World Titles have been won by Aishwarya Rai and Priyanka Chopra. It’s the largest and the most philanthropic pageant, having raised 1.3 billion dollars for charities around the world. And I want to promote the many charitable initiatives this noble organization does all around the world.”

The official Instagram handle of Miss World America shared the news with a caption that read as, “Shree, who is currently Miss World America Washington, also holds the prestigious position of “MWA National Beauty with a Purpose Ambassador,” a position she earned by working tirelessly to help those less fortunate and in need. Among her many accomplishments, her work has been recognized by UNICEF, Doctors without Borders, Susan G Komen, and many others. We are certain Shree will continue to immaculately embody Beauty With A Purpose, and no doubt will be successful in raising awareness and attention to the Miss World America mission. Stay tuned and follow the Miss World America 2021 journey!”

Shree Saini has also been crowned Miss India Worldwide 2018 at a pageant held in the Fords City of New Jersey. “My dance journey began when I was only 3 years old, but a substantial part of my dance journey was filled with both physical and emotional hardships. When I was 12, I was diagnosed with a complete heart block. I had to get a pacemaker surgery. The average age of a pacemaker recipient is age 80. Cardiologists told me I could never dance again,” Shree had noted on her social media.

Instead of giving up, Shree Saini went back to dance class with her left arm tied up in a cast and practiced up to 6 hours a day in order to regain her strength. Saini noted on media that even though “dance is a very competitive, cut-throat, high stakes sport”, she wants to “encourage teachers, students, parents to always be uplifting, emphatic, especially when it’s difficult. Real Love takes courage.”

Saini, who has studied at Harvard, has been trained in acting at the Yale actors conservatory. The Punjab native, who moved to Washington State when she was seven, experienced hardships while in high school, where she was bullied. For years, she said, she felt like an outcast at school for being a person of color. Shree has created an app on emotional heath at Stanford University. She has given hundreds of presentations in over 80 cities and six countries and written about 400 articles in newspapers on emotional fitness, via her non-profit shareesaini.org.

Shree says, “The best award is knowing that YOU made a POSITIVE difference in someone else’s life. A girl recently approached me after a talk and started crying. She mentioned that she had followed my journey for a while and felt encouraged to pursue her dreams, despite obstacles. I gave her a big HUG and started to tear up as well. WOW. Your positive words and actions do make a positive difference. Keep being EXTRA LOVING AND ENCOURAGING.

Beautiful, compassionate, talented, ambitious, gentle, humble, determined and dedicated to achieving the lofty goals, she has set before herself at a very young age, Shree Saini is a woman with a golden heart. Shree from the state of Washington was born in India. She immigrated to the United States as a toddler.

Being uprooted from one’s culture and dear ones was undoubtedly a major challenge. She had to experience hardships while in high school, where she was bullied. Young Shree fought bravely a heart ailment which required her to use a pacemaker. Shree, who had a pacemaker implanted at the age of 12 and was told that she would never be able to dance, is an inspiration for all. “I practice dance almost every day for several hours,” Shree says, pointing to the pacemaker she carries with her all the time.

After doctors diagnosed her with a congenital heart defect at the age of 12, Saini recalls how she struggled to adapt to the life-changing situation of needing a pacemaker while still in middle school, especially when other students did not treat her kindly as a result. “I truly believe your legacy is defined by how you make others feel and the positive difference you make in your lifetime,” said Shree, who started her non-profit organization, when she was 15. Shree said it was her dream to compete for a world title, which was started when she was in the elementary school.

“I have been the target of brutal emotional bullying. I was ridiculed in the most subtle ways, which is why I so often talk about ‘nonverbal’ bullying. For example, there were many instances where I was left out of events or edited out of pictures, and daily ‘whispered about’ by others. As a result of this treatment, there were many times when I would cry in my school’s restrooms or come home in tears after dance class… yet I persevered.

“My family helped me endure,” she explains. “My mom said, ‘the way people treat you has nothing to do with you, but has everything to do with them.’ She empowered me to step up and be even more compassionate towards those who hurt me, and to never give up on my true belief in always being kind.”

In order to reprogram her brain towards more positive thoughts and reach an understanding of how she could find inner peace in spite of all the negativity, she read extensively. “I read books and essays on achieving a more powerful mindset, responding to acts of hate with compassion, and the true value of emotional fitness and what can be done to address the lack of education around it. From what I have learned, I have formed my personal mantra: ‘Giving powerful responses to life’s struggles while being a positive contributor to every situation.’”

After dealing with her own personal experiences, Saini penciled her thoughts in a journal, which she said helped change her from a victim to an empowered young woman. The journals in her diary turned to newspaper clippings in local papers in Washington. “In a society mainly obsessed with physical fitness, emotional problems are dismissed,” noted the young activist. “Emotional well-being is necessary to have a healthy body and mind,” she says.

These experiences did not deter young Shree from pursuing her life’s mission.  “My journey went from a silent sufferer to a bitter person and finally an enabled victor,” she says. “If anything, the physical challenges and social pressures fueled her – all the way to the Joffrey Ballet and beyond, including winning the title of Miss India USA.”

Shree gives credit to her parents, Sanjay and Ekta Saini, who have not only supported her dreams, but have gone beyond to help her succeed at every step of the way. Pointing to her mother, Ekta, Shree says, “My mother is my role model, who has been with me, supported me and have encouraged me to work hard and realize my dreams.”

Regarding her future goals and ambitions, Shree is candid about her choices. If good offers come her way, Shree is open to acting in movies, whether it be in Bollywood or Hollywood. Another effective way to showcase her talents and still more importantly, another way to champion and spread her message for a better, just and peaceful world. “Meanwhile, I want to continue working on my nonprofit and become an ambassador of emotional health by continuing to visit as many places as possible, spreading my positive message of hope,” Saini says.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal Keeps Progressive Voices Together To Obtain Equity For All Americans

The strong group of Progressives in the US House of Representatives, led by the lone Indian American Congresswoman wants assurances that the spending plan, is certain to be supported by the entire Democratic caucus both in the Senate and the House

On Friday, October 1st, after President Joe Biden met with the Democratic lawmakers on the Hill, Representative Pramila Jayapal, the chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC), highlighted her group’s growing prominence and leverage in Capitol Hill politics: “In the House,” she said, “everybody is a Joe Manchin.”

Progressives claimed victory after a planned infrastructure vote was delayed following their united front to oppose the $1 trillion bill without assurances about the fate of the accompanying Democratic spending plan last week. The move highlighted the growing power of leftwing Democrats, and sent a strong message to the rest of their party: You can’t get one bill without the other. West Virginia senator Manchin and his fellow holdout Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona might hold the cards in the 50-50 US Senate, but in the lower chamber at least the progressives were in the driving seat.

The strong group of Progressives in the US House of Representatives, led by the lone Indian American Congresswoman want assurances that the spending plan, which forms the core of Biden’s domestic policy agenda, includes ambitious spending on universal pre-K, childcare funding, tuition-free community college, home health care, and climate change prevention, is certain to be supported by the entire Democratic caucus both in the Senate and the House. Despite Democratic leadership’s attempts to push through the infrastructure bill alone, the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) vowed to withhold their votes unless they got assurances about the larger spending bill.

For weeks, progressive lawmakers in Congress have been threatening to sink the bipartisan infrastructure bill if they were not given certain guarantees about a larger social spending bill. And for weeks, many of their colleagues thought they were bluffing. “The progressive movement has not had this type of power in Washington since the 1960s,” says Joseph Geevarghese, Executive Director of Our Revolution, a political group that grew out of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ first presidential campaign.

The move illuminated how the newly powerful progressive movement can shape the way Biden’s agenda moves through Congress, with the power to delay or even block some moderate priorities. The progressive movement has been building in influence and organizing capacity since 2016, when Sanders’ insurgent presidential campaign breathed new life into the grassroots left. The progressive caucus has frequently threatened to withhold votes over ideological differences with more moderate Democrats, but usually failed to actually stop a major agenda item. Now, the once-fledgling progressive wing of the Democratic party has become a political force strong enough to resist the will of moderates and its own party’s leaders.

The CPC is larger and stronger than ever before, emboldened by an organized network of leftwing organizations like Our Revolution that have been creating outside pressure on all lawmakers in the party. But CPC members were also in sync with the President, who supported the goal to pass the Build Back Better plan alongside the infrastructure bill. Aides to influential progressives said they had not been pressured by either House leadership or the White House to support infrastructure without the spending bill.

The fact that the progressive position is in line with Biden’s agenda strengthened the caucus’s resolve. That unity comes after a concerted effort by both sides during the 2020 Democratic primary to bridge the party’s internal divisions: Biden moved to the left on some issues like climate and childcare, while progressives accepted that he would never support Medicare for All. That hard-won alignment, progressives say, is why they’re fighting so hard to protect the President’s Build Back Better Plan, which includes ambitious spending on many of their longstanding policy goals.  “This is not a progressive agenda. We are fighting for the ‘build back better’ agenda, which is the President’s agenda,” Rep. Ilhan Omar, the whip of the CPC, told reporters on Thursday.

Senate Democrats could, in theory, pass the bill without any Republican support due to a legislative loophole allowing them to advance budgetary issues with a simple majority. But garnering support from all 50 Democratic Senators depends in large part on the votes of the two most moderate Senate Democrats, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, both of whom have said that the $3.5 trillion spending framework is too high. Politico reported on Thursday that Manchin told Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer this summer he wouldn’t support a reconciliation bill exceeding $1.5 trillion—news that could mean that Democrats have to shave roughly $2 trillion in spending from the existing package.

Acknowledging that her party held the House by only a small margin, Jayapal noted that every member wielded make-or-break powers. And by flexing their muscles and forcing House speaker Nancy Pelosi to push back a planned vote on the trillion-dollar infrastructure bill, the group was signaling it was no longer on the fringe of the Democratic caucus, but front and center, guiding its direction.

Jayapal, who was born in India and immigrated to the US four decades ago at the age of 16, has been a key architect in the rise of the progressives during Biden’s presidency. The unofficial coach to the so-called “Squad” of neoteric young women elected to Congress in 2018, including its most prominent members Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar, she has spent much of the summer defending the administration’s ambitious infrastructure and social agendas.

At the same time she made it clear that the 96-member CPC would hold firm in the face of pressure from Manchin and other Senate and House moderates to reduce the price tag of the agenda, as proved when Thursday’s vote was delayed. It is that tenacity that has helped her emerge as a key player in the infrastructure and $3.5tn social package negotiations, and by extension an influential figure in the future successes or failures of Biden’s wider manifesto.

She said on Friday she had been in almost constant contact with the White House and Democratic congressional leaders. “We are making sure we’re holding up the women who need childcare, the families who need childcare, unpaid leave, the folks who need climate change addressed, housing, immigration,” she told reporters.

The congresswoman released the following statement following her meeting with President Joe Biden at the White House last week: “I want to thank President Biden for inviting us to the White House and for continuing to fight for his visionary Build Back Better agenda that people throughout this country want, need, and deserve. We had a very productive and necessary conversation about the urgent need to deliver long-overdue investments — not only in roads and bridges, but also in child care, paid leave, health care, climate action, affordable housing, and education.

“As I did yesterday with Speaker Pelosi, I reiterated what I have consistently said: progressives will vote for both bills because we proudly support the President’s entire Build Back Better package, but that a majority of our 96-member caucus will only vote for the small infrastructure bill after the Build Back Better Act passes. This is the President’s agenda, this is the Democratic agenda, and this is what we promised voters when they delivered us the House, the Senate, and the White House. We agree with President Biden that, ‘We can do this. We have to do this. We will do this.’ We remain strongly committed to continuing these discussions so we are able to deliver these two important bills to his desk.”

Jayapal’s supporters credit her communication skills combined with a hard-nosed determination for maneuvering her caucus into its new authoritative role. She told reporters last week that her message for anybody doubting that the group would block the infrastructure bill unless the social package passed was: “Try us.”

“Pramila has turned the CPC into a strong political force by keeping everyone informed, having people talk through the issues and then make real commitments,” the Massachusetts senator and fellow progressive Elizabeth Warren told the New Republic. “That force is now being felt when the leadership promised that all the pieces would move together. The CPC is holding that leadership accountable.”

“There’s sometimes frustration, but we’re all part of the Democratic party, this is the Democratic agenda, it’s the president’s agenda and we’re excited to be fighting for the same thing. I’ve been here four and a half years. I still find it strange, but things only happen here when there’s urgency and some reason for people to be at the table. We’ve seen more progress in the last 48 hours than we have seen in a long time.”

Tata Group Is Frontrunner To Acquire Air India

The new owners of Air India will be decided in the next few days as the financial bids for India’s flag carrier, AIR INDIA are being scrutinized. The Tata Group, which was the original founders of the now largest air carrier in India, is one of the bidders, and is said to be the frontrunner to get hold of the carrier.

Tata Group and SpiceJet chairman Ajay Singh in his private capacity had bid for debt-laden state-run airline Air India earlier this month. Accordingly, sources said that the two bids are being scrutinized against a reserve price set for the airline. The process will not go ahead if the bids come in short of the reserve price. Reports stated, a panel of ministers accepted a proposal from bureaucrats, who recommended the conglomerate’s bid ahead of an offer from Ajay Singh, according to people with knowledge of the matter, who asked not to be identified as the decision isn’t yet public.

On the official front, DIPAM Secretary Tuhin Kanta Pandey on Friday tweeted: “Media reports indicating approval of financial bids by Government of India in the AI disinvestment case are incorrect. Media will be informed of the Government decision as and when it is taken.” The tweet comes after a media report indicated that the Centre has selected a winning bid.

Furthermore, sources said that at present senior government officials are conducting separate meetings with the two bidders regarding other aspects of the sale such as the indemnity clause and carry over debt levels of the airline. More or less, the final decision can be made within the next few days by the AISAM (Air India Specific Alternative Mechanism).

The AISAM headed by Home Minister Amit Shah is an empowered GoM, which has the authority to take the final call on the matter, without the need of a Cabinet approval. The AISAM is scheduled to meet after all its members are back in the country.

After the announcement of the winning bid is made, the process of a complete handover is expected to take place within three-four months time. The Centre on September 15 had received multiple financial bids for divestment of Air India. The government has of late taken several steps to fast-track the much-delayed privatization of the national carrier.

Recently, the Centre decided to waive taxes on the transfer of assets from the national carrier to Air India Assets Holding Ltd, a special purpose vehicle (SPV). During the Budget speech for FY22, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had said that all the proposed privatization process would be completed by the end of the fiscal, including the much-delayed strategic disinvestment of Air India.

This is the second attempt of the current Central government to divest its stake in the airline. In the pre-pandemic era, the airline, on a standalone basis, operated over 50 domestic and more than 40 international destinations. Besides, it operated over 120 aircraft prior to the Covid pandemic. During that period, the airline had over 9,000 permanent and 4,000 contractual employees.

Headquartered in Bombay (Mumbai), AIR INDIA’s first ever scheduled air service was inaugurated in 1932 by J.R.D. Tata, flying mail and passengers between Karāchi, Ahmadābād, Bombay, Bellary, and Madras. By 1939 routes had been extended to Trivandrum, Delhi, Colombo, Lahore, and intermediate points. After World War II, in 1946, Tata Airlines was converted into a public company and renamed Air-India Limited. Two years later, to inaugurate international services between Bombay (Mumbai) and Cairo, Geneva, and London, Air-India International Limited was formed.

In 1953 India nationalized all Indian airlines, creating two corporations—one for domestic service, called Indian Airlines Corporation (merging Air-India Limited with six lesser lines), and one for international service, Air-India International Corporation. The latter’s name was abbreviated to Air-India in 1962. In the following decades as India’s flag carrier, the airline extended its international routes to all continents except South America and Australia, and it expanded its cargo operations. To gain a competitive advantage in computerized reservation searches, the airline removed the hyphen from its name in 2005 to become Air India.1946 R. D. Tata founded Tata Airlines in 1932 as a division of Tata Sons Ltd. (now Tata Group). After World War II, regular commercial service in India went back to normal, Tata Airlines changing its name to Air India and becoming a public limited company on the 29th of July 1946.

On June 9th, 1948, Air India introduced a regular service from Bombay to London, and two years later, AIR INDIA started regular flights to Nairobi. In 1993, AIR INDIA’s first Boeing 747-400, named Konark, operated the first non-stop flight between New York City and Delhi. In 1996, Air India started using its second US gateway at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago. Services to Air India’s third US gateway at Newark Liberty International Airport in Newark were introduced in the year 2000.

In October 2016, AIR INDIA changed the Delhi – San Francisco route previously operated over the Atlantic Ocean to flying over the Pacific Ocean, in order to take advantage of jet stream winds and use less fuel. With the total flown distance being over 15,200 kilometres (9,400 miles), AIR INDIA operated the world’s longest non-stop regular scheduled commercial flight.

In December 2020, the government had invited expression of interest for the divestment of Air India. Four bidders had entered the race to take over the beleaguered airline, but Tata Group and Spicejet CEO Ajay Singh were the only ones to make it to the final stage. The Centre had made an unsuccessful attempt to sell the ailing airline earlier in March 2018. However, its expression of interest to sell 76 per cent stake in Air India had no takers at that juncture due to concerns regarding the airline’s burgeoning debt. Top sources from the Ministry of Civil Aviation said all formalities for the Air India disinvestment process will be completed by December 2021.

Onam Celebrations By MASCONN Held In Trumbull, CT

Men, women, children and youth dressed in traditional attire, from across the state of Connecticut came together to celebrate their culture, traditions, and fellowship during the annual Onam celebrations organized by Malayalee Association of Southern Connecticut (MASCONN) at Madison Middle School, Trumbull, CT on Saturday, September 18th, 2021.

The long awaited Onam celebrations, especially during the Coid pandemic, began with the lighting of the traditional Nailavilakku or lamp by honored guests of MASCONN and the executive committee members. The chief guests who graced the event and shared their Onam greetings and message included, several members of FOMAA, including the Treasurer, Thomas T Thomas; Vice President of Pradeep Nair; and Joint Treasurer, Biju Thonikkadavil.

A colorful Pookoalm and the traditional lamp with a sandalwood tilak on forehead at the entrance of school, giving them a warm traditional Indian welcome. Legendary King Mahabali was given a traditional welcome as he mingled with the participants showering his blessings.

 

“MASCONN an offshoot of the natural growth of the Indian-American especially Malayalee Community in the southern Connecticut region,” said Sujanan Nair, President of MASCON, in his welcome address.

“In a very short period, we have grown by leaps and bounds and we strive to meet the growing needs of our community. He praised the Masconn Youth group and the executive committee and the members for their dedication.

“Onam awaits one very special visitor, Kerala’s most loved legendary King Maveli. He is the King who once gave the people a golden era in Kerala. The King is so much attached to his kingdom that it is believed that he comes annually from the nether world to see his people living happily.

It is in honor of King Mahabali, affectionately called Onathappan, that Onam is celebrated,” Sujanan Nair explained the story behind this cultural festival of Kerala, a southern Indian state.

The whole ambience was filled with nostalgia since it was an occasion for all the Malayalees in Connecticut to cherish their childhood memories, especially everyone enjoyed the sumptuous Onam Sadhya (meal), the most important and main attraction of the day with different traditional dishes and ”payasam” that was served on banana leaves. Participants were dressed in their traditional attire. The most traditional costume for the men of Kerala is the “Mundu” which is mostly white in colour. It is worn tightly at the waist with a knot and comes down till the feet. Women following Hinduism wear a blouse and mundu known as “Mundu neriyathu.” Children were seen elegantly in mundus, shirts, sarees and salwar.

In his Onam message, Mahabali told the audience that the “beauty of the festival lies in its secular fabric. People of all religions, castes and communities celebrate the festival with equal joy and verve. Onam also helps to create an atmosphere of peace and brotherhood by way of various team sports organized on the day,” he added.  Tijo Josh proposed vote of thanks, while thanking all the organizers for the great event they had worked so hard to put together.

Living in countries that are far away from their homeland, in the midst of different cultures, busy with the day-to-day mundane work and home tasks, the Non Resident Indian (NRI) community made this “land of opportunities” their home, have brought with them these cultural traditions and have sought to pass them on to their children, who are often born and raised here. Onam is a festival celebrated in the south-western state of Kerala, India. The Keralites or the Malayalees, the illustrious people of the beautiful state are known around the world, celebrate the festival of Onam wherever they are.

The celebration of Onam festival provides them with a perfect opportunity to encourage the new generation of children of Indian origin to witness, learn and appreciate these rich traditions, even while it offers the first generation NRIs to stay connected and cherish the rich cultural heritage they hold so dear to them Malayalee Association of Southern Connecticut (MASCONN) which was formed less than ten years ago, the cultural extravaganza was in many ways “reliving the culture and traditions” and “cherishing the past with a view to pass it on to the future generation.”

 

 

Dr. Bellamkonda K. Kishore-Led Team Releases Summer Edition of JAAPI

The summer edition of the peer-reviewed scientific Journal of the AAPI (JAAPI) has been released in September 2021. Dedicated to Edward Jenner, FRS, Father of Immunization, the 2nd ever issue of JAAPI, has been acclaimed as among a leading journal with a variety of articles benefitting the larger section of physician community around the world.

Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, President of AAPI while congratulating the Editorial Team of JAAPI said, “This is the fruit of our teamwork and it’s a good opportunity for the members of AAPI to contribute scientific articles, and make it better as we move on. JAAPI is a peer-reviewed medical and health journal published by the AAPI. In line with the vision and mission of AAPI, JAAPI is dedicated to facilitate physicians to excel in patient care, teaching and research, and thus pursue their aspirations in professional and community affairs. JAAPI is open to contributions from physicians and scientists of all backgrounds and from all over the world.” In his introductory note, the Founding Editor-in-Chief of the peer-reviewed JAAPI, Dr. Bellamkonda K. Kishore, who is an outstanding academician, innovator, and entrepreneur, writes, “ We are pleased to present you the Summer issue of peer-reviewed JAAPI. It is made possible with the unconditional support of AAPI President Dr. Anupama Gotimukula and the Executive Committee Members, the relentless work of Members of the JAAPI Editorial Board, Editorial Advisors, and Reviewers as well as Ms. Vijaya Kodali, the Chief Operations Officer of AAPI.”

The summer issue of JAAPI has “excellent contributions by eminent physicians and scientists, and has come out in an outstanding manner. We are committed to maintain the same standards in the future. Excellence and thoroughness are our motto,” says Dr. Kishore. Acknowledging that JAAPI has only made a small beginning, Dr. Kishore says, “Our goal is to make JAAPI as the passport of AAPI, and thus to elevate AAPI on par with other premier medical associations such as AMA, AHA, ASN, ADA, ACP etc.”

“This is a historical milestone in the annals of AAPI. The foundation for this milestone was laid one year ago in February 2020 by our visionary leaders, Drs. Sudhakar Jonnalagadda and Suresh Reddy,” said Dr. Kishore, said.  Describing the vision and the efforts that have given shape to the launching of JAAPI, Dr. Kishore said, “A Peer Review Journal needs group synergy and cultivation of the culture of peer-review process and publication. It is like agriculture – crop after crop. But the very fact that we are able to assemble a passionate and diligent team of editorial board members, and developed the required group synergy and culture bringing out the journal as planned, itself is a sign that AAPI has reached a level of academic maturity, capability and perfection.”

Describing the importance of JAA{I, Dr. Kishore says, “The doctors who save lives of their patients are not always made in medical schools. They often create themselves through diligent practice of Evidence-based Medicine in the community. The real test a doctor faces is not the one administered in the medical school, but the one s/he has to face when standing between the life and death of patients. What empowers a doctor in those critical moments is right knowledge, despite technological superiority of modern medicine – Knowledge is Power of the Noble Profession that has the potential to elevate a
Nation.”

JAAPI has already found recognition among leading physicians community. “The American Association of Nephrologists of Indian Origin (ANIO) has shown interest in using JAAPI as a platform for publishing synopsis of their webinar on Kidney Disease and Vascular Risk in South Asian Populations. Like wise JAAPI has the potential to cater publication needs of the specialty societies of Indian American physicians,” Dr. Kishore points out.

After one or two years of publication, JAAPI will be registered with MEDLINE so that it will be indexed in PubMed and other databases. JAAPI is a fully Open Access journal with no manuscript submission or publication charges. And we welcome articles by authors from all over the world without any restrictions. We are also open to eminent academicians wishing to join the editorial board. Details are provided in the journal. JAAPI follows next generation peer-review model by which it discloses the identity of editors and reviewers after publication, but the review process itself is blind. This will give due credit to editors and reviewers, and also ensures fair review process. The cover page is designed to reflect the heart of AAPI, an association of Indian American Physicians – with colors of the flag of India, our motherland, on top and the red and white stripes of American flag, over which the AAPI emblem rests, indicating the way we adopted this Great Land.

In order to achieve the lofty goals, on behalf of Editorial Advisors, Deputy Editors, Editorial Board Members of JAAPI, Dr. Kishore urges the AAPI fraternity to help and support JAAPI by doing one or more of the following. (1) Submit your own articles or solicit articles from experts in your field and circle; (2) Promote JAAPI by forwarding its PDF copies and sharing them with your colleagues and friends; (3) Display hard copies of JAAPI at your meetings and conventions (contact us for hard copies); (4) Submit synopsis of your CME programs to JAAPI; and (4) Solicit advertisements from the pharma industry or organizations and businesses that cater the interests or needs of physicians. “Together we can reach new heights,” he promises AAPI members. For more information on AAPI and to read, contribute and sponsor JAAPI, please visit: www.aapiusa.org

Dr. Vemuri S. Murthy: A Global Champion Of Resuscitation Medicine

World Heart Day is being observed on September 29th this year with the objective of raising awareness of heart disease and promoting “Healthy Heart” lifestyles. “Human heart disease is the number one Global Public Health problem,” says Dr. Vemuri S. Murthy. He is an advocate of Community and Physician resuscitation education. And training for more than three decades in the USA and India. “It is disheartening to see patients with reversible health conditions die suddenly due to lack of both Community Health Awareness and Timely Emergency Care based on Evidence-based Resuscitation Practices”.

An alumnus of Guntur Medical College, Guntur and All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi (General Surgery), and a former Chairman of Anesthesiology Department at West Suburban Medical Center, Oak Park, Illinois, as a “Pioneer of Resuscitation Medicine in India” Dr. Murthy hailed. Also the reputed leader of organized medicine in the USA, Dr. Murthy has served as the President of the Chicago Medical Society and the Indian American Medical Association, Illinois.

Heart disease Indian CPR ProjectAffiliated with various US medical organizations and institutions, the soft-spoken Dr. Murthy is a Resuscitation Educator and Researcher, Advisor to Resuscitation Training Centers, Champion of Community Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR), and a Leader of US Organized Medicine.  His Mission has been “Saving Lives” in Sudden Cardiac Arrests and common heart issues.

Global evidence-based and heart disease newspaper articles information has proven that Bystander CPR is life-saving in sudden cardiac arrest. The latter can be recognized by the sudden collapse of the person without any breathing, pulse, or consciousness.   According to the articles about the heart of the American Heart Association, there are more than 356,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests annually in the U.S. Nearly 90% of them are fatal. Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR), if performed immediately, can double or triple a cardiac arrest victim’s chances of survival. Heart attack news articles say that in the majority of cases, immediate Hands-only CPR may have similar survival outcomes. And it is comparable to the conventional CPR performed with both chest compressions and breaths.

Dr. Murthy is a guide and co-investigator of a ground-breaking Indian Resuscitation Research Project and Cardiac Arrest Registry, Warangal Area Out of Hospital Cardiac Arrest Registry 2018, based on an international format. He contributed to “CPR” and “Women’s Heart Health” videos and educational articles in news media and actively involved with Indo-US collaborated comprehensive Cardiac Care Projects.

Quoting evidence-based studies done, Dr. Murthy, a past President of the Chicago Medical Society and current adjunct faculty in the Department of Emergency Medicine at the University of Illinois College of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois, points to the fact that South Asians are at a four-times greater risk of heart disease than their Western counterparts and have a greater chance of having a heart attack before 50 years of age. Heart attacks strike South Asian Men and Women at younger ages. As a result, both morbidity and mortality are higher among them compared to any other ethnic group. They tend to develop heart disease ten years earlier than other groups.

Heart disease Dr. VemuriThe Founder of Chicago Medical Society’s Community CPR Project Saving More Illinois Lives through Education (SMILE,) Dr. Murthy, takes upon himself the life-long mission of saving lives through effective preventive measures. He says, “Almost one in three among South Asians may die from heart disease before 65 years of age.”

What causes heart problems in India? Heart disease remains the number one cause of death. Common risk factors are smoking and a diet high in sugar, salt, refined grains, and fat. A large number of South Asians appear to have “insulin resistance”, a condition in which the body does not utilize insulin efficiently, resulting in Diabetes, which leads to a significant number of heart-related problems and serious heart conditions. Lack of adequate exercise, stress, and genetic predisposition are also contributing factors,” adds Dr. Murthy, a distinguished Chicago Physician.  Illinois offers Project SMILE programs at various community events. International dignitaries, Members of the US Congress, Illinois Governor, and Legislators, and Indian Consul Generals commend it by.

A Visiting Professor of Indian Medical Universities, Dr. Murthy has been promoting resuscitation courses for nearly three decades in India. Indian Instructor Faculty trains thousands of physicians, medical students, and nurses with his guidance. He pioneered an “Indian Medical University Resuscitation Education and Training Model” at Dr. NTR University of Health Sciences, Andhra Pradesh (2012). He conducted simulation-based advanced Resuscitation Workshops with international faculty and guided mass community CPR events. He chaired several Resuscitation Conventions in India and organized workshops at prestigious Indian Medical Institutions such as AIIMS, New Delhi.

Heart disease Vemuri S MurthyDr. Murthy served the American Heart Association in different capacities. Such as National and International Faculty, Member of the International Committee, and Advisor to AHA International Training Centers, Also as  AHA Liaison to Medical Organizations in the USA too. He co-chaired programs at the AHA Scientific Sessions and delivered Resuscitation-based lectures at prestigious US medical institutions.

He also contributed to AHA’s “Saving Children’s Lives” project in Gujarat, India.  AHA leadership recognized his decades of service: “For Volunteer Leadership in Support of Lifesaving Mission of the AHA and its Emergency Cardiovascular Care Programs”. Dr. Murthy has been actively involved with AAPI as the Chairman of the “AAPI-AHA Liaison Committee”, “Global Resuscitation Committee”, and “Editorial Board Advisor” of the peer-reviewed Journal of AAPI (JAAPI). He also initiated an International AAPI Webinar Continuing Medical Education (CME) program (2020), an IAMA, IL Community CPR Project (2015), and an Indo-US CPR Research Project involving Resident Physicians from US Medical Universities (2016).

In a recent interview for a heart health article 2020, Dr. Vemuri Murthy shared his thoughts and concerns regarding the current status of the out-of-hospital cardiac arrests and diminishing bystander resuscitation help during the COVID-19 pandemic. “Bystander CPR with Defibrillation is a Blessing of Contemporary Medicine enhancing the survival of Sudden Cardiac Arrest Victims. Saving Lives with Best Practices should be the top Healthcare Priority for every Nation,” says Dr. Murthy, who hails from the state of Andhra Pradesh. He has devoted his entire life towards learning and sharing his knowledge and expertise with the noble cause of Heart Education.   Dr. Vemuri Murthy’s contributed to Global Health, Resuscitation Medicine, and Community Service. And this have been widely recognized through the numerous awards and recognitions that have been bestowed on him.

Dr. Murthy was honored with a Medal from US Congressmen as “Global Champion of Resuscitation,” “Lifetime Achievement Award” and “Distinguished Physician Award” from the Indian American Medical Association, Illinois.”

Chicago Medical Society gave the “Henrietta Herbolsheimer Public Service Award” and “Leadership Award” to Dr. Murthy. Also, the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin bestowed on him the “Pioneer of Resuscitation Medicine in India” and “Most Distinguished Service” Awards. And, he received the “Global Champion of Health Award” from the Global Health Consortium, USA and the “Paul Harris International Service Award” from the Rotary Club and “Global Humanitarian Award” from The Institute of Medicine of Chicago “for providing voluntary, longstanding, and International Humanitarian Health Services” along with commendations from Indian Medical Universities and Medical Societies such as Indian Medical Association and Cardiological Society of India.

Indeed, Dr. Vemuri S. Murthy is truly a “Global Champion of Resuscitation Medicine!”

Assemblyman Sterley Stanley, First South Asian From Middlesex County In The New Jersey General Assembly

New Jersey’s Asian population has experienced remarkable growth within the last decade. According to census data released earlier this month, about 1.05 million New Jersey residents, slightly more than 11% of the state’s population, identified as either partially or entirely Asian. This striking 44% increase from the 725,726 who identified as Asian in the 2010 census prompts the question of whether the state government has changed to reflect new demographics. In fact, Asian candidates would need to win seven more seats in the Assembly and two or three more in the Senate for their representation to align with the state’s demographics. Nonetheless, there are those in the state government already leading the way to greater representation. Most recently, Assemblyman Sterley Stanley (D-Middlesex) joined State Sen. Vin Gopal (D-Monmouth) and Assemblyman Raj Mukherji (D-Hudson) as the third Indian American to be elected to the state legislature.

Stanley won his 18th District Assembly seat in a Special Election in January 2021, becoming the first South Asian to represent Middlesex County in the New Jersey Legislature. Stanley defeated fellow Democrat, Edison Councilman Joe Coyle by a vote of 189-136, a 58%-42% margin, according to the Middlesex County Democratic Organization. The seat became vacant when former Assemblywoman Nancy Pinkin resigned after being sworn in as the new Middlesex County Clerk.Endorsed by the Middlesex County Democratic Organization, Assemblyman Stanley was sworn in on January 27th, 2021. Stanley serves as a member of the Assembly Committee On Law And Public Safety and as a member of the Assembly Committee On Health. “I am honored to serve the residents of the 18th district and eager to roll up my sleeves to address the needs of our wonderful, diverse district and state,” Stanley said in a statement after being sworn in as an Assemblyman. “The events of the past year have shown us the danger of divisive forces, but they have also shown us the strength and necessity of collaboration. Truly listening to one another will allow us to better understand the issues and each other and to develop and implement nuanced, detailed solutions that reflect every community’s situation.”

Prior to being selected to fill the seat, Stanley served two terms as an East Brunswick Councilman. While on the East Brunswick Council, he advocated for fiscal responsibility, economic redevelopment and community building programs. The 54-Year-old Stanley was re-elected to his East Brunswick Council seat by 5,137 votes in 2020 against Republican Suzanne Blum and served as Council President in 2019 and 2020. During his time as councilman, the council and mayor’s administration “stabilized East Brunswick taxes without a reduction in services; re-established the East Brunswick Regional Chamber of Commerce; strengthened community relations with law enforcement; maintained a strong relationship with the public school district; and focused on delivering ratables through redevelopment.” Stanley won the Democratic primary this past June and will run in the general election in November 2021 for a full two-year term. The 18th District has the highest percentage of Asian Americans of any legislative district in the state, and Middlesex, Stanley’s home county, has the largest Asian population in the state, at 237,945 residents. In addition to East Brunswick and Edison, the 18th District includes Helmetta, Highland Park, Metuchen, South Plainfield And South River – all Middlesex municipalities. NJ State Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, while welcoming Stanley into the Assembly Democratic Caucus, stated, “Sterley is a true and dedicated public servant who distinguished himself as a two-term East Brunswick Councilman and he makes history as the first South Asian Assemblyman from Middlesex County. I look forward to working with Assemblyman Stanley as we seek to advance our shared priorities of protecting the middle class and our most vulnerable residents.”

Stanley was born in the State of Karnataka, India and immigrated to Brooklyn, NY at a young age.  For the last 21 years, he has called East Brunswick his home. While living there, he has worked in the finance industry as a title and life insurance agent, as well as a mortgage broker. Stanley is a proud father of three children and has been actively involved in the Middlesex County community, previously serving as a Trustee of the Lighthouse Christian Fellowship Church in East Brunswick and as President of the Fox Meadow Condominium Association. State Sen. Patrick Diegnan (D-South Plainfield) was among those who had supported the then East Brunswick Councilman Sterley Stanley for the Assembly Seat. “I’m supporting Sterley Stanley,” he said. “He’s a good guy and he works with me all the time.” At a February 8th meeting, the East Brunswick town council honored Stanley’s four years of local service. At the meeting, Stanley stated that one of his proudest achievements as Council President was helping to ensure that the governing body functioned as a cohesive unit. “We might have had differences of opinion and we have differences in the way we solve things, but at the end of the day, we all got together and did what was best for the Township,” Stanley said. “I feel honored now to not just represent East Brunswick, but the whole 18th District, and all seven towns that are there,” he said.

Stanley said he looks forward to applying everything he has learned in the last four years on the council and everything he has achieved in the township and bring it to the State level. “It is a true privilege to represent the people of District 18 and The State Of New Jersey,” said Stanley.  “I am committed to serving the residents and I look forward to working with my Assembly colleagues to best address the needs of this wonderful, diverse district and state. It is important, to me, to ensure all voices are heard so that we can work together in harmony and maintain a strong, united community.” During his time as Councilman, Stanley’s efforts to help establish a redevelopment agency were well received by the public.  Through town halls and other outreach efforts, he has always encouraged residents to actively participate in the process and prioritized working with them. In another collaborative initiative, he worked with the East Brunswick Police Department to strengthen dialogue around cultural diversity within the community. Stanley is generally committed to “establishing open lines of communication” and to strengthening the relationships between state legislators and each town’s administration, municipal chairs and committee persons. He intends to “always be available to listen to their issues and provide support,” hoping to “work at the state level to promote transparency and community engagement.”

“Our main streets are the backbone of our community and I will work to move past the current economic crisis to ensure that local businesses thrive,” Stanley declared. “I will help with identifying areas in need of redevelopment and take action to bring more responsible economic growth to create local, sustainable, good-paying jobs, while ensuring the same access to opportunity for all by enacting legislation that builds bridges for all.” “The issues we confront are not simple, but I deeply believe that they are not insurmountable if we understand their complexity and commit to respecting the perspectives that our fellow community members and leaders bring to the table.”

“Food Without Fear,” A Book By Dr. Ruchi Gupta Presents A Groundbreaking Approach To Food Allergies And Sensitivities

One in five people in the United States have food intolerances or sensitivities, and while these can be debilitating, they are chronic and can also be life-threatening in the long-term. Every day, more than five hundred people in the US go to the emergency room following a bad allergic reaction to food; 1 in 10 people have food allergies — and they are acute, alarming, and can be life-threatening. These are just a few of the statistics that prove what most of us know anecdotally. Food allergies are on the rise. But allergy itself is just the tip of the iceberg — and it’s not just a problem for kids. There is a whole spectrum of food-related conditions, including sensitivities, intolerances, and challenges.

The spectrum of these ailments is wide and deep, with many tricky “masqueraders” in the mix creating confusion, potential misdiagnoses, and faulty or poor treatment, and causing immeasurable suffering for millions of people. Dr. Ruchi Gupta, a world-renowned researcher and physician on the front lines of this silent epidemic, in her first book, shares revolutionary research from her lab to address the entire spectrum of food-related health conditions.

“FOOD WITHOUT FEAR: Identify, Prevent, and Treat Food Allergies, Intolerances, and Sensitivities,” a newly released book by Dr. Ruchi Gupta, an young and talented Indian American, illuminates what she has coined the food reaction spectrum—a revolutionary way to look at food-related conditions—and offers a new approach to managing adverse responses to food with a practical plan to end the misery and enjoy eating with ease.

Considered as the very first book to identify the entire spectrum of food-related health conditions, from allergy to sensitivity, and what we can do about it, Dr. Gupta, a professor of pediatrics and medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and a clinical attending at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, promises hope, help, and food freedom to the individuals and their families who so need it. In FOOD WITHOUT FEAR you’ll learn the STOP method, a way for families to track their symptoms and gain the tools to identify, manage, and treat their unique condition to prevent future reactions.

With more than 17 years of experience as a board certified pediatrician and health researcher and currently serving as the founding director of the Center for Food Allergy & Asthma Research (CFAAR) at Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine and Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, Dr. Gupta known to be a curating revolutionary researcher, this young Indian American’s panoramic view debunks common myths, such as the misconception that an allergy and an intolerance are the same thing, but both can have life-threatening consequences, and she empowers you to know what questions to ask your doctor to get the correct diagnosis. In the book, Dr. Gupta details: The differences between an allergy and an intolerance or sensitivity; What “masqueraders” are and how to identify them; Which health conditions are mistaken for food allergies—or can be triggered by them; The surprising allergies on the rise (think red meat and exercise; and, The issues with allergen labeling on food and drugs FOOD WITHOUT FEAR’s assessments, information on the most up-to-date treatments, and practical tips will help welcome anyone suffering from food-related health conditions back to the table.

The book has won excellent reviews from well-known authors. David Perlmutter, MD, Fellow, American College of Nutrition, author, #1 New York Times bestseller Grain Brain and Brain Wash, wrote of the book:  “Food Without Fear explores how our individual uniqueness plays into how we respond to the information that our food choices purvey. And the dichotomy between “good” and “bad” foods is explored through the lenses of both leading edge science as well as our food-related responses. Both these data sets empower the reader with tools to optimize food choices and pave the way for a healthier life.”

Dr. Gupta is world-renowned for her groundbreaking research in the areas of food allergy and asthma epidemiology, most notably for her research on the prevalence of pediatric and adult food allergy in the United States. She has also significantly contributed to academic research in the areas of food allergy prevention, socioeconomic disparities in care, and the daily management of these conditions. Dr. Gupta is the author of The Food Allergy Experience, has written and co-authored over 150 peer-reviewed research manuscripts, and has had her work featured on major TV networks and in print media. Kristin Loberg has a lengthy list of successful collaborations with multiple New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestsellers to her credit. Kristin earned her degree from Cornell University, and lives in Los Angeles. She is a member of the Author’s Guild, PEN, and teaches an intensive proposal-writing workshop at UCLA annually.

Published by Hachette Books, (ISBN-13:92 78030684650) “FOOD WITHOUT FEAR: Identify, Prevent, and Treat Food Allergies, Intolerances, and Sensitivities” is available on all major bookstores and online, including at Amazon and Barnes And Nobles. For more details, please visit: https://foodwithoutfearbook.com/

 

“Food Without Fear,” A Book By Dr. Ruchi Gupta Presents A Groundbreaking Approach To Food Allergies And Sensitivities

One in five people in the United States have food intolerances or sensitivities, and while these can be debilitating, they are chronic and can also be life-threatening in the long-term. Every day, more than five hundred people in the US go to the emergency room following a bad allergic reaction to food; 1 in 10 people have food allergies — and they are acute, alarming, and can be life-threatening. These are just a few of the statistics that prove what most of us know anecdotally. Food allergies are on the rise. But allergy itself is just the tip of the iceberg — and it’s not just a problem for kids. There is a whole spectrum of food-related conditions, including sensitivities, intolerances, and challenges.

The spectrum of these ailments is wide and deep, with many tricky “masqueraders” in the mix creating confusion, potential misdiagnoses, and faulty or poor treatment, and causing immeasurable suffering for millions of people. Dr. Ruchi Gupta, a world-renowned researcher and physician on the front lines of this silent epidemic, in her first book, shares revolutionary research from her lab to address the entire spectrum of food-related health conditions.

“FOOD WITHOUT FEAR: Identify, Prevent, and Treat Food Allergies, Intolerances, and Sensitivities,” a newly released book by Dr. Ruchi Gupta, an young and talented Indian American, illuminates what she has coined the food reaction spectrum—a revolutionary way to look at food-related conditions—and offers a new approach to managing adverse responses to food with a practical plan to end the misery and enjoy eating with ease.

Considered as the very first book to identify the entire spectrum of food-related health conditions, from allergy to sensitivity, and what we can do about it, Dr. Gupta, a professor of pediatrics and medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and a clinical attending at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, promises hope, help, and food freedom to the individuals and their families who so need it. In FOOD WITHOUT FEAR you’ll learn the STOP method, a way for families to track their symptoms and gain the tools to identify, manage, and treat their unique condition to prevent future reactions.

With more than 17 years of experience as a board certified pediatrician and health researcher and currently serving as the founding director of the Center for Food Allergy & Asthma Research (CFAAR) at Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine and Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, Dr. Gupta known to be a curating revolutionary researcher, this young Indian American’s panoramic view debunks common myths, such as the misconception that an allergy and an intolerance are the same thing, but both can have life-threatening consequences, and she empowers you to know what questions to ask your doctor to get the correct diagnosis.

In the book, Dr. Gupta details: The differences between an allergy and an intolerance or sensitivity; What “masqueraders” are and how to identify them; Which health conditions are mistaken for food allergies—or can be triggered by them; The surprising allergies on the rise (think red meat and exercise; and, The issues with allergen labeling on food and drugs FOOD WITHOUT FEAR’s assessments, information on the most up-to-date treatments, and practical tips will help welcome anyone suffering from food-related health conditions back to the table.

The book has won excellent reviews from well-known authors. David Perlmutter, MD, Fellow, American College of Nutrition, author, #1 New York Times bestseller Grain Brain and Brain Wash, wrote of the book:  “Food Without Fear explores how our individual uniqueness plays into how we respond to the information that our food choices purvey. And the dichotomy between “good” and “bad” foods is explored through the lenses of both leading edge science as well as our food-related responses. Both these data sets empower the reader with tools to optimize food choices and pave the way for a healthier life.”

Dr. Gupta is world-renowned for her groundbreaking research in the areas of food allergy and asthma epidemiology, most notably for her research on the prevalence of pediatric and adult food allergy in the United States. She has also significantly contributed to academic research in the areas of food allergy prevention, socioeconomic disparities in care, and the daily management of these conditions. Dr. Gupta is the author of The Food Allergy Experience, has written and co-authored over 150 peer-reviewed research manuscripts, and has had her work featured on major TV networks and in print media.

Kristin Loberg has a lengthy list of successful collaborations with multiple New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestsellers to her credit. Kristin earned her degree from Cornell University, and lives in Los Angeles. She is a member of the Author’s Guild, PEN, and teaches an intensive proposal-writing workshop at UCLA annually.

Published by Hachette Books, (ISBN-13:92 78030684650) “FOOD WITHOUT FEAR: Identify, Prevent, and Treat Food Allergies, Intolerances, and Sensitivities” is available on all major bookstores and online, including at Amazon and Barnes And Nobles. For more details, please visit: https://foodwithoutfearbook.com/

Indian-Americans Own 60 Percent Of Hotel Industry In U.S.

Accounting for 34,260 hotels across the United States, Indian Americans owned hotels account for 60 percent of all hotels in the U.S., according to a new study conducted by Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA) in partnership with Oxford Economics, a global leader in forecasting and quantitative analysis. The study analyzed the share of U.S. hotels and rooms owned by the members of AAHOA, which is predominantly made up of Indian-origin hoteliers, hotel operations, hotel guest ancillary spending, capital investment, and indirect and induced impacts supported by AAHOA hotels in other parts of the U.S. economy.

In all Indian Americans own and operate 3.1 million guestrooms, and 2.2 million direct impact jobs. The study’s topline results were presented to AAHOA Members during the general session on the first day of the 2021 AAHOA Convention & Trade Show at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center Dallas on August 3rd.

“The findings laid out in this new study are a testament to the strength and influence of AAHOA Members and serve as yet another reminder of hotel owners’ vital economic contributions to communities across the nation,” said AAHOA Interim President & CEO Ken Greene. “Guests at AAHOA hotels spend billions of dollars in local economies. AAHOA Members employ as many workers as FedEx and Home Depot – combined, and the 1.1 million employees who work at AAHOA Member hotels earn $47 billion annually. AAHOA Members are the heart and soul of the hospitality industry and will continue to play an essential role in our nation’s economic recovery.”

The study shows that AAHOA supports a total economic impact of: $680.6 billion of business sales (representing revenue plus sales and lodging taxes); 4.2 million jobs with $214.6 billion of wages, salaries and other compensation; $368.4 billion contributed to U.S. GDP; and, $96.8 billion of federal, state and local taxes.

With the ownership of the majority hotel industry, the economic impact and industry influence of AAHOA’s nearly 20,000 Members, is very impressive. “This study gives us the clearest picture to date about the scale, reach, and economic impact that AAHOA Members have in the United States,” said AAHOA Chairman Biran Patel. “It is remarkable how far AAHOA Members have come since the association’s founding in 1989 when a small group of hoteliers banded together to fight discrimination. That commitment to helping hoteliers grow their businesses and realize the American Dream is reflected in the impressive numbers revealed today. We are proud of what our Members have accomplished and remain committed to being the foremost resource and advocate for America’s hotel owners.”

A comprehensive report will soon be made available on the AAHOA website. AAHOA is the largest hotel owners association in the world. The nearly 20,000 AAHOA Members own 60 percent of hotels in the United States. With billions of dollars in property assets and over one million employees, AAHOA Members are core economic contributors in virtually every community. AAHOA is a proud defender of free enterprise and the foremost current-day example of realizing the American dream.

On the third day of the 2021 AAHOA Convention & Trade Show, the association recognized achievement and excellence in the hospitality industry with its annual awards. Winners received their awards on the main stage during the general session. The 2020 award winners are:

  • AAHOA Award of Excellence: Nanda Patel
  • Cecil B. Day Community Service Award: Mitesh Jivan
  • IAHA Independent Hotel of the Year: Hotel Lexen
  • Outreach Award for Philanthropy: Masudur Khan
  • Outstanding Women Hotelier of the Year: Priti Patel
  • Outstanding Young Professional of the Year: Saajan Patel
  • Political Forum Award for Advocacy: Bijal Patel

“Each year, AAHOA recognizes and honors hoteliers who go above and beyond in service to the hospitality industry,” said Immediate Past Chairman Biran Patel. “During such a challenging year, these individuals made significant contributions to the industry and to AAHOA. We are all honored to highlight their service and commitment to excellence.”

“These awards recognize the best of the best. Following an extremely difficult year for AAHOA Members and the entire industry, these award recipients demonstrate their commitment to excellence in the hospitality industry, regardless of the landscape,” said Interim President & CEO Ken Greene. “Their hard work and dedication does not go unnoticed, and it is through their leadership, grit, and determinations that the industry continues to thrive.”

AAHOA is the largest hotel owners association in the world. The nearly 20,000 AAHOA Members own 60 percent of hotels in the United States. “With billions of dollars in property assets and over one million employees, AAHOA Members are core economic contributors in virtually every community,” the organization said, adding, “AAHOA is a proud defender of free enterprise and the foremost current-day example of realizing the American dream.”

A Galaxy of Women Leaders In Lead Roles At AAPI

(Chicago, IL: August 4, 2021) “It’s been truly historic and a very proud moment for American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) to have a majority of the current leadership of this noble organization being held by Women Leaders,” Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, President of AAPI, declared here today. “Never has there ever been such a strong representation of women leaders in AAPI’s leadership positions. It’s been a privilege and a challenge to lead AAPI as AAPI celebrates 40 years of dedicated service to the United States, India and the world.”

 

Dr. Gotimukula, only the 4th woman president of AAPI in the 40 years old history of AAPI has a strong and dynamic leadership of women leaders at AAPI for the year 2020-21. Dr. Kusum Punjabi serves as the Chair of AAPI Board of Trustees; Dr. Soumya Neravetla is the President of Young Physicians Section (YPS,) while Dr. Ayesha Singh is the President is the Medical Student/Residents & Fellows Section (MSRF.) Dr. Anjana Samadder, who serves as the Vice President of AAPI is in succession for the top AAPI leadership position in the year 2023-24.

 

A resident of San Antonio, TX, Dr. Gotimukula is a board certified Pediatric Anesthesiologist, practicing since 2007, has been an active member and leader of AAPI over a decade.

As a Healthcare Leader, Dr. Gotimukula recognizes that “AAPI has power. We have legitimate respect and trust of our communities in every corner of America. AAPI will leverage that power of our purpose and networks to help address specific challenges related to affordable healthcare delivery.”

 

Dr. Kusum Punjabi, a very young and energetic leader of AAPI, assumed office as the Chair of Board of Trustees of AAPI on July 4th. The youngest to date to be holding this position in AAPI’s 40 years long history and the first person to go to medical school in the USA, Dr. Punjabi says, “My goal as Chair of the Board is to develop long lasting programs within AAPI that promote professionalism, unity, mentorship and inclusivity. I hope to clearly re-define AAPI’s mission of service, academic achievement and supporting Indian Physicians working in America through advocacy and leadership. I want patients to know the value of the care they receive from our ethnic group and our mission of promoting the safest and best healthcare practices for our patients.”

 

Dr. Anjana Samadder, Vice President of AAPI says, “My journey with AAPI in the past 20 years taught me lots of lessons, skills and molded me to take more responsibility in the organization. I will bring to the organization the level of commitment, hard work, experience and skill set needed to accomplish the various goals for AAPI and its members.”  Her vision for AAPI is “to help build an ethically strong, morally straight and fiscally responsible organization. It is also vitally important to bring much needed diversity to keep AAPI thriving.”

 

A second generation Indian American, born, raised and educated in the US, Dr. Soumya Neravetla, president of YPS, is a Cardiothoracic Surgeon actively engaged in the welfare of physicians of Indian Origin and the general public. She has extensive Trans catheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) experience including launching and directing TAVR programs.  She has also directed and spearheaded Robotic Thoracic Surgery and lung cancer related programs. In spite of her busy work schedule, she collaborates with her father, Dr. Surender Reddy Neravetla (author of Salt Kills), in his mission to spread awareness about prevention of cardiovascular disease, which disproportionately affects physicians and people of Indian Origin. She is a popular medical speaker and has given several talks to medical communities and the general public, including an invitation to personally speak to the Governor of Ohio and the Ohio Department of Health.

By her example, Dr. Neravetla wants to motivate physicians of her generation to engage in their communities and AAPI. She has been an active member of AAPI, serving on many committees over the years with the hope of helping AAPI evolve into a meaningful organization for future generations. “Empowering Indian physicians and fostering career growth have been passions of mine,” says the multi-talented dynamic leader of AAPI. In her role, she hopes “to increase career networking and mentorship opportunities, and arm physicians and physicians in training with tools to better navigate their careers.  In addition, I am working to amplify AAPI’s virtual presence by enhancing website features and introducing an app.”  Understanding the current challenging situation due to the ongoing pandemic, Dr. Neravetla says, “We hope new activities like virtual job fairs, interactive chat functions and amplifying our social media presence will engage current and future generations.

 

Ayesha Singh, a 4th year medical student at the University of Louisville (Louisville, KY), had joined AAPI in 2017 and held her first leadership position on the MSRF board as Secretary in 2018. In 2019, she was elected as MSRF Vice President. She is passionate about her clinical research in atherosclerosis and spends most of her free time volunteering as Director of Patient Services for a free cardiovascular specialty clinic in the Louisville area. Ayesha is currently applying for Internal Medicine residency with plans to pursue a career in Interventional Cardiology.  Singh’s vision for MSRF is “to connect, inspire, and grow our community. I hope to further our reach to Indian American medical students by developing the mentorship program, providing research and academic opportunities, and hosting student-specific events on Step 1/2/3 prep, residency/fellowship applications, interview workshops and more.”

 

The young and aspiring Medical Professional is grateful to AAPI as “AAPI has enriched my life professionally, socially, and personally. I’ve found mentors, role models, and friends that share my heritage, passion for medicine and commitment to community service. I believe aggressive outreach that highlights AAPI’s vast network, resources, and benefits will inspire membership among young professionals and future leaders that will be dedicated to preserving the legacy of this organization.”

 

Other leaders who constitute the current executive committee include: Dr. Ravi Kolli, President-Elect, who will be the President of AAPI in 2022-23; Dr. Satheesh Kathula, Secretary and Dr. Krishan Kumar, Treasurer of AAPI.

Dr. Ravi Kolli is a Board Certified Psychiatrist with additional qualifications in Addiction, Geriatric and Forensic Psychiatry, and serves as Psychiatric Medical Director of Southwestern Pennsylvania Human Services. “While in the 176 years of American Medical Association (AMA) there have been only five women Presidents,” Dr. Ravi Kolli noted. “AAPI, now only in its 40th year, has the 4th female president. Dr. Anupama Gotimukula and a galaxy of women leaders are leading all the sections of AAPI, including BOT, YPS and MSRF. This is a proud moment for AAPI and a testimony of AAAPI ‘s commitment to diversity and equality in all aspects of its functioning.”

Quoting statics, Dr. Kolli pointed out that in the United States, women physicians comprise of nearly 37.8 % of all practicing physicians (390,202 of 1,058,628) and their numbers are rising fast. The proportion of female physicians under the age of 35 in the US is 60.6% and in the age group of 35-44, it is 51.5%. So, there will be a welcome sea change in the leadership of Health Care in the USA going forward. The good news is that patients hospitalized under the care of female physicians had better outcome and lower re-hospitalization rate according to a 2016 Harvard study (December 19, 2016, in JAMA Internal Medicine). Dr. Kolli said, “American Health care and its leadership is in safe hands, and I am so proud to support them in any way in my capacity as the President-Elect of AAPI.”

Dr. Satheesh Kathula is a clinical professor of medicine at Wright State University- Boonshoft School of medicine, Dayton, Ohio. “Honored to work with these highly talented and dedicated women leaders of AAPI, who work so hard to take AAPI to the next level.” Dr. Krishan Kumar is a pediatric emergency medicine physician in East Meadow, New York and is affiliated with multiple hospitals in the New York region. “We are proud of our women’s leadership.  They are well balanced and open minded doctors and serve the AAPI with their heart and soul,” said Dr. Kumar.

Serving 1 in every 7 patients in the US, AAPI members care for millions of patients every day, while several of them have risen to hold high flying jobs, shaping the policies and programs and inventions that shape the landscape of healthcare in the US and around the  world.

“Fortunate to be leading AAPI with this amazing group of dedicated women leaders,” says Dr. Gotimukula. “We at AAPI have so much more room to grow and serve. I challenge myself, my Executive Committee to rise up to the task of building on our accomplishments and successes over the last several decades. My team, along with the dynamic group of women leaders has defined several goals for this year to further AAPI’s mission.”  For more details, please visit: www.appiusa.org

“All People Deserve To Have A Voice In Their Government And Be Treated With Respect” US Secretary Blinken Declares During Visit To India

Democratic values and free citizenry define India, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinkensaid in New Delhi, during his first ever visit to India after the Biden Administration was installed in Washington, DC.  At a press conference after holding bilateral talks with his counterparts in India on Wednesday, July 28, 2021, Secretary Blinken said the United States views India through the prism of common democratic values and that there are challenges that can be ‘ugly’ that need to be dealt through “corrective mechanisms.”

“Our shared values and democratic traditions were part of our conversation,” Blinken said. “The relationship is so strong because it is a relationship between two democracies. Americans admire Indians’ commitment to rights, democracy and pluralism. Indian democracy is powered by its freethinking citizens. I approach this with humility. U.S. has challenges too. The search is for a more perfect union which means we are not perfect. Sometimes, the challenges can be painful, even ugly,” said Blinken to a question about ‘backsliding’ of democratic values in India. Blinken pointed at the free press and independent judiciary as part of the “corrective mechanism” that can repair challenges to democracy.

Blinken arrived in India on July 27th to discuss strengthening Indo-Pacific engagement, seen as a counter to China, as well as New Delhi’s recent human rights record and other issues. Blinken’s visit included meetings with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and senior officials on Wednesday, and was held just days after his No. 2 diplomat, Wendy Sherman, was in China for face-to-face talks.

Earlier, at a civil society roundtable held by Antony Blinken, Inter-faith relations, the farmers’ protest, freedom of expression and the Pegasus spyware issue were discussed by the participants.

Blinken, in his first visit to the country since joining US President Joe Biden’s administration, discussed supplies of COVID-19 vaccines, the security situation in Afghanistan as well as India’s human rights record.

Speaking to a group of civil society leaders at a New Delhi hotel, Blinken said that the relationship between the United States and India was “one of the most important in the world”. And he added, “The Indian people and the American people believe in human dignity and equality of opportunity, the rule of law, fundamental freedoms including freedom of religion and belief … these are the fundamental tenets of democracies like ours. And of course, both of our democracies are works in progress. As friends we talk about that.”

The role of civil society in India also figured in the discussions, with Blinken saying in his opening remarks that democracies such as the US and India need a vibrant civil society if they are to be “more open, more inclusive, more resilient, more equitable.” He added that “all people deserve to have a voice in their government and be treated with respect”. GesheDorjiDamdul, director of the Tibet House in New Delhi; Inter-Faith Harmony Foundation of India head KhwajaIftikhar Ahmed; Representatives of the Ramakrishna Mission and Sikh and Christian organizations were part of the round table, where the seven representatives spoke and shared their concerns about the situation in India.

Concerns over the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan and China’s aggressive actions were also raised by the seven civil society representatives who joined the roundtable with the theme “Advancing equitable, inclusive, and sustainable growth and development”, according to participants who declined to be named. “The farmers protest, CAA, restrictions on the media, freedom of expression, rights of minorities, inter-faith relations and the Pegasus surveillance issue were all raised by the representatives but there was no substantial discussion on these matters,” said another participant.

Ahead of Blinken’s visit, the US had said it intended to raise human rights and democracy during his engagements in New Delhi. The US has in the recent past spoken out on issues such as the situation in Kashmir and movements such as the farmers’ protest on the outskirts of Delhi. Following the globally conducted investigation by several media outlets on Pegasus, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken  said that he would discuss human rights and democracy during his two-day visit to India in a constructive way.

“I will tell you that we will raise it, and we will continue that conversation, because we firmly believe that we have more values in common on those fronts we don’t,” Acting Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs, Dean Thompson told reporters during a conference call last week. With specific mention to the Indian government’s usage of Pegasus, Thompson said that the US is concerned with the idea of using spyware against a civil society, journalists or anybody for that matter. He also said that the US does not have a particular insight on this issue but they have been quite vocal about ensuring companies do not sell such pieces of technology.

Blinken said India and the US should continue to stand together as leading democracies at a time when global threats to democracy and international freedoms are increasing. Both sides talk about issues such as democracy as friends “because doing the hard work of strengthening democracy and making our ideals real is often challenging”, he said.

Media reports state thatBlinken flagged the concerns of the US regarding democracy and human rights during his talks with external affairs minister S Jaishankar.Asked about these issues at a joint media interaction with Jaishankar, Blinken said shared values and democratic traditions “were very much a part of our conversation today.” He described Indian democracy as a “force for good in defense of a free and open Indo-Pacific and a free and open world” and said both countries have “self-righting mechanisms” made up of free citizens of different faiths, a free media and independent courts powered by a system of free and fair elections.

Jaishankar said he made three points to Blinken, including the fact that the “quest for a more perfect union applies as much to the Indian democracy as it does to the American one”.Ahead of Blinken’s visit, India’s foreign ministry said the country was proud of its pluralistic traditions and happy to discuss the issue with the top US diplomat.Modi’s government has faced allegations it has suppressed dissent, pursued divisive policies to appeal to its Hindu nationalist base and alienated Muslims, the country’s biggest minority.

Opponents of Modi’s ruling Hindu nationalist party have accused it of squashing dissent and introducing policies aimed at refashioning a multi-faith democracy into a Hindu nation that discriminates against Muslims and other minorities. Modi has also been accused of trying to silence voices critical of his administration’s handling of the massive pandemic wave that tore through the country in April and May.India routinely denies criticism of its human rights record and has rejected criticism by foreign governments and rights groups that say civil liberties have shrunk in the country.

Referring to efforts in the US to become a “more perfect union,” Blinken said that “sometimes that process is painful, sometimes it’s ugly, but the strength of democracy is to embrace it”. Blinken also tweeted about “India’s pluralistic society and history of harmony” and said civil society “helps advance these values.” SecretaryBlinken announced an additional $25 million in US government funding to bolster India’s vaccine program. Blinken told a press conference following delegation-level talks between the two sides that the financing will help save lives by bolstering vaccine supply networks across India, since the country has yet to reach a double-digit mark in the percentage of completely immunized individuals.

“This funding will contribute to saving a life by strengthening vaccine supply chain logistics, addressing misinformation, vaccine hesitancy and helping to train more health care workers,” he said.The latest support from the US Agency for International Development (USAID) comes on top of the US government’s announcement of more than $200 million in Covid-19 assistance. Blinkenemphasized that the two governments are committed to putting an end to the Covid-19 pandemic in India and the US.

The New Delhi talks were expected to lay the groundwork for a summit of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue – comprising Australia, India, Japan and the US – later this year, Indian media reported. Washington has long viewed India as a key partner in efforts to blunt increasing Chinese assertiveness in the region. The U.S. and India are part of the Quad — a group that also includes Japan and Australia — allies in the region helping deal with China’s growing economic and military strength.

Honoring India At 75th Independence Day, AAPI Plans Blood Donation and Bone Marrow Drive Camps in 75 Cities In US

“As we the 75thIndependence Day of India, the nation which has made us to be what we are today, American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI,) the largest ethnic organization in the United States, representing nearly 100,000 physicians and Fellows of Indian origin in the United States, is excited to launch a unique and noble initiative in collaboration with Bitcare, ‘AAPI Blood Donation and Stem Cell Drive” from August 15th onwards in 75 cities,” Dr. AnupamaGotimukula, President of AAPI announced here today.

A major initiative of Dr. Gotimukula-led new Executive Team which assumed charge of AAPI on July 4th during the AAPI Convention in  Atlanta, the Blood Donation campaign and free Antibody testing, is in response to the national need for blood, especially as the Covid Pandemic ravages the world.   “I want to thank the dozens of AAPI Chapters and in cities and towns across the United States, who have confirmed and have started planning to organize the event in several states,” said MeherMedavram, Chair of AAPI’s Blood Donation Initiative said. The launch event will be held in Chicago on August 7th, Dr. Medavaram announced.

Dr. Kusum Punjabi the Chair of Board of Trustees of AAPI, who is the youngest to date to be holding this position in AAPI’s 40 years long history and serving patients in the Emergency Department, said “As the pandemic has exhausted all the resources, especially the lifesaving and much needed Blood across the nation and the world, AAPI is in the forefront, once again, spreading the message for the need to donate blood and save lives.”

Dr. Ravi Kolli, President-Elect of AAPI, a Board Certified Psychiatrist with additional qualifications in Addiction, Geriatric and Forensic Psychiatry, and serving as the Psychiatric Medical Director of Southwestern Pennsylvania Human Services, urged “potential blood donors to donate blood to help ensure lifesaving blood products are available for patients. Your donation is needed now to prevent delays in patient care. Help overcome the severe blood shortage!”

Dr. Anjana  Samadder, Vice President of AAPI, said, who herself has experienced the ordeal with Covid -19, and has come out stronger,  resilient and tenacious, quoting Red Cross said, “Every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood. It is essential for surgeries, cancer treatment, chronic illnesses, and traumatic injuries. Whether a patient receives whole blood, red cells, platelets or plasma, this lifesaving care starts with one person making a generous donation.”

“With the ongoing pandemic, the United States and the world need the help of blood and platelet donors and blood drive hosts to meet the needs of patient care,” said Dr. SatheeshKathula, Secretary of AAPI, a board certified hematologist and oncologist from Dayton, Ohio, practicing Medicine for nearly two decades. Dr. Kathula also said, “It is very difficult to find a matched stem cell donor for Southeast Asians should they need a bone marrow or stem cell transplant and this drive will help increase the number of potential donors.”

Dr. Krishan Kumar, a pediatric emergency medicine physician in East Meadow, New York and is affiliated with multiple hospitals in the area, quoting studies done on the need and usefulness of Blood said, “Blood donation helps save lives. In fact, every two seconds of every day, someone needs blood. Since blood cannot be manufactured outside the body and has a limited shelf life, the supply must constantly be replenished by generous blood donors.” The growing influence of physicians of Indian heritage is evident, as increasingly physicians of Indian origin hold critical positions in the healthcare, academic, research and administrative positions across the nation. We the physicians of Indian origin are proud of our great achievements and contributions to our motherland, India, our adopted land, the US and in a very significant way to the transformation of the Indo-US relations.

Serving 1 in every 7 patients in the US, AAPI members care for millions of patients every day, while several of them have risen to hold high flying jobs, shaping the policies and programs and inventions that shape the landscape of healthcare in the US and around the  world. “As we all know our blood banks are deprived of products and another wave of COVID is rapidly increasing,” Pointed out Dr. Gotimukula, who has vowed to make AAPI a premium  healthcare leader, primarily focusing to improve and reform the current healthcare system and help towards making a better healthcare model for the patients.

“It’s a humble and a noble initiative by AAPI to help save lives. Please let us know if you are interested to take the lead in your town and help in AAPI’s blood donation drive. Thank you and truly appreciate your support in helping our blood banks.”  For more details to organize Blood Donation Drive in your city/town/region, please contact: VijayaKodali, AAPI Office Manager at: [email protected]. For more details on AAPI, please visit: www.aapiusa,org

Miss/Mrs/Teen India Pageant In New Jersey Celebrates Indian Culture

Vaidehi Dongre, 25, a graduate of University of Michigan with International Business as Major, currently employed as Business Development Manager with New Zealand Trade Commission, won the coveted Miss India USA 2021 Pageant on Friday, July 16th at Royal Alberts Palace, Edison, NJ. Organized by the New York based India Festival Committee (IFC) and chaired by Neelam & Dharmatma Saran, this is the longest running Indian pageant outside of India.” I am overwhelmed with the great response this year, said Dharmatma Saran, “with a record number of 61 contestants representing 30 states from across the United States.”

Dharmatma Saran, Chairman & Founder, said,  “We are very proud of the fact that we have been able to imbibe Indian values, tradition, culture and performing arts among Indian origin youth across the world” with our motto “bringing India closer.” As though fulfilling his vision, the packed auditorium was filled with men, women and children of Indian origin, adorned in glittering and colorful Indian attire, while Bollywood and classical music filled the air through the entire evening that went into the early hours of the following day.

Swathy Vimalkumar, 32, a mother of 3 and a teacher with a Masters in Elementary Education, from the state of Connecticut was crowned Mrs. India USA 2001, beating over two dozen participants. Her hobbies include playing tennis, Hiking, Reading and Yoga. Swathy wants to be an inspiring teacher to her students and an avid learner everyday. Navya Paingol, 17, representing the state of Michigan, who has just graduated from High School, was crowned Miss Teen India 2021. Navya enjoys dancing (Bharatnatyam), singing (classical Carnatic), playing tennis and is a member of her school varsity team. She volunteers as a tutor and in multiple non-profit organizations. Navya wants to become a Pediatric Cardiologist and help underprivileged children.

Pursuing Master’s Degree in Kathak at Bharti Vidyapeeth, Vaidehi, trained in classical music, is the Co-Director at Taal Academy School of Kathak Dance. She is a lead team member of AWE Foundation (Achieving Women’s Equality). She wants to visit 30 countries before she turns 30!  She also won the Best Talent Award for her performance during the dazzling night attended by dozens of participants, their families and friends from around the nation.

Arshi Lalani, 20 from the state of Georgia was declared the Runner UP, while Mira Kasari, 21 from North Carolina was the 2nd Runner Up. Riya Sapkal, 18, from New York and Khushi Patel, 18 from Florida, and Roma Patel, 30, from Pennsylvania were the top Six Finalists for the prestigious Miss India USA Title. For the Miss Teen USA Title, Aashna Shah, 15 from Florida was the Runner Up and Asees Kaur, 16, from Virginia was declared the 2nd RunnerUJp. Reeya Mathur 17, from Michigan and Riya Pawar, 15, New Jersey were among the five finalists.

Sonal Dua, 36 from North Carolina was the Runner Up at the Mrs USA 2021 and Sunitha Shambulingappa, 41, from Virginia was the Second Runner Up. Aparna Chakravarty, 55 and Sneha Viswalingam, 29 were among the top 5 chosen for the final Q&A Segment of the pageant. Swathy, Navya, and Vaidehi will represent USA in the Miss & Mrs. India Worldwide 2021 to be held in Mumbai on October 4th, 2021. The three won the crowns out of 61 finalists from all over USA. The annual pageant which also celebrated thirty ninth anniversary of Miss India USA had a record number of participants and was attended by hundreds of people from across the USA.

Sonal Dua, 36, from North Carolina won the Mrs Talented Title; Mrs Congeniality was Mohana Namle, 35, from  Connecticut. Harshada Patil Fegade, 32 walked away with the Mrs Catwalk Title. Mrs Photogenic was Aparna Chakravarty, 55 from Florida; Mrs Popularity was Swathy Vimalkumar, 32 of Connecticut, and Mrs Chairman Professional was Sheetal Rana, 36 from New York. Amelia Mallareddy from North Carolina was declared Miss Beautiful Face, while Miss Catwalk was Mira Kasari from North Carolina.  Rishika Pal of Massachusetts took the

Miss Bollywood Diva title. Miss Congeniality was Jaskiran Uppal of Washington State, while Miss Photogenic was Jasleen Gill from Ohio. Athulya Narayanan of Connecticut was declared Miss Beautiful Eyes and the one with Miss Beautiful Hair was  Rishika Pal of Massachusetts. Miss Beautiful Skin title went to Mira Kasari of Michigan. Chairman Professional title was given to Sindhura Mutyala from Texas. Miss Beautiful Smile award went to Chaiya Shah from Michigan and Miss Popularity was Khushi Patel from Florida.

Teen Talented title went to Aashna Shah from Florida; Teen Congeniality award was given to Poorva Mishra and Teen photogenic was Sarina Saran from Virginia. The pageant started with a stunning performance by all the contestants led by the outgoing queens Aaishwarya Gulani, Shruthi Bekal and Sidhya Ganesh, and choreographed by Shilpa Jhurani. All contestants presented their best in the Indian and the Evening Gown segments after which the top five were selected. The top five contestants mesmerized the audience with their talents which included Bollywood dances, Indian classical and folk dances, art, singing and speech.

Diana Hayden, a popular Indian actress from Bollywood and Miss World 1997 was the Chief Guest. Shruthi Bekal, Mrs India USA 2019 and Tarna Kaur, Mrs India Worldwide 2019 elegantly emceed the pageant. Kim Kunari, former Miss India USA 2019 and Easha Kode, the first ever Miss Teen India USA were emcees for the pre-pageant event on July 15th. Nishi Bahl was the choreographer assisted by Shilpa Jhurani. This year’s pageant was presented by Yash Pandya and supported by TV Asia and Royal Albert’s Palace. Yash Pandya, Albert Jassani and H R Shah sashed the winners at the pageant.

The spectacular Miss India Pageants organized by India Festival Committee (IFC), started in a basement in New York in 1980 with the first ever Miss India New York and Miss India USA, has evolved and expanded, now incorporating and having membership from over 40 countries, that promote Indian heritage and providing a platform for people of Indian origin to unite and showcase their talents, skills and beauty. The pageants aim to honor achievement, to celebrate our culture in many ways, among them, the ability to meet people, make friends, to respect and be respected, to continually strive to improve standards, and to live a life as close to the laws of nature.

The IFC selects distinguished local organizations in various parts of the world and authorizes them to conduct national pageants in their respective countries. The India Festival Committee, started in 1974 in a most humble way, has come a long way. Saran and the pageant are “very proud of the fact that we have been able to provide a common platform for the international Indian community through pageantry. We are equally proud of the fact that we have been able to imbibe Indian values, traditions and culture among the youth of Indian origin around the world. We have also been successful in promoting Indian performing arts in the world.”

Pandemic Of The Unvaccinated’ Spreads In US, Fueled By Delta

Fueled by the highly contagious Delta variant, Covid cases are rising in almost all the 50 states in the United States, and with less thanhalf the US population fully vaccinated, public health chiefs warned of an “extraordinary surge” coast to coast. Covid are going up, so are the number of hospitalizations and deaths.  Data compiled by the New York Times showed that the average rate measured over the past 2 weeks was rising in all 50 states – varying from a dramatic 373% in Tennessee to 10% in Maine. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious diseases official, said there had been an extraordinary surge in the Delta variant of Covid-19 – which is more transmissible – around the world, including in the US.

Jeff Zients, the coordinator of the White House coronavirus team, confirmed that unvaccinated Americans “account for virtually all recent Covid-19 hospitalizations and deaths”. Four states that are currently seeing high increases in Covid-19 cases have accounted for over 40% of the total Covid cases seen in the country this past week, Zients said. One in five cases occurred in Florida, in which about 50% of the state is fully vaccinated. “Each Covid-19 death is tragic, and those happening now are even more tragic because they are preventable,” he said. Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri and Nevada are also seeing surges in infections in many parts.

Angela Rasmussen, a virologist and research scientist at the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization at the University of Saskatchewan has pointed to a compelling preprint study out of China recently that showed people who were exposed to the Delta variant got sick fast. The study has found that people infected with the Delta variant are shedding way more virus, which could explain why it’s so contagious. Rasmussen says the good news is that it still transmits in the same way as the original strain, so all of those mitigation tools like masking and handwashing and social distancing – all of those still work to block Delta. And the vaccines are still highly effective against this variant.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) warns that new COVID-19 cases are on a sharp rise, up 70%, fueled by the Delta variant. Officials expect more spread in the nation’s unvaccinated population. Cases, hospitalizations and deaths remain far below last winter’s peak and vaccines are effective against Delta. But rising cases prompted the official, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky to declare in a briefing on July 16th that the trend is clear. Unvaccinated people are at risk. She pleaded with Americans to get fully vaccinated.

Describing the new trend across the nation, Walensky says it’s a little bit of a mixed picture. Cases are rising in some places like California and New York that have pretty good vaccination rates. But she says by far, the most spread is happening in places where not many people are vaccinated. In fact, 97% of people who get so sick with COVID-19 that they have to be hospitalized are unvaccinated. Officials are concerned by these numbers and point out that sickness and death is avoidable. COVID-19 is now a vaccine-preventable disease, and people who’ve been holding out should get vaccinated.

During the press briefing, Walensky said that in places that are hot spots where there’s low vaccination rates, it may make sense for local officials to consider masking requirements until the vaccine campaign can catch up. The Los Angelus County has mandated indoor masking, including vaccinated people, and  so we’ll have to see if other places follow suit. “We are seeing outbreaks of cases in parts of the country that have low vaccination coverage because unvaccinated people are at risk. Communities that are fully vaccinated are generally faring well,” she said.

Dr. Anupama Gotimukula-Led Leadership Vows To Take AAPI Newer Heights

Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, President of American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI)has vowed to  make AAPI a premium  healthcare leader, primarily focusing to improve and reform the current healthcare system and help towards making a better healthcare model for the patients;  create awareness projects on major chronic diseases burdening our health care system through Lifestyle modifications; establish a support system to members going through racial discrimination in the US; support AAPI legislative efforts to make healthcare better and affordable to all and promote charitable activities globally.

During a solemn ceremony attended by hundreds of AAPI delegates from around the nation, Dr. Anupama Gotimukula and a new executive committee, consisting of Dr. Ravi Kolli, President-Elect; Dr. Anjana Samadder, Vice President; Dr. Satheesh Kathula, Secretary; Dr. Krishan Kumar, Treasurer;  Dr. Kusum Punjabi, Chair, Board of Trustees; Dr. Soumya Neravetla- President, Young Physicians Section; and, Dr. Ayesha Singh, President, Medical Student/Residents & Fellows Section;assumed charge of AAPI during the 39th annual Convention at the at the fabulous and world famous Omni Atlanta at CNN Center and Georgia World Congress Center on July 4th.

Dr. Sudhakar Jonnalgadda, the outgoing President of AAPI passed on the gavel to Dr. Gotimukula, who will lead AAPI as its President in the year 2021-2022, the largest Medical Organization in the United States, representing the interests of the over 100,000 physicians and Fellows of Indian origin in the United States, serving the interests of the Indian American physicians in the US and in many ways contributing to the shaping of the healthcare delivery in the US for the past four decades.  A resident of San Antonio, TX, Dr.Gotimukula  is a board certified Pediatric Anesthesiologist, practicing since 2007, is affiliated with Christus Santa Rosa, Baptist and Methodist Healthcare systems in San Antonio. After graduating with distinction from Kakatiya Medical College, NTR University of Health Sciences in India, she did Residency at University of Miami & University of Illinois, and Fellowship in Pediatric Anesthesiology at University of Michigan.

As a Healthcare Leader, Dr. Gotimukula recognizes that “API has power. We have legitimate respect and trust of our communities in every corner of America. AAPI will leverage that power of our purpose and networks to help address specific challenges related to women and the numerous challenges women face.”

Dr. Kusum Punjabi, a very young and energetic leader of AAPI, assumed office as the Chair of Board of Trustees of AAPI on July 4th. The youngest to date to be holding this position in AAPI’s 40 years long history and the first person to go to medical school in the USA, Dr. Punjabi completed her undergraduate degree from Rutgers University in Biology and Economics and graduated with high honors as a Henry Rutgers Scholar. She, then completed MD/MBA program from Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and Rutgers Business School.

Holding leadership roles while a student, Dr. Punjabi says, “I was the Class President in medical school and got the Deans Award that year. I then went to Philadelphia and completed my residency in Emergency Medicine from Drexel University – Hahnemann University Hospital. For the past 12 years, I work as an Emergency Physician at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson university hospital in NJ serving our local community and teaching at the Medical school as Assistant Professor in Emergency Medicine.”

Dr. Punjabi has “served many board positions at American Medical Association (AMA,) women’s section and young physicians section and at the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) for past 12 years starting in the Young Physician sections. I have led community service projects, organized webinars and conferences, written in AAPI newsletters and journals. I have won several national elections of AAPI before being unanimously elected as Chair of the Board.”

Dr. Punjabi says, “My goal as Chair of the Board is to develop long lasting programs within AAPI that promote professionalism, unity, mentorship and inclusivity. I hope to clearly re-define AAPI’s mission of service, academic achievement and supporting Indian Physicians working in America through advocacy and leadership. I want patients to know the value of the care they receive from our ethnic group and our mission of promoting the safest and best healthcare practices for our patients.

Dr. Ravi Kolli, President-Elect is a Board Certified Psychiatrist with additional qualifications in Addiction, Geriatric and Forensic Psychiatry, and serves as Psychiatric Medical Director of Southwestern Pennsylvania Human Services. A former Clinical Asst. Professor of Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh and West Virginia University, Dr. Kolli had served as the President-Elect in 2020-21, Secretary of AAPI 2019-20, Regional Director of AAPI 2017-18, Past President of Pittsburgh Chapter of AAPI (TAPI), Past President of Rangaraya Medical College Alumni of North America and as the Past President of Association of Telugu Medical Graduates in USA.

“In my role as the President-Elect of AAPI, I will be working closely with the entire AAPI leadership to make AAPI a more dynamic and  vibrant organization playing a meaningful and relevant part in advocating health policies and practices that best serve the interests of all patients  and  promoting the  physician’s role   as  the  leaders of the  team based health care delivery,” Dr. Kolli says. “We will work together to promote our values of professionalism, collegiality, excellence in patient care and enhance AAPI’s reputation as a premiere professional organization offering educational programs and advocacy.”

Dr. Kolli wants to “focus on battling the stigma of mental illness and access to quality mental health care broadly. I will be forming liaison with mental health professionals in India and globally and bring awareness of various biopsychosocial therapeutic options  to promote wellness and recovery from mental illness and substance use disorders.  We will also actively promote physician wellness and self care to address the challenges of physician burnout and suicide.”

Dr. Anajana Samadder, Vice President of AAPI, said, “My journey with AAPI in the past 20 years taught me lots of lessons, skills and molded me to take more responsibility in the organization. My ordeal with Covid -19 was hard, but it also made me strong, resilient and tenacious. I will bring to the organization the level of commitment, hard work, experience and skill set needed to accomplish the various goals for AAPI and its members.”

Dr.Anjana Samadder has shown great leadership qualities which she proved during her tenure as local chapter President (Central Ohio), Regional Director(Ohio and Michigan) and as AAPI National Treasurer. She has also served diligently in different capacities within AAPI including being National Coordinator for AAPI Annual Convention, 2018 in Columbus.  Dr. Smaddar served as the Chair, AAPI Women’s Forum and has organized first live conference of this year in Tampa, Florida (March 19 to 21,2021) with great success. Her vision for AAPI is “to help build an ethically strong, morally straight and fiscally responsible organization. It is also vitally important to bring much needed diversity to keep AAPI thriving.”

Dr. Satheesh Kathula, Secretary of AAPI said, “I want to assure that I will sincerely work for the betterment of our beloved organization, AAPI.” A board certified hematologist and oncologist from Dayton, Ohio, practicing Medicine for nearly two decades, Dr. Kathula is a clinical professor of medicine at Wright State University- Boonshoft school of medicine, Dayton, Ohio. He graduated from Siddhartha Medical College, Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh, India in 1992. He has been actively involved in community service locally, nationally and internationally for the last two decades. He has been awarded with the “Man of the year-2018, The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. ’”

Dr. Kathula has served in numerous capacities, before being elected as the Treasurer of AAPI-2020-21. He had served as the Chair, IT Committee- 2019-20; Editor, Enewsletter-2019-20; a member of AAPI’s Board of Trustees- 2014-17; and Regional Director- 2012-14, in addition t several roles at the local and regional level.  He has served as the President and founding member of Association of Indian Physicians from Ohio; President, Miami Valley Association of Physicians of Indian Origin; President, ATMGUSA; and has worked with Ohio State Medical Association on various issues.

A recipient of several Community Service/Awards, Dr. Kathula wants to “Make AAPI a mainstream organization and work on issues affecting physicians including physician shortage, burnout, and credentialing, while leveraging the strength of 100,000 doctors at legislative level.” Another area, he wants to work is to “Encourage and engage next generation/young physicians in AAPI activities. While working closely with other physician organizations such as AMA.”

Dr. Krishan Kumar, Treasurer of AAPI said, “I am honored to be elected as the Treasurer of national AAPI. As an organization, AAPI is committed to increasing young physicians’ knowledge base, enhancing their careers, and empowering them to play a key role in healthcare advocacy and community service. I will continue my dedicated work of several years helping fulfil our mission.”

Dr. Krishan Kumar is a pediatric emergency medicine physician in East Meadow, New York and is affiliated with multiple hospitals in the area, including Nassau University Medical Center and North Shore University Hospital. A recipient of the prestigious Parvasi Bharatiya Diwas Award, Dr. Krishan Kumar, served as the Chair and Program Director, Department of Pediatrics, Nassau University Medical Center, from January, 2017-April 2019. Dr. Kumar is a Clinical Professor of Emergency Medicine at NY College of Osteopathic Medicine and Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at  NY College of Osteopathic Medicine. He has served as the Medical Director, Fire Police EMS Academy- County of Nassau, NY from 2000 to January 2019.

Dr. Kumar was recognized among America’s Top Pediatricians by Consumer’s Research Council of America- Excellence 2010. The Congressional Certificate of Merit Award- given by Peter King, Chairman, Home Land Security, for “In recognition of being awarded the 2011 community service and leadership award by the South Asian Political Action Committee   in October, 2011.

The growing influence of physicians of Indian heritage is evident, as increasingly physicians of Indian origin hold critical positions in the healthcare, academic, research and administrative positions across the nation. We the physicians of Indian origin are proud of our great achievements and contributions to our motherland, India, our adopted land, the US and in a very significant way to the transformation of the Indo-US relations.

Serving 1 in every 7 patients in the US, AAPI members care for millions of patients every day, while several of them have risen to hold high flying jobs, shaping the policies and programs and inventions that shape the landscape of healthcare in the US and around the  world.

“As we look forward to the future beyond COVID-19, we at AAPI have so much more room to grow and serve,” Dr. Gotimukula said. “I challenge myself, my Executive Committee, and you all, my AAPI colleagues, to rise up to the task of building on our accomplishments and successes over the last several years. My team and I have defined several goals for this year to further AAPI’s mission, along three key dimensions.”  Dr. Gotimukula urged AAPI to “improve health equity; get rid of discrimination; fight South Asian racial bias; reduce physician burnout; and, improve the career trajectory of the younger generation of Indian American doctors who will be taking care of us as we age.”  For more details, please visit: www.appiusa,org

“AAPI Is Stronger And Is Going To Be In Safe Hands:” Dr. SudhakarJonnalagadda Declares In Farewell Address

(Atlanta, GA; July 5th, 2021) “I am happy to declare that, AAPI is stronger and is going to be in safe hands, as I pass on the traditional gavel to Dr. AnupamaGotimukula, the new President of AAPI,” said Dr. SudhakarJonnalagadda, the outgoing President of AAPI in his Farewell Address on July 4th at the famous OMINI Hotel in Atlanta, GA.

Dr. Jonnalagadda, who had assumed office a year ago during a virtual convention, told the AAPI delegates, “Despite the Covid pandemic and the many challenges AAPI had to face, “I am proud of the many accomplishments under my leadership. I am grateful for the immense and life changing moments, probably the best of my life ever, that came with my association with and leading AAPI.” Describing how his own life has changed over the past years, he said, “Working with many physicians motivated me to be a better physician myself. I understood the higher meaning of being a physician, especially even more now during the COVID pandemic. AAPI has given me so much — networking, advocacy, and education — and I am honored to serve this noble organization.  I sincerely appreciate the trust you placed in me as the President of AAPI, and I am deeply committed to continue to work for you.”

Dr. Jonnalagadda expressed gratitude to his executive committee members: Dr. AnupamaGotimukula, President-Elect; Dr. Ravi Kolli, Vice President, Dr. Amit Chakrabarty, Secretary of AAPI; Dr. Satish Kathula,  Treasurer of AAPI, Dr. Sajani Shah, Chair of AAPI’s BOT; Dr. Ami Baxi, YPS President; Dr. Kinjal Solanki, MSRF President; and Dr. SurendraPurohit, Chair of AAPI Charitable Foundation, for their cooperation, collaboration and leadership in helping AAPI meet the vision for AAPI.

Dr. Jonnalagadda enumerated several programs under his leadership AAPI had undertaken in the past one year. “AAPI and the Charitable Foundation has several programs in India. Under my leadership with the pioneering efforts of Dr. SurenderPurohit, Chairman of AAPI CF, we have been able to strengthen the programs benefitting our motherland, India.” AAPI has been actively involved in community awareness programs like Obesity prevention, sharing medical knowledge at the weekly webinars on team building activities such as the Share a Blanket program, medical education programs such as CPR training, and educating the public and creating awareness on healthcare issues through ZeeTV and ITV Gold, NDTV, BBC, and CNN. Almost all the ethnic publications from coast to coast across the US and several leading publications in India have run timely stories on AAPI‘s several initiatives and programs.

“AAPI’s Clinical Observership Program, the launching of JAAPI, a medical journal and the AAPI endowment Fund are some of the other initiatives under his leadership. However, the most important all was the numerous efforts he and his Team had undertaken to help India that is faced with the 2nd wave of the deadly covid pandemic. “AAPI has been coordinating several efforts, including tele-health to patients and Doctors in India,” Dr. Jonnalagadda said. “Thanks to the overwhelming support of its members that AAPI has raised over $5 million. They have been working very hard in sending oxygen concentrators and ventilators to India, to deal with the calamity in India and are in the process of helping to set up oxygen generator plants in different hospitals in India.”

AAPI has raised over $ 5 Million towards Covid relief funds for India and has purchased, shipped and coordinated with local authorities the supply and distribution of medical supplies to several parts of India. AAPI has shipped over a thousand Oxygen generators, masks, PPPs and essential supplies, and our pipeline will continue until the pandemic is overcome. As with anyone else, our doctors believe that they can best carry out our service to God through our service to our fellow humans.

“The year 2020-21 has been a year that has fundamentally challenged long established certainties about what we think is safe and what we believe is healthy in all areas of our lives. The innovative ways healthcare professionals have learnt and begun to practice Medicine gives humanity HOPE,” Dr. Jonnalagadd said. “AAPI will continue to be an active player in crafting the delivery of healthcare in the most efficient manner in the United States and India. We will strive for equity in healthcare delivery globally. We will be able to take AAPI to stability, unity, growth and greater achievements,” the out-going President said. “My message to the new Team led by Dr. Gotimukula: AAPI must be responsive to its members, supportive of the leadership and a true advocate for our mission.”

Delivering a spiritual discourse at the Convention, SadhviBhagawatiSaraswati, Author of “Hollywood to the Himalayas” led the AAPI delegates into an experience of peace and serenity. In her keynote address, Sadhviji inspired the participants to engage in the scholarly exchange of medical advances, to develop health policy agendas, and to encourage legislative priorities professionals in the field of medicine. She emphasized the important and critical connection between mind and body by saying “As the Bhagavad Gita reminds us: the mind is the cause of all problems and the mind is, therefore, the solution.” She offered them a “Mantra” which she called, CURED, where C stands for Connections – Connect with your inner self; U stands for Understand that you are a tool in the hands of God; R stands for Reconnect with your inner self day in and day out; E stands for Equanimity – stay balanced in all you do; and, D stands for “Dhanyavad or Devotion” that is being grateful which will lead one to enjoy happiness kin life.

Dr. Sudhir Parikh, CEO of Parikh Media introduced the keynote speaker, AnandibenMafatbhai Patel, an Indian politician serving as the 28th and current Governor of Uttar Pradesh. She also served as Governor of Madhya Pradesh. She has served as the former Chief Minister of Gujarat. She was the first female chief minister of the state, he said. In her virtual address, she congratulated AAPI for organizing the convention and thanked them for their selfless services to India, the US and the humanity. Dr. Bobby Mukkamala, Chair of BOT at American Medical Association shared with nostalgia his long association with AAPI, growing up as a child and now, be leading the largest Medical Association in the US. Aaishwariya A Gulani, Valedictorian from The International Bolles School and a 3rd year Medical Student having held leadership roles from academia as recognized by the United Nations to community service globally as the reigning Miss India USA participated in the Fashion Show.

The concluding day of the convention had the usual pomp and show displayed in music and dance by the local organizing committee of the Convention headed by Dr. SreeniGangasani, who and his team were praised for their hardwork, dedication and creative ideas in putting together aan amazing convention in less than three months. “We are delighted to have been able to plan and organize the convention in record time,” said Dr. Gangasani. Calling it a historic convention, the Cardiologist from Atlanta said, “For the first time ever, we had to stop registration as we had reached the required number of participants for the convention, disappointing many who wanted to come and join the annual meet. Thank you for joining the AAPI community as we celebrate the victory of science over calamity while paying tribute to all the fallen healthcare workers including some from AAPI family. We also want to show the world that we can start socializing with precautions once you are vaccinated,” added Dr. Gangasani.

During the BOT Luncheon on July 4th, Dr. Sajani Shah, the outgoing BOT Chair in her powerfuo message enumerated the numerous programs BOT under her leadership had initiated in the past one year. Dr. Shah invited all the past BOT Chairs onto stage and honored them for their leadership of AAPI. Research  & Poster Contest Winners were recognized with $2500 cash award.

AAPI recognized the current Executive Committee Members, BOT members and several others who have worked hard to make the vision and mission of AAPI come alive. Prominent among them are: Dr. Radhu Agrawal was bestowed with AAPI Lifetime Achievement Award; AAPI Most Distinguished Physician Award was given to Dr. DhanireddyRamasubbareddy; AAPI Most Distinguished Service Award was given to Dr. Suresh Gupta; AAPI Most Distinguished YPS Award went to Dr. Purvi Parikh; and, AAPI Most Distinguished  Community Service was bestowed on Dr. Sujatha Reddy. Dr. Raghu Lolabhattu, Convention Vice Chair shared with the delegates about how in a matter of less than three months the Atlanta Chapter has put together a fabulous convention. He later on called on stage every member of the convention committee, while Dr. Lonnalagadda and Dr. Gangasani recognized them with a plaque. The past Presidents of were called on state on the 2nd night’s gala and were recognized for their leadership and continued guidance.

In her inaugural address after she was administered the oath of Office, Dr. AnupamaGotimukula vowed to make AAPI a premium  healthcare leader, primarily focusing to improve and reform the current healthcare system and help towards making a better healthcare model for the patients;  create awareness projects on major chronic diseases burdening our health care system through Lifestyle modifications ; establish a support system to members going through racial discrimination in the US; support AAPI legislative efforts to make healthcare better and affordable to all and promote charitable activities globally. For more details, please visit:  www.aapiconvention.org/ www.aapiusa.org

Dr. AnupamaGotimukula Assumes Charge As The President Of AAPI During 39th Annual Convention In Atlanta

During a solemn ceremony attended in person by hundreds of AAPI delegates from around the nation, Dr. AnupamaGotimukula assumed charge as the President of American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) during the 39th annual Convention at the at the fabulous and world famous Omni Atlanta at CNN Center and Georgia World Congress Center on July 4th.

Dr. SudhakarJonnalgadda, the outgoing President of AAPI passed on the gavel to Dr. Gotimukula, the forth ever woman President of AAPI in the 39 years long history of AAPPI, while the audience gave a rousing applause to the new leader of AAPI. Dr. Gotimukula has a new Executive Committee, consisting of Dr. Ravi Kolli, President-Elect; Dr. AnjanaSamadder, Vice President; Dr. SatheeshKathula, Secretary; Dr. Krishan Kumar, Treasurer;  Dr. Kusum Punjabi, Chair, Board of Trustees; Dr. SoumyaNeravetla- President, Young Physicians Section; and, Dr. Ayesha Singh, President, Medical Student/Residents & Fellows Section. Dr. Gotimukula will lead AAPI as its President in the year 2021-2022, the largest Medical Organization in the United States, representing the interests of the over 100,000 physicians and Fellows of Indian origin in the United States, serving the interests of the Indian American physicians in the US and in many ways contributing to the shaping of the healthcare delivery in the US for the past 39 years.

In her inaugural address after she was administered the oath of Office, Dr. Gotimukula reminded the AAPI members about our origin. “We came to the US pursuing the American Dream. Through hard work and a bit of luck, most of us achieved that dream and have become successful and caring doctors who play a crucial role in the American healthcare system. We serve patients. Raise money for local causes. Contribute to our education system and improve the lives of millions of Americans.  We joined AAPI to socialize and meet others like us and in that journey learned that through this wonderful organization, we were able to make a bigger impact with the many academic, philanthropic and social initiatives.”

While acknowledging and thanking “our founding members and all the past leadership of AAPI who contributed to the growth of the organization,” the only 4th woman president of AAPI in the nearly four decades old history of AAPI said, “We stand on the shoulders of our predecessors, who fought the good fight in bringing AAPI to where we stand today; vibrant, strong, healthcare heroes being recognized and valued by our peers, communities and most importantly the patients. We are the largest ethnic physician organization in the United States and help to elevate the voice of Indian Americans everywhere.”

Stating that healthcare professionals have made a significant difference  in fighting this pandemic. “AAPI and our members have been on the frontlines serving patients, working with local public health authorities donating and distributing resources such as PPEs, critical hospital supplies as well as most recently providing much needed oxygen concentrators and ventilators in India. You are truly healthcare heroes who stood up and risked your lives to SERVE when it was most needed. A value that is not just American but also something we brought along from our motherland of India.”

The soft spoken, thoughtful and visionary leader, Dr. Gotimukula says “I like to hope. I am a passionate people-person with a pleasing personality. I strive to be an empathetic team leader and good listener, always seeking and doing my best to achieve the team’s goals,”

As a woman leader, being the leader of the largest ethnic physician medical organization in the United States, Dr. Anupama wants to make AAPI a premium  healthcare leader, primarily focussing to improve and reform the current healthcare system and help towards making a better healthcare model for the patients;  create awareness projects on major chronic diseases burdening our health care system through Lifestyle modifications ; establish a support system to members going through racial discrimination in the US; support AAPI legislative efforts to make healthcare better and affordable to all and promote charitable activities globally;

“As we look forward to the future beyond COVID-19, we at AAPI have so much more room to grow and serve,” Dr. Gotimukula said. “I challenge myself, my Executive Committee, and you all, my AAPI colleagues, to rise up to the task of building on our accomplishments and successes over the last several years. My team and I have defined several goals for this year to further AAPI’s mission, along three key dimensions.” As President, she wants to focus on: “As one of the biggest stakeholders in the current healthcare system, there is an urgent need for Healthcare & Societal Reform, she said. “We need to be a part of the change we want in our healthcare system.”

Dr. Gotimukula urged AAPI to “improve health equity; get rid of discrimination; fight South Asian racial bias; reduce physician burnout; and, improve the career trajectory of the younger generation of Indian American doctors who will be taking care of us as we age.” As the President of AAPI, Dr. Anupama’s goal is to work towards “Healthcare Partnerships” with other similar groups. “In addition to the good community outreach programs, we need to develop new innovative partnerships around Academics & Research. Providing a solid foundation of science for better patient outcomes. We must reinvigorate industry partnerships &programs. Build on our core mission by partnering deeper with AMA and other medical and specialty organizations to work in tandem for common goals.”

As a Healthcare Leader, Dr. Gotimukula recognizes that “API has power. We have legitimate respect and trust of our communities in every corner of America. AAPI will leverage that power of our purpose and networks to help address specific challenges related to women and the numerous challenges women face: the dual roles balanced by a wonder woman physician, at work and at home and their increasing role in the future in the Healthcare delivery, Through our shared goals, we can leverage our influence to help shape a better future for our children and grandchildren.”

A resident of San Antonio, TX, Dr.Gotimukula  is a board certified Pediatric Anesthesiologist, practicing since 2007, is affiliated with Christus Santa Rosa, Baptist and Methodist Healthcare systems in San Antonio. After graduating with distinction from Kakatiya Medical College, NTR University of Health Sciences in India, she did Residency at University of Miami & University of Illinois, and Fellowship in Pediatric Anesthesiology at University of Michigan.

A resident of San Antonio, TX, Dr.Gotimukula  is a board certified Pediatric Anesthesiologist, practicing since 2007, is affiliated with Christus Santa Rosa, Baptist and Methodist Healthcare systems in San Antonio. After graduating with distinction from Kakatiya Medical College, NTR University of Health Sciences in India, she did Residency at University of Miami & University of Illinois, and Fellowship in Pediatric Anesthesiology at University of Michigan.

Dr. Gotimukula urged the API fraternity to “participate. Get involved. Get engaged. Lend a hand. And stand up and be heard. To all the team members, I want to thank you for your efforts thus far and for the next year ahead. Together we will all make AAPI the community standard bearer for a better future.” While thanking AAPPI members for “this wonderful honor of serving as your leader and I look forward to working with you all to help accomplish these goals and create greater impact through our efforts,” she said, “My hope is that this year will bring us all back together to see the warm smiling faces from region to region across the country. Let’s move forward and achieve great success together.”

Physicians of Indian Origin in the United States are reputed to be leading health care providers, holding crucial positions in various hospitals and health care facilities around the nation and the world. Known to be a leading ethnic medical organization that represents nearly 100,000 physicians and fellows of Indian Origin in the US, and being their voice and providing a forum to its members to collectively work together to meet their diverse needs, AAPI members are proud to contribute to the wellbeing of their motherland India and their adopted land, the United States. The convention is forum to network, share knowledge and thoughts, and thus, enrich one another, and rededicate ourselves for the health and wellbeing of all peoples of the world.  For more details, please visit:  www.aapiconvention.org/ www.aapiusa.org

Death Of Indian Jesuit Stan Swamy Throws Light On Abuse Of India’s Anti-Terrorism Laws

The body of 84-year-old Indian Jesuit priest Stan Swamy, who died under detention, was cremated on July 6 after a court asked Jesuit officials to follow prison rules. Father Stan Swamy was championing the rights of indigenous and marginalized people in eastern India’s Jharkhand state, breathed his last at the Holy Family Hospital in Bandra, Mumbai, where he was admitted for treatment over a month ago. Father Swamy was a Jesuit for 64 years, and a priest for 51 years.

The body of Father Swamy, who died of post-Covid-19 complications on July 5 in church-run Holy Family Hospital in Mumbai, was taken to a government crematorium after a requiem Mass. “Although he was free from Covid-19, we have been asked by the court to follow prison rules,” Jesuit Father Joseph Xavier said at the end of the July 6 funeral service after announcing the decision to cremate the priest’s body.  Father Swamy’s body was cremated in an electric crematorium at around 6.30pm after the funeral Mass, Father Joseph told UCA News on July 7.

Dr. Stanislaus D’Souza SJ, the Jesuit Provincial of India, said: “With a deep sense of pain, anguish and hope we have surrendered Fr Stan Swamy, aged 84, to his eternal abode.”The funeral service and Mass was led by Father Arun De Souza, Jesuit provincial of Mumbai, at St. Peter’s Church in Bandra, a Mumbai suburb. Only some 20 people attended the service because of Covid-19 restrictions.  Jesuits said the ashes will be carried to Ranchi town in eastern India where the missionary priest was based and to Jamshedpur town, the base of his Jesuit province. Father Stanislaus Arulswamy, known popularly as Stan Swamy had Parkinson’s disease, developed a pulmonary infection, post-Covid-19 complications in the lungs and pneumonia, according to the hospital’s medical director Ian D’Souza.  India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA) that is tasked with fighting terrorism and sedition under the controversial Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), arrested Father Swamy on October 8 from Bagaicha, a Jesuit social action center on the outskirts of Ranchi, the capital of the eastern state of Jharkhand.

The following day, he was lodged in Taloja Jail, near Mumbai.  He was arrested for alleged links with Maoist insurgents who were said to have been behind the caste-based violence in BhimaKoregaon village in Maharashtra state in January 2018, in which one person was killed and many others injured.  Fifteen others, including scholars, lawyers, academicians, cultural activists and an ageing radical poet, have also been implicated in the same case. Father Swamy who suffered from Parkinson’s disease had difficulty in even sipping water from a glass and depended on co-prisoners for his other basic needs.  Besides, he also had hearing impairment and other age-related ailments.

The NIA court denied him bail twice, forcing him to twice move the Bombay High Court for bail. In the second week of May, the priest’s family members sought his release on grounds that he had contracted Covid-19 and was unable to even speak to his lawyers.  While hearing his bail plea on health grounds on May 21 through a video linkup, the Bombay High Court sensed Fr. Swamy’s failing health, and offered him treatment in a government or private hospital.  But the Jesuit turned down the offer, saying all he wanted was bail to go back to his home.  “I would rather suffer, possibly die very shortly if this were to go on,” he said.  He explained that when he arrived at the prison, his bodily systems “were very functional”, but in the over 7 months in prison, “there has been a steady, slow regression” of his health.

JCSA said “the Bombay High Court was hearing some petitions, seeking bail and a constitutional challenge to a section of UAPA, on July 5 when his lawyer announced Stan Swamy’s death.” “He suffered a cardiac arrest at 4.30 am on Saturday, and deteriorated thereafter,” JCSA said. The Archdiocese of Ranchi where Father Swamy served hailed him as  “a champion of tribal rights, a fighter for justice and a symbol of courage”.  “The fact that this sick man suffering with Parkinson disease was arrested at the age of 84, refused bail for over 7 months, not even allowed a sipper and finally contracted COVID in jail, itself is a sad reflection on those who got the innocent man arrested and the courts that refused to give him bail,” said a statement signed by

Archbishop Felix Toppo of Ranchi and Auxiliary Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas.  “The ‘caged parrot’ now sings in heaven but its blood is on our hands,” they wrote,   “May the hand of God intervene to bring justice to all innocent victims of insensitivity, vindictiveness and injustice. We have lost Fr. Stan Swamy but we still hope in the God of justice,” they added.The Jamshedpur Jesuit Province, to which Father Swamy belonged, also expressed “a deep sense of pain, anguish and hope” at the death of the “servant in mission of justice and reconciliation”. In a Facebook post, Father Jerome Cutinha noted that the “author of life” had given Father Swamy “a mission to work among the Advasis [indigenous], Dalits [downtrodden] and other marginalized communities so that the poor may have life and life to the full, with dignity and honour”. “The Society of Jesus [Jesuits], at this moment, recommits itself to take forward the legacy of Fr. Stan in hits mission of justice and reconciliation,” Father Cutinha wrote.

“We are deeply saddened at the passing away of Fr. Stan Swamy. We give thanks to God for Fr. Stan’s life and commitment to the poor indigenous people and their struggles,” wrote Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Bombay in a brief statement.  “Fr. Stan’s arrest was very painful,” lamented the cardinal who is President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI).   “Under the Indian criminal law, one is innocent until proved guilty,” he wrote. “Fr. Stan’s case did not even come up for hearing. We were eagerly waiting for the case to be taken up and the truth to come out,” the cardinal wrote.

Fr. Swamy’s commitment

Father Swamy has denied all charges against him saying BhimaKoregaon is “a place that I have never been to in all my life.” However, sensing his imminent arrest, he had released a video message explaining his situation.  He said that what was happening to him was not something unique or happening to him alone. “It’s a broader process that is taking place over the country.”  Prominent intellectuals, lawyers, writers, poets, activists and student leaders, he said, “are all put into jail just because they have expressed dissent…”.

This however did not dim his resolve to pursue his convictions.  “I am happy to be part of this process because I am not a silent spectator,” he said in the video.  He explained that with the creation of Jharkhand state in 2000, there were issues, such as displacement and land alienation because of mining, factories townships and dams”, in which the people who owned that land were not consulted.  He engaged young activists to resort to the country rulings or laws that empowered the indigenous people in issues regarding their lands and territories.

The death in India of an octogenarian human rights activist who was denied bail even as his health deteriorated in prison has sparked anger across the country, with critics decrying the government’s alleged misuse of anti-terrorism laws. For decades, he fought for the human rights of India’s marginalized and indigenous groups, speaking and writing in depth about caste-based injustices.

India’s caste system was officially abolished in 1950, but the 2,000-year-old social hierarchy imposed on people by birth still exists in many aspects of life. The caste system categorizes Hindus at birth, defining their place in society, what jobs they can do and who they can marry. In October last year, Swamy was arrested and charged under the country’s anti-terrorism laws, which critics have described as draconian.

Stan Swamy was among 16 renowned activists, academics and lawyers who were charged under a draconian anti-terror law in what came to be known as the BhimaKoregaon case.  Prison authorities were criticized for denying him access to basic amenities such as a straw and sipper – a plastic drinking beaker with a spout or straw – which he needed to drink water because of hand tremors caused by Parkinson’s. The Elgar Parishad case is related to inflammatory speeches made at a conclave held in Pune on December 31, 2017, which, the police claimed, triggered violence the next day near the Koregaon-Bhima war memorial located on the outskirts of the western Maharashtra city. The police had claimed the conclave was organized by people with alleged Maoist links.

Human Rights Violated: Modi Regime Abuses Power

Stan Swamy’s arrest sparked outrage worldwide, prompting several opposition politicians, national and international rights groups to demand his release. The others accused in the case termed Stan Swamy’s death an “institutional murder” and held the “negligent jails, indifferent courts and malicious investigating agencies” responsible for it. As a mark of protest, 10 of the co-accused in the case – Rona Wilson, SurendraGadling, SudhirDhawale, Mahesh Raut, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves, GautamNavlakha, AnandTeltumbde, Ramesh Gaichor and SagarGorkhe – went on a one-day fast in the Taloja jail on Wednesday.

They informed about the protest to their family members, who released a statement saying all Elgar case prisoners have blamed the NIA and the Taloja jail’s former superintendent KaustubhKurlekar for the death of Father Stan Swamy. They believe that “the separation of Stan Swamy from them is a deliberate institutional murder,” the release said. The statement alleged that the NIA and Kurlekar never missed a single opportunity to “harass” Stan Swamy, whether it was the “ghastly treatment” inside the jail, the haste to transfer him back from hospital to jail or even protesting against trivial things like a sipper (which Stan Swamy required due to his medical conditions).

“It is these that have caused the death of Stan Swamy and therefore, for this institutional murder, NIA officials and Kurlekar should be tried under Section 302 (murder) of the Indian Penal Code,” the statement said, while demanding a judicial inquiry into his death.

The statement said the family members of the accused will submit these demands to Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray through the Taloja jail administration. It also said that though these accused were lodged in different barracks, they met on Tuesday and shared their memories of Father Stan Swamy, and also observed a two-minute silence as a mark of tribute to him. Three women accused in the case- SudhaBharadwaj, Shoma Sen and JyotiJagtap – are currently lodged at the Byculla prison in Mumbai.

The United Nations Human Rights on Tuesday issued a statement on his death and detention, criticising India. The international body tweeted, “We are saddened and disturbed by the death of 84-year-old human rights defender Father Stan Swamy, after prolonged pre-trial detention. With Covid-19, it is even more urgent that states release every person detained without sufficient legal basis.” In its statement, the UN Human Rights’ office of the high commissioner had said that Father Stan had been held in pre-trial detention without bail since his arrest, charged with terrorism-related offences in relation to demonstrations that date back to 2018.

“High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet and the UN’s independent experts have repeatedly raised the cases of Father Stan and 15 other human rights defenders associated with the same events with the Government of India over the past three years and urged their release from pre-trial detention. The High Commissioner has also raised concerns over the use of the UAPA in relation to human rights defenders, a law Father Stan was challenging before the Indian courts days before he died,” the UN statement said. “We stress, once again, the High Commissioner’s call on the Government of India to ensure that no one is detained for exercising their fundamental rights to freedom of expression, of peaceful assembly and of association,” Bachelet said in her statement.

An international alliance of civil rights groups has blamed the administration of Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the death of an 84-year-old Jesuit social activist who died under detention. Human rights defender Father Stan Swamy’s death on July 5 while awaiting trial has deeply shocked and outraged global civil society alliance CIVICUS. A slew of opposition politicians, rights groups and academics, have expressed sadness for his death — as well as anger for the laws under which he was arrested and denied bail. Critics have long accused India’s government of increasingly using anti-terrorism laws as a means to quell any form of dissent.

Harsh Mander, a prominent Indian rights activist called Swamy’s death a “tragedy for the nation.” “A cruel state jailed him to silence his voice, the judiciary did nothing to secure his freedom,” he said on Twitter. International figures have spoken out as well — the European Union’s special representative for human rights said the EU had been “raising his case repeatedly with authorities,” calling Swamy a “defender of indigenous people’s rights.”

MeenakshiGanguly, South Asia director of Human Rights Watch, said Swamy’s arrest highlights “a degree of cruelty and callousness that is shameful.” “The counter terror law is draconian. We see it is being used rampantly to jail peaceful critics without bail,” Ganguly said. “It was for the courts to decide if Swamy was guilty, but in repeatedly stifling bail, the authorities chose not to protect,” the “fragile, ailing” activist, she added.

The priest’s death “is a result of the persecution he has faced by the Modi government after revealing abuses by the state,” the group said in a press statement. “Swamy’s death is a tragic loss for civil society and highlights the dangerous situation for other human rights defenders currently in jail in India,” said Lysa John, CIVICUS secretary-general. “Human rights activism and criticism of the state should not amount to the equivalent of a death sentence.”

Thousands of activists, political leaders and Indian citizens have taken to social media to pay tributes to Stan Swamy.  Many also expressed anger at the way he was jailed during Covid-19 and repeatedly denied bail. The government said Swamy’s arrest followed “due process under law”. Historian Ramachandra Guha called his death “a case of judicial murder“.  Leader of the main opposition Congress party Rahul Gandhi tweeted that “he deserved justice and humaneness”:

Indian American organizations have condemned the death of Father Stan Swamy, the 84-year-old defender of indigenous peoples’ rights in India, calling it a blot on India’s consciousness. “It is a dark day for democracy in India, and the national leadership and members of the judiciary should hang their heads in shame” questioning the failure of freedom of expression in a democratic nation,” George Abraham, vice-chairman of the Indian Overseas Congress, said in a statement.

In his last bail hearing in May, Swamy had predicted his death. “I would rather suffer, possibly die here very shortly if this were to go on,” he told the judges. The Indian Express newspaper said Swamy’s death had “left the highest institutions of India’s justice system diminished”.”In the nearly nine months of his incarceration, till his death, the ailing activist came up – again and again – against the heavy hand of the state, an unresponsive judiciary and a broken prison system,” the newspaper said in an editorial. Chief Minister Hemant Soren of the eastern state of Jharkhand – where Swamy lived and worked – said the federal government “should be answerable for absolute apathy and non provision of timely medical services, leading to his death”.

Paying Tributes To Covid Warriors, AAPI Holds 39th Annual Convention In Atlanta

After nearly two years of isolation, virtual meetings, covid fears, the first ever in person event, the 39th annual Convention by American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) inaugurated  at the fabulous and world famous Omni Atlanta at CNN Center and Georgia World Congress Center on July 2nd.
“Remembering and memorializing the brave AAPI Warriors and thousands of healthcare workers, who have sacrificed their lives at the service of humanity, especially during the Deadly Covid Pandemic is the major theme during the Convention,” said Dr. Sudhakar Jonnalagadda, President of AAPI.
“This convention is a tribute to those who have lost their lives and to the frontline medical professionals who are at the forefront, combating the pandemic around the globe,” he added.Describing the theme and importance of the Convention as the world struggles to return to normalcy with the pandemic our lives for the past year and a half, Dr. Sreeni Gangasani, Chairman, Co-founder, eGlobalDoctors and Chair, AAPI Convention 2021 said, “We invite physicians of Indian origin to join the AAPI community as we celebrate the victory of science over calamity while paying tribute to all the fallen healthcare workers including some from AAPI family. We also want to show the world that we can start socializing with precautions once you are vaccinated.”
Dr. Smitha Lodha, widow of Dr. Ajay Lodha addressed the AAPI members, thanking them for their support as the late President of AAPI suffered Covid related complications and succumbed to the deadly virus. She praised AAPI and the medical fraternity for their courage and selfless service to bring health and well being to millions across the US and around the world.
The annual convention this year is being organized by AAPI’s Atlanta Chapter, chaired by Dr. Sreeni Gangasani. The inaugural Nite’s Gala was hosted by Georgia Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (GAPI), during which several leaders of GAPI, including Drs. Raghu Lolabhattu, Manoj Shah, Yogesh Joshi, Arvind Gupta, PB Rao, Dilip Patel, Uma Jonnagalada and  Tarun Gosh addressed the audience and shared about GAPI’s educational, philanthropic, humanitarian, political, entertaining and social activities. Educational scholarships were presented to deserving students from the region.
Although only a limited number of participants are attending the convention this year due to the ongoing Coivd pandemic and taking into account the safety of those attending, there was new energy and enthusiasm among the AAPI delegates with an obvious relief among the members cherishing every moment of the coming together and networking and renewing friendship.
After inaugurating the Convention with traditional prayers and blessings by Hindu Priests, Congressman Buddy Carter, representing the 1st District in Georgia, said, “If there is anything that the COVID-19 pandemic laid bare it is that our country is too dependent on foreign sources of critical pharmaceutical and medical supplies.  I reintroduced bipartisan, bicameral legislation to retake control of America’s health care supply chain. For America’s national security, the legislation incentivizes the domestic manufacturing of drugs and other medical supplies to make the U.S. supply chain less dependent on foreign countries like China.” The only pharmacist in the US Congress, Rep. Carter referred to how the middlemen hike up the prize of drugs by upto 47% in the US, and urged the AAPI fraternity to advocate for more patient-centered care.
Ambassador Taranjit Singh Sandhu  called Indian American Physicians as the “real heroes” Ambassador Sandhu said “You are the real heroes who have risked your lives and have been out to assist others. “What is unique about AAPI is that you bring a global perspective to defeat the virus and serve the people. We are proud of the achievements of the 4 million Indians in the United States.”
In her inaugural address, Dr. Swati Vijay Kulkarni, Consul General of India in Atlanta, who is a career diplomat who holds is a Physician by profession, described the Indian American Physician community as a “Testament to the greatest growth story” of IndianAmericans. Dr. Kulakarni while emphasizing the role of physicians during the pandemic, she praised their contributions and achievements.
Dr. Kulkarni spoke about the many programs and plans offered by the Government of India to alleviate the sufferings of the people of India during the pandemic. Dr. Kulkarni stressed the importance of Indo-US Strategic Alliance, especially in the health sector, while pointing out India’s contributions providing the world with quality drugs for cheaper prizes.
Congresswoman Carolyn Bourdeaux representing the 7th Congressional district of Georgia was introduced to the audience by Dr. Sreeni Gangasani. Sharing her own close association with the South Asian community, Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux said, her district is home to the largest South Asian population in the South East. “I have so many wonderful friends in this community for many years I have had many friends who are from South Asia,” she said. “I have been in Washington for about 6 months and I have worked very hard to advocate on behalf of the South Asian Community.”
Describing herself as a friend of India and Indian Americans, the Congresswoman said, she is an active member of the India Caucus in the House, she said, “India is a very very important strategic partner to the United States,” and promised to work with the federal government in helping India especially during the pandemic.
The delegates at the convention have Eight Hours of CMEs, coordinated by AAPI CME Chair, Dr. Krishan Kumar, Dr. Vemuri Murthy, Advisor & CME Program Director, and Dr. Sudha Tata, Convention CME Chair, focusing on themes such as how to take care of self and find satisfaction and happiness in the challenging situations they are in, while serving hundreds of patients everyday of their dedicated and noble profession.
Dr. Raghu Lolabhattu, Convention Vice Chair shared with the delegates about how in a mater of less than three months the Atlanta Chapter has put together a fabulous convention. He later on called on stage every member of the convention committee, while Dr. Lonnalagadda and Dr. Gangasani recognized them with a plaque. The past Presidents of were called on state on the 2nd night’s gala and were recognized for their leadership and continued guidance.
During a special appearance at the Gala on July 2nd, the popular Bollywood actor, Pooja Batra, stated, she flew in from India precisely to be with the physicians, acknowledging their commitment and dedication to serve humanity, especially during the pandemic.
The Women’s Forum led by Drs. Anjana Samadhar, Uma Jonnalagadda, and Udaya Shivangi featured  eminent women leaders, including Keisha Lance Bottoms, Mayor of Atlanta, Dr. Swati Kulkarni, India’s Consular General in Atlanta, Prof. Amita Sehgal, Professor of Neuroscience at UPENN, Dr. Nahid Bhadella, Director of Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases Policy & Reasearch; and, Dr. Mona Khanna, Emmy Award Winning Journalist.
Internationally famed actor from India, Mallika Sherawat, who delivered the keynote address, shared her inspiring and daring personal life story with the audience.
“My new life actually started from running away from home,” at the age of 17 from Haryana to Mumbai, Sherawat said.  Cherishing her economic independence at a very young age after she had “a new advertisement with Amitabh Bachchan with Shahrukh Khan, whom I have grown up watching. This is like a dream come true to me for me,” she said. Her advice for younger generation if they want to follow her, Sherawat said, “If you want to be an actress, I would say, start with your dance training and  relaxing training.”
The popular actor said, more than her stardom, she cherishes her work rehabilitating young girls and giving them hope in life.
An exciting Bollywood Hungama Dhum Dhama Dhum featured popular stars Kosha Pandya, Rex D’Souza and Shilpi Paul. Talented artists Vidya Vox and Ravi Drums led the cultural programs. Traditional Dandiya Raas by AAPI’s own Garba King, Dr. Dhiren Buch with live music by Aradhana Music Group of Los Angeles was huge hit among AAPI delegates.
World renowned fashion designer Ghazala Khan-choreographed Fashion Show by beautiful and talented local artists was a treat to the hearts and souls of all the participants.
The inaugural nite’s star attraction was the young and energetic artist Vidya Vox who entertained the audience with song, music and dances.
During the nearly 2 hours long live performance. She showcased the influences of her Indian-American heritage to create music that is refreshingly unique and contemporary, seamlessly fusing together the intricacies of Indian music with elements of electronic and hip-hop for an undeniably catchy sound.
The delegates were presented with live performances of Bhartanatyam, Thillana and fusion dances by local artists, displaying unique talents in Indian classical dance forms. The popular and much loved Mehfil E Khaas provided AAPI members and families a platform to showcase their talents impromptu, in music, dance, jokes and Shero Shayari in an informal setting.
A totally new feature at the Convention is the RealAssets Webinar on Crypto Currencies, featuring blockchain & cryptocurrency experts, who threw light on the paradigm shift taking place from regular finance to blockchain based cryptocurrencies, platforms & ecosystems. Sri Gauranga Das, a well-known Hindu Priest, Entrepreneur and a former Monk enlightened the audience with his wisdom.
Physicians of Indian Origin in the United States are reputed to be leading health care providers, holding crucial positions in various hospitals and health care facilities around the nation and the world. Known to be a leading ethnic medical organization that represents nearly 100,000 physicians and fellows of Indian Origin in the US, and being their voice and providing a forum to its members to collectively work together to meet their diverse needs, AAPI members are proud to contribute to the wellbeing of their motherland India and their adopted land, the United States. The convention is forum to network, share knowledge and thoughts, and thus, enrich one another, and rededicate ourselves for the health and wellbeing of all peoples of the world.  For more details, please visit:  www.aapiconvention.orgwww.aapiusa.org

Jaishankar On A Mission To US, Urging Covid Help

With India grappling with the ferocious second wave of Covid-19, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar is on a vaccine mission to the United States as India fights shortages of doses amidst a virulent second surge.

WashingWith India grappling with the ferocious second wave of Covid-19, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar is on a vaccine mission to the United States as India fights shortages of doses amidst a virulent second surge.Jaishankar met with several high ranking officials at the UD administration, including US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, US Trade Representative Katherine Tai, Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines, USAID Administrator Samantha Power top American lawmakers from both the Democratic and Republican parties, and top American business leaders in Washington DC. Jaishankar is the first Indian Cabinet minister to visit the US after Joe Biden became President on January 20.

At the meetings with the US leaders, Jaishankar discussed vaccine cooperation, contemporary security challenges, support for efficient and robust supply chain, among others. While there was no readout after the meetings, sources said that vaccine cooperation was one of the key areas of conversation between the two sides.Jaishankar’s in-person meetings come days after US President Joe Biden announced that the US will begin shipping 20 million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccines to unspecified needy countries by June-end, in addition to 60 million shots of AstraZeneca.

Although Washington has not yet decided how these 80 million doses will be distributed, India is likely to be one of the beneficiaries — be it AstraZeneca, which is already made and distributed in India as Covishield, or the ones by Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson, or a mix. AstraZeneca’s vaccine is not authorized for use in the United States yet. The US had cited faults in a plant in Baltimore that is manufacturing both the AstraZenenca and J&J vaccines.Jaishankar arrived in New York Sunday, May 23rd  and met UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and travelled to Washington on May 26th, where he met with Blinken, focusing on vaccine cooperation between the two countries. While India is struggling with a shortage of vaccines, the US has surplus vaccines and raw materials needed to manufacture them.

Blinken described Jaishankar as “my friend and colleague”. “The United States and India are working together on so many of the most important challenges of our time and ones that are putting a profound impact on our lives,” he said. “We are united in confronting Covid-19 together, we (are) united in dealing with the challenge posed by climate change, to partner together directly, through Quad and other institutions in the United Nations in dealing with many of the challenges that we face in the region and around the world,” Blinken said. “The partnership between the United States and India is vital. It’s strong. And I think it’s increasingly predominant,” he said.

Echoing Blinken, Jaishankar said, “We have a lot of issues to discuss. But our relations have grown stronger over the years and I’m very confident we’ll continue to do so, but I also want to take the opportunity to express to the Secretary and through him to the administration of the United States for the strong support and solidarity at a moment of great difficulty for us.”At this point, Blinken said, “We remember, in the earlier days of the pandemic, India was there with the United States. Something we’ll never forget. And now we want to make sure that we’re there for and with India.” Jaishankar and Blinken have spoken at least four times in the past three months, twice in the last fortnight, and once at the Quad Foreign Ministers’ meeting through video-conferencing.

During Jaishankar’s wide-ranging discussions with NSA Sullivan, the two countries agreed that people-to-people ties and shared values are the foundations of the US-India strategic partnership that is helping to end the pandemic, supporting a free and open Indo-Pacific, and providing global leadership on climate change. “Pleased to meet Jake Sullivan. Wide-ranging discussions including on Indo-Pacific and Afghanistan. Conveyed appreciation for US solidarity in addressing the Covid challenge. India-US vaccine partnership can make a real difference,” Jaishankar said in a tweet after the meeting.

“Our people-to-people ties and our values are the foundation of the US-India partnership and will help us end the pandemic, lead on climate, and support a free and open Indo-Pacific,” Sullivan wrote on Twitter after the meeting. After his meeting with US Trade Representative Katherine Tai, Jaishankar tweeted: “Welcomed her positive stance on IPR (Intellectual Property Rights) issues & support for efficient and robust supply chains.”Jaishankar said that he had a “warm meeting” with US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, during which they discussed further developing strategic and defense partnership between the two countries and exchanged views on “contemporary security challenges”.

In a statement issued by USAID, it was reported, “The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Samantha Power met with Indian External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar to discuss urgent shared priorities for development and humanitarian assistance during the current surge of COVID-19 across India. Administrator Power and Minister Jaishankar discussed areas for important collaboration on pandemic response efforts in India, as well as strategies to catalyze private capital to save lives, counter the spread of the pandemic, and strengthen health systems for the future. The two leaders also discussed opportunities to strengthen developmental cooperation through the Quad and with India’s Development Partnership Administration, including through collaboration with third-country partners in the Indo-Pacific, Africa, and other regions.”

Jaishankar also had meetings with the top American business leadership hosted by the US India Business Council and the US India Strategic and Partnership Forum. Jaishankar also met influential American lawmakers from both the Democratic and Republican parties and discussed developments about Quad and the cooperation on vaccines with them. He tweeted that he had “good conversations” with co-chairs of the House India Caucus, Congressman Brad Sherman and Rep. Steve Chabot.“The US Congress has been a tremendous pillar of support as India meets the Covid challenge,” he said.

Talking with former US National Security Advisor General HR McMaster in ‘Battlegrounds’ session on ‘India: Opportunities And Challenges For A Strategic Partnership’ at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, New York, Jaishankar acknowledged  that it is “a very stressful time” for India due to the pandemic.Jaishankar stressed the need for countries to look beyond their national interests to global good. “If countries, especially large countries, pursue their national interest, disregarding everything else, I think the world is going to have some big problems,” he said.

“The number one question on everybody’s mind today is Covid, and the worry which people have — do we have accessible, affordable vaccines? Now, we can’t have a world which is part-vaccinated and part-neglected, because that is not going to be safe. So how do we get through the global challenges in a global way?” Jaishankar said, adding, “I think that’s the big question.”

Dr. Suresh Reddy Officially Sworn In As Trustee Of Oak Brook, IL

Dr. Suresh Reddy was officially sworn in as a Trustee of Oak Brook during a solemn ceremony held on Tuesday, May 11th  at the Bath & Tennis Club, Oakbrook, IL. Dr. Reddy took the oath placing his hand on the Gita, Quran, Bible, and AdiGranth.

Dr. Suresh Reddy, the Immediate Past President of American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) was officially sworn in as a Trustee of Oak Brook during a solemn ceremony held on Tuesday, May 11th  at the Bath & Tennis Club, Oakbrook, IL. The Honorable Justice Ann Jorgensen, Presiding Judge of the Appellate Court Second District in Illinois, delivered the Oath of Office to the new Trustees of the Village of Oak Brook, as Dr. Reddy took the oath placing his hand on the Gita, Quran, Bible, and AdiGranth.

Attended by family and friends of Dr. Suresh Reddy, the Swearing In Ceremony was livestreamed on the Village’s Oak Brook TV YouTube Channel. The ceremony began with invocation led by Reverend Dr. Daniel Meyer, a graduate of Yale University and both Princeton and Fuller Seminaries. Along with Dr. Reddy, others who were administered the oath included: Trustees Larry Herman and Jim Nagle and Suresh Reddy. The retiring Trustees, John Baar, Phil Cuevas and MoinSaiyed were given official farewell.

In his acceptance speech, Dr. Reddy said, “As a practicing physician, I will use my training and experiences to ensure that appropriate and effective health policies are approved by the board and implemented by our village staff. There are many expert doctors and medical professionals in our community. I will find ways to engage them through informal work groups or more formal committees if needed to ensure the safety of our residents.”

“I am grateful to the citizens of my hometown Oak Brook  and to the key leaders of Oak Brook, including the sitting mayor and members of the governing body of Oak Brook for endorsing and supporting my candidacy to be a Trustee of Oak Brook,” Dr. Suresh Reddy said. Dr. Reddy thanked Rep. Raja Krishnamurthy, “a good friend” of Dr. Reddy for his best wishes.Present Mayor of Oak Brook Dr. Gopal Lalmalani and Trustee Mr. MoinSaiyed of Oak Brook had strongly supported Dr. Reddy and have endorsed his candidacy, as his leadership skills will benefit the residents of the suburban town in Illinois.

In his presidential address, Dr. Gopal Lalmalani said, “I thank Trustees John Baar, Phil Cuevas and MoinSaiyed for their service and dedication to the Village of Oak Brook. It has been an honor working with all of you in the betterment of Oak Brook.” As the Village Clerk Pruss read out the Resolutions of Appreciation, Dr. Gopal Lalmalani presented them with a Resolution Plaque, Service Pin and an engraved medallion which was designed by Paul Butler.

Dr. Suresh Reddy won the election to be a Trustee of the Village of Oak Brook convincingly at the elections held on Tuesday, April 6th, 2021.  Dr. Reddy along with the other 2 winners, Laurence “Larry” Herman and James P. Nagle had received  “the three highest unofficial vote totals with 100% of precincts reporting in the election for three four-year terms on the Village Board,” Chicago Tribune had reported. Dr. Reddy said he decided to run with Herman and Nagle because he believes the three of them can address the most critical issues impacting the village better than anyone else, each with their own unique skills.

Having a population of nearly 10,000 people, the city of Oak Brook is located 15 miles west of the Chicago Loop and is served by a network of major federal, state, and county roads including the Tri-State Tollway system, the East-West Tollway and the Eisenhower Expressway. One of the affluent communities in the nation, Oakbrook’s adjacent neighbors include the communities of Villa Park, Elmhurst, Lombard, Oakbrook Terrace, Westchester, Westmont, Clarendon Hills, Downers Grove, and Hinsdale.

Dr. Reddy comes with immense experiences and proven leadership. He grew up in the suburbs of Hyderabad in Southern India. A financial conservator, Dr. Reddy always had a passion for “uniting and bringing people together.” Recalling his childhood, the dynamic leader says, “It all started during my childhood with bringing neighborhood kids together to play “gully cricket” and also bringing people together in college to organize events, demonstrations, and educational tours. Bringing opposing parties to the table for resolving issues has always been my strong strength since my schooling days.”

Not being satisfied with his achievements as a physician and leader of the Diaspora Physicians group, Dr. Reddy says, “I always had a strong passion for bringing a positive outlook and giving back to the community. I got involved in several alumni activities and have facilitated to raise funds to build a million dollar alumni educational center for my Alma Mater.”

Dr. Reddy completed his advanced medical training at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center/Harvard Medical School and has stayed on Harvard Faculty for more than a decade where he had also served as Chief of Interventional Neuroradiology.  Subsequently, Dr. Reddy and family moved to Chicago which has now become his home. “Now that I call Oak Brook my home, I would like to contribute and serve my community by participating in public service,” says Dr. Reddy.

What motivates him to take on yet another challenging role for the betterment of the community? “My mantra is: If you don’t lead, someone else will lead you. If you don’t pick the right leader, the wrong leader will pick you, and as my good friend US Congressman Raja Says, and if you are not on the table, you will be on the menu,” says Dr. Reddy.

A dynamic leader, Dr. Reddy has devoted a greater part of his life to numerous initiates within the United States , in addition to serving his people back in India, As part of his community service, Dr. Reddy has facilitated and organized numerous health camps and workshops, with special emphasis on CPR  training , obesity prevention in conjunction with Chicago Medical Society.

During the Covid Pandemic, as the President of AAPI, Dr. Reddy facilitated more than a hundred webinars and health awareness events. He facilitated honoring of more than 10,000 nurses who work selflessly in the line of duty against Covid in over 100 hospitals in over 40 states including Alaska. He led a campaign donating blankets to the needy during the last winter and would like to do the same this winter.

His wife Leela, who was born and raised in Greenville, South Carolina has a Master’s Degree in Health Management and Policy. Previously, she was a Director of Network Health Boston, a HMO Health Plan in Boston prior to moving to Chicago. Their son, Rohun is currently doing his JD/MBA at Kellogg School of Management /Pritzker School of Law at Northwestern University.

Committing himself to ensure and work tirelessly to keep Oak Brook a strong village, living up to its name as a model village around the nation, Dr. Reddy says, “As a Trustee of Oak Brook, I would like to continue and strengthen many programs and services the city offers to all sections of the people. More than ever, fiscal conservatism and wise spending, has become the most important attribute for a financially secure future. I am honored and humbled that the people of my hometown have placed their trust in me and have given me a chance to perform my public service with utmost integrity and dignity to the office.” For more details, please email: [email protected]

AAPI’s Premier Academic Journal (JAAPI) Inaugurated By Dr. Susan R. Bailey, AMA President

Many years of meticulous planning, hard work and concerted efforts by several leaders have resulted in American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) launching its own premier academic initiative, Journal of American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (JAAPI) today, Dr. SudhakarJonnalagadda.

“Many years of meticulous planning, hard work and concerted efforts by several leaders have resulted in American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) launching its own premier academic initiative, Journal of American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (JAAPI) today,” Dr. SudhakarJonnalagadda, President of AAPI said in his opening remarks. Describing the inauguration of JAAPI as “a historical milestone for AAPI” Dr. Jonnalagadda said, “We are deeply honored to have Dr. Bailey inaugurate JAAPI tonight.”

Dr. Susan R. Bailey, President of American Medication Association (AMA), who was the Chief Guest and Distinguished speaker at the launch event, inaugurated JAAPI on Wednesday, May 12, 2021 during a solemn virtual ceremony, attended by hundreds of AAPI members and supporters from around the nation.Dr. Susan R. Bailey, while inaugurating JAAPI said, “It’s my pleasure to celebrate the launch of JAAPI. On behalf of AMA we congratulate AAPI for this new initiative, which will be a great source of medical education. We applaud you and looking forward to reading your great contributions in the years to come.”

Dr. Sajani Shah, Chair of AAPI BOT,  while describing the launch of JAAPI as a “Monumental moment for all at AAPI,” said,  “As a second generation physician of Indian Origin, we are excited at AAPI launching its own Medical Journal. I want to congratulate AAPI for launching a scientific journal that will help writers in the US, in India and around the world.”Dr. AnupamaGotimukula, President-Elect of AAPI while congratulating the AAPI family said, “This is the fruit of our team work and it’s a good opportunity for the members of AAPI to contribute scientific articles, and make it better as we move on.”

“This is a historical milestone in the annals of AAPI. The foundation for this milestone was laid one year ago in February 2020 by our visionary leaders, Drs. SudhakarJonnalagadda and Suresh Reddy,” said Dr. Bellomkonda Kishore, the Founding Editor in Chief of JAAPI said.  Describing the vision and the efforts that have given shape to the launching of JAAPI, Dr. Kishore said, “A Peer Review Journal needs group synergy and cultivation of the culture of peer-review process and publication. It is like agriculture – crop after crop. But the very fact that we are able to assemble a passionate and diligent team of editorial board members, and developed the required group synergy and culture bringing out the journal as planned, itself is a sign that AAPI has reached a level of academic maturity, capability and perfection.”

Dr. Kishore is hopeful that the talented and dedicated Editorial Team will be able to “sustain the journal, and take it to new heights over time.” The inaugural issue of JAAPI has “excellent contributions by eminent physicians and scientists, and has come out beyond our expectations and in an outstanding manner. We are committed to maintain the same standards in the future. Excellence and thoroughness are our motto.”

After one year of publication, JAAPI will be registered with MEDLINE so that it will be indexed in PubMed and other databases. JAAPI is a fully Open Access journal with no manuscript submission or publication charges. And we welcome articles by authors from all over the world without any restrictions. We are also open to eminent academicians wishing to join the editorial board. Details are provided in the journal. JAAPI follows next generation peer-review model by which it discloses the identity of editors and reviewers after publication, but the review process itself is blind. This will give due credit to editors and reviewers, and also ensures fair review process. The cover page is designed to reflect the heart of AAPI, an association of Indian American Physicians – with colors of the flag of India, our motherland, on top and the red and white stripes of American flag, over which the AAPI emblem rests, indicating the way we adopted this Great Land, Dr. Kishore explained.

Dr. Vemuri S. Murthy, an Adjunct Faculty in the Department of Emergency Medicine at the University of Illinois College of Medicine, an Advisor to the Journal of AAPI, and Chairman of the AAPI Webinar CME Committee and Program Director of the CME Program, introduced Dr. Bailey to the audience.

“Physician Leadership In Times of Crisis & Transition” was the theme of an hour long CME presented by Dr. Bailey at the conclusion of the JAAPI launch ceremony. The insightful and practically oriented CME was organized by American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin, in affiliation with Chicago Medical Society and in association with Indian American Medical Association of Illinois IAMA (IL.)

In her address, Dr. Bailey shared with AAPI members as to how the pandemic has “ tested physicians as never been before. My heart breaks for what I see is happening in India,” she said. Describing Covid as a grave threat, Dr. Bailey said, “It needs to be addressed globally. I hope the current US administration can render all possible help to India and other nations.” Acknowledging that physicians “have the power to bring in changes to the delivery of healthcare,” Dr. Bailey thanked all the medical professionals. “Your work has been extraordinary. Many have died serving the sick and worked tirelessly to help the sick. AMA has stood with them every step of the way, by offering evidence based support to all healthcare professionals.

While extending full support for the strengthening of Affordable Care Act, Dr. Bailey said, AMA has advocated for loans and financial help to physicians and for PPE and vaccine development and its distribution.  “Vaccination has helped us but we are still far away. The need is to have maximum people to be vaccinated. This gives us an opportunity to be vaccine ambassadors by advocating for vaccination,” she said.

Dr. SunitaKanumury moderated the Q&A at the end of the presentation by Dr. Susan Bailey. Dr. Kanumury is an AAPI Delegate to AMA and a past President of AAPI. Dr.Kanumury is a practicing Allergy and Immunology specialist in Livingston, New Jersey, with multiple Hospital Affiliations.

Dr. Murthy congratulated the Editor-in-Chief, “Dr. Kishore Bellamkonda, whose vision and energetic leadership resulted in the AAPI’s Academic Emblem, JAAPI.” On behalf of the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin and other Medical Societies, and the JAAPI Committee. Dr. Murthy expressed deep appreciation and thanked Dr. Susan R. Bailey, Dr. Peter C. Agre, Nobel Laureate in Chemistry 2003; Dr. Mario R.Capecchi, Nobel Laureate in Medicine or Physiology 2007; Dr. Mitchell S.V. Elkind, President, American Heart Association, and Dr. Nageshwar Reddy, Director, Asian Institute of Gastroenterology, for their immense support and help.For more information on AAPI and to read the inaugural edition of JAAPI, please visit: www.aapiusa.org

 

South Asians for America Launched

South Asians for Biden, a formidable community outreach program has now formally relaunched itself as South Asians for America with a virtual kick-off May 6 evening, featuring several Indian American political activists.

South Asians for Biden, a formidable community outreach program that played a key role in supporting and helping elect Biden-Harris ticket in 2020 has now formally relaunched itself as South Asians for America with a virtual kick-off May 6 evening, featuring several Indian American political activists.

South Asians for America (SAFA) is a national, grassroots organization dedicated to the education, advocacy, engagement, and mobilization of the South Asian Democratic community in the United States at the local, state, and federal levels, by increasing the civic engagement, political participation, and network of South Asians.South Asians for America (SAFA) is an idea that originated with the merger of two organizations, an original SAFA which was primarily an advocacy organization and South Asians for Biden (SAB), a grassroots organization which helped educate, engage and mobilize the South Asian Community to help elect President Biden in the 2020 General Election.

The new organization aims to harness the momentum of its grassroots efforts during the 2020 election, which propelled President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris to the White House, and flipped the Senate with the wins of Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock in Georgia. SAFA is now aiming to get behind Democratic candidates in the House and Senate who are contesting in the 2022 midterm election.

Neha Dewan, who served as the national director for South Asians for Biden and national co-chair for South Asians for Hillary in 2016, will serve as SAFA’s national director. The organization’s advisory council includes Rep. Ro Khanna, D-California; Virginia state Senator Ghazala Hashmi; Ravi Chaudhury, who served in the Obama/Biden Administration on the President’s Advisory Commission on AAPIs, where he developed strategies for Asian American veterans and their families; and Hayward, California city councilwoman Aisha Wahab.

“One of the most significant trends we’re seeing is more South Asians running for office,” said Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Illinois, at the May 6 event. The congressman first ran for office in 2012, losing spectacularly to Iraq war veteran Tammy Duckworth. In 2016, when Duckworth ran for the Senate, Krishnamoorthi ran for her vacated seat and earned her endorsement.

The new SAFA was launched in early 2021 to build on the momentum and energy of South Asian Democratic Community engagement nationwide during the General Election in 2020 and Georgia Senate Special Election in 2021 in a strategic manner, to increase the political power, networks and capital of South Asians in the United States. SAFA has constituted several areas of focus to work on, leading to the upcoming 2022 elections to the Congress, Senate and State and local bodies:

  1. POLITICAL ENGAGEMENT & ADVOCACY

Provide guidance on navigating local, state and national Democratic Party structures, and facilitate networking with party leadership for grassroots engagement, job opportunities and advocacy

  1. COMMUNITY ORGANIZING TRAINING & CAMPAIGNS

Provide training in community organizing skills (phonebanking, textbanking, canvassing, postcard writing) & mobilize South Asian Democratic Community to engage in national, state, local & issue based campaigns

  1. CANDIDATE RECRUITMENT & TRAINING

Recruit South Asian Democrats interested in running for office at the local, state, and federal levels, and provide training and resources necessary to run a successful campaign

  1. STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIPS

Build strategic partnerships with organizations representing South Asian, AAPI & other communities of color nationwide to promote greater civic engagement & political power

  1. YOUTH EDUCATION & ENGAGEMENT

Build the next generation of leaders from within the South Asian community through mentorship and training, to encourage public service and promote diversity in government

Dr. Manju Sheth’s Interview With Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni Candid Conversations Featured on UNN.COM From “Chai with Manju”

“Interviewing Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni felt like catching up with an old friend,” says Dr. Manju Sheth, a Boston-based physician by profession, having a passion for media and commitment to serve the larger humanity, with special focus on women’s empowerment.

“This is because I have been reading her books for decades and have been fully absorbed in the strong characters that she has created in her magnificent books. I have always believed that best authors have their essence and personality seeped in the characters, who also tend to evolve over the years along with the journey of the writer.”

Ms. Banerjee is an award-winning and bestselling author, poet, activist and teacher of writing. Her work has been published in over 50 magazines, including the Atlantic Monthly and The New Yorker

Describing her experience of meeting (via zoom) and having a face to face interview with Ms. Banerjee, Dr. Sheth says, “I was very impressed with her simplicity. She does not wear a burden of ego or of her tremendous success and is deeply interested in hearing from her audience.”

According to Dr. Sheth, “One of the most inspiring and fun part of the interview was her explanation of the difference in personality between Panchali  and Draupadi of Palace of illusions and Sita from Forest of enchantment. Both are very strong women, yet one has a flair for drama and the other is very demure.”

A world renowned author, Ms. Banerjee’s works have been made into films and plays. A resident of Houston, Ms. Banerjee was born in Kolkata, India, and came to the United States for her graduate studies, receiving a Master’s degree in English from Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, and a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley.

Ms. Banerjee’s most recent book written in Covid times is “The Last Queen,” based on life of Rani Jindan of Punjab. A story of a strong queen and a mother with her invincible spirit, who though imprisoned, never gives up on finding her son who is forcibly taken away from her by the British.

 In her interview with Dr. Sheth, Ms Banerjee “takes you to a visual wonderland with the spell of words that she weaves very effortlessly, so it is not surprising and perhaps was a prophecy that she was named Chitralekha by her maternal grandfather,whom she adored and was the earliest inspiration for her books with the beautiful tales from mythology that she heard from him in her school vacations.”

Dr. Manju Sheth is a Board Certified Internist, currently serving patients at Beth Israel Lahey Hospital.in the Boston Region in Massachusetts. Dr. Sheth is the co-founder and CEO of INE MultiMedia, a non-profit organization devoted to promoting and supporting charitable organizations, art, culture, education and empowerment through workshops, seminars and multimedia. Dr. Sheth is known to be a natural storyteller her popular “Chai with Manju” celebrity series is one of the most read news features in the New England region, where she featured celebrities and spiritual leaders such as Sadhguru, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the Kennedys and the like. She is the creator and host of celebrity interview series called Chai with Manju which has had over 2 million views.

Dr. Sheth says, “My interview with Chitra Banerjee is surely one of my most memorable conversation with a celebrity guest .I hope that the viewers enjoy it as much as I did.” Please click the link below to watch Dr. Manju Sheth’s Interview with Ms. Banerjee:https://player.vimeo.com/video/545402566

AAPI Begins Campaign For Medical Oxygen, Tele-Consult & Educational Webinars to Help Combat Covid -19 In India

(Chicago, IL: April 27th, 2021) “In the past week, we have been receiving nothing but mind numbing news from many countries around the world, particularly in India, the land of our birth,” stated Dr. Sudhakar Jonnalgadda, President of American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (APPI) the largest ethnic medical organization in the country. Pointing to the fact that the statistics are chilling,

Dr. Sudhakar Jonnalagadda, while referring to the several proactive steps in educating their members and the general public about the disease, the preventive steps that needs to be taken at this time and most importantly, they are using all their contacts and resources at the hospital administrative and government levels to facilitate treatment protocols to be in place at the various hospitals in the US and in India, urged AAPI members and the general public to step up and donate generously as India, our motherland is facing one of the most serious health crisis in decades. “This is the time for immediate AAPI action. As doctors, we all share a visceral urge to do something about it,” he added.

Dr. Jonnalagadda said, “We have located a source manufacturer that supplies Oxygen concentrators each of which can save several lives in India. The cost of each unit is around $500.00. The Indian Embassy and Consulates have been extremely helpful, and will assist in the rapid shipping and customs regulations of these lifesaving units.

Dr. Jonnalagadda announced that “AAPI with the collaboration of numerous members/Chapters has placed orders for securing and delivering oxygen concentrators for 200 units to be delivered direct to hospitals in India with the help of SEWA  International, a reliable non-profit organization”

Describing the current trend/spike in Covid cases in India as “the worst nightmare” Dr. Sajni Shah, Chair of AAPI BOT pointed out, “This is a far cry from the picture a few months ago about our motherland India, which depicted the virus to be on the decline.”

Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, President-Elect, who is leading the AAPI Initiative to help and support plans to help the physicians and the people in India, at the conclusion of the brain storming session with hundreds of AAPI members, said: “Thank you and it was good to listen to every  physician from US and India how to execute our professional services to patients in India.” Summarizing the deliberations, Dr. Gotimukula said: 1. Groups of physicians will form smaller groups with Indian physicians in your own state/region, and do it yourselves in your own language, and can use the model that are already in place for Tele-Consult. The Google sheet prepared by AAPI has the list of volunteers and we will update it regularly. 2. We have 3 Telehealth platforms that have been identified and it is a free service to physicians from India/US and patients; 1. EglobalDoctors.com; 2. http://Mdtok.com; and, 3. Click2clinic.com. Apps are available on iOS and Android.

In addition, with the purpose of educating AAPI members and their counterparts in India,  AAPI is organizing educational webinars with small group of doctors on zoom. Dr. Gotimukula urged the physician fraternity of the need to educate your communities of the need to double masking and for “everyone must take the vaccine to reduce the intensity of disease if we become Covid positive.”  AAPI is offering MD-To-MD zoom chats and discussions about one’s patients, disease, course of medicines, and progress daily 7-8 am IST/9:30-10:30 am EST

Dr. Ravi Kolli, Vice President of AAPI said, “It is particularly painful and frightening, that the sudden widespread and intense shortage of the basic commodity we take for granted at all levels of management of this deadly disease, both at home, in an ambulance or at the health care facility  — that of OXYGEN. AAPI members have risen upto the occasion and are offering the much needed services to their motherland in several ways, individually and collectively.”

Dr. Amit Chakrabarty, Secretary of SAAPI said, “The AAPI Executive Committee, the Board of Trustees, and the AAPI Charitable Foundation are working together to get the initial order of two hundred units immediately, to jump start our response. he detailed about the exciting project, tele-consulting services for Indian doctors. “We had an officers’ meeting discussing the pros and cons of Covid tele consulting services and especially liability issues.  We are extremely delighted about the overwhelming response to this.”

Dr. Satheesh Kathula, Treasurer of AAPI said, “Time is of the essence and we need to act fast to save lives. I strongly urge each AAPI member to please rise to the occasion and contribute money and time generously to help the needy. Dr. Kathula thanked all the volunteers and tele-health platform companies for sharing platforms and offering services at no cost to AAPI members, Indian doctors and patients for treating COVID-19. For more details, please visit: AAPI website: www.appiusa.org

As Covid Strikes India Hard, Narendra Modi’s Image Sinks

The pandemic is killing thousands daily, crushing India’s modest health system, causing crippling shortages of doctors, nurses, medicines, even oxygen. If last week witnessed Narendra Modi government’s biggest crisis, it’s only become bigger since.

The second wave of Covid-19, with the spiraling cases and deaths across cities and towns, making India currently the world’s worst pandemic-affected country, have now dented India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s image in India and around the world for the poor vision, poor planning, and mismanagement of the most deadly virus in over a century.

The pandemic is killing thousands daily, crushing India’s modest health system, causing crippling shortages of doctors, nurses, medicines, even oxygen. If last week witnessed Narendra Modi government’s biggest crisis, it’s only become bigger since. It threatens to grow bigger over the next several weeks, healthcare experts say.

With over 350,000 new coronavirus cases daily and more than 2,000 people dying every 24 hours, the situation has become too tumultuous for Modi, the leader of Hindutva or Hindu nationhood. The daily increase in cases has forced many Indians to raise their eyebrows about the governance efficiency of Modi, hitherto considered the superhero and a catalyst of good governance.

Modi’s government has faced criticism that it let its guard down, allowed big religious and political gatherings to take place when India’s cases plummeted to below 10,000 a day and did not plan on building up the healthcare systems. Hospitals and doctors have put out urgent notices that they were unable to cope with the rush of patients.

India’s total tally of infections stands at 16.96 million and deaths 192,311 after 2,767 more died overnight, health ministry data showed. In the last month alone, daily cases have gone up eight times and deaths by 10 times. Health experts say the death count is probably far higher.

India’s surge is expected to peak in mid-May with the daily count of infections reaching half a million, the Indian Express said citing an internal government assessment. V.K. Paul, a COVID-task force leader, made the presentation during a meeting with Modi and state chief ministers and said that the health infrastructure in heavily populated states is not adequate enough to cope, according to the media reports.

The Guardian, a popular Western publication wrote in an editorial this week: “At the beginning of March, the Hindu nationalist government of Narendra Modi claimed the country was in Covid-19’s “endgame”. India is now in a living hell. A new “double mutant” variant, named B.1.617, has emerged in a devastating coronavirus second wave which has seen hospitals run out of beds and oxygen. Mortuaries are so full that bodies are justify to decompose at home. Charities warn that the dead risk being justify on the streets.”

The second wave of cases has been made more deadly by oxygen shortages in hospitals. An investigation by Indian news website Scroll.in revealed that the country’s government waited until October 2020, eight months after the pandemic began, to invite bids for a $27 million contract to place oxygen generation systems inside more than 150 district hospitals. Six months later, most still aren’t up and running. Several states across the nation have expressed despair as most hospitals have run short of Oxygen.

“India is in the ICU and those who put her there now spend their time trying to shift the blame. The change from ‘victory’ over Covid to gasping for oxygen began in the last week of January this year when the Prime Minister proudly declared that India had not only defeated the pandemic but had been an inspiration for other countries. He then proceeded to personally oversee vaccine exports to needy countries and his Minister of External Affairs boasted about it. After this ‘victory’, the Prime Minister and Home Minister spent their time organizing a blitzkrieg of election rallies in West Bengal and Assam without wearing masks and while exhorting large crowds to gather,” wrote columnist Tavleen Singh in The Indian Express.

If you’ve been tempted to think the pandemic is over, journalist Rana Ayyub’s reporting from India will prove you sorely mistaken. “If the apocalypse had an image,” she writes for TIME, “it would be the hospitals of India.” India’s sheer volume of cases is contributing to that unimaginable death toll, but there are extenuating factors, too. Oxygen supplies are running out across the country, in part because the Indian government waited until October 2020 to seek contracts for installing oxygen generation systems in many hospitals, Ayyub reports. Some are still not working today, leaving critically ill patients without the thing they need most as their lungs fail.

A recent story in TIME magazine titled, “’This Is Hell.’ Prime Minister Modi’s Failure to Lead Is Deepening India’s COVID-19 Crisis” pointed out how India has mismanaged and sent misleading messages. “The Uttarakhand chief minister declared on March 20, “nobody will be stopped in the name of COVID-19 as we are sure the faith in God will overcome the fear of the virus.” It wasn’t until mid-April that Hindu nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted that participation in the pilgrimage should be kept “symbolic” to combat the pandemic. Is it any wonder that the festival has become a super-spreader event?”

But the statement by Modi came too late. Mega political rallies in poll bound states, led by Modi himself and his party leaders in several states has been stated to be instrumental in spiking the covid cases across India. Hundreds of thousands of Hindu devotees showed up each day for a dip in the Ganges as part of the Kumbh Mela pilgrimage in Haridwar, Uttarakhand. Millions of worshippers have participated in the weeks-long festival since the first day of bathing on March 11, despite clear evidence that thousands are testing positive for the virus after attending. In the space of just a few days in mid-April, more than 1,600 cases were confirmed among devotees. In March, when the second wave was already underway, state leaders from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) published full-page ads in national newspapers telling worshippers it was “clean” and “safe” to attend.

Last week, as India reported the highest number of daily cases of anywhere in the world, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party tweeted a video of one of Modi’s political rallies. Alongside Modi was his close confidante and home minister, Amit Shah. In theory, Shah should have been in the capital, coordinating with various state governments on how to deal with the devastating spike in COVID-19 cases over the past few weeks. Instead, Shah has been holding roadshows with thousands of joyous crowds on the streets of West Bengal which is in the midst of elections to the state Assembly. “Since January, Modi has organized mass political rallies in various states and has allowed religious events like the Kumbh Mela to go ahead, while his party continued with its dog-whistle campaigns against Indian minorities,” TIME reported.

The Guardian wrote: “Like Donald Trump, Mr Modi would not give up campaigning while the pandemic raged. India went ahead with five state elections in April, and an unmasked Mr Modi held huge rallies. Mr Modi’s brand of Indian exceptionalism bred complacency. A presumption of national greatness has led to a lack of preparedness, most notably in vaccine production.”

“The country has been too complacent and relaxed for too long. Now we are paying the price for that negligence,” Archbishop Prakash Mallavarapu, chairman of the Healthcare Commission of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI), told the Register.  “There has been certainly a big lapse from the complacent government and the general public, paying scant regard for the social-distance norms while the state machinery ignored enforcing norms,” said Archbishop Mallavarapu, whose Visakhapatnam Archdiocese in located in the state of Andhra on the east coast of India.

TIME criticized states that are attempting to hide the death rate. “In the state of Uttar Pradesh workers were pictured covering the crematorium with tin sheets. Priyanka Gandhi, of the opposition Congress party, accused local authorities of hiding the truth.” In Gujarat, the Prime Minister’s home state, crematoriums are burning day and night, while the state refuses to acknowledge the high number of deaths. The Gujarat high court has demanded the state government reveal the accurate count of COVID-19 patients and deaths,” TIME pointed out.

Jesuit Father Cedric Prakash, an internationally known social activist based in Modi’s home state of Gujarat, was much more unsparing is his choice of words, when asked for his reaction to the calamity that has gripped the nation. “Absolutely abominable,” Father Prakash described the situation on the ground in Gujarat. Among over two dozen Christians who have died of COVID in Gujarat were five of his Jesuit confreres, who died on April 17 alone. A week earlier, another eminent Jesuit, Father Varghese Paul, former president of the Indian Catholic Press Association and mentor of dozens of writers in Gujarat, also died of COVID at the age of 78.

“The government is blatantly lying on official figures of the grim reality,” said Father Prakash, endorsing the media reports that exposed the underreporting of deaths in Gujarat and several other Indian states. “They play down deaths and the number of infected by the pandemic.” While the Gujarat government acknowledged only 78 deaths on April 16, national daily The Hindu reported cremation of 689 bodies in seven cities alone under COVID protocol in the state, in an article titled, “COVID-19 Deaths in Gujarat Far Exceed Government Figures.”

“The situation is miserable here. Many are dying. I know an entire Christian family that has been wiped out. One of our young bishops is also in hospital with COVID,” Bishop Chacko Thottumarickal of Indore, in Madhya Pradesh state in central India, told the Register.  “The media reports here routinely challenge the government death figures, with some networks challenging the actual figures to be several times higher,” said Bishop Thottumarickal, the former chairman of the Office for Communication of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences.

After The Wire news portal published an article titled, “Varanasi: Cremation, Burial Grounds Show About 50% of COVID-19 Deaths Aren’t Officially Recorded,” Prime Minister Modi called a meeting of top officials of Varanasi, as he personally represents the Hindu holy city in the Indian Parliament.

In the race to produce and secure vaccines for the 1.4 Billion Indians, Modi regime failed miserably. India invested too little in vaccine against Covid production. While epidemiologists, specialists and opposition leaders have long urged Modi to give approvals for foreign vaccines, the decision to give emergency use license to the Russian manufactured Sputnik V vaccine was only taken in the second week of April. Against the skepticism for vaccines by a vast majority of Indian, Modi government has done too little to reinforce public health messaging. In West Bengal, where Modi himself has been campaigning, the BJP Chief has advocated drinking cow urine to treat COVID-19.

The net result of all these is: People are dying in their hundreds in India because of a lack of medical oxygen and other supplies in the country’s overloaded hospitals. The healthcare system is collapsing as India records more than 350,000 new coronavirus cases each day and thousands lose their lives daily.

“The Indian prime minister suffers from overconfidence in his own instincts and pooh-poohs expert advice,” The Guardian wrote. “His ministers turned on a former Congress prime minister for daring to offer them counsel just before he was admitted to hospital with Covid this week.” Guardian was referring to the recommendations suggested by Manmohan Singh, former Prime Minister of India.

As this COVID-19 “tsunami” floods across the nation, a chorus of protest has erupted from opposition parties, social-action networks and the media, challenging the government’s lack of foresight. One of the most prominent is a report by The Times that accuses the BJP government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi of “floundering” in the face of the giant surge in cases. Another media account accuses the Indian government of indulging in “vaccine diplomacy” by exporting more than 60 million COVID vaccines to 84 countries at the cost of Indian citizens while the country’s own vaccination centers are crippled by vaccine shortages.

 “This is the first time Modi has been on the receiving end and he may have to pay a political price. It is also the first time that India has experienced a catastrophe of such magnitude,” a political analysts wrote recently. “Thus, it may not be wrong to suggest that it would be far from easy for Modi to remake and reshape the politics of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), say some skeptics. And the skepticism has come not without good reason.”

His critics are already predicting doomsday. Many have gone vocal demanding the prime minister’s resignation. On social media and in general discussions, the refrain is that the limit of good governance under Modi has been reached. At this critical juncture in its history, Indians have been justify to fend for themselves.

NFIA Organizes Virtual Meeting With Consulate Officials In Chicago, Discussing Issues Of Importance To The Community

(Chicago, IL: April 17, 2021) National Federation of Indian American Associations (NFIA), FIA Chicago, GOPIO and India community organizations in the Chicago region, came together and organized a virtual interactive meeting on Thursday, April 15th, 2021with Honorable Amit Kumar, Consul General of India in Chicago provided a forum for the Indian American community leaders to clarify several issues, mostly pertaining to Consular services that are of importance to the community.

In his address, Ambassador Amit Kumar pointed to how the Covid pandemic continues to remain uncertain with the emergence of new variants. “We see a surge in India,” he said and urged the community “to follow the guidelines set by CDC and stay cautious.” On another note, the Indian Envoy flagged off the 75th anniversary of India’s Independence ([email protected]) ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav.’ “We will be organizing a series of events to celebrate this momentous event. I welcome your suggestions as to how we can work together to make this historic event a memorable one for all of us,” he said.

In his opening remarks, Ajoy Kumar Dube, NFIA President set the tone for the meeting by saying, “NFIA along with its members organizations promote and foster goodwill between the people of the United States & the people of India. NFIA tries to cultivate and encourage unity among all Indian-American organizations and serves as a catalyst and as a forum for the fellowship, exchange of ideas, and representation of the interests of the Indian-American community. NFIA along with its member organizations provide, direct, develop or secure means from among the member associations, and other resources for educational and humanitarian causes for needy, disadvantaged and deserving groups and individuals.”

Mr. Dube said, “GOPIO and other Indian Community organizations have common interest of achieving better USIndia Relations. GOPIO has had interactive sessions with Indian Consulate and Embassy officials in the past and have discussed contemporary issues which are of concern to Indian American community and the Indian Diaspora at large. The event tonight, addressed by Ambassador Kumar and other officials of the Consulate will discuss some of the issues of common interest to the Indian Diaspora community.”

Ambassador Amit Kumar is a career diplomat and joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1995. He has wide ranging experience having served in Headquarters and in several Indian Missions abroad. He has dealt with both bilateral and multilateral work in diverse areas such as political, strategic and economic spheres. Prior to taking up his current assignment as the Consul General of India in Chicago, he was the Deputy Chief of Mission in the Embassy of India, Washington DC with Ambassador-rank.

Reflecting on the trajectory of Emerging US-India Relations – Role of Indian American community, Ambassador Kumar said, “The partnership between India and the United states is built on people to people connection. Indian Americans work in almost all areas, especially in healthcare, clean energy, digital tech, higher education, and  economic cooperation. NRIs play a critical role in enhancing the relationship. We look forward to leverage that cooperation,” he said.

On the recent announcement by the Government of India on OCI related issues, Ambassador Kumar said, “We have taken these steps to simplify measures with your participation and collaboration,” he told the leaders of the Indian American community. Government of India continues to simply the procedures and we are open to your suggestions.”

The Government of India on April 15, 2021 announced that the Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cardholders will now be required to get their document re-issued only once at the age of 20 instead of multiple times needed currently. According to a Press Information Bureau statement, a person who has got registration as OCI cardholder prior to attaining the age of 20 years will have to get the card re-issued only once when a new passport is issued after his or her completing 20 years of age, so as to capture his or her facial features on attaining adulthood.

If a person has obtained registration as OCI cardholder after attaining the age of 20 years, there will be no requirement of re-issue of OCI card, it said. Currently, the OCI card is required to be re-issued each time a new passport is issued up to 20 years of age and once after completing 50 years of age, in view of biological changes in the face of the applicant. “With a view to facilitate the OCI cardholders, the government has decided to dispense with this requirement,” it added.

Ambassador Kumar said, with a view to update the data regarding new passports obtained by the OCI cardholder, it has been decided that he/she shall upload a copy of the new passport containing his/her photo and also a latest photo on the online OCI portal, each time a new passport is issued up to 20 years of age and once after completing 50 years of age. These documents may be uploaded by the OCI cardholder within 3 months of receipt of the new passport. “There has been a surge in OCI application, which has delayed the process,” the Ambassador warned.  He referred to travel to India and current travel restrictions on tourist visas to India due to Covid.

Coveying greetings from the GOPIO International, Dr. Thomas Abraham, current Chairman of GOPIO International and the Founder President of FIA and NFIA shared with the audience as to how we was instrumental in starting several organizations that are now pillars of the Indian American community around the world. “We want to see where there are common interests,” Dr. Abraham said. Referring to the New Administration in DC and that the there are several elected officials from the Indian American community at the federal and state levels, he urged them to utilize the achievements to build relationship between India and the US.

While welcoming the new measures to simplify the OCI cards, Dr. Abraham was cautious and said, “GOPIO strongly urges the government to treat OCI Card holders who have invested in business and creating jobs in India at par with Indian citizens and they shouldn’t be termed as foreign nationals by various Govt. agencies while doing business including manufacturing and research in India,” Dr. Abraham added.

Prominent among those who attended the event included, Raj Patel, President, FIA (Chicago Area); Babu K. Patel, Foundation Chair, NFIA; Sohan Joshi, Past President, NFIA; Satish Gabhawala, RVP, NFIA; Gladdon Varghese, GOPIO; Minhhaj Akhtar, Director At Large, NFIA; and Dr. Thomas Abraham.

The members and leaders of the community raised several issues especially how imposrtant it is for the Consulate to each out large PIO communities in the Chicago area; Cooperation with the Consulate on joint programs and cultural matters; Emergency Services to Indian American community members in need. The Consul and the officials from the Consulate answered and clarified several questions related to Passport, Visa and OCI Card Issues, Emergency Visa, Power of Attorney and other Consular matters. For more information or if you have an issue to be taken up with the Consulate in Chicago.

“Alone But Not Lonely – Living In The Reality Of New Normal,” An Insightful Event Held By GOPIO-Manhattan

(New York, NY: April 20, 2021) Isolation due to COVID-19 has reshaped the face of humanity. While the world faces great uncertainty with the coronavirus’ strength waxing and waning, the “new normal” has included extended periods of lockdown. With restrictions tied to the coronavirus outbreak leaving millions confined to their homes, everyone is feeling the effects of extended periods of quarantine on the body and mind. One major outcome of sustained solitude is being stuck in loneliness. Human beings are inherently social creatures, and the experience of loneliness can cause profound damage, including impairments in well-being, productivity, creativity, focus, as well as psychological harms and shortened life-spans.

In this context, a timely discussion by an experts’ panel organized virtually by GOPIO-Manhattan on “Alone But Not Lonely – Living In The Reality Of New Normal” on Friday, April 16th, 2021, was attended by hundreds of participants from around the world and broadcast live via Facebook.

The panel of experts included: Dr. Lipi Roy, an internal medicine physician board certified in addiction medicine as well as an MSNBC and NBC News Medical Contributor; Dr. Shuvendu Sen, a pioneer in multiple collaborations leading to superior Institutional performances, has been credited for adopting dynamic and innovative measures to foster higher productivity, employment, and education; Dr. Taruna Chakravorty, a Visiting Professor at Hans Raj College in New Delhi, India, where she teaches Spanish; and, Dr. Arnab Ghosh, physician-scientist is a medical oncologist who specializes in hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, with focus of research being making tumor immunotherapy more effective. During a lively and inspiring discussion they shared their wisdom thoughts with anecdotes and real life experiences.

Dr. Lipi Roy, who is a sought-after, charismatic speaker and media personality with mission to educate and empower the public to make healthy decisions through addiction awareness, nutrition, and mindfulness, said, “The past year been very difficult as the Covid pandemic has affected us in unique and universal ways.” Stating that most people have been “isolated from routine life, the pandemic has affected our normal ways of life.” Recalling how a year ago in April 2020, everything was shut down, with Streets empty, turning out crowded cities into Ghost town, “It’s been a very tough year for all of us. Many of us had to start collecting unemployment benefits, which is a new experience for many. This pandemic has been devastating. And it was a tough go for most of us in many ways,” she added.

Dr. Roy reminded the audience that “We are all social beings. We thrive on social connections. This need transcends all barriers universally.”  While admitting that “Pandemic has affected people differently.” Dr. Roy pointed out: “There are tools within each of us that we can use. We have ways to connect with people. Practicing Meditation, deep breathing. Watching comedies, and talking to people” are effective ways to combat loneliness, Dr. Roy said and added, “Love is the biggest game changer.”

In his address, Dr. Shuvendu Sen, an Ambassador of the New Jersey Re-entry Commission, who contributes to the behavioral and medical health of the formerly incarcerated female population, and a best-selling author of the book, Why Buddha Never Had Alzheimer’s: A Holistic Treatment Approach through Meditation, Yoga and the Arts, thanked GOPIO for its contributions to enhance Indian values and for the many accomplishments. Dr. Sen reminded the audience that “This is not the first time it has happened. The world has experienced similar calamities, changing our well structures lifestyles.  We have seen it time and time again. However, whenever we have been hurt, humanity is tremendously powerful to resurface from the dust.”

While so many of us have experienced the feelings of doom during the pandemic, we have had the HOPE that humanity will come out of that even stronger, Dr. Sen said.  Sharing his own personal experiences, Dr. Sen said, My hope came not from scriptures, but from my patients whom I treat every-day. They showed me the Strength of humanity. They gave me hope through their personal stories, which have been very compelling and moving.” Stating that his “mission is to use holistic medicine, using one’s inner strength, Dr. Sen said, “This is an opportunity to regain our strength and to rediscover ourselves. We need to appreciate the goodness and the strength in ourselves.”

Dr. Sen shared about how physician burn out and public distrust have impacted his life. He admitted that when the pandemic broke out, there were uncertainties of the treatment modalities. At the beginning of the pandemic, physicians were fearing for their own lives and were unable to support and help patients. “You have to take care of yourself first before taking care of others.” He stressed the need for “Friendship, fellowship and honesty.” Dr. Sen concluded by saying, “We have every reason is to be optimistic. Optimism is the opium” for a better more fulfilling life, he said.  He mentioned about the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline available to all in the USA that one can call 1 (800) 273 TALK (8255) and talk to a person and get the help they need.

Dr. Taruna Chakravorty, wife of former Consul General in New York, Ambassador Sandeep Chakravorty,  a life coach, motivational speaker and healer, said, she loves to work with people of all ages, helping them to live their lives happily and joyously.  Her mantra is “The human spirit is meant to soar the skies in jouful abandon, free from fear, full of love and compassion.” Dr. Taruna Chakravorty shared her knowledge about this state of being which is not elusive after all. Her mantra is “Happiness is yours to experience and is well within the reach of us all.”

“We forget to be grateful for the many things that we have in our lives,” Dr. Chakravorty said. “Our sense of gratitude builds positivity within us. There is no need looking for something outwards, but look inwards,” she said and the way to the inward journey is through “Meditation that leads to inner sense of peace.” According to her, When we can give to others, and when we can do something good to others, and when are instrumental in giving love and compassion to others, we find that inner peace and joy. “The more you give, the more you receive,” she said.

Dr. Chakravorty shared about her own personal story of she and her family transitioning from New York to Delhi during the pandemic and how it has impacted her family. In the face of losing one’s dear ones in life and the many challenges, especially while living in a virtual world and the many anxious moments in life we face, Dr. Chakravorty stressed the importance “to look inward rather than outward, by prating the techniques in mediation. Experience for yourself about the brilliance of how meditation impacts us.

Be conscious of what make you happy and uplifts you. And you can impact and help all around you. It is in our hands and we need to make the decision. Being happy is a conscious choice.” she stressed.

Dr. Arnab Ghosh, whose goal is to develop strategies in preclinical models and translate them into clinical studies, was instrumental in putting together the panelists. Dr. Ghosh said, The objective of the discussion is “Sharing knowledge and empowering the community, while learning how the pandemic t has impacted the community. And the focus is on people’s life stories and how they have been personally impacted.” He suggested that “doing simple things like wearing masks and distancing and learning how one behavior affects me and the society at large. We are all in this together. Science has given us the hope.”

There were several video presentations by people as to how they have been impacted by Covid and how they have coped with the pandemic. Dr. Asha Samant, the International Coordinator of GOPIO in her introduction shared about the series of panel discussions the GOPIO Manhattan Chapter has initiated with the objective of educating the public.

Dr. Thomas Abraham, Chairman of GOPIO International reminded the audience who for over a year, we are homebound. He said, Vaccination gives us hope. He commended the US government for the great roll out of the vaccination. “We are grateful to Dr. Ghosh, who has become a great assets to the Chapter.” He thanked Vimal Goyal and Asha Samant and the GOPIO Manhattan leadership, especially Shivender Sofat, GOPIO Manhattan President.

Mr. Sofat thanked the panelists and participants to the timely and very important discussion on COVID and on ways to live the new reality after Covid pandemic has impacted all. He shared about some of the initiatives by the Chapter in the recent past, especially the political and community engagement, supporting the student population and Community Feeding every month organized by the Chapter. He urged the community to support the initiative by being a volunteer and or a sponsor. Dr. Vimal Goyal proposed vote of thanks.

Call National Suicide Prevention Lifeline for those needing assistance: 1 (800) 273 TALK (8255)

AAPI Elects New Leaders For 2021-22 And Beyond

(Chicago, IL: April 11, 2021) “We have successfully concluded our elections for the year 2021-22 for AAPI leadership positions,” Dr. Sudhakar Jonnalagadda, current President of AAPI announced. “I am happy to announce that members of American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) have voted for the first time electronically and have elected a new and dynamic team to lead AAPI, the largest ethnic medical organization in the United States in the coming year and beyond.”

While announcing the elections results after months long campaigning for several offices to the national body and regional chapters, Dr. Seema Arora, Chief Election Officer, 2021 said, Dr. Anjana Samadder has been elected as the Vice President of AAPI, Dr. Satheesh Kathula was elected Secretary and Dr. Krishan Kumar was elected Treasurer of AAPI for the year 20-21. Dr. Sapna Aggarwal, Dr. Lokesh Edara, and Dr. Srinagesh Paluvoi were elected to AAPI’s Board of Trustees for a two-year term.

“AAPI electoral process has concluded successfully and the results are being announced today. Today I feel very satisfied that we, the election committee, were able to do our Job right in providing a very FAIR election to everyone, following all bylaws, while dealing with big CHALLENGES in implementation of this new ELECTRONIC PROCESS, taking extra security precautions, anti-hacking measures,  fixing glitches, resolving disputes, anxieties, and concerns of the members,” Dr. Arora added. She thanked the election committee members, Dr. Ranga Reddy, Dr. Sharad Lakhanpal, Dr. Surendra Purohit and Dr. Surekha Rao and the entire Executive committee led by Dr. Jonnalgadda for making this election smooth and transparent. .

Dr. Sajani Shah, the current BOT Chair thanked the Election Committee for their meticulous planning and organizing the elections with integrity and fairness. She said, “I congratulate the winners and the new leadership who are entrusted with the responsibility of leading it in the year 2021-22 and beyond. I wish them the very best and my whole-hearted support.”

“As the incoming President of AAPI, I would like to congratulate my incoming new team for the fiscal year 2021-22,” said Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, who will be the President of AAPI in the year 2021-22. “I’m very honored, privileged and consider myself fortunate to be bestowed with the responsibility of leading the nearly four decades old organization with the cooperation and collaboration of an excellent group of dedicated, hardworking, and loyal officers and executive committee members who are with me to take AAPI to new heights.”

Dr. Gotimukula will have Dr. Ravi Kolli- President –Elect; Dr. Anjana Samaddar- Vice President; Dr. Satish Kathula- Secretary; Dr. Krishan Kumar- Treasurer; Dr. Kusum Punjabi- Chair, Board of Trustees; Dr. Sowmya Neravetla- President, Young Physicians Section; and, Dr. Ayesha Singh, President, Medical Student/Residents & Fellows Section. “AAPI is fortunate to have more women representation in 2021-22 year and the team is excited working towards strengthening the  goals and mission of AAPI and to visualize AAPI a healthcare leader in US and globally and work in the best interests of our Physicians and our Communities,” added Dr. Gotimukula.

While congratulating the newly elected leaders to the Executive Committee, Dr. Ravi Kolli, the President-Elect in 2021-22 said here in a statement: “I want to congratulate all the winners of election. I want to specially thank all the candidates for their passion and dedication to serve AAPI and regardless of the outcome, we need you as a valuable team member of our beloved AAPI.  We will work together to promote our values of professionalism, collegiality, excellence in patient care and enhance AAPI’s reputation as a premiere professional organization offering educational programs and advocacy.”

Dr. Anajana Samadder, who won the election to be the next Vice President of AAPI, said, “I am humbled and honored to be bestowed with this responsibility and will work to the greatest of my abilities to reach our goals, addressing the challenges, and advance the issues important to our members. This win belongs to all our members for trusting our vision of growth & progress. Thank you for choosing me as your representative and with team work, transparency, and greater member participation we will be able to achieve our target. The journey has just started and there is lot of work to be done. I hope to receive your continued support and love “

Dr. Satheesh Kathula, Secretary-Elect of AAPI said, “I would like to thank all AAPI members from the bottom of my heart for this honor and assure that I will sincerely work for the betterment of our beloved organization, AAPI. Once again, I thank everyone for the opportunity to serve.” He expressed gratitude to the Election Committee Team, who “successfully organized this election, for the first time electronically with great participation from members.”

Dr. Krishan Kumar, the newly elected Treasurer of AAPI said, “I am honored to be elected as the Treasurer of national AAPI. As an organization, AAPI is committed to increasing young physicians’ knowledge base, enhancing their careers, and empowering them to play a key role in healthcare advocacy and community service. I will continue my dedicated work of several years helping fulfil our mission.”

In his message, the current Secretary of AAPI, Dr. Amit Chakrabarty said, “I am thankful to my Supporters who gave me their precious vote honoring my 25 years of service for AAPI. I will soon finish my tenure as your secretary and I take with me all your wishes, and memories.  Everything is life is a learning opportunity, and I have learned a lot from this election. I will take this wisdom with me forever to the future. I congratulate all the winners. I wish Anjana the best of luck as she moves forward with her position.”

The growing influence of physicians of Indian heritage is evident, as increasingly physicians of Indian origin hold critical positions in the healthcare, academic, research and administrative positions across the nation. We the physicians of Indian origin are proud of our great achievements and contributions to our motherland, India, our adopted land, the US and in a very significant way to the transformation of the Indo-US relations.

Serving 1 in every 7 patients in the US, AAPI members care for millions of patients every day, while several of them have risen to hold high flying jobs, shaping the policies and programs and inventions that shape the landscape of healthcare in the US and around the  world.

Dr. Jonnalagadda, while reminding the members of AAPI said, “Since its inception in 1982, AAPI has been in the forefront, representing a conglomeration of more than 80,000 practicing physicians in the United States, seeking to be the united voice of the physicians of Indian origin, I hope and wish that the new Team under Dr. Gotimukula will continue the noble mission and strengthen our efforts to make AAPI reach greater heights.”  For more details, please visit: www.appiusa,org

 

 

AAPI ELECTIONS 2021 – RESULTS

The following are the Executive Committee and Board of Trustees for the year 2021-22.

President Dr. Anupama Gotimukula
President-Elect Dr. Ravi Kolli
Vice President Dr. Anjana Samadder
Secretary Dr. Satheesh Kathula
Treasurer Dr. Krishan Kumar
Immediate Past President Dr. Sudhakar Jonnalagadda
Chair, AAPI Board of Trustees Dr. Kusum Punjabi
President, AAPI YPS Dr. Soumya Neravetla
President, AAPI MSRF Dr. Ayesha Singh
Regional Director, Pacific Region Dr. Sujeeth Punnam
Regional Director, Mountain Region TBA
Regional Director, NW Central Region Dr. Raghuveer Kura
Regional Director, SW Central Region Dr. Roshan Shah
Regional Director, NE Central-I Region Dr. Meher Medavaram
Regional Director, NE Central-II Region Dr. Dharmesh Gandhi
Regional Director, SE Central Region Dr. Shirishkumar Patel
Regional Director, New England Region Dr. Subbarao Bollepalli
Regional Director, Mid Atlantic-I Region Dr. Raj Bhayani
Regional Director Mid Atlantic-II Region Dr. Vasu Singh
Regional Director, South Atlantic Region TBA
Regional Director, South Region Dr. Malti Mehta
Board of Trustee Dr. Kusum Punjabi (Chair)
Board of Trustee Dr. Mukesh Nigam
Board of Trustee Dr. Tarak Vasavada
Board of Trustee Dr. Jagdish Gupta
Board of Trustee Dr. Raghu Lolabhattu
Board of Trustee Dr. V. Ranga
Board of Trustee Dr. Sapna Aggarwal
Board of Trustee Dr. Lokesh Edara
Board of Trustee Dr. Srinagesh Paluvoi
Immediate Past BOT Chair Dr. Sajani Shah
YPS Representative on Board Dr. Ami Baxi
MSRF Representative on Board Dr. Kinjal Solanki

As Corona Rate Spikes, President Biden, CDC Director Caution Nation

Scientists tracking the spread of COVID-19 in the U.S. have said that there’s plenty to be worried about. Cases are rising across the country, especially in the Northeast and Midwest. Public health experts are worried that the country is headed for a fourth major spike.

It’s the last news anyone wants to hear: one year after the United States was slammed with its first wave of COVID-19—which was followed by even worse second and third waves—public health experts are worried that the country is headed for a fourth major spike. Scientists tracking the spread of COVID-19 in the U.S. have said that there’s plenty to be worried about. Cases are rising across the country, especially in the Northeast and Midwest.

President Joe Biden has made a plea to the nation’s governors as the US faces the possibility of another wave of Covid-19 infections. “I’m reiterating my call for every governor, mayor, and local leader to maintain and reinstate the mask mandate. Please. This is not politics. Reinstate the mandate if you let it down,” Biden said during remarks on the state of vaccinations this week.

The plea comes as some states have lifted requirements for face coverings, as well as guidance on restaurant capacity and other measures, and cases have again begun to rise. Last week, the administration called on states to slow the relaxation of Covid guidelines.

Much of America’s recent progress against Covid-19 has been erased as new infections jump nationwide.  Now the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said she’s afraid of what will happen next. “What we’ve seen over the last week or so is a steady rise of cases,” said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky on Monday. “I know that travel is up, and I just worry that we will see the surges that we saw over the summer and over the winter again.”

The U.S. is facing “impending doom” as daily Covid-19 cases begin to rebound once again, threatening to send more people to the hospital even as vaccinations accelerate nationwide, the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. The troubling B.1.1.7 variant strain is spreading more rapidly in the US. That strain isn’t just more contagious, health experts say. It appears to be deadlier as well.

During a White House coronavirus briefing yesterday, Rochelle Walensky, the new director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, begged Americans to keep following public health guidelines amid alarming upticks in cases, hospitalizations and deaths. “Right now, I’m scared,” she said.

And the combination of young, carefree revelers and states ditching safety mandates has helped send the country backward, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “What we’re likely seeing is because of things like spring break and pulling back on the mitigation methods that you’ve seen now,” Fauci told CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday.

Biden also renewed calls for Americans to wear masks, framing the choice as a “patriotic duty.” “I need the American people do their part as well. Mask up, mask up. It’s a patriotic duty. It’s the only way we ever get back to normal,” he said. With a nod to the role of the private sector, Biden also suggested businesses should also require the use of masks. “The failure to take this virus seriously precisely what got us to this mess in the first place, risk more cases, more deaths,” he said.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said she would be conveying Biden’s message to governors on Tuesday after she warned of “impending doom” over concerns about another wave of Covid-19 cases.

“With regard to the surging, we are working closely with the states. I will be speaking with the governors tomorrow to try and reinforce the need for current restrictions to not open up,” Walensky said earlier Monday. “I think what we’ll do on masking will really depend on where we are 30 days from now.”

It’s not the federal government, but “the private sector” that will likely create and store data for Covid-19 vaccine passports, Andy Slavitt, the White House’s senior adviser for Covid-19 response, said on Monday.

Vaccine passports are a way for people to prove they have been vaccinated against Covid-19. “The government here is not viewing its role as the place to create a passport, nor a place to hold the data of citizens. We view this as something that the private sector is doing, and will do,” Slavitt said during a virtual White House briefing.

Instead, the Biden administration is working to develop a set of standards for such a vaccine passport program or database. “What’s important to us, and we’re leading an interagency process right now to go through these details, are that some important criteria be met with these credentials. Number one, that there is equitable access — that means whether or not people have access to technology or whether they don’t. It’s also important that we recognize that there are still many, many millions and millions of Americans that have not yet been vaccinated. So that’s a fundamental equity issue,” he said.

“Privacy of the information, security of the information, and a marketplace of solutions are all things that are part of what we believe in, as is the ability for people to access this free, and in multiple languages,” Slavitt said. “So, I think you will see more from us as we complete our interagency process. But this not slowing down the process in any way.”

He went on to describe why the government will be involved in the process.  “The core here is that Americans, like people around the world who are vaccinated, will want to be able to demonstrate that vaccination in various forms,” Slavitt said. “This is going to hit all parts of society, so naturally the government is involved.”

The great news is all three vaccines being distributed in the US appear to work well against the B.1.1.7 strain. But with only 15.8% of the US population fully vaccinated — and anti-vaxxers and vaccine hesitancy preventing America from returning to normal faster — it’s time for a reality check.  “Now is one of those times when I have to share the truth, and I have to hope and trust you will listen,” Walensky said.

“I’m going to reflect on the recurring feeling I have of impending doom … We have so much to look forward to, so much promise and potential of where we are and so much reason for hope. But right now, I’m scared.”

Before she became CDC director, Walensky was on the front lines of the pandemic, witnessing some patients die from Covid-19.  “I know what it’s like as a physician to stand in that patient room — gowned, gloved, masked, shielded — and to be the last person to touch someone else’s loved one, because they are not able to be there,” she said.  The US has come “such a long way,” Walensky said, pleading with all Americans to keep masking up and “hold on a little while longer” as more people get vaccinated.  Young people are fueling much of this new surge

At least 27 states have averaged at least 10% more cases each day this past week compared to the previous week, according to Johns Hopkins University.  “A lot of the spread is happening among younger people,” said Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health. “That’s the group that is moving around, kind of relaxing, getting infected.”

And some state governors and local officials recently relaxed safety mandates, despite warnings from health experts to keep them in place a bit longer.  “We’re weeks away from a point where we can begin to do these things a bit more safely,” Jha said. “But I think states have just moved too fast.”

The U.S. is recording a weekly average of 63,239 new Covid-19 cases per day, a 16% increase compared with a week ago, according to a CNBC analysis of data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Daily cases are now growing by at least 5% in 30 states and the District of Columbia.

Touching Personal Narratives of Family Members of Indian Martyrs Share Life Stories At GOPIO-Manhattan’s Shaheed Diwas Celebrations

Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s daughter Dr. Anita Bose Pfaff (Germany), Lord Rami Ranger (UK), Dr. Maya Chadda (USA) and Historian/Author Dr. Bhuvan Lall (India) were among those whoared their personal stories with audience.

(New York, NY: March 28, 2021) If India and the people of Indian origin living around the world enjoy freedom, liberty, equality and success, it’s due to the sacrifices, vision and foresight of men and women who dedicated their lives at the cause of freedom, fighting for independence from the 200-years of British Rule. There are millions who dedicated their lives, while there are some whose leadership and bravery inspired millions of others to fight for freedom. Shaheed Diwas or Martyrs’ Day is observed on six days across India which includes January 30th and March 23rd each year to remember the sacrifices of brave freedom fighters who devoted their entire lives to help us enjoy freedom.

Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO) along with the Consulate General of India in New York jointly organized and honored the martyrs during a virtual celebration of Shaheed Diwas 2021, which is the 90th death anniversary of three courageous youngsters on March 23rd, 2021. The celebrations touched many hearts as the hundreds of participants heard personal stories shared by family members of some of these brave men and women, who fought valiantly and gave up their lives at the altar of freedom for our motherland, India. Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s daughter Dr. Anita Bose Pfaff (Germany), Lord Rami Ranger (UK), Dr. Maya Chadda (USA) and Historian/Author Dr. Bhuvan Lall (India).

India’s Consul General Ambassador Randhir Kumar Jaiswal launched [email protected], a yearlong Celebration commemorating the 75th Anniversary of India’s Independence and called upon the Indian Diaspora to join him in celebrating India’s freedom till August 15th, 2022. Shatrughna Sinha, Deputy Consul General in New York felicitated the community.

Ambassador Jaiswal and DCG Shatrughna Sinha released the Shaheed Diwas Calendar presented by Siddharth Jain (Sid Jain) of GOPIO-Manhattan, for the year 2021-2022.  Ambassador Jaiswal while reviewing the calendar cited that it recognized contributions of Patriots of India. Ambassador Jaiswal further added on the Calendar as “A collector’s delight and dream”, where one can read about the freedom fighters and their heroic activities.

Consul General Jaiswal, in his address, commended GOPIO Manhattan for organizing the event and several others, honoring India and Indians. “Today is the Red Letter Day in the history of India,” the Indian diplomat with over three decades of diplomatic services around the world, told the hundreds of community leaders from around several continents who joined the celebration. “We honor today the legendary freedom fighters, recalling their bravery and love for our motherland.” Describing today’s celebrations as unique, Ambassador Jaiswal recalled the founding of the Ghadar Party by Lala Har Dayal over a century ago. “I humbly bow before their legendary sacrifices, which are inspiring us all.”

Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s Daughter, retired Prof. Dr. Anita Bose Pfaff shared with the audience experiences from her own personal life, as she was growing up seeing her father, travelling across India to Europe to South East Asia, garnering support from Western and Asian nations, creating an army to fight the British power. Stating that her dad was one of the most hated by the British, she narrated about the many coup attempts by the British to assassinate him. Calling him a Leftist radical, Dr. Anita Bose Pfaff said, “He had joined the freedom movement at a very young age.

Joined the non-violent movement led by Gandhi initially. He was imprisoned and lost his health in prison. He risked his life disguising himself and escaping the prison and joined and led the Independence Movement abroad by aligning with Germany, Soviet Union and Japan, creating an Indian National Army (INA) to fight the British”. While Mr. Bose died in a plane crash, while trying to defeat the British, she said, “There is good reason to call him a martyr, because he died in the process of fighting for freedom. India was his sole love, and he was willing to put his life for the freedom of India. It’s justifiable to call him a martyr.”

 Lord Rami Ranger, Member of the House of Lords, London, a self-made businessman and chairman of Sunmark Group, an international marketing and distribution company. He is also chairman and managing director of Sea Air and Land Forwarding Ltd. He is the Joint Chairman of Conservatives Friends of India in the British Parliament. Lord Ranger’s father Shaheed Sardar Nanak Singh stood for the unity of India and was assassinated by a mob in Gujranwala (in Pakistan) in 1947. “My father was assassinated at age 42 when I was not even born,” he said, sharing about the circumstances that led to his father’s martyrdom.

Describing that it is remarkable, India and the Diaspora are “paying tributes to those who made us what we are today. They demonstrated that their love for India was more than that for their love for their families. We cannot forget their sacrifices. We remember all those who made it possible for us today to celebrate our freedom. They are always martyrs and will live forever.”

Lord Ranger praised Indians, who “are contributing a great deal around the world. If we are not a free nation, we could not do so, contributing to the world. We are shaping the destiny of the people of so many nations. India is the most sought-after nation by people from around the world. We must stay united and fight together to preserve our freedom. Learn from history.”

Dr. Maya Chadda, Professor of Political Science, William Paterson University, Wayne, New Jersey. Member of Council of Foreign Relations. Dr. Chadda is an author of over half a dozen books. Her father, who was a linguist, had spent most of his time with Gandhiji in his Ashram. Dr. Chadda described at length about her works on Gandhian thoughts focusing on Satyagraha as a strategy of war. Sharing from her personal experiences, she shared with the audience about how her dad went to the Ashram at a very young age and his kids were born and grew up at the ashram, where he spent most of his life. Her dad was part of the editorial staff of Gandhi ji’s educational movement by newspapers to spread his message. “We were a Gandhian family throughout our lives. They were all dreamers, who dreamt of a unified India with freedom. They inspired mass support that led to the freedom movement, with ability to move the nation and win their support,” she said.

Dr. Bhuvan Lall, Film Producer, Entrepreneur, Speaker, Scriptwriter and Columnist, New Delhi, India. Author of The Man India Missed The Most – Subhas Chandra Bose & The Great Indian Genius – Har Dayal, eloquently told the story of the brilliant Lala Har Dayal, who spoke 9 languages and memorized 5,000 books at the very young age of 28-years.  Har Dayal gave up his Government of India scholarship to St. John’s College at Oxford and became a supporter of the Indian revolutionary movement in 1907. He traveled through France and Germany, disseminating anti-British propaganda and lauding Western science and political philosophy as holding the key to a successful anticolonial struggle.

In 1913 Lala Har Dayal formed the Ghadar Party to organize a rebellion against the British government of India. He fled to Switzerland and then to Berlin, where he tried to foment an anti-British rising in northwestern India. After the German defeat in World War I, Har Dayal settled in Stockholm as a professor of Indian Philosophy and wrote Forty-Four Months in Germany and Turkey. He moved to the USA in the late 1920s and became a Professor of Sanskrit at the University of California, Berkeley.

Dr. Thomas Abraham, Chairman of GOPIO International, in his remarks gave an introduction to the objectives of the birth of GOPIO. “Connecting the Diaspora with our motherland” and celebrating the major festivals of India.” GOPIO-Manhattan has hosted some extraordinary events, especially during the Covid pandemic.

 Shivender Sofat, President of GOPIO-Manhattan, in his passionate address, shared about the sacrifices of Freedom Fighters. “This is part of a series of events to pay homage to martyrs of India,” he said. “It was planned in 2019, but today, we are fortunate to have this virtually connecting all of us from around the world for this solemn event.” While referring to the different paths used by the freedom fighters, he said, “They all had one goal: freedom for our motherland. Our real homage to the martyrs is to work towards by preserving the ideals of the martyrs.” He led the audience from around the world to salute India and the Martyrs in one voice, as they all called out “Inquilab Zindabad.”

Emcee of the event, Anoop Bhargava introduced the importance of Martyr’s Day. On March 23 in 1931, three brave men, Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev Thapar, and Shivaram Rajguru were hanged to death by Britishers, for fighting for freedom from British rule in India.

 The two hours long celebration was combined with patriotic songs sung live by singers from the USA and Canada. Mohita, a High School Sophomore, led the audience with the American National Anthem. The Indian National Anthem was rendered by Leena Damle, a graphic designer. Vande Mataram, a patriotic song, was sung by Pallavi Verma Belwarior. Ishan Tangirala, an 8th grader sang the Patriotic song Mera Rang De Basanti Jola. Hitesh Jain of Vancouver, BC sang Sarforshi Ki Tamanna, lyrics of which were penned by Shri Ram Prasad Bismil, a Martyr, paying tributes to the martyrs.

GOPIO International Coordinator-at-Large Dr. Asha Samant and Prof. Ponisseril Somasundaran from Columbia University also shared their personal experiences with the freedom movement with moving anecdotes that made a lasting impact on the audience. Prof Somasundaran was choked with emotion when he shared his father’s involvement with Mahatma Gandhi in the Salt Satyagraha. Prof. Somasundaran’s father was honored by the Govt. of Indian with Tamara Patra for his service to the nation.

The program ended with closing remarks and vote of thanks by GOPIO-Manhattan Executive Vice President Prof. Rajasekhar Vangapaty, who was a co-organizer of the program with Shivender Sofat and Siddharth Jain.

Will Biden Deliver Green Cards To Indian American Physicians? NRI Doctors Organize Protest Rally In DC

Every 7th patient in the United States is being treated by physicians of Indian origin alone. They are sought after and admired for their skills, dedication and compassion. Yet, when it comes to obtaining Residencies, work permits and Green Card, they are not treated fairly.

A growing shortage of doctors and nurses in the United States over the past decade has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis. Fortunately, there are thousands of trained health professionals who want to practice in the United States. One-sixth of our health care workforce in the United States is foreign-born. Immigrant nurses and doctors play a vital role in our healthcare system, and their contributions are now more crucial than ever.

Every 7th patient in the United States is being treated by physicians of Indian origin alone. They are sought after and admired for their skills, dedication and compassion. Yet, when it comes to obtaining Residencies, work permits and Green Card, they are not treated fairly.
There and many other concerns were brought to light as a group of Indian American Doctors staged a protest rally in the nation’s capital on March 17th, 2021.

Physicians and healthcare professionals from India get a raw deal thanks to the green card backlog and per-country cap even though they are virtually the backbone of the healthcare system in the United States, pointed out the group of doctors of Indian origin who held a protest in Washington, DC.

One of the issues that concerns Indian nationals on work visas in the United States is the employment-based green cards. The Biden administration’s proposed legislation could boost the number of employment-based green cards. Currently, the maximum employment-based green cards that can be issued each year is 140,000. Biden’s proposed legislation would not only eliminate the per country cap but would also allow the use of unused visa slots from previous years. It will also allow spouses and children of employment-based visa holders to receive green cards while not counting them under the annual cap limit.

“Overall, we could have retained these high skilled immigrants and their families if the backlog situation were resolved by previous administrations,” said Pooja B Vijayakumar, a consultant and researcher on immigration. “The current immigration system is broken, and I hope that this issue is taken up seriously. In the future, the Biden administration has plans to hire more foreign workers, which is great, but this should be only done once the current green card backlog issue is addressed.”

As per current regulations, citizens of no single country can claim more than 7 percent of available green cards. That policy has resulted in creating a massive green card back log for countries such as India and China. According to some estimates, Indian Americans, who qualify for skilled worker visas, including Green Cards could wait for over a hundred years to get approved for Green Cards due to this country-based cap.

Four years of the Trump administration have been tumultuous as far as immigration is concerned. According to a recent report by Pew Research Center, the number of people who received green card declined from about 236,000 in the second quarter of the 2020 fiscal year (January to March) to under 78,000 in the third quarter (April to June). By comparison, in the third quarter of fiscal 2019, nearly 266,000 people received green card.

Immigrant doctors and nurses have been fighting to save American lives, living in the US for decades, paying taxes, contributing to the economy but they have no right to participate in any kind of democratic process, the protesters said through a media note.
President Joe Biden should take executive action and offer green cards to frontline healthcare workers, they demanded. “Yes, this is about the green card backlog,” Dr Raj Karnatak, an infectious disease and critical care physician from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, told indica News when contacted.

“More than green card, this is about how frontline healthcare workers are being disrespected. How Indians are being discriminated against,” he added. “Among high-skilled immigrants in the green card backlog, there are around 20,000 frontline healthcare workers serving on the frontline during the pandemic,” he said. The pandemic, he pointed out, has been brutal to frontline healthcare workers and their families.
“Many lost their lives, and on top of the Covid-19 crisis frontline healthcare workers have to face an inhumane green card backlog due to the archaic caps that allow no country to get more than 7 percent of employment-based green cards,” he said.

Another protester Dr Pranav Singh, a pulmonary and critical care physician, was quoted as saying in the media note: “We are frontline Covid warriors, and we are here to tell how we have been shortchanged into a life of perpetual indentured servitude. Each of us has a story. We are here from all over the country asking for justice. Justice that has precluded us for decades now.”

Dr Karnatak lamented that the immigrant healthcare workers from other countries get green cards within months to a year but high-skilled immigrants from India wait decades, and the current estimated wait time is 195 years.“We are being cut in line by every other country,” he said. “An unborn child in the womb in any other country who will grow up, go to school and college, and eventually will come to the US will get his/her green card before an Indian doctor already living in the US, serving the community, fighting pandemic on the frontline, contributing to the economy, paying taxes and being a good, law-abiding citizen.

“Is this the equal opportunity that America prides itself for?” he asked. He said that due to decades of backlog, many high-skilled immigrants are not able to change jobs because they fear losing their spot in the green card line, and are virtually indentured to one employer. They can only work in the specialty occupation the visa is allotted for decades, Karnatak explained.Many healthcare workers could not serve in Covid-19 hot spots as the visas are tied to the job and employer, he pointed out. Frontline healthcare workers in the backlog have children who despite living in the US for all their lives risk aging out and have to self-deport when they turn 21, he underlined.
“Frontline healthcare workers have aging parents in India and cannot sponsor them to come to the US. High-skilled workers must think thousands of times before deciding to visit family back home due to fear of visa rejections and getting stranded, and spouses who are on the dependent visa are being discriminated against and denied EADs (work authorizations) on time,” Karnatak said.

According to the Pew report, “In fiscal 2019, more than 188,000 high-skilled foreign workers received H-1B visas. H-1Bs accounted for 22 percent of all temporary visas for employment issued in 2019. In all, nearly 2 million H-1B visas were issued from fiscal years 2007 to 2019.”
There have been several Bills introduced in both the Chambers of Congress in rec3ent years, seeking to address the backlog issues. A bipartisan group of senators had in 2020 introduced new legislation Thursday to grant 40,000 unused green card slots to foreign health care workers needed to help U.S. medical professionals fight the coronavirus pandemic. Sen. Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., a longtime stalwart of immigration-related legislation, unveiled the bill with his colleagues, Sens. David Perdue, R-Ga., Todd Young, R-Ind., and Chris Coons, D-Del.
The bill would authorize up to 25,000 immigrant visas to go to foreign nurses and up to 15,000 for doctors who are eligible to come to the United States or who are already here on temporary work visas. These immigrant visas would lead to employment-based green cards. The legislation would also allow U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to give out slots from a pool of previously unclaimed green cards for the families of these medical workers.

Now with a new president in town, all eyes are on him and his proposed immigration reforms. President Joe Biden has already announced his immigration agenda and is working toward boosting refugee admissions. However, when it comes to work-based immigration, there are a lot of questions on how the Biden administration proposes to work on them, especially on employment-based green cards and H-1B visas.
The Biden administration has for now decided not to implement a rule proposed by Trump that aimed at linking H-1B visas to wages.

The administration withdrew a notice —  issued just five days before Trump’s exit — regarding compliance with a law requiring US employers to pay H-1B visa foreign workers the same or more than Americans in similar jobs by both staffing agencies and their clients. There is also a proposal to provide permanent work permits to the spouses of H-1B visa holders.The Physicians of Indian Origin believe, now is the time and that President Biden can fix the long delayed immigration issues facing hundreds of thousands of well deserving qualified Indian Americans.

Dr. Suresh Reddy Picks Up Key Endorsements, Including The Sitting Mayor Of Oak Brook

Present Mayor of Oak Brook Dr. Gopal Lalmalani and Trustee Moin Saiyed of Oak Brook have been strongly supporting Dr. Reddy and have endorsed his candidacy, as his leadership skills will benefit the residents of the suburban town in Illinois.

“I am grateful to several key leaders of my hometown, Oak Brook, a suburb in the state of Illinois, including the sitting mayor and members of the governing body of Oak Brrook for endorsing and supporting my candidacy to be a Trustee of Oak Brook, as the elections to the town office draws close,” Dr. Suresh Reddy, Immediate Past President of American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) said here today. “

Present Mayor of Oak Brook Dr. Gopal Lalmalani and Trustee Mr. Moin Saiyed of Oak Brook have been strongly supporting Dr. Reddy and have endorsed his candidacy, as his leadership skills will benefit the residents of the suburban town in Illinois. “Dr. Reddy also picked up the key endorsements of all the sitting Trustees, who are not running for re-election this year. They are: Trustee Michael Manzo, Trustee Asif  Yousuf, Trustee Moin Saiyed, and Trustee Ed Tiesenga.

Dr. Reddy is among the six candidates running to be Trustees for the three openings that are being contested on April 6th, when the voters in the city will go to polls. Having a population of nearly 10,000 people, the city of Oak Brook is located 15 miles west of the Chicago Loop and is served by a network of major federal, state, and county roads including the Tri-State Tollway system, the East-West Tollway and the Eisenhower Expressway. One of the affluent communities in the nation, Oakbrook’s adjacent neighbors include the communities of Villa Park, Elmhurst, Lombard, Oakbrook Terrace, Westchester, Westmont, Clarendon Hills, Downers Grove, and Hinsdale.

Dr. Reddy comes with immense experiences and proven leadership. Dr. Reddy grew up in the suburbs of Hyderabad in Southern India. A financial conservator, Dr. Reddy always had a passion for “uniting and bringing people together.” Recalling his childhood, the dynamic leader says, “It all started during my childhood with bringing neighborhood kids together to play “gully cricket” and also bringing people together in college to organize  events, demonstrations, and educational tours. Bringing opposing parties to the table for resolving issues has always been my strong strength since my schooling days.”

Not being satisfied with his achievements as a physician and leader of the Diaspora Physicians group,  Dr. Reddy says, “I always had a strong passion for bringing a positive outlook and giving back to the community. I got involved in several alumni activities and have facilitated to raise funds to build a million dollar alumni educational center for my Alma Mater.”

Dr. Reddy completed his advanced medical training at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center/Harvard Medical School and has stayed on Harvard Faculty for more than a decade where he had also served as Chief of Interventional Neuroradiology.  Subsequently, Dr. Reddy and family moved to Chicago which has now become his home. “Now that I call Oak Brook my home, I would like to contribute and serve my community by participating in public service,” says Dr. Reddy.

What motivates him to take on yet another challenging role for the betterment of the community? “My mantra is: If you don’t lead, someone else will lead you. If you don’t pick the right leader, the wrong leader will pick you, and as my good friend US Congressman Raja Says, and if you are not on the table, you will be on the menu
” says Dr. Reddy.

He has devoted a greater part of his life to numerous initiates within the United States, in addition to serving his people back in India, As part of his community service, Dr. Reddy has facilitated and organized numerous health camps and workshops, with special emphasis on CPR  training, obesity prevention in conjunction with Chicago Medical Society. During the Covid Pandemic, Dr. Reddy facilitated more than a hundred webinars and health awareness events. He facilitated honoring of more than 10,000 nurses who work selflessly in the line of duty against Covid in over 100 hospitals in over 40 states including Alaska. He led a campaign donating blankets to the needy during the last winter and would like to do the same this winter.

His wife Leela, who was born and raised in Greenville, South Carolina has a Master’s Degree in Health Management and Policy. Previously, she was a Director of Network Health Boston, a HMO Health Plan in Boston prior to moving to Chicago. Their son, Rohun is currently doing his JD/MBA at Kellogg School of Management /Pritzker School of Law at Northwestern University.

Committing himself to ensure and work tirelessly to keep Oak Brook a strong village, living up to its name as a model village around the nation, Dr. Reddy says, “We would like to continue and strengthen many programs and services the city offers to all sections of the people. More than ever, Fiscal conservatism and wise spending, has become the most important attribute for a financially secure future. Hence I request you to give me a chance to perform my public service with utmost integrity and dignity to the office.” For more details, pleaseemail: [email protected]om

GOPIO New York Celebrates Indian Culture At Virtual Holi Festival

(New York, NY: March 29th, 2021) Holi is the national festival of colors, celebrated across India in different forms and traditions. The celebration of this colorful festival brings people of different faiths with diverse socio-political ideologies closer. This unity in diversity was experienced by participants from around the world, representing almost all continents on Earth, as hundreds of Indian Diaspora members came together virtually to celebrate the Festival of Holi on Sunday, March 28, 2021.

With the support of the Consulate General of India in New York and organized by GOPIO New York, the oldest and the first Chapter of Global Organization of People of Indian Origin, the colorful celebration of Holi Festival showcased the rich, colorful and the vibrant traditions of India, bringing them at the door steps of every household, as the audience from around the world were entertained with mesmerizing music, scintillating dance performances and inspiring speeches.

In his eloquent address to the Diaspora community, India’s Consul General in New York, Randhir Kumar Jaiswal greeted the participants from around the world Holi on the occasion of Holi Festival. While describing the historical and symbolic traditions of the festival of Holi, the veteran diplomat said, ““Holi is a very beautiful festival of color. A festival that helps us welcome spring. Holi has several connotations, social, religious, political and rhythmic with nature.”

Holi has become known as India’s most vivid, joyous-festival. Holi is being celebrated in the Indian subcontinent for centuries, with poems documenting celebrations dating back to the 4th century CE. It marks the beginning of spring after a long winter, symbolic of the triumph of good over evil. It is celebrated in March, corresponding to the Hindu calendar month of Phalguna. On the eve of the festival, large pyres are lit in many parts of India to signify the burning of evil spirits. People often throw wood, dried leaves and twigs into bonfires, Ambassador Jaiswal explained.

Beena Kothari, GOPIO New York President poetically narrated the importance of Holi, and served as an emcee of the event. While introducing Ambassador Jaiswal as a veteran diplomat, Ms. Kothari shared about with the audience his vast his experiences in foreign diplomacy around the world. Emcee of the colorful cultural events, Shruti Bekal elegantly coordinated the celebration with participants from around the world.

Lal Motwani, Founding President of GOPIO New York and GOPIO International Coordinator At Large, and the main organizer of the celebrations today, in his address, greeted Honorable India’s Consul General in New York, Randhir Kumar Jaiswal and officials, members and leaders of GOPIO from around the world who have joined virtually to celebrate the colorful festival of Holi. We at GOPIO New York are very honored to have you with us today.

“The vibrancy of colors is something that brings in a lot of positivity in our lives and Holi being the festival of colors is actually a day worth rejoicing,” Motwani said. “Holi is considered as one of the most revered and celebrated festivals of India and it is celebrated in almost every part of India, transcending every region, and people of all faiths, including Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Parsees, Buddhists, and Jains. It represents the uniqueness of Indian culture as we, from all backgrounds stand united to welcome Spring, as Mother Nature breathes freshness into our lives and that of every living creature on Earth. Welcome to each and every one of you and wishing you and your families A VERY HAPPY HOLI!”

Three little children adorably shared with the audience their perspectives, experiences of celebrating Holi and what it meant for them. A live Bollywood medley by Anwar Hussain and friends from Jaipur, India representing a family of 12 generations serving the royals, was much appreciated and loved by all. Begum of Bollywood Maharaja from Jaipur, a famous singer who is the 1st woman from her community to perform publicly, mesmerized the audience with her beautiful voice.

Mamtha Putaswamy, Mrs India USA from the state of Connecticut, performed a medley of Bollywood dances from popular Hindi movies. Aparna Sreedhar from Paris presented a Bollywood Medley, mesmerizing the audience with her beautiful voice singing some of the very popular numbers from the ever green Hindi movies. Lasya Komirisetty, a 11 yr old, Guinness Book record holder for maximum performances on world state, performed amazingly a Kuchipudy dance. Pritisha from South Africa, a 11 yr old from a family of musicians, mesmerized the audience with her melodious voice, singling some popular Holi songs.

Miss teen India Sidhya Ganesh from the state of Washington delighted the audience with a live Holi Dance. Shristi Belwaria from New Jersey, software engineer sang classical numbers with her amazing performance on Sitar. Renu Kundem, an IT consultant from Canada delighted the audience with her melodious voice. Pallavi Verma Belwariar, a professional artists from New York sang a very popular song from the ever green Sholay movie and others. A Holi Group Dance depicting the scenes from Lord Krishna with Radha and Gopis was performed by Pandit Charka’s School of Dance from Ananad Ashram.

Dr. Thomas Abraham, Chairman of GOPIO International in his greetings to the community on the occasion of Holi, he introduced and acknowledged the leadership of the GOPIO International, representing several nations. Dr. Abraham pointed how the Covid pandemic has transformed our lives and it has accorded us an opportunity to interact virtually and meet with all of you. GOPIO represents 32 Million Diaspora has over 100 chapters spread around all the continents, he said.

George Verghrese, Secretary of GOPIO International, conveyed his Holi greetings, a most important festival connecting people of all Indian origin. He shared with the audience the meaning of Holi and the symbolic importance of the Holi festival. Mehen Poinoosawmy, GOPIO’s International Coordinator for Europe coordinated several of the events that were part of the Holi celebrations today.

GOPIO International Vice President Ram Godhvi from New Jersey sang a Gujarati song, taking the audience back to the villages of India as they celebrate Holi. Anoop Bhargava from New Jersey recited a beautiful poem on Holi. Vim Goyal, a Gold Sponsor of the celebrations, conveyed his Holi Greetings and how he loves GOPIO that connects people from around the world. Indu Jaiswal and Dr. Sayyed from New York complimented GOPIO for organzing such a colorful and delightful event.

AAPI Congratulates Dr. Vivek Murthy After He Is Confirmed By Senate As US Surgeon General

(Chicago, IL: March 27th, 2021) “We congratulate Dr. Vivek Murthy on his confirmation with bipartisan support by the United State Senate on Tuesday, March 23rd, 2021 for the second time  as the Surgeon General of the United States,” Dr. Sudhakar Jonnalagadda, President of American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) said here today.

Dr. Vivek H. Murthy, who as U.S. Surgeon General under President Obama had served as the United States Surgeon General and advocated a “healthier and more compassionate America,” was confirmed last week by the US Senate with seven Republican Senators joining the 50 Democrats, with 57-43 votes in the Senate, giving him bipartisan support. While Dr. Vivek Murthy says ending the coronavirus pandemic is his top priority, he’s also raised concerns over a relapsing opioid overdose crisis. “I’m deeply grateful to be confirmed by the Senate to serve once again as your surgeon general,” Murthy said in a statement. “We’ve endured great hardship as a nation over the past year, and I look forward to working with you to help our nation heal and create a better future for our children.

While offering AAPI’s whole hearted support in his efforts to lead the nation out of the Covid pandemic and opioid crisis, Dr. Jonnalagadda thanked President Joe Biden for placing his trust in Dr. Murthy, a member of AAPI to be America’s top doctor.
“The appointment and now the confirmation by the US Senate of Dr. Murthy, including other experienced and competent senior officials to the US Health Department, will help round out Biden’s team charged with addressing the pressing COVID-19 crisis, that has taken over 500,000 American lives,” Dr. Sajani Shah, Chair of AAPI BOT said.

While describing the leadership of Dr. Murthy as America’s Doctor, which is “cementing of the reputation of physicians of Indian origin have across America,” Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, President-Elect of AAPI, that represents over 100,000 physicians of Indian origin in the United States, said, “We are proud of Dr. Vivek Murthy and his many accomplishments and look forward to working together in his efforts, as the nation and the entire world seeks to find best possible solutions to tackle the pandemic that has taken the lives of millions of people around the world.”

Lauding Dr. Murthy “who has been a key coronavirus adviser to President-Elect Biden, regularly briefing him on the pandemic during his campaign and the transition,” Dr. Ravi Kolli, Vice President of AAPI said, “Dr. Murthy was part of Biden’s public health advisory committee as the pandemic first took hold in the US and has been serving as a co-chair of the President-elect’s Covid-19 advisory board during the transition. His ethics, quiet leadership style and impeccable credentials make him the smart choice for this leadership role.”

“Dr. Vivek Murthy represents the next generation of Indian American physicians,” Dr. Amit Chakrabarty, Secretary of AAPI said.  “Dr. Murthy was America’s youngest-ever top doctor, and he was also the first surgeon general of Indian-American descent, when appointed by President Barack Obama in 2014. Now that he has been confirmed by the Senate, Dr. Murthy will play a key role in the administration’s response to many daunting healthcare issues, including the pandemic that has taken the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans.”
“Having a wide range of experiences and passion for science-based approach, Dr. Vivek Murthy will bring in new perspectives to the many healthcare issues that require immediate attention and concrete action plan,” said Dr. Satheesh Kathula, Treasurer of AAPI.  Offering fullest cooperation from the Indian American Physician community, he said, “We at AAPI, look forward to working closely with Dr. Murthy and his team to end this deadly pandemic.”
Dr. Murthy 43, has said Americans need a leader who works with the people for the progress of the country. As surgeon general under Obama, Murthy helped lead the national response to the Ebola and Zika viruses and the opioid crisis, among other health challenges.

Dr. Murthy’s commitment to medicine and health began early in life. The son of immigrants from India, he discovered the art of healing watching his parents – Hallegere and Myetriae Murthy – treat patients like family in his father’s medical clinic in Miami, Florida.
“I am proud of our community of Indian physicians for all the progress that we have made over the years, and I know that AAPI has been a critical force in making this process possible. The advice you shared and assistance you kindly offered were important pieces of this journey,” Dr. Vivek Murthy, stated in a letter to Dr. Jayesh B. Shah, a past president of AAPI, who along with AAPI’s Legislative Affairs Chair, Dr. Sampat Shivangi and other senior leaders of AAPI had led several delegations to US Senators, lobbying for his confirmation in 2014, when he was appointed by President Obama.

While expressing pride at the confirmation of Dr. Murthy, Dr. Jonnalagadda pointed out to US President Joe Biden’s remarks, describing the Indian American physician to be the US Surgeon General as a “renowned physician” who could help guide Americans safely out of a still ranging coronavirus pandemic. For more details on AAPI, please visit: www.aapiusa.org

AAPI Urges Government To Proactively Prevent Attacks on Asian Americans

(Chicago, IL: March 23, 2021) “AAPI wants to express our deep concerns and anguish about the violence the nation has witnessed against people of Asian origin,” Dr. Sudhakar Jonnalagadda, President of American Association of Physicians of India Origin (AAPI) said here today. In a statement issued here Dr. Jonnalagadda condemned the incidents of growing violence, and said, “We at AAPI, the largest ethnic medical organization in the nation, urge the federal, state and local Governments to make all the efforts possible to prevent violence against Asian Americans and all those innocent people around the nation who continue to suffer due to violence, harassment and discrimination.”

A coalition tracking reports of racism and discrimination against Asian Americans says it has received at least 3,795 firsthand complaints since last year.  Stop AAPI Hate began tracking violence and harassment against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in March last year.

From then through the end of 2020, Stop AAPI Hate received a total of 3,292 complaints from all 50 states and Washington, DC, according to a Stop AAPI Hate news release. There were at least 503 anti-Asian hate incidents reported between January 1 and February 28 according to the group’s latest report, released last week.

Quoting the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Dr. Sajani Shah, Chair of AAPI BOT, said, “AAPI recognizes that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights and that everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set out therein, without distinction of any kind, in particular as to race, color or national origin. All human beings are equal before the law and are entitled to equal protection of the law against any discrimination and against any incitement to discrimination.”

While recognizing the pain and sufferings of the people impacted by the increasing violence and harassment against Asians and Asians Americans, especially in the past few months, Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, President-Elect  of AAPI stressed on the need for education. She said, “We commit to educating ourselves about racism that manifests in our own community. We will work to address racism and health disparities through policy and by working with affected communities and the healthcare providers who serve them. Our fate is linked to the fate of our fellow citizens, and our work must include lifting up and supporting all the communities so we can all thrive.”

“We stand in solidarity with peaceful protestors across the nation condemning the increasing violence and harassment against some minority groups,” said Dr. Ravi Kolli, Vice President of AAPI. “As immigrants to the U.S., our families may not always understand this history, but we join in solidarity with the minority communities and call for justice and peace.”

“We are saddened by the divisive rhetoric and racial tensions that seem to be getting worse each day. AAPI supports the Bills introduced by two Democratic lawmakers in the House and the Senate calling for the expedited review of hate crimes related to the pandemic,” ,” said Dr. Amit Chakrabarty, Secretary of AAPI.

 Rep. Grace Meng of New York, who sponsored the bill in the House, said she hopes the legislation tackles the “disgusting pattern of hate” that Asian Americans are facing since the start of the pandemic.

 “We thank and applaud President Joe Biden for condemning the hate and discrimination that Asian Americans have faced.  We support his call to do what we all as a nation can do to save lives, working with each other, preventing vicious hate crimes against Asian Americans, who have been attacked, harassed, blamed and scapegoated,” said Dr. Satheesh Kathula, Treasurer of AAPI

 President Biden had said, “At this very moment, so many of them, our fellow Americans, they’re on the front lines of this pandemic trying to save lives, and still, still they’re forced to live in fear for their lives just walking down streets in America. It’s wrong. It’s un-American. And it must stop,” he added.

 The members of the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI), an umbrella organization which has nearly 110 local chapters, specialty societies and alumni organizations, with over 37 years of history of dedicated services to their motherland and the adopted land, are appalled at the growing violence against our fellow citizens, Dr. Jonnalagadda said. “We strongly condemn this ongoing violence. And we want immediate action against the culprits, who have been carrying on these criminal acts.” For more information on AAPI, please visit: www.aapiusa.org

At GOPIO-CT Interactive Meeting Business Leaders Express Optimism

(Stamford, CT: March 26, 2021) COVID has impacted all aspects of our lives, and every community in the US and around the world has suffered immense losses due to the deadly virus, taking a toll on our emotional, physical and economic wellbeing. Indian American businesses, especially in the hospitality, travel & tour groups, restaurants and some professional practices, have suffered huge losses.  The Federal and state agencies have been helping many businesses and professional practitioners to get back to their normal business. However, much more help is needed to get back to normal.

 In this context, a virtual conference on the Zoom “Current and Post Covid: Getting Back to Normal Business – An Indian American Perspective in Connecticut” with Connecticut Lawmakers on Thursday, March 18th, was organized on by the GOPIO-CT Chapter, considered one of the most active chapters of GOPIO in cooperation with Milan Cultural Association of Hartford. Participants included state lawmakers and Indian American business leaders and professionals and was timely which provided an opportunity to share their perspectives on the impact of the Covid and how perceived the future. Connecticut lawmakers included Speaker of the Assembly Mitt Ritter, Minority Leader Rep. Vincent Candelora and Rep. Harry Arora. The session was moderated by former Assemblyman Dr. Prasad Srinivasan

In his opening remarks, Dr. Thomas Abraham, Trustee and Chairman of Seminar Series, GOPIO-CT, set the tone for a lengthy discussion with sharing the context and the need for such a timely topic. “This is the first time the Indian American community in Connecticut is doing such a program, bringing together lawmakers and business leaders to come together and share their perspectives on Covid and its impact on the business community in CT. This webinar will also provide the participants to hear the personal experiences. As we come out of the pandemic, we also like to see how Connecticut can take new initiatives to reach out those businesses in India who may be candidates to set up shops in America as Infosys did successfully in Hartford about two years back.”

Cecil Nazareth, Managing Partner, Nazareth CPAs & Member of the Global Tax Policy Committee, Norwalk, CT, shared her experiences during the past year as her firm struggled with the lack of cash flow. “Demand plummeted, reducing cash flow,” Nazareth was appreciative of the Federal Government stepping in with remedial measures that have “immensely helped” especially with PPP loans, “which have been a big blessing.” With Covid impacting the businesses, they have learnt to do new ways of doing business. Nazareth sought additional funding from the state and federal governments in order for the economy to move on in a healthy manner, Nazareth expressed “optimism” in the outlook for the economy.

Representing the most impacted Hotel/Hospitality, Shelly Nichani, President, Infinity Hospitality Group, Stamford, CT, said, while the industry has been severely affected by the pandemic, “financial help from the Federal government has helped much, without which it would have been catastrophic.” While stating that the hospitality industry in CT has been doing overall very well, but the pandemic has halted the path to progress. He was optimistic that with the vaccines and state help, the industry will return to normal soon.

Puneet Ramchandani, Owner of Taprock Beer Bar & Refuge (Farmington. CT) and other restaurants, while acknowledging that “Our industry has suffered much,” he said, the most challenging task was to have his “staff come back to work after we had to lay of several of them due to the pandemic. Many preferred to stay home due to unemployment benefits, and not wanting to risk their health. We did adapt to new guidelines, which were sometimes more a roadblock. So many restrictions on staff and seating. If one staff is infected others needed to be quarantined.” While the state has allowed 100% capacity in restaurants, he lamented, “People are still hesitant to go to restaurants because of the stigma and fear of being infected.”

Speaking about the impact on the Engineering/Manufacturing industry, Rakesh Narang, Founder and President of the Wire and Plastic Machinery Corp., Bristol, CT expressed gratitude to the CT government “for all the help during the worst year. My business of fiber optics was classified as an essential business and therefore we did not have to shut down and the business ran without restrictions. Federal loans helped us a lot, and we are able to make part time employees into permanent employees. Our business has picked up with travel restrictions being lifted. Hope this year will be a great year,” he added.

Prasad Chintalapudi, Vice President, Panzer Solutions, Norwalk, CT, provided a worldwide view of the growth and expansion of the IT industry in the US and around the world, since the 1990s. While there have been several ups and downs faced by the IT industry, he said, “Never has it been affected as much as due to the Covid pandemic. 2020 was a devastating year, with 30 percent revenue lost in April alone. Many consultants were let go both in US and India and most nations. PPP was came as a big rescue plan, and we have slowly recovered and after the 3rd quarter things stabilized. While expressing concern that in the past year, “No new technologies came in,” he is confident, “cloud computing, working from home and AI, contributing to be optimistic in 2021.”

Ramya Subramanian, Founder and CEO, Arka Information System Intl, Stamford, CT, shared with the audience about how she has turned the pandemic into an opportunity by starting three new companies in 2020. “We have accepted the new normal with their safety measures with masking, reconfiguring the office.” Thanking the state of CT for responding well, the young pioneer, said, “the past year’s productivity has been really higher as people working from home.” What Covid taught us is to be able to stay healthy, cleaner environment, she said. “Greener planet will make it more sustainable.”

Dr. Susheel Gupta, President, Connecticut Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (CAPI), Woodridge, CT, provided a broader perspective on how medicine has changed Healthcare Delivery has changed forever. While describing it to be a “challenging year,” Dr. Gupta said, “Government assistance through Medicaid and Medicare and the PPP loans was a huge help. When we reopened offices, patients were able to reach us, and now through telemedicine, we are able to communicate with our patients.”  He agreed that “Things are normalizing slowly. However, the biggest challenge is that now more and more people are depressed needing medications to manage their mood, sleep. Vaccines will help normalize life and more visit to the offices and we will be able to serve them better,” he said.

Dr. Anil R. Diwan, President and Chairman, NanoVirisides, Inc., Shelton, CT, shared with the audience about his perspectives on Research and Development. His suggestion to the community is that “If vaccines is available, please take it. Even if you get sick, the impact will be far less.” In his opinion, “Vaccines and anti-bodies keep changing. We have gone through many types of viruses. Many had minimized the spread of Covid initially. We need to create a broad spectrum of antibody hat could attack the viruses.” He expressed confidence that his company is hopeful of finding treatment for the Covid virus.

In his keynote address, Speaker of CT House, Matt Ritter described 2020 as “strange year. Nothing we had ever anticipated, unprecedented. No state did perfectly. Our residents take seriously the advice of the government and scientific leaders. In CT, the vaccinations rates very high. It’s unfortunate that we had higher number of deaths. We will find ourselves, being able to reopen the state by Memorial Day.” While expressing gratitude for the contributions of the Indian Americans, Ritter said, “You make it diverse and successful. Collegiality and coordination between the two parties is highly appreciated.” Acknowledging that if things get worse, he said, “We will change the policy depending on the needs. By April 5th, all above 16 and up can get vaccines. That will make all the difference.”

In his response, CT Minority Leader Rep. Vincent Candelora, praised the state of Connecticut, saying “Globally overall CT has done very well. Hospitals are competing for quality care. “Discoveries of treatment for Covid had started in CT, which is understated.  We need to work on the need for children. They are most impacted by our decisions. Kids got isolated more than others. We need to be focusing on the wellbeing of the kids.”

 Rep. Harry Arora, stated, “GOPIO is a great organization.” While admitting that the past one year has been a period of learning in almost all areas, testing for Covid, shutting down businesses and schools, Arora said, “No rule could be followed from the past. Looking back, we had shortcomings, but we did our best. I am an advocate of vaccines and need to have more available to those most vulnerable. If we have had more seniors vaccinated and mortality could be reduced. The objective is to keep it as flu status.”

Dr. Vivek Murthy Confirmed By Senate As US Surgeon General, Will Focus On Covid, Opioids

The US Senate voted Tuesday to confirm Vivek Murthy to be President Biden’s surgeon general, handing the administration one of its top public health officials amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Dr. Vivek H. Murthy, who as U.S. Surgeon General under President Obama had served as the United States Surgeon General and advocated a “healthier and more compassionate America,” was confirmed by the US Senate on Tuesday, March 23rd for the second time as the Surgeon General of the United States. While Dr. Vivek Murthy says ending the coronavirus pandemic is his top priority, he’s also raised concerns over a relapsing opioid overdose crisis.

“I’m deeply grateful to be confirmed by the Senate to serve once again as your surgeon general,” Murthy said in a statement. “We’ve endured great hardship as a nation over the past year, and I look forward to working with you to help our nation heal and create a better future for our children.”

According to the Office of the Surgeon General, the so-called nation’s doctor is tasked with providing Americans with the best scientific information to “improve their health and reduce the risk of injury” while overseeing the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps’ more than 6,000 uniformed public health officers.

The vote on Murthy was 57-43, giving him bipartisan support. Biden’s coronavirus response can already count on plenty of star players, but Murthy has a particular niche. As a successful author he’s addressed issues of loneliness and isolation that have been exacerbated by the pandemic. GOP Sens. Bill Cassidy (La.), Susan Collins (Maine), Roger Marshall (Kan.), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Rob Portman (Ohio), Mitt Romney (Utah) and Dan Sullivan (Alaska) joined Democrats in supporting his nomination on Tuesday.

But getting the support of every Democratic senator wasn’t always guaranteed. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) told reporters last month that he hadn’t made a decision, but ultimately ending up voting for him Tuesday.

“Murthy has confirmed his commitment to remaining non-partisan as Surgeon General and reaffirmed his belief that the vast majority of gun-owning Americans are responsible and follow the law. For these reasons, I believe Dr. Murthy is qualified to be Surgeon General and I look forward to working with him to address the numerous issues facing our nation,” Manchin said in a statement.

 Covid-19 has taken the lives of several members of Murthy’s extended family. He told senators during his confirmation hearing that he wants to help individuals and families protect themselves by conveying “clear, science-based guidance” to the general public. Persuading Americans to keep up such protective measures as wearing masks could well be his toughest challenge. Murthy served as co-chair of the Biden transition team’s coronavirus advisory board, and is said to enjoy a close personal relationship with the president.

Murthy’s family roots are in India, but as a youngster he lived in Miami. His father had a medical clinic, where both parents worked. The son spent weekends helping out and says that’s where he discovered the art of healing. “As a child, I watched them make house calls in the middle of the night and wake up early to visit patients in the hospital before heading to their office,” he told senators. “I have tried to live by the lessons they embodied: that we have an obligation to help each other whenever we can, to alleviate suffering wherever we find it, and to give back to this country that made their lives, and my life, and the lives of my children possible.”

Murthy’s style evokes the bedside manner of an empathetic physician. He “effectively conveys compassion and credibility at a time of great need for just that,” said Chris Jennings, a longtime health policy adviser to Democrats.

From his previous stint as surgeon general, Murthy says he is most proud of his efforts to call attention to the opioid epidemic, the consequences of which were not fully understood at the time. After dipping slightly, opioid deaths have again risen, driven by street formulations laced with the powerful painkiller fentanyl. “We cannot neglect the other public health crises that have been exacerbated by this pandemic, particularly the opioid epidemic, mental illness and racial and geographic health inequities,” Murthy told senators.

Murthy has drawn opposition from gun rights advocates because of his longstanding assessment that mass shootings amount to a public health problem. But he told senators that while he supports the government studying gun violence as a problem, “my focus is not on this issue, and if I’m confirmed it will be on Covid, on mental health and substance use disorder.”

“He served our country with distinction, bringing much needed added attention to some of our nation’s most pressing public health challenges,” said Howard P. Forman, M.D., M.B.A., professor of diagnostic radiology, economics, and public health, and director of the M.D./M.B.A. Program. Forman served as a mentor to Murthy during his time at Yale. “We are all excited to see what the future holds for him, but I am confident that he will continue to be a very positive force for health and health care improvements.”

When President Obama nominated him as Surgeon General in 2013, Murthy immediately came under fire from the National Rifle Association and its allies in Congress for his view that gun violence should be seen as a public health issue. But more than 100 medical and public health organizations around the country supported his nomination.

During the 2008 campaign, Murthy founded Doctors for Obama, an effort to increase engagement by physicians in the political process. After Obama’s election, the group became Doctors for America, which advocated for comprehensive health care reform. In 2011, Obama appointed Murthy to serve on the Presidential Advisory Council on Prevention, Health Promotion, and Integrative and Public Health within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

“For the grandson of a poor farmer from India to be asked by the President to look out for the health of an entire nation was a humbling and uniquely American story. I will always be grateful to our country for welcoming my immigrant family nearly 40 years ago and giving me this opportunity to serve,” he wrote on Facebook on Friday. He also offered thanks for “the privilege of a lifetime. I have been truly humbled and honored to serve as your Surgeon General. I look forward to working alongside you in new ways in the years to come. Our journey for a stronger, healthier America continues.”

Murthy advised Biden for several months during the campaign on the coronavirus pandemic and vowed to focus on the mental health impact if he was confirmed.  “We know a lot of what we need to do, we just aren’t doing it. We have for example, programs that we could be investing in schools to help provide mental health counseling to kids to detect symptoms of mental illness early. We can train more mental health providers,” Murthy said.

 While nominating Murthy to the job he had held under Obama, Biden had said in December 2020, that the Indian American Doctor would have expanded responsibilities under his administration amid the coronavirus pandemic. “He will be a key public voice on the COVID response to restore public trust and faith in science and medicine,” Biden said, adding one of the reasons he nominated Murthy is because when he speaks people listen. “They trust you,” he said. “You have a way of communicating, they can just see it in your eyes.”

GOPIO Organizes 1st Ever “India’s Outreach to the Diaspora – Youth Perspective”

As the youth-led initiatives and their success stories around the world have shown, collective action from young people is already changing things for the better. Young people are the HOPE for the future as they are creative and fill of energy. Identifying youth leaders and supporting them in their efforts to be the leaders who could be a critical link between the government of India and the immigrant youth who are spread around the world.

With the objective of providing a youth forum that will provide a platform for the Disapor youth to help amplifying youth actions that will help create change in approach and programs by the Government of India, GOPIO International organized a virtual session on “India’s Outreach to Diaspora-Youth Perspective” on Sunday, March 7th, 2021. Attended by youth and senior leaders of the Diaspora from around the world, the event provided the participants a rare view into the youth and their perspectives on how the Diaspora youth power can be utilized creatively for the benefit of India and the world.

In his introductory remarks, after clarifying the role and the growth of GOPIO International, Dr. Thomas Abraham, Chairman of the GOPIO International pointed out that, “India has the largest Diaspora in the world and it is still growing. Currently, the Indian Diaspora has a strength of over 32 million people.” Referring to the numerous initiatives that the Government of India (GOI) has taken with the objective of reaching out to the Diaspora, Dr. Thomas Abraham pointed out to the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas held in India since 2013,  which showcases to the fact that “India has great interest to reach out and cultivate its Diaspora youth. It has several programs for the Diaspora youth and exploring more avenues to outreach.”

In this context, Dr. Abraham said, GOPIO International is organizing a virtual Zoom session for Indian Diaspora Youth who are High School/College/University students as well as young professionals up to the age 25 on “India’s Outreach to the Diaspora – Youth Perspective,” with participants from different countries. “Today’s event is one such event to encourage the youth of Indian origin to aspire to be youth leaders and to help network youth from around the world with the Youth in every GOPIO Chapter around the world.

Ambassador Anup Mudgal, chief guest and main speaker today at the event, had served as India’s former Ambassador to Mauritius and Chair, Diaspora Research and Resource Centre, ARSP, New Delhi. In his inspiring address, Ambassador Mudgal pointed out that Antar-Rashtriya Sahayog Parishad has been in existence for over three years, under the Ministry of External Affairs. The objectives of the ARSP, according to Mudgal is “to take the intiativs with Diaspora to the next level: 1. Outreach to Diaspora; 2. Engage the youth of Indian origin; 3. Help the Diaspora in research and publication; 4. Expanding of Diaspora organizations around the world and in India.

According to Ambassador Mudgal, “Youth Diaspora is a main pillar of ARSP.” Emphasizing that the ideas and actions must be derived from the Diaspora, he pointed out that several of them have been accepted by the Govt.”  Stating that the Indian Diaspora is one of the most successful in every domain, Ambassador Mudgal said, “You have done very well. You also enjoy tremendous good will among the host nations. Diaspora plays an important tool of power as each of you is the Ambassador of India.”

Suggesting that the “Engagement with the youth will be a regular phenomenon from now on,” he urged that the youth need to carry forward the flag to the upcoming generations. He asked the youth to reflect and find answers: “What makes the Indian Dispora stand out? What are the characteristics that make us successful? What are the changes we need to make to shine more? While your Indianness will always be with you, you need to understand how does that help shape your personality?”

The plan as per Ambassador Mudgal is that the Government of India will organize annual International conferences with representatives from 15 nations, during which the delegates will explore on the kind of relationship, engagement they expect from the Government of India. “This dialogue will continue for centuries to come,” he assured the participants.

The lively session attended by talented youth from the US and Europe was moderated by Beena Ramachandran of GOPIO CT. She said, two youth from the participants today will be chosen by a panel of Judges: Dr. Thomas Abraham, Anita Bhatt, Navin Pathak, Naumi Kaur. These 2 youth will attend the international youth conference to be held in April this year, she said.

Ananya Kotian, a Junior in high school aspiring to pursue an education in psychology, and is passionate about dance and singing, in her presentation pointed to how the media helps us to stay connected with India. Stating that how staying in touch with documentary makers, who creatively showcase the issues facing the people of India, Ananaya Kotian advocated for virtual cultural experiences. Founder of the blog Cultural Kaleidoscope, which delves into Asian culture from a young American Indian’s perspective, while pointing to the fact that many Diaspora leaders have been appointed to bigger roles in Biden administration, a tutor and STEM mentor for the Boys&Girls club, Kotian said, “We are successful because of the values we have inherited from our country of origin, India.”

Anjo George, a junior who is well-rounded in academic fields, music, swimming, and technology, and has been passionate about helping other students to improve their academics,  highlighted the history of hosting Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, celebrating Diaspora’s contributions to India and help stay connected with India. While referring to the Know India Program by the Government of India, George said, “It helps us learn and promote Indian culture, while enabling us share our views and bond closely with India, and help reflect a positive image about India.”  George suggested: 1. Cultural exchange at school levels; 2. Establish youth ambassadors with delegates from each country to discuss issues and propose solutions, modeling Model Congress/Model Youth; 3. Organize regular competitions on social issues faced by India; 4. Exploring and increasing study abroad programs and internships, this helping build leadership, culture and help make a global community of Indians.

Viswaa Sofat, a freshman at U.C. Berkeley studying Computer Science and Political Science, shared with the audience his experiences as someone who was both born and partially raised in India, and how he tries to remain strong and fundamental to his identity as a person of Indian origin. He hopes to use this opportunity to learn from other like-minded individuals and further involve Indian youth abroad. Vishwas Sofat said, he had immigrated to US at the age of 2. Later on, he returned to India, lived in India, modeling Israel how they attract youth to come to Israel. “Growing up in India helped me understand and appreciate the values, traditions, art and culture,” he said and added, “ India is at a critical junctures today with youth stepping up and joining protest movements in India.”  He suggested for the Diaspora youth to be able to connect with Universities in India and get diverse perspectives through structured programs organized for them. Easy access to obtain visa.

Nithya Shenoy, a freshman at Rice University in Houston, Texas, plans to double major in political science and neuroscience. Is a part of Rice’s student-run paper, Thresher, and enjoys writing political pieces, reading, playing the violin, and Model UN. She shared about Israel’s Diaspora Outreach, “which helps develop collective identities, creates a sense of oneness,” she said.  Referring to the African Nations Diaspora initoavesatives, she suggested to the need for grass root level outreach. Her recommendations included: 1. Scholarships through competitions with tourism component and education, which will help youth to become more connected. 2. Organize pent house programs, connecting with youth in other nations, and thus help understand how they perceive India. 3. Exposure through NGOs gives the youth an opening to understand and appreciate India better.

Vedant Gannu is a senior studying Computer Science at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a Data Engineer Co-op at Ellington Management Group. A youth member of GOPIO CT for years, he served on the GOPIO Youth Committee, helped organize events such as Indian Independence day celebration and the annual Youth Networking event in Stamford. As a proud Indian and ambitious student, he is interested in helping the Diaspora Youth as they are integral members of the Indian community that will serve as role models for future generations. In his address, Gannu said, Education is the key to job opportunities. His suggestions included: 1. Mentorship and exchange programs will provide a combination of global with local perspectives; 2. Infrastructure planning for better structural models; 3. Indian Government agencies need to offer internships and hire the youth who can share global perspectives to local problems/issues; 4. Scholarships in less popular areas of study.

Alicia Kaur, a graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in Legal Studies, said, her dream is to one day become a lawyer and fight for racial justice and a more inclusive society. Coming from one of the most diverse universities in the United States and being a minority herself, she believes her personal experiences are what drive her towards this goal. A winner of the Women in Leadership Award from Ernst and Young, pointed out how, the Indian Diaspora has become the “most successful community in the US, as shining examples with many influential organizations has the highest per capita income, most educated, and holding influential positions around the nation, especially with dozens of Indian Americans appointed to top positions in Biden administration.  Her suggestions included, the need for a new NRI policy; partnership with tech/research sectors;  student exchange programs; and, collaboration in healthcare.

Abhi Parikh, currently living in Paris, and originally from Ahmedabad, India, said, she is involved in 2 start-ups, one is in the education sector and another in the food sector, and is immensely passionate about her work.  Apart from that, she has started a few Indian communities on Facebook, just to gather Indian people on a common platform, she said. While suggesting that the youth have huge potential., she urged the government to tap this force through encouraging steps. She shared with the participants about how developing social media platforms help youth establish startups by youth. Focusing on entrepreneurial migration, she said, they help give access to information; access to network and sharing; access to business through exchange programs.

Akshat Gupta, a young professional in the field of Medical Technology, based in Munich, Germany, had moved out of India more than a decade ago in the pursuit of newer academic and career opportunities, and has had the good fortune of having worked and lived in multiple cultures. Stating that his leisurely activities include astronomy, sky-diving, and going off the grid once in a while, Gupta praised the ever changing dynamic of Indian diaspora, and suggested that the outreach programs by the Government of India needs to adapt and change according to the need and times. Connecting with various sub culures and diversification of missing links and helping them connect with the expats. Stressing that the Indian Missions around the world need to play a more active role in the life of Diaspora, Gupta said, he appreciates the new initiatives and would look forward to how the Government is able to listen to the perspectives of the youth and how these suggestions are being heard and acted upon.

In his concluding remarks, Dr. Abraham promised that “After the session, all ideas will be pooled to make recommendations which two of the youth from the session will speak at a Webinar organized by Antar-Rashtriya Sahayog Parishad (ARSP) from Delhi in April, 2021.”

GOPIO Manhattan Chapter Educates the Public On Covid 19 and The Vaccines

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a dramatic loss of human life worldwide and presents an unprecedented challenge to public health, food systems and the world of work. The economic and social disruption caused by the pandemic is devastating. Coronavirus has affected day to day life and is slowing down the global economy. It has rapidly affected our day to day life, businesses, disrupted the world trade and movements. The distribution and administration of Covid vaccine in the United States and around the e3ortld have given us hope, but there are several unanswered questions and skepticism about the efficacy of the vaccines. 
Second in a series of webinars, a timely discussion organized virtually by Global Organization of Persons of Indian Origin (GOPIO) Manhattan Chapter in collaboration with the Indian Consulate in New York on Friday, February 26th provided answers to these most important questions.
Attended by people from around the globe, the webinar led by Hana Akselrod, MD, MPH attempted to answer questions raised by laymen on the pandemic, how it spreads and ways to prevent and mitigate the spread. Currently an Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Dr. Akselrod has been active in medical education, serving as a faculty mentor in the Quality Improvement and the Clinical Public Health curriculum programs, conducting research on HIV and aging as part of the DC Center for AIDS Research (CFAR) and DC Cohort Longitudinal HIV study. During an hour long presentation, she provided an overview of the epidemic and the efficacy of the vaccines in common man’s language.
In his opening remarks, Consul General of India in New York, Randhir Jaiswal congratulated GOPIO for organizing the much needed webinar on Covid 19 and for educating the community on such a timely and vital topic with a thoughtful session by experts in healthcare field. While acknowledging the challenges faced by humanity due to COVID, Ambassador expressed hope and said, “There is optimism in the New Year and we hope to put this pandemic away.” Ambassador lavished praises on GOPIO and its leadership for the many initiatives. “GOPIO has helped NRIs in several ways, facilitating travel, organizing prescription medicine and providing living accommodation to many stranded due to Covid. I am appreciative and thank GOPIO for their constant efforts to be on the forefront.” 
Ambassador Randhir Jaiswal referred to India’s massive undertaking under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India has undertaken, what is likely to be the world’s largest Covid-19 vaccination campaign, joining the ranks of wealthier nations where the effort is already underway. India has plans to vaccinate 300 million people, roughly the population of the United States. Praising the two India-based pharmaceutical companies for manufacturing the vaccines in record time, Mr. Jaiswal said, “We are sharing our vaccines with other countries who need. It gives us pride that we can share our scientific knowledge with the world.” While acknowledging that the mutations are posing additional threats, he assured, “We are pushing the pandemic away in India and around the world.”
Dr. Asha Samant, in her opening remarks, described the current period experienced by humanity due to COVID as “a dark period in human history.”  Dr. Arnab Ghosh, a physician in Memorial Sloan Kettering (MSK) specializing in adult Bone Marrow Transplantation, moderated the lively session. “While admitting that “we do not have answers to many questions to Covid that has changed our lives in all possible ways,” he said, “Where to find vaccines? GOPIO is seeking to find answers.” 
Dr. Thomas Abraham, Chairman if GOPIO-International shared greetings to the Manhattan Chapter leaders and panelists from GOPIO International. “India has done a great deal of service to the world by being a leader in supplying vaccines to as many as 33 nations around the world. Referring to how the pandemic has impacted human lives for over a year now, Dr. Abraham pointed to how the City of New York was among the worst hit and that life is returning to near normal, especially with strict guidelines and the arrival of the vaccines. 
In her opening remarks, Dr. Hana Akselrod shared with the audience about her upbringing as an immigrant to the US from Russia and how she overcame the hurdles and has been able to achieve the dreams and aspirations of her immigrant parents.  She shared about the proximity of the George Washington University where she teaches and researches on epidemiogy, to the divers population and the centers of power in Washington, DC.  “We at George Washington University have successful initiated several programs befitting the local community, using the golden standard of community services,” she said.  
While acknowledging that the US is responsible for a high percentage of mortality, she stated, it may be due to the fact that many nations do not test and some are not transparent in reporting the actual cases of the virus. “The Covid virus is under reported in several nations, including in the US. We have one of the highest mortality rates in the world.” Expressing hope that, especially with the holiday season behind us, and that many states who were resistant to preventing measures have caught up now, and have contributed to the reduction of cases with the virus, she said. 
How do we get out of this? She suggested that everyone follows the common preventable methods recommended by CDC, including hand hygiene, masking, social distance, ventilating, and being prepared to stake a step back. “Vaccination will give herd immunity, if 60 percent of the population is immunized,” she said. However, if the efficacy of the vaccine is less than 100 percent, more people need to be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity.
Transmission is far from safe levels, she said. Until we have a population that is immune and has herd immunity, it is a challenge to contain it. “We have extensive studies on the spread and prevention of Covid,” she said. “Preventive measures are important. Vaccination is likely to make us achieve herd immunity.” 
 “Now, we are more concerned about the variants, which have not impacted much as of now. Low income, lack of education and lack of access to medical care are some of the cause of disparity in Covid infection and mortality rates,” she explained. 
How does the virus spread? Dr. Hana Akselrod said, COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly through close contact from person to person, including between people who are physically near each other (within about 6 feet). People who are infected but do not show symptoms can also spread the virus to others. Pathogens that are spread easily through airborne transmission require the use of special engineering controls to prevent infections.
She explained on how the virus spreads thorough the Spike protein. Multiple SARS-CoV-2 variants are circulating globally, she said. Several new variants emerged in the fall of 2020, most notably:
In the United Kingdom (UK), a new variant strain of SARS-CoV-2 (known as 20B/501Y.V1, VOC 202012/01, or B.1.1.7 lineage) emerged with an unusually large number of mutations. This variant has since been detected in numerous countries around the world, including the United States (US) and Canada.
To understand how COVID-19 vaccines work, it helps to first look at how our bodies fight illness, Dr. Hana Akselrod pointed out. “When germs, such as the virus that causes COVID-19, invade our bodies, they attack and multiply. This invasion, called an infection, is what causes illness. Virus can affect all parts of the body. Inflammation, heart disease and lungs mostly impacted. Inflammatory damage process that may cause blood clots. 
While assuring the audience that COVID-19 vaccines can help our bodies develop immunity to the virus that causes COVID-19 without us having to get the illness, she said, “Different types of vaccines work in different ways to offer protection, but with all types of vaccines, the body is left with a supply of “memory” T-lymphocytes as well as B-lymphocytes that will remember how to fight that virus in the future.” To a question on which is the best of the three vaccines available in the US, she said, “The best vaccine is the one that is available to you now.” 
Exploding how each vaccine works and helps gain immunity, on the reactions to Vaccine, Dr. Hana Akselrod said, “Mostly they have found to be safer with minor side effects with some larger effects, most of which are not life threatening. CDC has an app to report the reactions to vaccine,” she added. 
While admitting that there are many who are skeptical about the vaccines, not only among the scientific community and among the general public, she stressed the need for effective communication and educating the public. While prominent and scientific leaders have taken on the role, she emphasized the need for education by individual physicians and healthcare workers, who can play a critical role in educating the efficacy of the vaccines. To another question, she said, “Vaccines are not causing infertility among women. There is no proof to it,” she added.  
Mr. Shivender Sofat, GOIO Manhattan President thanked the panelists and participants to the timely and very important discussion on COVID and vaccination. In accordance with the mission, the Manhattan Chapter has taken several initiatives in the recent past. He referred to the Community Feeding every month organized by the Chapter. He urged the community to support the initiative by being a volunteer and or a sponsor.

Joe Biden Unveils Plan To Help 11Million Immigrants Obtain Permanent Status

President Joe Biden’s proposed bill with the objective of long delayed and much debated immigration overhaul, known as the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021, was introduced in US Congress on Thursday, February 18th, kicking off what will likely be one of his most difficult legislative challenges.

The legislation includes an eight-year path to citizenship for most of the roughly 11 million immigrants living illegally in the U.S., bolsters the nation’s refugee and asylum systems and calls for additional technology to be used to help secure the southern border. The citizenship path is not conditional on the implementation of border security measures, which had been a trade-off included in past immigration bills designed to earn Republican support.

Some, including farmworkers and people brought to the country as children — so-called Dreamers — will get an immediate path to permanent residency or a “green card,” allowing them to work legally. Others addressed include thousands of people in the United States under temporary protected status (TPS) due to violent upheavals or natural disasters in their home countries.

 

Biden announced on January 20, his first day in office, that he would pursue comprehensive reforms to immigration laws to lay out a more “humane” and “just” system. Biden called the policy reforms “long overdue” and said they were aimed at reversing the “misguided policies” of his predecessor Donald Trump, who mounted a hardline effort to halt illegal immigration, slash legal immigration and drive out undocumented immigrants, even those in the country for decades.

 

The new proposal aims to give legal protections to millions of people, mostly from Mexico and central America, who have lived in the country for many years, with homes, businesses and US-born children and grandchildren. “Immigration is an irrefutable source of our strength and is essential to who we are as a nation,” Biden said in a statement. “This is an important first step in pursuing immigration policies that unite families, grow and enhance our economy, and safeguard our security,” he said.

 

Democratic Senator Bob Menendez, a leading backer of the legislation, has said, many of the immigrants work in the farm, food, and healthcare industries that have been essential during the Covid-19 pandemic, while risking higher rates of coronavirus infection and death. Menendez called on Democrats to take advantage of their narrow control of both houses of Congress to push through the legislation.

 

“This blatantly partisan proposal rewards those who broke the law, floods the labor market at a time when millions of Americans are out of work, fails to secure the border, and incentivizes further illegal immigration,” said Republican Representative Jim Jordan.

Illegal immigrants in the country would have an eight-year process to get citizenship. A similar amnesty during Republican President Ronald Reagan’s administration in the 1980s legalized about 3.5 million illegal immigrants.

 

A major focus is the Dreamers, people brought to the United States illegally as children who grew up here. Biden was vice president in the administration of President Barack Obama, who sought citizenship for Dreamers, only to be forced to compromise with Republicans for short-term measures. Biden also wants a more forgiving policy at the border, ending Trump’s “zero tolerance” approach and reuniting families separated by it.

 

Among other things, this bill addresses issues that are fundamental to the wellbeing of South Asian communities, including language that:

 

· Creates an earned roadmap to citizenship for all 11 million undocumented immigrants, providing  Dreamers, TPS holders, and some farmworkers with an expedited three-year path to citizenship, and giving all other undocumented immigrants an eight-year path.

· Reforms the family-based immigration system to keep families together by recapturing visas from previous years to clear backlogs, including spouses and children of green card holders as immediate family members, and increasing per-country caps for family-based immigration. It also eliminates discrimination against LGBTQ+ families, provide protections for orphans, widows and children, and allows immigrants with approved family-sponsorship petitions to join family in the U.S. on a temporary basis while they wait for green cards.

· Updates the employment-based immigration system, eliminating per-country caps, improving access to green cards for workers in lower-wage industries, giving dependents of H-1B holders work authorization, and preventing children of H-1B holders from aging out of the system. The bill also creates a pilot program to stimulate regional economic development, and incentivizes higher wages for non-immigrant, high-skilled visas to prevent unfair competition with American workers.

· Supports asylum seekers and other vulnerable populations by eliminating the one-year deadline for filing asylum claims, reducing asylum application backlogs, increasing protections for U visa, T visa, and VAWA applicants, including by raising the cap on U visas from 10,000 to 30,000.

AAPI’s Global Healthcare Summit 2021 To Be Held in Vaizag, Andhra Pradesh

The 14th annual Global Healthcare Summit (GHS) 2021, organized by the Association of American Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) in collaboration with the Indian Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, will be held at the prestigious Novotel, Visakhapatnam, India from April 30th to May 3rd, 2021.

 

The groundbreaking Summit from April 30th to May 3rd, 2021 will discuss ways to bring the most innovative, efficient and cost effective healthcare solutions for India.

 

“Harnessing the power of Indian doctors worldwide, the AAPI Global Healthcare Summit platform has evolved with the support of prominent global and Indian medical associations,” says Dr. Sudhakar Jonnalgadda, President of AAPI. In addition, several international healthcare industry partners are looking for opportunities to participate at this event for greater collaboration on Research & Development and philanthropic engagements, he adds.

 

According to him, “Senior leaders from leading healthcare organizations such as pharmaceuticals, device and medical equipment manufacturers and major medical teaching institutions, hospitals and from the Ministries – Health, External/Overseas Affairs and regulatory bodies are collaborating with AAPI with the ultimate goal to provide access to high quality and affordable healthcare to all people of India.”

 

While elaborating on the themes and areas that are going to be covered during the Summit, Dr. Sajani Shah, Chair of AAPI BOT, says, “In our efforts to realize the core mission of AAPI, which is to share the best from leading experts from around the world, to collaborate on clinical challenges, research and development, philanthropy, policy and standards formulation, the Summit in Visakhapatnam will have clinical tracks that are of vital to healthcare in India.”

 

Chronic diseases, notably diabetes, cardiovascular, hypertension, COPD, oncology, maternal and infant mortality, and emerging ones – trauma and head injury, transplant and minimally invasive robotic surgeries are only some of those that are going to be covered during this Summit. An exclusive Healthcare CEO forum brings the healthcare industry perspective, with senior Government officials, both Union and State providing the legislative wisdom. Hands-on workshops provide supervised skill transfer.

 

Dr. Prasad Chalasani, Chair of AAPI GHS USA 2021 says, “With over 200 physicians from the United States, the Summit is expected to be attended by nearly 1,000 delegates from around the world. AAPI Global Healthcare Summit (GHS) will have many new initiatives and also will be carrying the torch of ongoing projects undertaken by AAPI’s past leaders.”

 

Dr. Ravi Raju, Chair of GHS India, “Healthcare in India is one of the largest sectors, in terms of revenue and employment.  India is making significant improvements in the healthcare infrastructure and is building modern medical facilities throughout India. Indian doctors have made tremendous progress in the 21st century and India is now being touted as a medical tourism hub”

 

While elaborating the objectives of the Summit, Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, President-Elect of AAPI, says, “This innovative Summit is aimed at advancing the accessibility, affordability and the quality of world-class healthcare to the people of India. Among other areas, the Summit will focus on prevention, diagnosis, treatment options and share ways to truly improve healthcare transcending global boundaries.”

 

According to Dr. Ravi Kolli, Vice President of AAPI, “This international health care summit is a progressive transformation from the first Indo-US Healthcare Summit launched by AAPI USA in 2007. Since then, AAPI has organized 13 Indo – US/Global Healthcare Summits and developed strategic alliances with various organizations.”

 

Dr. Amit Chakrabarty, Secretary of AAPI, says, “It is these learning and relationships that have now enabled AAPI and participating organizations to plan ahead and prepare for an outstanding event that is expected to have over 300 very prominent and talented physicians and surgeons of Indian origin from around the world and are very passionate about serving their homeland, Mother India.”

 

Dr. Satheesh Kathula, Treasurer of AAPI, says, “With the changing trends and statistics in healthcare, both in India and US, we are refocusing our mission and vision, AAPI would like to make a positive and meaningful impact on the healthcare delivery system both in the US and in India,”

 

“Being organized at this critical phase, GHS 2021 is aimed at exploring possibilities for greater collaboration and cooperation between the physicians and health care providers in India with those of Indian origin and major health-care providers abroad,” Dr. Jonnalagadda said. For more information, please visit www.aapiusa.org 

 

Indian Americans Express Shock At Trump-Incited Attack on US Capitol

The Indian American community has expressed shock and is dismayed at the events that unfurled on Wednesday, January 6th on Capitol Hill.  Supporters of President Donald Trump breached one of the most iconic American buildings, US Capitol, engulfing the nation’s capital in chaos after Trump urged the mob of rioters and domestic terrorists to fight against the ceremonial counting of the electoral votes that would confirm President-elect Joe Biden’s win.

The rioters first breached exterior security barriers, and video footage showed protesters gathering and some clashing with police near the Capitol building. Soon, after breaching through barricades and security checkpoints, the protesters were inside the building — forcing lawmakers to go into lockdown.

The violent mobsters went door to door waving Confederate flags, looting the offices of senators and congressmen and repeating the false rhetoric that the president has spread since November — that Trump was the real winner of the election.

Smoke grenades were used on the Senate side of the Capitol, as police worked to clear the building of rioters. Windows on the west side of the Senate were broken, and hundreds of officers amassed on the first floor of the building.

The Capitol police officer in the House chamber told lawmakers that they may need to duck under their chairs and informed lawmakers that protesters were in the building’s Rotunda. Lots of House members were seen wearing gas masks as they moved between Capitol buildings. Members were calling family to say they were OK.

As the minutes turned to hours of violence, politicians called on Trump to instruct his supporters to leave the Capitol. In a Twitter video that was later removed, Trump told them to go home, but repeated that the election was “stolen” from him and said he “loved” the protesters.

The chaos on Capitol Hill, in which a police officer and four others died, has been widely condemned by both Democrats and Republicans. “Our democracy is under unprecedented assault, unlike anything we have seen in modern times,” President-elect Joe Biden said. He described it as “an assault on the citadel of liberty, the Capitol itself.”

Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican leader, was right when he finally stood up to Trump and warned the Senate that legislative moves to overrule voters by excluding some states in the Electoral College count “would damage our republic forever.”

Dr. SampatShivangi, president of the Indian American Forum for Political Education and a delegate for Trump, and a veteran leader of AAPI, called the events as “shameful, shocking and unprecedented in the history of once upon a beacon of democracy on the planet. Even though I am a strong Republican and longtime serving US Republican Party delegate for the last four Republican Party conventions, I would not support a bit in any fashion. Now with all that carnage, President Trump has promised for smooth transfer of power on January 20th and with that in mind it is time for healing and I feel President elect Biden and VP elect Ms. Harris should be magnanimous to accept that offer and initiate the first few steps in that process that will bring sanity and respect that US has lost in the world community,” Dr. Shivangi added.

Dr. Navin C. Shah, Founder and former President of AAPI, said, “The unlawful entry and banalization of the Capitol Hill, the temple of the US democracy is totally unacceptable. These culprits be immediately caught and brought to justice. The authorities of the Capitol Hill complex should  take  urgent actions to inhibit such a mob violence.” Dr. Shah calls for “cool minds of leaders and law makers prevail to have a peaceful transfer of power and address the serious issues, like Corvid 19, unemployment  and poor economy, challenging millions of our citizens. For over 200 years the US has survived with the rule of law and constitution and it will go on successfully for many centuries to come.”

Dr. HetalGor, a Board Certified OB GYN in the state of New Jersey described the events as “Unconstitutional, Unbelievable, Unimaginable, and Unpatriotic.”  Pointing that in the midst of pandemic, a rally was called on the day of electoral vote certification “with the sole purpose of stopping the count,” dr. Gor said, “Years of brainwashing, spreading misinformation, without any evidence calling election rigged when most judges have confirmed no irregularities, instigating the crowd to march to Capitol was home grown terrorism. Months back telling white supremacy groups to stand by, putting pressure on Vice President Pence to act unlawfully & unconstitutionally: all this for a selfish man’s injured pride. One man has caused so much damage to this country, bringing it shame, despair, dividing people, abusing power, disgracing the office. He is not only fit to be a president but an American .He should be impeached, the least we can do. In spite of all the obstacles , democracy prevailed,” added Dr. Gor.

Dr. Thomas Abraham, Chairman of the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin, condemned the behavior of the rioters as “deplorable that the President of the United States of America who lost the election incited his supporters to use violence and riots inside the Capital Building, the cradle of democratic institution, so as to keep his power and continue as the President. President Trump should have gracefully accepted the election results and hand over the power in a smooth transition.”

KhanderaoKand, Director of Foundation for India and Indian Diaspora Studies (FIIDS) USA, Founder of Global Technology Professionals Association (GITPRO), said, “I am shocked and saddened to see the unruly and violent protest in Washington DC. This is one of the worst un-democratic moment in the history of the world’s longest democracy.”

Mr. Anil Bansal, President of FIA (NY, NJ & CT) said, “As a non-white American, what I saw on my 65th birthday was no gift. Watching the dramatic visuals of thousands of Trump supporters, storming the US Capitol, my first reaction was to compare the stark difference between how the Black Lives Matter activists were treated versus the trump supporters. For the first time, I understood the word, “White Privilege.”

KanchanaPoola, past President of New York Tamil Sangam, lamented the lack of law and order  on 1/6/2021, “which will go down in the history as the worst act by citizens, encouraged by a
sitting President who is unfit to be the leader,  whose false claims of stolen votes.” Quoting a CNN reporter, who called Trump “A Sore Looser” Ms. Poola reminded of what President George Bush said: “Trump has made the most powerful country into a Banana Republic. But in those countries he would be removed immediately- but as long as these Republicans are in majority at Congress he will get away with it. Hope the Republicans learnt a lesson loyalty is not earned when they allow an unfit-man at the helm. Hope the Republicans have the back bone to do the right thing for the great country USA claims to be.”

Dr. Mathew Joys, Vice Chair of Indo-American Press Club, called the riots by Trump supporters, including some of Indian origin as “unfortunate.” Stating that it may be common for political, cultural, and religious rallies to be held to display the country’s flag in which they were born and raised. We have seen Malayalees carrying the Indian flag at the recent Democrat rallies and violent BLM rallies.The Indian flag was flown at the Capitol Building by a man I knew personally. Participating in such a Rally or bearing an Indian National Flag, only be viewed as a demonstration of our solidarity to the party or to the nation that feeds us.”

GunjanRastogi, past president of IALI and currently serving as the president of NIAASC described the event on Jan 6th as “Absolutely despicable and a stain on this country’s history.” Stating that  Republicans and Trump supporters “prioritized party allegiance over acknowledging President Trump for who he truly is – a liar who has continually incited violence through his words and tweets” she called on all Americans – Republicans and Democrats alike – “must wake up and start electing officials based on character and actions, not for their associated party. President Trump must be held accountable for causing this unforgivable assault on the Capitol.”

Trump, who lost the Nov. 3 election by about seven million votes, called on his supporters on Wednesday to march on Congress, telling them at a rally that “you will never take back our country with weakness.”

What the pro-Trump rioters attacked was not only a building but also the Constitution, the electoral system, our democratic process. They humiliated the United States before the world and left America’s enemies chortling. They will be remembered as Benedict Arnolds.

Whatever a president’s rhetoric, he betrays the Constitution when he oversees a campaign to overturn a free election guaranteed by that Constitution, and when he galvanizes rioters to overpower our democratic process.

Trump summoned supporters to Washington and unleashed them as rioters on the Capitol as the Electoral College votes were being counted. “Be there, will be wild,” he tweeted. “Let’s have trial by combat,” his lawyer Rudy Giuliani told a rally of Trump supporters shortly before they stormed the Capitol. So pro-Trump crowds dismantled security fences and invaded the Capitol. You can call them rioters or terrorists or coup plotters, but they were not Making America Great Again.

A Reuters/Ipsos national public opinion survey, conducted Thursday and Friday, showed that seven out of 10 of those who voted for Trump in November opposed the action of the hardcore supporters who broke into the Capitol while lawmakers were meeting to certify the election victory of Democrat Joe Biden. Nearly 70% of Americans surveyed also said they disapprove of Trump’s actions in the run-up to Wednesday’s assault. At a rally earlier in the day, Trump had exhorted thousands of his followers to march to the Capitol.

The stunning display of insurrection was the first time the US Capitol had been overrun since the British attacked and burned the building in August of 1814, during the War of 1812, according to Samuel Holliday, director of scholarship and operations with the US Capitol Historical Society.

 

(Pictures Courtesy: LA Times & Business Standard)