SAYA Celebrates 28 Years of Empowering NYC Youth, Raises $750,000 at Annual Gala

South Asian Youth Action ( celebrated its 28th anniversary on May 18, 2024, during its annual gala, which highlighted nearly 30 years of connecting underserved youth in New York City to vital opportunities and advocating for educational equity.

Held at Tribeca 360° in New York City, the event attracted nearly 400 guests who came together for an evening of philanthropy, inspiration, and celebration, according to a press release from the organizers.

The gala acknowledges the significant contributions and achievements of community members who use their privilege and platforms to drive positive societal change. This year, three exemplary individuals were honored for their dedication to these ideals: Sonny Kalsi, co-CEO of BentallGreenOak; Priya Parker, a renowned author; and Anand Giridharadas, an acclaimed writer.

Entertainment for the evening was provided by the celebrated musician Ali Sethi.

Actress, author, and SAYA board member Sheetal Sheth served as the event’s host.

The evening’s highlight was the personal stories shared by SAYA youth, which vividly illustrated the profound impact the organization has had on young lives throughout New York City.

Organizers proudly announced that “thanks to the altruism of attendees and supporters, the gala raised over $750,000, which will directly benefit SAYA’s programs and initiatives aimed at empowering youth and fostering their academic, social, and personal development.”

Executive Director of SAYA, Sonia B. Sisodia, expressed deep gratitude for the dedication shown by those in attendance. She stated, “The powerful stories shared by our youth highlight our history and the far-reaching impact of our programming.”

SAYA Board Chair Samidh Guha emphasized the importance of the support received, including a remarkable $1 million donation from Mackenzie Scott earlier this year. “The generosity of our supporters, along with the incredible $1 million gift from Mackenzie Scott SAYA received earlier this year, will advance SAYA’s important work in a profound and transformative way. Together we are creating a lasting impact in our communities,” he said.

Vice President Harris Honors Her Mother and Denounces Division at White House AANHPI Celebration

On May 13, 2024, Vice President Kamala Harris spoke at a White House Rose Garden reception celebrating Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Heritage (AANHPI) Month, where she highlighted her mother Shyamala Gopalan’s profound impact on her life. Gopalan, born in Chennai, India, immigrated to the U.S. alone at 19, aiming to raise her daughters and combat breast cancer as a researcher. Harris attributed her success to her mother’s unwavering determination, stating, “My mother never asked anyone’s permission to pursue her dreams. And it is because of her character, strength, and determination that within one generation, I stand before you as Vice President.”

Harris also warned about current extremist efforts to foster division in the country, using positions of influence to incite “xenophobia and hate, including anti-Asian hate.” She emphasized the importance of strength in uplifting others and condemned attacks on fundamental freedoms such as voting rights, safety from gun violence, freedom from hate and bigotry, and women’s rights over their own bodies. “We see a full-on assault, state by state on our most fundamental freedoms and rights,” she said.

President Joe Biden humorously introduced himself, “My name is Joe Biden. I work for Kamala Harris,” and highlighted the nation’s identity as a land of immigrants and dreamers. He emphasized the progress made together and promoted his comprehensive immigration reform bill, which includes a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers and an expansion of green cards. Biden urged Congress to act, stressing the need for unity against the divisive rhetoric of former President Donald Trump. Biden criticized Trump’s derogatory statements about immigrants, saying, “He [Trump] calls immigrants’ rapists and murderers… He says immigrants are poisoning the blood of our country.” Biden stressed his vision of a country inclusive of all people.

The reception featured patriotic songs and Indian cuisine, such as Paani puri and Khoya. Additionally, a special celebration, ‘Lasting Legacies,’ was held at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium to mark the 25th anniversary of the White House Initiative and President’s Advisory Commission on AANHPI.

At the event, Xavier Becerra, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, discussed the importance of disaggregating data for the AANHPI community and addressed rising hate crimes. He remarked, “We always have known that there is always hate out there and that sometimes it translates to criminal conduct… This commission has taken with a vengeance to address [it].”

Ambassador Katherine Tai, U.S. Trade Representative, acknowledged AANHPI leaders in the Biden administration, including Vice President Harris and others, while recalling pioneers like Representatives Dalip Singh Saund and Patsy Mink, and Secretary Norman Mineta, the first Asian American in a President’s Cabinet. Tai emphasized, “Our administration is fighting against anti AANHPI hate and violence… We are empowering members of our community… to succeed.”

Neera Tanden, Chair of the President’s Domestic Policy Council, emphasized her commitment to representing all Americans, ensuring AANHPI voices are heard in government policies on education, health care, crime, and immigration. She stated, “A priority for us is to make sure the government really represents the needs and views of all Americans.”

Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy shared his parents’ story of overcoming hardships to immigrate to the U.S., illustrating the promise of America. Reflecting on his grandfather, a poor farmer in South India, he said, “My grandfather… could never have dreamed that one day his grandson, would be asked by the President to look out for the health of an entire nation.”

Ajay Bhutoria, AANHPI Commissioner, highlighted the commission’s advocacy on economic equality, data disaggregation, language access, and immigration issues, praising the efforts of key figures like Krystal Ka‘ai and Erika Moritsugu. Bhutoria told News India Times, “The Commission has been advocating for issues important to the community around advancing economic equality, data disaggregation, language access, Green Card backlog, H1B visa stamping.”

Kamala Harris Encourages Indian American Political Participation at “Desis Decide” Summit

Speaking at “Desis Decide”—an annual summit organized by a Democratic Party think tank—Vice President Kamala Harris emphasized the increasing involvement of Indian Americans in the political process. “Over the years, we’ve had so much more participation by Indian Americans in the electoral process running for office. But the numbers are still not reflective of the size of the growing population,” she stated.

Currently, there are five Indian American members in Congress: Dr. Ami Bera, Raja Krishnamoorthi, Ro Khanna, Pramila Jayapal, and Shri Thanedar. Despite this progress, Harris believes the representation still falls short relative to the population size.

Highlighting the efforts of Impact, an organization dedicated to empowering Indian Americans in politics, Harris remarked, “It really is extraordinary. I wanted to stop by to thank of course the organization for everything and for all that it represents, but also to say especially to those who have run for office or aspire to run for office, that you must run.”

Harris also reminisced about her mother, who immigrated to the U.S. from India at 19 and actively participated in the Civil Rights Movement in Berkeley. Reflecting on her childhood visits to India, she shared that she would visit every two years, recalling morning walks with her grandfather. “And I remember as a young girl… hearing them discuss the importance of standing for what is right and fairness,” she added.

AIF Raises Over $4.2 Million at Record-Breaking New York Gala to Empower Women and Girls in India

The American India Foundation (AIF) has successfully raised over $4.2 million at its recent annual New York Gala held at Cipriani Wall Street. These funds are earmarked for AIF’s initiatives aimed at empowering women through job acquisition, financial literacy, maternal health, and careers in STEM. AIF collaborates with various levels of government—central, state, and local—to effectively implement its health, education, and livelihood programs.

The gala was hosted by Indian American comedian Zarna Garg and honored two notable individuals: Michael Miebach, CEO of Mastercard, and Falguni Nayar, founder and CEO of Nykaa, a prominent Indian beauty and wellness brand.

Recognizing their outstanding contributions, AIF CEO Nishant Pandey stated, “Michael and Falguni are true exemplars of inspirational, passionate leaders who advance AIF’s mission to drive sustainable, social and economic change. We are ever grateful for their partnership and to the generosity of all our supporters, corporate and government partners, donors, and friends, thanks to whom, AIF has reached 18.88 million lives across 35 states and union territories of India.”

During the event, Michael Miebach emphasized the beneficial collaboration between AIF and Mastercard, which has positively influenced over 220,000 Indian students through STEM education initiatives. “Our goal is to extend Girls4Tech to 500,000 girls across India by 2027, translating ideas into concrete actions,” Miebach said.

Falguni Nayar unveiled a new three-year partnership between AIF and Nykaa focused on advancing STEM education for girls. “With India’s female literacy rate significantly trailing behind that of males, this collaboration seeks to provide girls with the resources to pursue their passions and dreams,” Nayar explained.

The gala also showcased compelling videos and speeches that highlighted AIF’s impactful work. The 2024 New York Gala, noted as AIF’s most successful to date, received major support from sponsors such as Goldman Sachs Gives, Mastercard, and Salesforce.

FBI Warns of Targeted Extortion Scheme Against Individuals of Indian Descent, Urges Vigilance

The FBI has issued a warning to individuals of Indian descent regarding a targeted extortion scheme that poses potential violence. The FBI’s Sacramento office is actively investigating this scheme, which involves threats of violence or death unless a significant sum of money is paid. The interactions typically commence with phone calls containing demands and threats, but they can escalate to in-person confrontations. Some victims have even experienced “targeted shootings at their residences and vehicles,” according to FBI reports.

While many are accustomed to more conventional scams perpetrated through calls, texts, or emails from individuals posing as someone else to solicit money, Special Agent Sid Patel of the Sacramento FBI office emphasizes that this scheme differs significantly. Patel clarifies, “This is not fraud. This is true extortion.” The perpetrators demand money and resort to threats of violence to coerce compliance.

Although no specific number of reports has been disclosed, officials note that the targets are primarily individuals of Indian descent, particularly “business owners, influential members, or individuals with what is perceived to be large amounts of money,” Patel stated. He further highlights a recent surge in crimes against individuals of Indian descent globally over the past six months to a year. Patel suggests that Sacramento may be experiencing targeted incidents partly due to its sizable Sikh community.

Patel emphasizes the underreporting of such cases and urges anyone with relevant information to contact the FBI at 1-800-225-5324 or submit a tip online. He stresses the importance of seeking immediate assistance by calling 911 if one believes their life is in danger.

In a call to action, Patel asserts, “If you see something, say something. We will do something. We’re here to protect you and our communities.” He underscores the illegality of extortion in the United States, urging victims to report such incidents promptly to the authorities.

Indian Nurses Association of New York organizes Blood Drive in Long Island

Indian Nurses Association of New York (INANY), the organization that represents the voice of all Indian origin nurses in New York State is all set to conduct this year’s first blood drive in Long Island, says Annie Sabu, the chairwoman of INANY’s Fundraising and Charity Committee. She said the event will take place on June 1st from 10:45 am to 3:15 pm at Westbury Memorial Library, 445 Jefferson Street, Westbury, NY 11590. Home Health Aide Training Institute and the charity organization Connor’s Closet are also partnering with INANY for

Dr Anna GeorgeThe New York area is currently experiencing a serious blood shortage.  According to the American Red Cross, someone in the United States needs a blood transfusion every two seconds. Studies show that one donation of blood can save at least two lives.  Many reasons such as accidents, operations, cancer treatment and blood diseases increase the importance of blood donation. According to New York Blood Center blood donation has never been so low in the last 20 years. The current shortage of blood is due to an unprecedented level of drop in donations.

Many people have the misconception that donating blood is physically draining and exhausting.  Blood is not drawn from us to the point of exhausting us. A normal healthy body contains nine to twelve pints of blood. A single donation will only give less than a pint of blood. The body, which is constantly making blood cells, can replenish the volume of the lost blood within twenty-four hours and the deficiency of cells within eight weeks.  This writer recently donated double red cell.  It is a special automated process called apheresis to collect two units of just red blood cells during a single donation.  The fluid known as plasma was returned to my body.  A whole blood donation is that we give whole blood with all the components.

Some people are afraid of needles. The only discomfort felt when the needle is inserted into the vein is to draw bloodAnnie Sabu (1) for testing at the doctor’s office, hospital, etc. Some find it difficult to spend time to donate. Yes, it takes about forty-five minutes to an hour for a single donation of blood.   But, when we consider spending an hour spent by us saves two or three lives, or the significant difference and impact our donation makes, it takes us to a different level of invaluable gratification.

Some find it difficult that each donation takes from three quarters to an hour; but when you think that one hour can save two or three lives, the preciousness of blood donation increases. Those who come ready to donate blood will be subjected to donation only after being checked and having a blood test done.

Anyone between the ages of seventeen and seventy-six in normal health can donate blood. Those under the age of sixteen can donate blood with the consent of either of their parents and those above the age of seventy-six with the consent of a doctor. A donor must weigh at least one hundred and ten pounds and have no cold or flue symptoms in the preceding seventy-two hours.  Eligibility of those who are ready to donate blood will be decided only after a health screening.

INANY  is an non-profit organization dedicated to the professional development of Indian nurses and the overall health of the individual, families and communities in the society. The blood drive is just one among INANY’s charity activities. Other initiatives include health fairs, clothing drives, fundraising for charities for local, national and needy in India, direct and indirect relief efforts in disasters, scholarships for nursing students, and tuition discount for higher education.

Dr. Anna George, an associate professor at Molloy University and an NP at Northwell Health who is INANY’s president said that it is hoped that everyone who has a helping mind and general health will cooperate in this life-saving effort. For more information and registration, contact Anne Sabu (516.474.5834), Dr. Anna George (646.732.6143), or Christine Koenig (516.333.3689).

Women Who Win Announces Inaugural Summit: Empowering Leadership, Mental Health Advocacy, and Community Engagement

Women Who Win is gearing up for its inaugural summit on CEO Leadership, Mental Health, Male Allyship, Storytelling, and Community Connections, scheduled to take place on June 2, 2024, at the Academy of Creative Arts in Burlington, MA, running from 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM.

According to Co-Founder Dr. Manju Sheth, MD, the summit has been meticulously crafted based on input from their readership, focusing on the most compelling topics. “This event has been conceptualized solely based on the feedback from our readers, and the topics they are most interested in,” she stated, emphasizing the organization’s commitment to diversity and inclusion. “Diversity & Inclusion are at the core of Women Who Win, and we believe empowerment and educational forums are the key facets of that.”

The centerpiece of the event will be the keynote session titled “CEO Connection: Navigating C-Suite & Executive Realms,” where a distinguished panel of female leaders will share their invaluable insights and experiences in corporate leadership. The aim is to inspire attendees to apply these lessons in their own professional environments, fostering a culture of mentorship and support.

The esteemed panelists include Dr. Abha Agarwal, CEO of Lawrence General Hospital; Denella J. Clark, President & CEO of Boston Arts Academy Foundation & Commissioner – Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women; Priya Iyer, Chairman and CEO of Concertiv, and Dr. Maha Radhakrishnan, former CMO of Biogen. Rita Advani, a member of Women Who Win’s Advisory Board, will moderate the discussion.

Expressing her enthusiasm, Co-Founder Dr. Deepa Jhaveri remarked, “We are honored and privileged to have these amazing women, community advocates and leaders in their fields talk about navigating to and within leadership at the C suite level, the impact they have had, their struggles and advice on the elusive work-life balance.”

Another focal point of the summit will be the “Mental Health & Wellbeing” session, led by Dr. Shalini Mansharamani, which aims to address the growing mental health crisis, particularly in the aftermath of the pandemic. Dr. Mansharamani will facilitate a panel discussion featuring experts in psychiatry, therapy, and nursing, covering topics such as coping mechanisms for anxiety and depression, the influence of culture and family on mental health, and the role of cognitive behavioral therapy.

Dr. Sheth emphasized the urgency of addressing mental health concerns, stating, “As a healthcare provider, I have seen how mental health issues have reached a crisis state and an all-time high, particularly post-pandemic.” She expressed optimism about the impact of the session in fostering ongoing dialogue and support.

Throughout the afternoon, attendees will have the opportunity to engage with authors who have contributed to Women Who Win’s platform, as they share their personal journeys and insights. These sessions, led by Jharna Madan and Ruchika Yadav, will provide a deeper dimension to the stories featured online and in the organization’s recently released book.

Reflecting on the significance of these sessions, Co-founder Shaleen Sheth remarked, “We have shared 500+ stories on our website since we launched almost four years ago on our digital platforms and in our book. I am excited for these sessions to bring these beautiful and relatable journeys to the stage, and give them that extra dimension that the live in-person setting offers.”

Additionally, the summit will feature a panel discussion on “Male Allyship,” led by Preetesh Srivastava, highlighting the crucial role men play in advancing gender equity in both societal and corporate settings.

As part of its commitment to community engagement, the event will conclude with a “Meet the Community Organizations” session, providing local organizations with an opportunity to showcase their initiatives and recruit volunteers. Notable organizations include IMANE, Saheli, Vision Aid, and PAGB.

The summit will also incorporate creative elements, including poetry readings by Sunayna Kachroo and a themed dance performance. Manisha Jain will present a captivating poem on the art of storytelling, adding a touch of creativity to the proceedings.

The event has received support from various quarters, including the Academy of Creative Arts founders Java and Hetal Joshi, along with Ruchika Arora, Ramila Thakkar, Lucy Karis, and Rama Penumarthy.

While the event is free of charge, registration is required. Interested individuals can register at Light refreshments will be provided to attendees.

Indian-American Community Urged by FBI to Report Extortion Cases Promptly

The FBI’s Sacramento Field Office is calling upon the Indian-American community to report cases of extortion, emphasizing the importance of timely reporting to aid in apprehending perpetrators. Several incidents targeting individuals of Indian origin are currently under FBI investigation, with extortionists demanding significant sums of money. When these demands are not met, the perpetrators resort to violence, including targeted shootings at victims’ homes and vehicles.

Acting Special Agent in Charge Mark Remily, leading the FBI Sacramento Field Office, expressed concern over these criminal activities, stating, “Criminals are targeting hard-working, law-abiding business owners and are using thug tactics to extort them in clear violation of the law. We are deeply concerned for the safety and economic security of our neighbors of Indian descent who have been targeted.”

The FBI stresses that such incidents are likely underreported and urges victims to step forward promptly. By doing so, they not only seek justice for themselves but also contribute to the apprehension of those responsible for these crimes.

Indian-American Groups Oppose Kashmiri Flag Display at Rutgers University Amidst Gaza Conflict Protests

Prominent Indian-American community organizations have appealed to Rutgers University Chancellor in New Jersey to refrain from allowing the exhibition of a separatist Kashmiri flag on its campus. They argue that such an act would convey a misleading message amid the ongoing turmoil at prominent US educational institutions over Israel’s conflict in Gaza.

Leading universities across the US are witnessing protests against Israeli military action in Gaza. The conflict was instigated by unprecedented attacks against Israel by Hamas militants on October 7, resulting in the deaths of over 1,400 people. In response, Israel has initiated a significant counter-offensive against the Islamic militant group governing Gaza since 2007.

On Friday, a group representing protesting students claimed that eight out of their ten demands had been met by the Rutgers University administration. However, the ninth demand, which proposed the display of flags of occupied peoples, including Palestine, Kurds, and Kashmiris, across Rutgers campuses, did not receive approval. The university administration stated that it would assess the flags exhibited on the New Brunswick Campus to ensure appropriate representation of enrolled students.

This refusal to meet the demand angered several Indian American groups, including the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) and the Coalition of Hindus of North America (CoHNA). They criticized Rutgers University for what they perceived as giving in to hate by approving the display of a Kashmiri separatist flag, which they associated with terror and the displacement of Kashmiri Hindus.

Some individuals, like Dharma Viveka, criticized Rutgers University for what they saw as capitulating to the demands of protesting students and failing to uphold equitable resource allocation. Additionally, the university’s decision sparked concern among Indian American communities, given the significant number of Indian students at Rutgers and the large Indian American population in New Jersey.

Thomas Abraham, Chairman of the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO), expressed surprise and dismay over Rutgers’ consideration of the demand to display flags of occupied peoples. He argued that such actions would call into question India’s integrity, asserting that Kashmir is an integral part of India and not a separate entity. Abraham cautioned against Rutgers’ involvement in internal conflicts of other countries, emphasizing its role as a public educational institution belonging to everyone.

The controversy surrounding Rutgers University’s handling of demands for flag displays reflects broader tensions over international conflicts within US educational institutions and the complexities of representing diverse student populations while navigating geopolitical sensitivities.

GOPIO Passes Resolution for Full Dual Nationality at the Convention

The Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO) celebrated its 35th Anniversary on April 26-28, 2024 at its Convention 2024 at Royal Albert Palace, Fords, New Jersey, USA. The convention focused on India’s Present and the Future and what role the Diaspora Indians can play in helping to realize this desirable future with a theme, ‘Opportunities for Diaspora Indians in India’s Big Manifest Future.’ The convention ended with General Body passing four resolutions including one demanding full dual nationality for Overseas Indian Citizens (OCI) card holders.

The convention was inaugurated with a lamp lighting ceremony on April 26th followed by a universal prayer song by GOPIO-Edison President Pallavi Belwariar and an invocation dance in Kathak style by Mitali Nirgude-Kaganeb. The chief guest was Guyana Ambassador to the USA, His Excellency Samuel Hinds, who earlier had served as the Prime Minister and President of Guyana. India’s Deputy Consul General in New York Dr. Varun Jeph delivered the keynote address.

GOPIO Convention 2024 being inaugurated with lighting of the lamp by Ambassador Samuel Hinds, Deputy Consul General Dr. Varun Jeph and GOPIO Officials

New York City Mayor Eric Adams issued a citation honoring the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO) on the occasion of its convention and for its contribution to improve life in New York city. The proclamation was presented by Deputy Commissioner for International Affairs Dilip Chauhan who complimented GOPIO for its outstanding work for the benefit of the Indian Diaspora worldwide.

New York Deputy Commissioner Dilip Chauhan presenting Mayor's Citation
New York City Deputy Commissioner Dilip Chauhan presenting citation from Mayor Eric Adams. From l. to r.: Convener Prakash Shah, Chairman Dr. Thomas Abraham, Chauhan, Ambassador Samuel Hinds and President Lal Motwani

Ambassador Hinds fondly shared Guyana’s close relation with India and GOPIO, especially since the late Dr. Cheddi Jagan attended the first GOPIO Convention in New York and later inaugurated Second Global Convention held in New Delhi in 1992 as President of Guyana. Again in 1999, Guyana President Bharrat Jagdeo inaugurated GOPIO Convention in New York.

Ambassador Hinds said, “President Jagan had high regard for GOPIO and was always seeking to support GOPIO.”  Dr. Jagan played a significant role in Guyana’s progress. “With oil discovery, Guyana will prosper rapidly,” Ambassador Hinds added.

In his keynote address, Dr. Jeph articulated the tremendous progress India has made in many arenas and currently being the 5th largest economy of the world and will soon become the third largest economy.

Dr. Jeph provided India’s growth, success and potentials with amazing statistics and said that India with 65% of youth has bright prospects.

Dr. Jeph said, “Indian Americans are playing pivotal role in the US economy with start ups and other business ventures, while being just over 1% of the population, your contribution in the economy of over 6%.”

“To the USA, we send brilliance and intelligence of the highest number of foreign students creating formidable future,” Dr. Jeph added.

Dr. Jeph complimented GOPIO’s initiatives to network and help new students from India and said that the Consulate would continue to cooperate in this effort.

The inaugural session started with a welcome by Convention Convener Prakash Shah, who also serves as GOPIO’s Global Ambassador. GOPIO President Lal Motwani said that since the new team was elected last year, the organization has been brought with more activities and restarting its newsletter GOPIO News.

GOPIO Chairman in his remarks said that since its inception in 1989, GOPIO had taken up issues of civil rights and human rights violations of the Indian Diaspora around the world and that Indian Diaspora communities have achieved political mainstream in many of the countrie with signficant Diaspora population.

Speakers at the Inauguration
Dignitaries and GOPIO officials at the inauguration, from l. to r.: Indian Deputy Consul |General Varun Jeph, Ambassador Samuel Hinds, Dr. Thomas Abraham, Lal Motwani and Prakash Shah

Dr. Abraham said, “The 35 million strong Indian Diaspora community is the fastest growing Diaspora community worldwide spread into 180 countries and we are remitting over $100 billion dollars every year which has helped India to reach a foreign reserve of over $650 billion and this flow will continue in the same level or more in the near future.”

There were nine conference sessions on Saturday, Aprill 27th at the convention which included how Indian Diaspora can participate in India’s big manifest as well as some on the Diaspora life and social segments.

The first session on “GOPIO Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Worldwide Networking of the Diaspora Businesses,” was chaired by Convener Prakash Shah, who is also President First Growth Mortgage and Realty LLC. Speakers were Dr Vithal Dhaduk, who developed and sold Pharma Companies; Braj Aggarwal, President, Braj Aggarwal CPA PC, New York; Sunil Hali, Chairman, Radio Zindagi, Indian Eye, NDTV USA, New Jersey; Hotel & Realty Veteran Bhavik Shah and Falguni Pandya of Namaste Global.

Panelists at GOPIO Chamber of Commerce Business Session
Panel on GOPIO Chamber of Commerce and Networking Worldwide Diaspora Businesses, From l. to r.: Session Chair and Moderator Prakash Shah, Falguni Pandya, Bhavik Shah, Dr. Vithal Dhaduk Sunil Hali and Braj Aggarwal

During the Women’s Panel session titled “Diaspora Women Making A Difference”, GOPIO women shared their personal stories of contributions to their adopted homelands.  Rooted in Motherland India, five women, namely Soruba Rani Kuusto, Dr. Vimal Goyle, Dr. Rini Johar, Beena Kothari and Suman Kapoor of New Zealand, represented the diversity in membership across GOPIO.  Guided and mentored by the panel Chair and Facilitator J. Nami Kaur who is GOPIO’s International Coordinator-at-Large, they presented their vision for Diaspora engagement in India’s Manifest Future.

Women's Session Panel
Conference Panel Women – Session Chair Nami Kaur moderating the session. Panelists from l. to r.: Soruba Rani Kuusto, Rini Johar, Beena Kop0thari, Dr. Vimal Goyle, Ritu Chopra and Suman Kapoor

Session on “Medical and Health Issues and how Diaspora Indians can Participate in India’s Frontline Role in Pharmaceuticals, Vaccines and other Health Areas” was chaired and moderated by Dr. Asha Samant, GOPIO’s International Coordinator-at-Large, Co-Convener GOPIO Convention-2024 and Associate Professor at Rutgers School of Dental Medicine (UMDNJ), Livingston, New Jersey. Speakers were Dr. Anil Diwan, President and Executive Chairman of NanoVirisides, Inc., Shelton, CT, who spoke on “New Frontiers in Drug Development;” ⁠Rakesh Grover, President and CEO, Carnegie Pharmaceuticals, LLC, Delran, NJ; ⁠Dr. Anurag Pande, Vice President, Scientific Affairs, Sabinsa Corporation, East Windsor, NJ; Dr. ⁠Jaya Daptardar, Chief Compliance Officer of Bridges Health Care and CEO of Active Ayurveda and Yoga LLC, as well as President of GOPIO-CT, Fairfield, CT and Hari Singh Panaser, Chairman, Global Indian Trade and Culture USA; VP, Coolsoft LLC and Global Business Consultant, Birla Soft, Monroe, NJ.

Panel of Medical Health and Pharma Opportunities with India
Speakers at Medical, Health and Pharma Opportunities with India – From l. to r.: Chair and Moderator Dr. Asha Samant, Dr. Anil Diwan, Dr. J.M. Daptardar, Dr. Rakesh Grover, Hari Singh Panaser and Dr. Anurag Pande

The Panel on the Emergence of India as a Global Powerhouse which was organized by The Indus Entrepreneur – NJ Chapter ( focused on the growth of the Digital Economy, Supply Chain and Manufacturing. The session moderator, Professor Suresh Kumar, President of TiE NJ made a powerful bull case regaining its spot among the top three global economies by 2047 and even moving up to the top 2 by 2075. He said that political stability, generation of mass employment by growth of manufacturing, and making the right geo-political alliances over the next decade will be key to sustaining the recent Indian success.  The other panelist included Anjan Lahari, CEO of Navikenz and ex CEO of Birlasoft who cautioned against overconfidence and complacency: Neha Shah, CEO of GEP – who emphasized the importance of digital supply chains; Naveen Puri, Founder of InnoPharma – who stressed in training the workforce and keeping them flexible to develop new skills as neede; and Sanyukta Kulkarni, Manager of Route Development (Indian subcontinent), DB Schenker Inc. who spoke on “Growth of Logistic Operations in India.”

Panel on Digital Infrastructure Supply Chain Logistics and AI
Panel on Digital Infrastructure, Supply Chain Logistics and AI – From l. to r.: Navneet Puri, Sanyukta Kulkarni, Chair and Moderator Dr. Suresh Kumar, Neha Shah, GOPIO Chairman Dr. Thomas Abraham and Anjan Lahari

There was a session on Diaspora Youth and Young Achievers and the role they can play in India’s Future and how GOPIO can facilitate their participation? It was put together and chaired by Ms Vasu Pawar, CEO/Founder of Step2StepUp Inc. and co-chaired by Bhavya Gupta, Founder and Managing Partner of ACE Consultants, New Jersey. The keynote address was delivered by Kunal Devmane from Mumbai, India, who was a keynote speaker at G20-India and author of Buffering to Streaming; Sutro Founder and CEO Ravi Kurani; Investment Management Expert Monica Arora; Grammy Award Winner and Audience Specialist Falguni Shah; Creative Music Genius Neil Nayyar; and Hotel & Realty Veteran Bhavik Shah.

Panelists of Young Professionals Session Being Honored
Young professional achievers recognized after their session. From l. to r.: Session Chair and Moderator Vasu Pawar, Ravi Kurani, Falu Shah, Monica Arora, Neil Nayyar, Kunal Devmane and GOPIO Chairman Dr. Thomas Abraham. Not visible in the photo ae=re Session Co-chair Bhavya Gupta and Bhavik Shah

Session on “Technologies and AI, and other Innovations: How Diaspora Indians are leading Research and Innovations” was chaired by GOPIO Chairman Dr. Thomas Abraham, who is a Nanotechnologist and President of Innovative Research and Products in Stamford, CT. It was moderated by Prof. Rajasekhar Vangapaty who is Academic Advisor to Fashion Institute of Technology. Prof. Siddhartha Dalal, Professor of Professional Practice in Applied Analytics, Columbia University, New York, delivered the keynote address. Other speakers were: Kathirvel Kumararaja, President, Founder and CEO, DevJee, Inc., New York, NY, who spoke on “Bridging Traditional Wisdom and Modern Healthcare: Opportunities for Diaspora Indians in India’s Health Innovation Economy;” Abraham Pannikottu, CEO. American Engineering Group, Akron, Ohio, “India’s Opportunities and Challenges of AI in Défense Sector on Overseas Small Business Partnerships;” Dr. Kris Mani, President, NSR Technologies, Basking Ridge, NJ who spoke on “Nanotechnology and Other Technologies;” Dr. Jatin V. Mehta, CEO, MetaSense Digital Marketing, Philadelphia, PA, “Mastering SEO & Marketing with AI.”

Panelists of Technologies and AI Session
Speakers at the Conference Session on Technologies and AI, from l. to r. Prof Raj Vangapaty, Dr. Jatin Mehta, Convention Convener Prakash Shah, Prof. Siddhartha Dala, Dr. Thomas Abraham, Kathirvel Kumararaja, Abraham Pannikottu and Dr. Kris Mani

There was a GOPIO Academic Council Roundtable coordinated by GOPIO Edison President Pallavi Belwariar and was chaired by the Academic Council Chair Dr. Neerja Arun Gupta who is currently the Vice Chancellor Gujarat University. It was atte3nded by GOPIO Chairman Dr. Thomas Abraham and Guyana Ambassador Samuel Hinds. The Council discussed the role of academics in manifestation of future India, Student Start Ups with GOPIO Chamber of Commerce and future studies abroad programs for NRI and PIO students. It also did brainstorm on showcasing India to Diaspora and starting virtual and offline programs. Lastly, it resolved to create a Global Network for Academics.

Photo left Participants at the GOPIO
Photo left: Participants at the GOPIO Academic Council Roundtable, Right: Ambassador Hinds speaking at the session. Sitting are Session Coordinator Pallavi Belwariar, GOPIO Chairman Dr. Thomas Abraham and GOPIO Academic Council Chair Dr. Neerja Arun Gupta

A non-business session on ‘Diaspora Languages and Literature’ was put together by GOPIO General Secretary Ram Gadhavi. Scholars including Dr. Babu Suthar (Gujarati), Anoop Bhargav (Hindi), Ashok Vidwans (Marathi), Dr. Vasu Ranganathan (Tamil), Raju Thomas (Malayalam), and Dilip Chakraborty (Bengali) discussed diaspora writers and the status of their respective languages. While summarizing the session, Suthar highlighted three main issues, the debate surrounding the concept of ‘diaspora’ versus ‘transnationalism’;  the challenge of preserving Indian languages in the USA due to socio-cultural differences, with differing opinions on whether to prioritize language preservation or adapt to local culture; and the role of language in connecting individuals to their cultural roots and expressing shared experiences, exemplified by Suthar’s struggle to express himself in Gujarati following the 2002 violence. The audience also shared concerns about maintaining Indian language and culture abroad.

Discussion Panel on Diaspora Languages and Literature
Panel Discussion on Diaspora Languages and Literature – From l. to r.: Ashok Vidwans, Raju Thomas, Anoop Bhargava, Dr. Babu Suthar, Dr. Vasu Ranganathan and Dilip Chakraborty

A second non-business session on “Diaspora Indians Aging Gracefully,” was put together by Bharat Rana, President, Federation of Indian Senior Association of North America (FISANA) and President of GOPIO-North Jersey. The speakers were Mukund Mehta, President, India Home, Inc. and President, Indo-American Senior Citizen Center of New York, Queens, NY; Sudha Acharya, GOPIO Founding Co-Convener and Executive Director, South Asian Council for Social Services (SACSS), Flushing, New York; Anand Patel, Businessman and Philanthropist and Owner of Numerous Dunkin’ Donuts Chain franchises, currently serving as Board of Director of FISANA, Past President of FISANA and Currently Member of FIA Trustees; and Suman Kapoor, Hospitality Entrepreneur, GOPIO Waikato, New Zealand.

Convener Prakash Shah said, “We had the most successful Convention at a time that we consider is pivotal for India and for India’s 38 million strong Diaspora. We are dealing with an Outbreak but this time it isn’t an Outbreak of a Covid like disease but an Outbreak of Optimism!”

“We are very confident that with the infrastructure base having been built, India will rapidly evolve into becoming a net defense exporter and a multifaceted manufacturing hub in pharmaceuticals, automobiles, smartphones, semiconductors and aircraft among many others including continuing the high growth in service sector,” Shah continued.

Audience at the Convention
Audience at the Convention

All these conference sessions brought very interesting and useful knowledge as well as mastery of Indians in their specialized fields. The speakers and audience appreciated GOPIO’s vision and mission in planning such conference topics. Convention attendees agreed that right now India with its third largest Start-Up-Ecosystem and having already achieved 125 Unicorns is the best investment opportunity in the world and therefore especially attractive to the Diaspora Indians.

At the Finale Awards banquet, four individuals and two organizations were honoured with community service awards: Dr Neerja A. Gupta who is the first woman Chancellor of Gujarat University, Ahmedabad, India; Dr. V.K. Raju M.D. who has been providing great Service in eradicating childhood blindness; Dharmatma Saran who has been named as the cultural ambassador of India to the world for promoting networking of young women achievers through his annual Miss India Worldwide Pageant and Lion Hina Trivedi of Chicago as a great community builder. Two organizations are also recognized, Heart and Hand for the Handicapped (HHH) for its great service to physically and mentally challenged children and South Asian Council for Social Services (SACSS) for its outstanding services to communities in the New York Area.

Community Service Award Presentation Ambassador Hinds GOPIO Officials and Awardees
Community Service Awardees with Ambassador Samuel Hinds and GOPIO officials. From l. to r.: Dr. Thomas Abraaham, Chitranjan Belwariar, Nami Kaur, Prakash Shah, Kewal Kanda, Gujrat University Vice Chancellor Dr. Neerja Arun Gupta, HHH President Balaji Jilla, Ambassador Hinds, Lal Motwani, Eye Specialist Dr. V.K. Raju, Community Motivator Lion Hina Trivedi, Miss India World Pageant CEO Dharmatma Saran, Rajul Shah, SACSS Executive Director Sudha Acharya and Board Member Dr. Swarna Shah, Dr. Asha Samant and Jay Bhandari

Others recognized by GOPIO include Dr Vithal Dhaduk, Pharmaceutical Business in USA. developed and sold pharma companies; Sabinsa Vice President Anurag Pande, Businesswoman Poonam Khubani; AAHOA Past Chairman Bharat Patel; TV Asia Chairman and CEO Dr. H.R. Shah, Parikh Worldwide Media Chairman Dr. Sudhir Parikh, Indian Eye/Radio Zindagi CEO Sunil Hali, New India Abroad Publisher Rajeev Bhambri; Indian Panorama Editor and Publisher Prof. Indrajit Saluja, Emalayalee and India Life Editor George Joseph, Universal News Network editor Ajay Ghosh and Pravasi Channel producer Sunil Tristar. GOPIO Convention Co-Conveners Dr. Asha Samant and businessman Kenny Desai were also recognized at the convention.

Media Recognition to TV Asia ITV and Indian Panorama
Media Recognition, from l. to r.: Prakash Shah, Dr. Thomas Abraham, Prof. Indrajit Saluja of Indian Panorama, Dr. Sudhir Parikh of ITV/News India/Desi Talk, Ambassador Hinds, Dr. H.R. Shah of TV Asia and Lal Motwani.
Sunil Tristar being recognized
Recognition to media for their services to community and GOPIO. From l. to r. Dr. Thomas Abraham, Prakash Shah, Rajeev Bhambri of New India Abroad, Ambassador Samuel Hinds, Deputy Consul General Dr. Varun Jeph, Sunil Tristar of Pravasi Channel and India Life, Lal Motwani, George Joseph of emalayalee, and Sunil Hali of The Indian Eye and Radio Zindagi

The GOPIO General Body meeting on April 28th passed important resolutions, many of which are designed to accomplish and accelerate the Diaspora Participation in India’s high growth in its ‘Suvarna Kaal’. These resolution to Govt. of India include to grant full dual nationality to OCI card holders, make OCI at par with Indian citizens in doing business in India and provide Aadhar Card to NRIs who are citizens of India. A fourth resolution urged Biden Administration and US Congress to pass legislation to eliminate the backlog of Indians waiting for permanent residence in the USA.

Edison Town Mayor Sam Joshi, since he was out of town, joined the convention at its concluding GOPIO General Body session and offered all his help for GOPIO to move forward in Edison and nearby areas. GOPIO in turn told the Mayor Joshi that it would initiate some programs for needy including supporting soup kitchens in Edison.

GOPIO General Body Meeting Attendees with Edison Mayor Sam Joshi
GOPIO General Body Meeting Attendees with Edison Mayor Sam Joshi

The General Body also unanimously elected Dr. Thomas Abraham as Chairman of GOPIO International for the remaining of the current term.

The Convention was attended by many from around the World and from various parts of the USA. The entertainment included a Comedy Hour by the Internationally Acclaimed Comedian Dan Nainan on the first day and concluded with a superb performance of Sarangi and Ghazals by Ustad Kamal Sabri, a seventh Generation Maestro who was accompanied by Avinash Mistry on the Tabla. Grammy Award winner Falu Shah and GOPIO-|Edison President Pallavi Belwariar rendered some songs as well.

Entertainers at the Convention From l to r Avinash Mistry Ustad Kamal Sabri Dan Nainan Falu Shah and Pallavi Belwariar
Entertainers at the Convention From l to r Avinash Mistry Ustad Kamal Sabri Dan Nainan Falu Shah and Pallavi Belwariar

In the afternoon, GOPIO organized a special trip to the recently consecrated Akshardham Temple in Robbinsville, New Jersey for outside delegates. GOPIO, which is 4 Ps, the premier, pioneer, popular and purposeful, organization of Global Indian Diaspora was founded in world’s financial center – New York in 1989 as a non-political and secular organization. Since then, GOPIO has blossomed like a banyan tree with Diaspora in all continents with Life Members and chapters in 35 countries. GOPIO is regarded as the most influential and productive organization dealing and taking up issues concerning to global Indian Diaspora to various authorities and governments. Government of India closely follows GOPIO and seriously takes its suggestions.

Note: For more information or question, please call GOPIO Convention Convener Prakash Shah at 908-267-5021

Scores turn up to pay their respects to Californian Indian American family that perished in car crash

Friends, neighbors, colleagues, students, teachers, the school principal and almost the entire community gathered by the dozens at Val Vista Community Park, Pleasanton, California to remember the Indian American family that was killed in a horrific car crash on April 24. Flowers, candles, balloons and photos of victims were laid for all to pay their respects.

The police have not released the names of the victims. But the friends of the victims’ family holding a ‘Remembrance Ceremony’ named the father as Tarun George, his wife Rincy George, and their two children Rowan, an eighth grader at Hart Middle School and Aaron, a second grader at Donlon Elementary School. The memorial was organized by friends and community members.

Students were seen wiping the tears. They remembered their friends as members of a happy family. The immediate family is yet to arrive from India. Tarun, it is learned, was the eldest son of his parents, and worked as Senior Director, Customer Services at Chargepoint in Santa Clara, California.

The City of Pleasanton Police Department has called it a single-vehicle accident that occurred around 9 p.m. on Wednesday, April 24 on Foothill Road near Stoneridge Drive. It resulted in the deaths of all four. The investigation is ongoing; however, the police suspect speeding may have been a factor. The vehicle appears to have lost control and collided with a large oak tree.

Janet Gates, principal at Donlon Elementary School where Rowan attended until fifth grade before moving to middle school and Aaron was a second grader, spoke at the memorial. She told indica, “Both were sweet boys and so were their parents. They were an integral part of the community. Students, even the little ones, are here at the memorial, apart from the adults. It shows how much a part of the community they were,” Gates said.

Friends of Rowan described him to indica as smart and helpful, with one friend rememberig how he had shared an ice-cream with him before saying bye to each other on Wednesday, the day of the accident. Geetha Rajagopal, a friend of Rincy George, told indica that her son Shravan went to the same school. The last time she met her was during Rowan’s birthday in May last year. “They are such a sweet family I always saw Rincy’s smiling face and the kids were very nice. The whole family was very caring.”

Geetha described Tarun George as “a jolly person.” She said, “Our kids used to go celebrate Halloween with them and Tarun would dress up as well. He would take the kids out for trick-or-treating.”

Shravan said Rowan was his best friend. He told indica, “We were in same class. He was always energetic and I never saw him angry. He was super positive and ready to help. He was in advanced math and wanted to be an engineer.”

One day before they died, Aaron had a musical performance and his parents were invited. The whole second grade was part of Program Zoo, where students sang about different animals. “Even though we have 740 kids, it’s a big hole in our community, we are a pretty close community. These older kids have known Rowan since 3rd grade and a lot of them know each other.”

Gates and other teachers who attended sang ‘Amazing Grace’, while children released white balloons into the sky. Aakash Yendluri, an eighth grader who knew Rowan since fourth grade, told indica, “He often helped me during class, especially math. We were friends and he was kind. He was a good a student.” The day the incident happened, they had Kona ice cream together at school. “There was an ice cream truck at school and we both ordered. We bought it for $5 and he liked it a lot. He ordered a mixture of cherry and raspberry.”

He said that was the last time they spoke. “He had a bike and he biked away home…” and added after a pause, “We used to play video games after school. He used to come to my place around 4 pm…”

Nita Bhaliya, a close friend who lived in Pleasanton before moving to another city, told indica that her elder son Kirti and Rowan learned Taekwondo in Pleasanton, and they were friends since fourth grade. “Even though we have moved, this is where the kids still met. We visited each other during birthdays and on special occasions,” Bhaliya said.

Krish, another good friend of Rowan, told indica, “He was the happiest person ever. I never never saw him getting angry. We shared chocolate, and we used to go trick-or-treating. We played sports together until seventh grade, then I moved to another school.”

Krish’s mother said the next day he could not sleep as he kept thinking of Rowan. The challenging part for kids is they have tests ongoing and they cannot concentrate. Geetha told indica, “Its hard for them to accept he is no more.”
Another 8th grader, Mason Cheong and Micah Carabollo, told indica, “We used to play basketball together during lunch and have fun. He was very smart in everything.”

Jayashekhar from the nearby community, said, “I know his neighbors and close friends and I remember seeing him. When this news broke on Friday morning… it was really shocking… the family who was living just a few meters away… the entire family losing their lives. My son goes to the same school and has common friends. They shared with me how Rowan’s friends were crying at school on learning about the accident.

Another neighbor Rajesh Panikarla, who never met Tarun, came with his friend Naresh Jampani. Another neighbor told indica, “Tarun and I used to work in the same company. He was the kind of person everyone wanted to interact with. He was the best team manager anyone can have and he was a software engineer. I have no words to say he… this is tragic…”

AAPI Charitable Foundation in Collaboration with Embassy of India in Guatemala Organizes Healthcare Camps

The Embassy of India in Guatemala, in collaboration with the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin Charitable Foundation (AAPI-CF), COOITZA, Krishpar Healthcare S.A, the Santa Cruz Naranjo Health Center and Municipalities of Santa Cruz Naranjo and Santa Rosa Lima, jointly organized medical camps in Santa Rosa Lima on Friday, April 26, and Santa Cruz Naranjo on Saturday, April 27, 2024.

 These medical camps were aimed to serve the local communities by providing specialized and complimentary medical services to those in need, including consultations, diagnoses, and treatments across a range of specialties such as Ophthalmology, Otorhinolaryngology, Gastroenterology, Urology, Gynecology, and Dermatology. Approximately1050 patients (400 at Santa Rosa Lima and 650 patients at Santa Cruz Niranjo) in visited the camp at both the locations and got free medical consultations from these specialists.

Guatmela 3With a primary focus on promoting health equity and enhancing access to quality care, the AAPI Charitable Foundation signed an MoU with COOITZA on April 26th, 2024 in Santa Roza Lima to organize similar health camps in the future.

 The delegation of AAPI-CF physicians was comprised of Dr Ajeet Singhvi, Dr. Gaurav Singhvi, a gastroenterologist, Dr Kishan Agarwal, internal medicine, Dr Madhu Agarwal, an OB-GYN, Dr Shashi Shah, Dr Ravi Jahagirdar, urologist, Dr. Raj Bhayani, ENT facial plastic surgeon, Dr Shweta Singhvi, radiologist, Dr Mamta Singhvi, oncologist, and, Dr Brahma Sharma, cardiologist.

 According to a report shared by the Indian Embassy in Guatemala, a group of specialists from The AAPI Charitable Foundation, an eminent physician organization of Indian origin in USA, visited Guatemala specifically for the medical camp. Founded by the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI), the AAPI – CF Charitable Foundation embodies the spirit of compassion and service, channelling resources and expertise towards meaningful projects and initiatives.

 By leveraging the collective strengths of its members and partners, the AAPI’s Charitable Foundation strives to make a tangible difference in the lives of underserved communities, both locally and globally. Through its steadfast commitment to philanthropy and healthcare initiatives, the foundation significantly contributes to improving the lives of individuals in Guatemala during the health camps.

 The Health camp also got significant support from COOITZA and , the Santa Cruz Naranjo Health Center andGutamela 2 Municipalities of Santa Cruz Naranjo and Santa Rosa Lima. COOITZA, established in 2019 with the objective of the social and economic improvement and focused on the development and improvement of life, through health products, was instrumental in providing invaluable logistical support to arrange the health camp.

 This support likely included coordinating transportation, arranging venues, managing supplies, and facilitating communication between stakeholders. By leveraging its resources and expertise, COOITZA ensured the smooth execution of the health camp, contributing significantly to its success. Their dedication to improving lives aligns seamlessly with the objectives of the health camp, making their involvement indispensable in achieving the goal of providing essential healthcare services to those in need.

 Krishpar Healthcare S.A. played a vital role in the medical camp by providing essential medical support in the form of supplying necessary medicines. Their contribution ensured that the camp had the necessary resources to deliver comprehensive healthcare services to the attendees. By supplying medicines, Krishpar Healthcare S.A. helped to enhance the quality of care provided at the camp, enabling medical professionals to diagnose and treat patients effectively.

 The support from the municipalities of Santa Rosa Lima and Santa Cruz was invaluable in the successful execution of the medical camp. Their collaboration ensured that the necessary infrastructure and logistical arrangements were in place to facilitate the smooth functioning of the camp. The municipalities likely provided assistance with venue selection, permits, security, and other administrative tasks. Additionally, their engagement helped in mobilizing local resources and community participation, further strengthening the impact of the camp. The partnership between the medical organizers and the municipalities exemplifies the importance of community involvement in addressing healthcare needs and underscores a shared commitment to improving the well-being of residents.

 Ambassador Dr. Manoj Kumar Mohapatra while extending his gratitude to all the stakeholders emphasized India’s unwavering commitment to healthcare support in Guatemala. He underscores the significant strides made by India in extending medical assistance globally, including Guatemala, as a testament to India’s dedication to fostering health equity and access to quality care.

Gutamela 1 Dr. Mohapatra highlights India’s multifaceted approach to healthcare cooperation, encompassing capacity-building initiatives, provision of medical supplies, and collaborative projects aimed at strengthening healthcare infrastructure in Guatemala. He highlights India’s recognition as the “pharmacy of the world,” symbolizing the nation’s pivotal role in supplying affordable and high-quality generic medicines to countless countries. He reaffirms India’s steadfast commitment to standing in solidarity with Guatemala in addressing healthcare challenges, thereby embodying the spirit of cooperation and goodwill between the two nations.

 The Embassy is committed to realizing the vision of our Hon’ble Prime Minister, who aims to ensure accessible and affordable healthcare not only for our citizens but for the entire world. Collaborative health camps conducted with AAPI-CF, COOIZA, and Krishpar in Guatemala have made positive changes in the lives of the Guatemalan population.

These camps have provided crucial healthcare services in specialties like Ophthalmology, Otorhinolaryngology, Gastroenterology, Urology, Gynecology, and Dermatology to those lacking access to proper medical facilities.

The successful execution of these camps highlights the Embassy’s dedication to making a significant impact on the lives of those in need. By organizing these camps in a carefully planned, phased manner, the Embassy has demonstrated the Government of India’s profound commitment to improving the vision and quality of life for underprivileged individuals in Santa Rosa Lima, Santa Cruz, and surrounding areas. Their proactive collaboration with local experts, hospitals, and organizations showcases their unwavering dedication to promoting community well-being and addressing eye diseases.

According to the Embassy of India, it remains steadfast in its commitment to partnering with the local community to combat health diseases and expand access to high-quality medical care. The successful completion of two eye camps in Peten, the donation of lifesaving TB medicines to the Government of Guatemala, the donation of diabetes medicines to the Municipality of Xela, and the recently concluded health camp are all testament to this commitment.

 These initiatives reflect the Embassy’s ongoing efforts to make a tangible difference in the lives of the Guatemalan population and underscore India’s dedication to global health equity. Furthermore, the Embassy is actively engaged in discussions with relevant government authorities to facilitate the provision of artificial limbs to individuals in the local Guatemalan community, with plans for an upcoming camp focused on this essential aspect of healthcare. It is anticipated that this initiative will be organized in the near future.

For more information about AAPI, please visit:

AAPI Announces 1st Ever World Congress of Physicians

(New York, NY – April 27, 2024) “It is with great pleasure that we announce that American Association of Physicians of Indian origin (AAPI) is organizing our first ever World Congress of Physicians, a Maga Convention of the Decade from July 18th-22, 2024 in New York City,” Dr. Anjana Samadder, President of AAPI announced here.

Dr. Anjana Samadder, the only 5th woman President of AAPI in the 42 year history of AAPI, provided a brief history of AAPI, stating how AAPI’s mission has evolved in the past 42 years. “Today, AAPI is strong representing over 120,000 Indian American physicians, 130 local Chapters, who make up 10% of total physicians in the US and nearly 50% of International Medical Graduates, rooted in every corner of the nation, who serve every 7th patient in the US. We are proud of our achievements and our contributions to the healthcare industry and the millions of people we serve.”

The Convention will be held at the prestigious Marriott Marquis on Times Square, at the heart of the most popular city in the world. This world-class facility will afford an intimate setting that will facilitate our ability to provide cutting-edge research and CME, promote business relationships, and display ethnic items. Vendor satisfaction and comfort are our top priorities. Participants will experience unique opportunities to explore and experience the City and the many unique programs including Broadways Shows and City Tours New York has to offer.

“We invite you to the AAPI’s inaugural World Congress of Physicians in the world’s capital city, New York,” Dr. Achintya Moulik, Chair of AAPI Convention 2024 said. “We have convened a fantastic group of dedicated organizers to meet the needs of the 2024 convention and are very excited about this year. Please reach out to any one of the representatives from the New York Tri-State team with questions or comments.”

“The Early Bird Special for the World Congress is going on,” Dr. Moulik said. “Take advantage of this limited-time offer before it’s too late for you to avail of this special offer that includes 5 nights stay at the iconic  Marriott Marquis on Times Square, City Tours, and Broadways Shows, in addition to all the educational and entertainment events.”

“Our physician members have worked very hard during the covid 19 pandemic, and the 2024 convention is a perfect time to heal the healers with a special focus on wellness,” said Dr. Samadder. Accordingly, some of the major themes at the convention include: Yoga and Meditation practices, a Welcome kit with books & self-care supplies, A Personal Reflexology Session, Take home wellness routine, yoga therapy sessions, a workshop on Spiritual well-being, Book talk with Yoga Gurus, including on the science of Yoga & Lifestyle medicine, and several wellness sessions.

The American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin Convention offers an exciting venue to interact with leading physicians, health professionals, academicians, and scientists of Indian origin. The physicians and healthcare professionals from across the country will convene and participate in the scholarly exchange of medical advances, to develop health policy agendas, and to encourage legislative priorities in the coming year.

In addition to colorful entertainment, and exquisite authentic Indian cuisine, esteemed health industry leaders, world-renowned speakers, and experts will be sharing their wisdom and expertise in the industry, offering enlightening sessions to the delegates.

“The annual convention offers extensive academic presentations, recognition of achievements and achievers, and professional networking at the alumni and evening social events,” Dr. Samadder added.   For more details on AAPI and the 42nd convention, please visit:  and


The Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO) will recognize four individuals and two organizations for outstanding community service at its Convention 2024 celebrating its 35th Anniversary on April 26-28, 2024 at Royal Albert Palace, Fords, New Jersey, USA. They will be honored at the Finale Awards Banquet of the convention on April 27th.

The four individual awardees are: Dr Neerja A. Gupta who is the first woman Chancellor of Gujarat University, Ahmedabad, India; Dr. V.K. Raju M.D. who has been providing great Service in eradicating childhood blindness; Dharmatma Saran who has been named as the cultural ambassador of India to the world for promoting networking of young women achievers through his annual Miss India Worldwide Pageant and Lion Hina Trivedi of Chicago as a great community builder.

GOPIO Convention Awardees
GOPIO Community Service Awardees 2024: from l. to r.: Dr. Neerja Arun Gupta, Dr. V.K. Raju, Dharmatma Saran and Lion Hina Trivedi

Two organizations are also recognized, Heart and Hand for the Handicapped (HHH) for its great service to physically and mentally challenged children and South Asian Council for Social Services (SACSS)for its outstanding services to communities in the New York Area.


The convention is focusing on India’s Present and the Future and what role the Diaspora Indians can play in helping to realize this desirable future. Convention Theme is ‘Opportunities for Diaspora Indians in India’s Big Manifest Future.’

The convention will start with a welcome reception/dinner inauguration on Friday, April 26th. There are nine conference sessions on Saturday, Aprill 27that the convention which include how Diaspora can participate in India’s big manifest as well as some on the Diaspora life and social segments. Honored guests at the convention include India’s Deputy Consul General in New York Dr. Varun Jeph, Ambassador Samuel Hinds, Guyanese Ambassador to the USA.

The conference sessions are, Diaspora Youth and Young Achievers and the role they can play in India’s Future and how GOPIO can facilitate their participation; Diaspora Women and their Growing Contributions in Various Sectors; Technologies and AI and other Innovations: Diaspora Indians Leading Research and Innovations; GOPIO Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Worldwide Networking of the Diaspora Businesses;  Medical and Health Issues and how Diaspora Indians can Participate in India’s Frontline Role in Pharmaceuticals, Vaccines and Medical Tourism and in Propagating YOGA and its Benefits; Emergence of India as a Global PowerHouse for Digital Infrastructure, Supply Chain Logistics, and AI: How US Business can Participate; GOPIO Academic Council Roundtable; Diaspora Languages and Literature; and Diaspora Indians Aging Gracefully.

Entertainers include internationally acclaimed comedian Dan Nainan, Grammy Award Winner for best Children’s Album in 2022 Falu Shah and Sarangi instrumentalist Kamal Sabri.

One could register for the whole convention or selective events such as the conferences, Welcome Dinner and Awards banquet at

Consul General in New York


Dr Neerja A. Gupta – First Woman Chancellor of Gujarat University, Ahmedabad, India

LEAD Technologies Inc V1 01

Dr. Neerja A Gupta is the Vice-Chancellor of Gujarat University, Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India. Formerly Dr Gupta was the Vice-Chancellor of Sanchi University of Buddhist-Indic Studies, M.P., India prior to working as Principal of Bhavan’s College, Ahmedabad, Gujarat. A doctorate degree in English, with 36 years of academic, research and administrative experience, she is the Chief Editor of Bharatiya Manyaprad, an international journal published by Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. Dr. Gupta has been serving as Chairperson of GOPIO Academic Council since 2016.

Dr. Gupta has authored 22 books and has more than 60 publications. Under her guidance 27 students have successfully completed their Ph. D. She knows 9 Indian and 2 foreign languages. As a distinguished academician and administrator, she plays a key role as a designated member of several distinguished Board and Executive councils of various reputed Universities and Government bodies. She has completed several research projects funded by various national and international funding agencies.

She was the Principal Director of the team constituted on Jammu and Kashmir as special region by Ministry of Home Affairs and the finding were substantially used towards the abrogation of Article of 370 in Jammu and Kashmir by Government of India. She is a member of the Inter-Religious Dialogue Committee constituted by the revered Pope in Vatican City.

Prof. Gupta is the recipient of several prestigious awards including Woman Icon Award 2024 by G.S.A. Global Eye Magazine USA; Champions of Change Award – 2024 by the Lions Club International; Bharat Kirtiman Padak 2023 from World Books of Records, London; Aaj Ka Karmveer Award -2022; National Talent search Award –  2020; Bharat Manthan Award-2020; Atal Bihari Vajpayee Rashtriya Sanman in -2017; Shiksha Bharati Puruskar-2011; Best Multiple President-2001 by Lions Clubs  Dist. 323.

She has played an active role in disaster relief in Gujarat earthquake, Kashmir Floods, Sri Lanka Tsunami, and Uttarakhanda Flash Floods. Her theme paper on G-20 found a special mention by Hon. Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi in his Mann Ki Baat on 29th January 2023 as the part of published book ‘India the Mother of Democracy.’

Dr. V.K. Raju M.D., F.R.C.S., F.A.C.S. – Great Service in Eradicating Childhood Blindness

Dr V K Raju M D F R C S F A C S – Great Service in Eradicating Childhood Blindness

Dr. V.K. Raju was born in Rajahmundry, AP, India. He is a Clinical Professor of Ophthalmology at West Virginia University, Adjunct professor at Wilmer Eye Institute and Johns Hopkins University. He is also founder and president of The Eye Foundation of America, a non-profit organization dedicated to realizing a world without childhood blindness in 30 countries.

Dr. Raju has been presented with numerous awards including, 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, Lifetime Achievement Award from the WV State Medical Association, University of Toledo Global Medical Missions Hall of Fame, President’s Lifetime Achievement Award from President Barack Obama, Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Academy of Ophthalmology

Dr. Raju has published two books, seventeen chapters, and over 100 publications in scientific journals.


Dharmatma Saran – Cultural Ambassador of India to the World and Promoting Networking of Young Women Achievers

Dharmatma Saran Cultural Ambassador of India to the World and Promoting Networking of Young Women Achievers

Originally from Patna, Bihar, Dharmatma Saran has been in the Unites States for over 50 years. Promoting Indian culture in the USA and around the world has been his passion.

From 1981, serving as the Chairman of Public Relations of Federation of Indian Associations (FIA) which organizes the biggest India Day Parade outside of India, Saran laid the foundation of cultural activities of FIA since its inception in 1978.

Also, as Past Chairman of International Cultural Committee of Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO), Saran contributed to the cultural activities of GOPIO since its inception in 1989. He is also a Founding Member of GOPIO.

With this experience, Dharmatma Saran Started the first international Indian pageant “Miss India Worldwide” which has affiliates in over 35 countries. He has brought a new dimension to pageantry as his pageants promotes Indian culture, traditions, values and performing arts. With his wife, Neelam Saran, he travelled to over 35 countries to start Indian pageants. Often referred as “India’s Cultural Ambassador to the world”, he is solely responsible for starting Indian pageants in various parts of the world.

Saran has judged many pageants including being the first NRI to be invited to judge Femina Miss India (Times of India Group) in 1992. Recipient of various awards around the world for bringing international Indian community on one platform through pageantry including Shiromai Award 1996 presented by P.A. Sangma, the then Speaker of India’s Lok Sabha, and Bharat Gaurav Award from Sanskriti at The United Nations in 2017.

Saran commands a great respect and adulation from his past contestants and winners as well as from his State and National Directors in the USA and around the world.

Lion Hina Trivedi – A Great Community Builder

Lion Hina Trivedi – A Great Community Builder

Lion Hina Trivedi, is a formidable force in both business and social activism. With a rich tapestry of experience and a plethora of accolades under her belt, she exemplifies dedication and leadership. As President of the GOPIO-Chicago Chapter and the Gujarati Pragati Mandal, Vice President of AIGC, and Past President of FIA Federation of Indian Associations, Past President AIA IL Chapter and the Chicago Indo US Lions Club, she has served more than 36 organizations and has been at the forefront of community-driven initiatives. Hina’s contributions have been recognized globally, earning prestigious awards such as the President’s Gold Medal, Melwin John’s Fellowship Award, MAFS Metropolitan Leader’s Award, and the US-Canada Fellowship Award. Her commitment to social causes extends across borders, collaborating with numerous NGOs worldwide and championing women’s empowerment through various social groups. Notably, Hina’s linguistic prowess, fluently conversant in nine languages, facilitates her bilingual services to those in need. Her dedication shines through her decade-long participation as a delegate at Pravasi Bhartiya Diwas, further cementing her as a stalwart in the international Indian community.

Heart and Hand for the Handicapped (HHH) – Great Service to Physically and Mentally Challenged Children

Heart and Hand for the Handicapped (HHH) – Great Service to Physically and Mentally Challenged Children

Heart and Hand for the Handicapped (HHH) is a not-for-profit tax-exempt 501(c) (3) organization that raises funds to support differently able children with physical and mental challenges such as polio, cerebral palsy, autism, Down’s syndrome and blindness and other vision problems in India and the US. HHH was founded in 1971 by five South Asian ladies who wanted to make a difference in the lives of differently able children in India. The organization is run by volunteers who lend their expertise in different areas.

HHH is an organization that serves the ideal of philanthropy and adhere to the highest standard of professional practice, treating everyone with respect and dignity. Over the years, funds have been donated to over 200 organizations in India and over 25 in the United States. HHH’s expense ratio per IRS filing is less than 15% of the revenue. Organizations that receive HHH’s grants must meet or exceed our rigorous standard for qualification and align with its mission. HHH raises funds through annual dinners, walk-a-thons, direct mail solicitations, United Way and corporate matching programs. HHH also accepts donations of stocks and bonds.

South Asian Council for Social Services (SACSS) – Outstanding Services to Communities in the New York Area

South Asian Council for Social Services (SACSS)

For 24 years, South Asian Council for Social Services (SACSSNY.ORG), based in the heart of Flushing, Queens, has been providing critical services and programs to improve the health and well-being of the South Asian and other underserved immigrant communities in New York City.

SACSS was established in 2000 at the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO) conference at the Kerala Center, after leaders of local nonprofits and public officials discussed creating a social service organization that focused on the needs of the South Asian community.

Today, SACSS stands out as a vibrant community hub, uniquely reflecting the diverse communities it serves through its multilingual staff that speaks 20 languages. It serves as a comprehensive gateway, offering a variety of culturally and linguistically appropriate services, including healthcare and mental health counseling, senior support, a weekly food pantry to combat food insecurity, English language classes, and computer classes for workforce development, “Stitch with SACSS” a women’s economic empowerment program, immigration assistance through a legal clinic, a youth leadership program, and civic engagement.

Note: For more information or question, please call GOPIO Convention Convener Prakash Shah at 908-267-5021

GOPIO Convention 2024: Indian Diaspora’s Crucial Role in Shaping India’s Future Spotlighted in New Jersey Event

The upcoming 2024 convention of the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO) in New Jersey will spotlight the significant role of the Indian Diaspora in shaping India’s future. Scheduled from April 26 to 28 at the Royal Albert Palace, New Jersey, the event revolves around the theme ‘Opportunities for Diaspora Indians in India’s Big Manifest Future.’

Kicking off with a welcoming reception and dinner inauguration, the two-day affair will culminate with a GOPIO general body meeting. A highlight of the convention is the awards banquet on April 27, dedicated to honoring the contributions of community members.

The convention will host nine sessions focusing on various aspects of the theme:

  1. Diaspora Youth and Young Achievers: Emphasizing their potential role in India’s future and exploring ways GOPIO can support their involvement.
  2. Diaspora Women: Highlighting their growing contributions across sectors, including discussions on technologies, AI, and other innovations.
  3. Leading Research and Innovations: Showcasing the endeavors of Diaspora Indians in research and innovation.
  4. GOPIO Chamber of Commerce and Industry: Exploring the global networking of Diaspora businesses.
  5. Medical and Health Issues: Discussing how Diaspora Indians can contribute to India’s frontline role in pharmaceuticals, vaccines, medical tourism, and the propagation of yoga.
  6. India as a Global Power House: Examining opportunities for US businesses in India’s digital infrastructure, supply chain logistics, and AI.
  7. GOPIO Academic Council Roundtable: Fostering academic collaboration within the Diaspora.
  8. Diaspora Writers and Literature: Celebrating the literary achievements of Diaspora Indians.
  9. Aging Gracefully: Addressing the needs and challenges of aging Diaspora Indians.

Moreover, attendees can look forward to captivating performances by renowned artists such as comedian Dan Nainan, Grammy winner Falu Shah, and Sarangi instrumentalist Kamal Sabri.

Dr. Thomas Abraham Honored with Library Dedication: A Half-Century Legacy Celebrated by Indian Diaspora

Dr. Thomas Abraham, the Chairman of the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO), was recently honored for his exceptional service spanning 50 years to the Indian Diaspora community and India. This recognition took form in the dedication of the Dr. Thomas Abraham Library at the Indian American Kerala Cultural and Civic Center located in Elmont, New York. The momentous occasion was further commemorated by New York City Mayor Eric Adams, who officially declared April 6th as Dr. Thomas Abraham Day to coincide with the library’s opening.

The inauguration ceremony of the library, held on April 6, was graced by Indian Consul General Binaya Srikanta Pradhan, who presided over the event. The ceremony, attended by a diverse representation of the community, marked not only the introduction of a collection of books but also the inclusion of historical documents chronicling the growth and history of the Indian American community and the broader Indian Diaspora, notably from the personal collections of Dr. Abraham.

Dr. Abraham’s legacy is deeply rooted in his extensive community work over five decades, marked by the establishment of several influential organizations within the Indian American community and the global Indian Diaspora. Notable among his achievements are his roles as the founding president of the Federation of Indian Associations (FIA) of New York in the 1970s, organizer of the largest India Day Parade outside India, and founder of the National Federation of Indian American Associations (NFIA) in the 1980s. Currently serving as the Chairman of GOPIO, which he founded in 1989, Dr. Abraham’s influence extends to his position as Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Indian American Kerala Center in New York, a center he also co-founded. Additionally, his contributions include co-chairing fundraising campaigns, such as the one to establish a chair for Indian studies at Columbia University, and founding initiatives like the National Indian American Association for Senior Citizens (NIAASC) and the South Asian Council for Social Services (SACSS).

The inauguration ceremony commenced with a warm welcome from Library Committee Member Abraham Thomas, followed by introductory remarks by Kerala Center Vice President Daisy Stephen, who served as the Master of Ceremonies. The event was marked by the rendition of the American and Indian National Anthems by Ms. Lauren Vattakalam and a welcoming address by Kerala Center President Alex Esthappan, who emphasized Dr. Abraham’s pivotal role in shaping major Indian community organizations in New York.

A ceremonial ribbon-cutting, led by Consul General Pradhan, was accompanied by esteemed dignitaries and immediate family members of Dr. Abraham. The program continued with a traditional lamp lighting ceremony and a Kathak Dance Saraswati Vandana performed by Barnard College student Nandini Lal.

Addressing the audience, Kerala Center Board Chairman Dr. Madhu Bhaskaran expressed pride in hosting the library, while Consul General Pradhan lauded Dr. Abraham’s contributions, stating, “I don’t see this as the inauguration of a library but as a celebration of the work and achievements of Dr. Abraham and his contributions to society.” Pradhan highlighted Dr. Abraham’s significant impact beyond New York, recognizing his efforts in fostering US-India relations and facilitating educational initiatives internationally.

Pradhan urged the diaspora to support Indian students studying abroad and advocated for the enhancement of digital facilities at the library, offering the Consulate’s assistance. The event also featured proclamations from New York City Mayor Eric Adams and New York State Senator Kevin Thomas, honoring Dr. Thomas Abraham Day and acknowledging his dedicated service, respectively.

Further accolades came from Mr. Bruce A. Blakeman, Executive of Nassau County, who issued a citation honoring Dr. Abraham’s service, and Connecticut’s senior US Senator Richard Blumenthal, who recognized the significance of the Dr. Thomas Abraham Library. In a message, Senator Blumenthal praised Dr. Abraham’s contributions to the NRI/PIO community and the State of Connecticut.

The ceremony was enriched by remarks from Kerala Center Founder President E.M. Stephen, who expressed joy at the fulfillment of the center’s vision, and community leaders, including SACSS Executive Director Sudha Acharya, GOPIO Global Ambassador Prakash Shah, and NFIA Vice President Gunjan Rastogi. Dr. Thomas Abraham’s family, including his son Jay Abraham, daughter Dr. Nitya Abraham, and granddaughter Leela, graced the occasion, with Jay Abraham assuming leadership of the Library Committee.

In a fireside chat moderated by Daisy Stephen, Dr. Thomas Abraham expressed gratitude to attendees, emphasizing the collective impact of community efforts. He envisioned the library as a vital resource center for the Indian Diaspora, facilitating research and preserving its rich history for future generations.

The program concluded with a vibrant Bhangra performance by Dr. Reena Sharma, underscoring the spirit of celebration and unity within the Indian American community. Through such initiatives and celebrations, the legacy of individuals like Dr. Thomas Abraham continues to inspire and uplift communities, fostering a sense of pride and belonging among the diaspora.

South Asia Peace Activists Committed To Regional Dialogue And Harmony

“If France and Germany can be part of the European Union, why can’t Pakistan and India be part of a South Asian Union?” asked Dr Mubashir Hasan, former finance minister of Pakistan and a founder of the Pakistan-India People’s Forum for Peace and Democracy.

The former hawk-turned-dove was talking to journalist Beena Sarwar in Lahore, and when she said it sounded impossible, he replied, “Par hum baat toh kar sakte hai” (But we can at least talk about it).

Years later, in 2021, during a time of renewed tensions between Pakistan and India, she remembered the words of her late mentor who had passed away in January 2020. This idea is what lies behind the foundation of the Southasia Peace Action Network. Writing the abbreviation like a word, Sapan, rather than in all caps, conveys the meaning of a dream.

This is a dream that connects millions, giving hope for solidarity, peace, and friendship in the region. The network, which encourages dialogue and connections amongst South Asians and across various issues, has managed to virtually overcome borders and build bridges between those who have historically been divided.

Commitment to dialogue

The idea of meeting each other without the hassle of obtaining visas was a resilient attempt at peace and friendship. At the third anniversary of Sapan last weekend, commemorated at a virtual event live over Zoom and YouTube, organisers reviewed Sapan’s achievements in the past three years, presented by youth activist Sarita Bartaula from Nepal. Well known feminist activist Khawar Mumtaz in Lahore who hosted the milestone event, highlighted the organisation’s ongoing commitment to fostering dialogue and understanding.

South Asia Peace Activists Committed To Regional Dialogue And Harmony (SAM)
Picture: SAM

Participants looked back and looked forward. The brief ‘In Memoriam’ paid tribute to giants in the peacebuilding sphere, like Dr Mubashir Hasan, Nirmala ‘Didi’ Deshpande, journalists Kuldip Nayar and I.A. Rehman, human rights lawyer Asma Jahangir and many others. There was a special tribute to members of the ‘peacemongers’ tribe who have recently passed on, like journalist Babar Ayaz in Karachi, senior activist Radhakant Saxena of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties, Jaipur, and not least, former Indian Navy chief L. ‘Ramu’ Ramdas, a founder member of Sapan and a longtime peace and anti-nuclear activist.

The ‘peacemongers’ vowed to not only continue talking to each other, but to continue talking until they achieve their dream, their Sapan, of a South Asia with soft borders, or at least, ease of visas.

The past three years of Sapan activities and connection-building are a testament to the unwavering support and faith for the ideals enshrined in the three-point Founding Charter. Nearly 80 organisations and hundreds of individuals in the region and beyond have endorsed this call for soft borders, healthy cooperation, and dignity for all in the South Asian region.

As the saying goes, “The heart wants what it wants”. This is reflected in Sapan’s concentrated, consistent efforts with a Whatsapp channel, dedicated ‘Peacemongers’ groups, regular monthly webinars, campaigns, and consistent check-ins, campaigning for peace and harmony in South Asia.

Art beyond borders

The second part of the meeting featured a thought-provoking discussion on art and artists beyond borders. The panelists included acclaimed artists Salima Hashmi, Manmeet Walia, and Roshan Mishra, joining from Pakistan, India, and Nepal respectively. They recognized how art is a thread that connects artists across the South Asian region because it is expressed in the language, known to all.

“Through Art, we reflect each other,” said Roshan Mishra, emphasising our ‘sameness’ in the ‘other’.

The event concluded with a ‘solidarity song’ written by the iconic Southasian feminist Kamla Bhasin, “Tumhara sath milne se” (With your support), sung by three generations of Bangladeshi feminists led by the feminist activist Khushi Kabir, together with Sohanna Ahmed and Bipasha Saed. With this song, there was a mutual recognition that we may have a million miles to go, but at least we have started, and we are in it together.

The virtual anniversary event brought together a diverse range of intergenerational peacemongers, including supporters, experts, members, volunteers, and friends. After the recording stopped, many lingered on to catch up with each other, meet new friends, and express their support.

Seniormost was probably Vasanth Pai, 92, in Bangalore. He has been part of the peace movement since 2010 when he was involved as a volunteer with Aman Ki Asha (Hope for Peace). From Islamabad, human rights activist and former Pakistani senator Farhatullah Babar also stayed on to express his solidarity and support. And that’s why “Hum Baat Karte Rahenge: We will continue to talk” is so powerful.

(The author is an Indian-origin peace activist from Jaipur, with a masters in Peace and Conflict Studies from the University of Manchester, UK. She is currently based in Manchester and is a volunteer with Sapan. Views are personal. By special arrangement with Sapan News)

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Sindhi Association Of Metropolitan Chicago Celebrates Cheti Chand, The Sindhi New Year With Rituals And Traditional Fervor

On Sunday, April 7, 2024, the Sindhi Association of Metropolitan Chicago (SAMC) hosted a joyous celebration of Cheti Chand, the Sindhi New Year, at the elegant Ashyana Banquets in Downers Grove. The event was a resounding success, drawing attendees of all ages and featuring a delightful blend of cultural performances, prayers, and delectable Sindhi cuisine.

The Cheti Chand festival was graced by several dignitaries, including Mr. Somnath Ghosh, Consul General of India in Chicago, who served as the chief guest, along with prominent community figures such as mayor of Oakbrook Larry Herman, mayor of Schaumberg Tom Dailly, 3 times mayor of oakbrook Dr. Gopal Lalmalani, and Aurora Alderwomen Shewta Baid. All the guests of honor were welcomed and greeted with Sindhi Topi, Scarf and Dhol upon their arrival. The festivities commence with traditional Behrana and Prasad, followed by a lively Jalsa experience. Attendees participated in heartfelt prayers and paid homage to Jhulelal, the Sindhi deity, led by Dr. Gita Rupani and Manju Dadlani.

Sindhi Association Of Metropolitan Chicago Celebrates Cheti Chand The Sindhi New Year With Rituals And Traditional Fervor
Picture: Asian Media USA

Henna Ballaney and Ria Matta took the stage, captivating the audience for the entire cultural program. Namish Nagdev, a talented 9-year-old, eloquently conveyed the importance of Cheti Chand, emphasizing acceptance, unity, and the story of Jhulelal God. Mrs. Balaney sung a Special Cheti Chand Song. Multiple Dance Performances were performed by SAMC community ladies.

DJ Paulami Majumdar spun Bollywood beats, getting everyone on their feet and dancing to the rhythm. The culinary spread featured an array of mouthwatering Sindhi dishes, including Dal Pakwan, Chole Pattice, Sindhi Curry, Sindhi Fry Bhindi, Tairi, Sindhi Faluda, and refreshing special sindhi drink called Thandai.

The event was expertly organized by the SAMC Committee led by President Vinita Gulabani and Secretary Dr. Subhash Balaney. SAMC Committee dedication and leadership ensured a memorable celebration for the Sindhi community. Community members came together to volunteer for decorations, making-packing, distributing prasad, Raffel and support the event. SAMC sincerely thank all our sponsors for this event.

With over 250 attendees, the Cheti Chand festival at Ashyana Banquets exemplified the spirit of togetherness, cultural pride, and joy. Chicago Sindhis welcomed the Sindhi New Year with open hearts and a promise to cherish their rich heritage

Sindhi Association Of Metropolitan Chicago Celebrates Cheti Chand The Sindhi New Year With Rituals And Traditional Fervor 3
Picture: Asian Media USA

Sindhi Association President Vinita Gulabani worked strenuously to colorfully showcase the cultural grandeur of the Sindhi community interspersed with dance, music, singing that ushered unfettered joy to the evening’s celebrations. Vinita Gulabani who is a dignified epitome of grace mobilized large attendance in celebrating the Sindhi association’s annual banquet. The highlight of the evening’s celebrations was her group dance presentation that was artistically presented with grace and cultural aesthetics that elicited thunderous applause.

FIA’s Chairman Sunil Shah profusely complimented the leadership of Vinita Gulabani in hosting a grand banquet that brought together the diverse community to celebrate the distinct culture of Sindhis.

Leader of distinction with considerable star power was honored at the banquet by Mayor of Schaumburg Hon. Tom Dailey, Mayor of Oakbrook Laurence Herman, Former Mayor Gopal Lalmalani Oakbrook Trustee Dr. Suresh Reddy.

President Vinita Gulabani in her remarks outlined Sindhi’s oldest civilizational roots with its rich distinct cultural heritage. Vinita Gulabani further presented a historical overview of the role of Sindhi Association in building bridges of friendship with the community organizations to help foster collaborative efforts in advancing the cultural, social and charitable ideals.

Repr Thanedar Condemns Religious Violence

Rep. Shri Thanedar exclusively appeared on HinduPACT’s HinduLounge show hosted by Tejal Shah (Convenor Hindu Mandir Empowerment Council and Jt. Gen. Secy. World Hindu Council of America, VHPA) and Sudha Jagganathan HinduLounge co-host and a prominent American Hindu community organizer this week, emphasizing the critical need to protect personal freedoms and take serious actions against incidents that undermine the freedom to practice one’s religion. Highlighting the challenges faced by the Hindu community, Rep. Thanedar discussed the underutilization of government programs by the community, including Homeland Security grants that support sophisticated security systems for religious institutions during special events.

Rep. Thanedar firmly stands against terrorism, violence, and vandalism, condemning these acts as direct attacks on peaceful religious practices. He pointed out that while Hindu dharma is a peaceful religion, its passive nature is often mistakenly perceived as a weakness. This perception underscores the urgency for increased involvement of the Hindu community in mainstream politics and activism to safeguard their own freedoms and those of future generations.

In his commitment to combating Hinduphobia and hate crimes, Rep. Thanedar has introduced Resolution HR 1131 and formed a Hindu caucus in the U.S. House. He advocates for greater civic involvement among Hindus and stresses the importance of building strong relationships with local elected leaders, not only in times of crisis but as a continual effort.

Rep. Thanedar calls on the community to develop political influence, stating, “We must show that we will not tolerate fear and hate, and we will spread the truth about Hindu Dharma.” He also emphasized that this responsibility extends beyond the Congressional Hindu Caucus to every individual within the community.

Jain Leaders Convene in Chicago to Shape Future of Community in North America

Jain leaders from various corners of the United States converged in Chicago this month to deliberate on the multifaceted challenges confronting their community. Spearheaded by Dipak Jain, the former Dean of Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, this three-day assembly, held from April 5th to 7th, drew over 125 Jain leaders. Among them were representatives from prominent organizations such as the Jain Association of North America (JAINA), Young Jains of America (YJA), Young Jain Professionals (YJP), and Jain International Trade Organization (JITO), along with other Jain centers across the continent.

The primary objective of this gathering, orchestrated by JAINA’s Long Range Planning Committee, was to chart the course for the future of Jainism. In his keynote address, Dipak Jain, the first Jain dean at a North American academic institution, underscored how fundamental Jain principles like ahimsa (non-violence), anekantvad (multiplicity of viewpoints), and aparigraha (simplicity/non-possessiveness) had steered him through a successful career and numerous life hurdles.

“Excellence has no bounds, you can reach any height but there is always more to do. No challenge ahead of you is greater than the force behind you,” he remarked.

Reflecting on the event, Dr. Manoj Jain, chair of JAINA’s Long Range Planning Committee, remarked, “It was an amazing gathering to get leaders, young as well as seasoned, to gather and share as well as debate how to move forward in developing a vision, mission, and strategy for a community of 200,000 Jains in North America.”

Throughout the event’s eight round tables, participants exchanged insights and experiences on a range of topics, including enhancing Jain Center engagement and raising awareness of Jainism among the broader North American populace.

Prem Jain, a former president of JAINA and member of the Long Range Planning Committee, emphasized the importance of translating vision, mission, and strategy into tangible projects on the ground. He stated, “However, having a vision, mission, and strategy is insufficient for a meaningful change. Hence we need projects on the ground.”

The palpable energy and enthusiasm among attendees were evident as they eagerly sought opportunities to put their learnings into action. At the Jain Leadership Forum 2024, participants were treated to fully vegan meals throughout the weekend and had the chance to hear from over 25 Jain Project Champions.

Yogendra Jain, the team lead from Boston, highlighted the significance of the event in providing a solid foundation for new initiatives, fostering synergies, expanding networking opportunities, and delineating a clear roadmap for shaping the future of Jainism in North America. He shared, “For the attendees, Jain Leadership Forum 2024 provided a solid foundation from which to build new initiatives, create synergies, expand on networking opportunities, and define a clear picture of how to shape Jainism’s future in North America.”

Mayur Shah, the team lead from Philadelphia, emphasized the lasting impact of the forum, noting that each participant left equipped with an enhanced toolkit to inspire their local Jain communities to plan for the future and a broader network of Jain leaders to fortify the foundations of the expansive North American Jain community for future generations.

Solar New Year celebrations unite religious groups across the South Asian diaspora

(RNS) — For the past week, between April 9 and 15, South Asians celebrated the beginning of a new year with friends and family. Although originating in the Hindu luni-solar calendar — the Vedic auspicious month of Chaitra marks the beginning of a joyous new spring season and harvest — New Year celebrations have been adopted and adapted by religions and cultures across the Indian subcontinent.

Indians from all backgrounds celebrate according to their community’s socio-religious customs and unique calendars, from Ugadi for Telegus and Kannadigas in the southern states to the Gudi Padwa festival of western Maharashtra to the northern Assamese New Year celebration of Bohag Bihu, just to name a few.

And for those who immigrated to the United States from India, Bangladesh, Nepal or Sri Lanka, these New Year celebrations emphasize an important aspect of South Asian diasporic identity: the cultural heritage they share, rather than religious differences.

“It’s not just about crops,” said Sahej Preet Singh, a Sikh man from the northwestern state of Punjab, who moved to the United States in his 20s. “It’s not just about religion. It’s a lot more than that. It’s the culture, it’s the food, it’s that sense of belonging in the rest of the community, and all the communities coming together. It’s really about brotherhood.”

Singh, who now works as a community engagement manager for the Sikh Coalition, said that when he first immigrated, the loss of community was palpable. It was common for doors in his small town to be unlocked so friends could come and go without asking, but in an apartment in Queens, New York, he didn’t even know his neighbors. Holiday celebrations, like Vaisakhi, the New Year holiday in his Punjabi culture, have helped build a new diaspora community that is much more diverse.

“Here, you might be able to see South Indians and Marathis and Punjabis and Gujaratis all celebrating Gudi Padwa or Vaisakhi,” said Singh, who fondly remembers his mother feeding him a dessert so the New Year would start off with some sweetness.

Vaisakhi, with its colorful processions, large langar meal at the gurdwara and melodious “kirtans,” or group devotional singing, marks the start of a plentiful harvest season for the farm-heavy land of Punjab and the establishment of the Sikh faith by Guru Gobind Singh, though it was a festival time for Punjabis of all faiths.

Moving here, said Singh, who is now in upstate New York, has allowed him to better understand the commonalities between Indians and South Asians as a whole, giving him a piece of home to hold onto. The new community he has formed in the United States, he says, is a reflection of the diversity that only a place like the U.S. can bring.

“I might see somebody on the street who might not be Punjabi but they might be South Indian or Marathi or Gujurati, and I will still probably make it a point to at least nod and say hi to them,” he said. “You know, even shared iftar dinners are becoming a big deal here now.”

Naznin Seamon, a Bengali poet who moved to Queens, New York, in 1997, wants to keep religion and culture separate.

“We have so many problems, so many issues, but these cultural events, these cultural things, they actually make us open our mind,” said Seamon, a Muslim from Bangladesh. “They help us flourish, help our creativity. And it is a source of joy.”

The New Year celebration of Pohela Boishakh, celebrated by ethnic Bengali people from India and Bangladesh, has its roots in the Mughal empire, when Muslim leadership decided to switch from the Arabic lunar calendar to the Hindu solar agricultural calendar to better reflect the harvesting of crops, thus marking a new tax cycle and accounting year.

Some of Seamon’s fondest memories from Bangladesh, she says, were made during her town’s Pohela Boishakh festivities. She would look forward every year to donning a typical white and red sari, with bindi and flowers in her hair, to attend a colorful fair where she got to ride a Ferris wheel and look at photographs in a ViewMaster. Bengali Muslims and Hindus would sell their goods, including homemade animal masks that would be worn at a parade.

Though some would pray to Hindu gods for a bountiful and prosperous harvest, Pohela Boishakh is for all, Seamon says, despite a growing charge by some Muslim religious fundamentalists to discourage the sharing of a holiday they say is rooted in Hinduism.

“To celebrate any culture. I don’t have to follow that religion,” said Seamon, who is also a high school teacher. In Queens, she says the Bengali population is ever-growing, so much that she now teaches Bangla and is in charge of the Bangla Student Association at her school. The idea of celebrating Pohela Boishakh with her students, she says, is not only for them to “get off their phones,” but to appreciate the diversity of their parents’ homelands.

“Just because we came to a different country and we have so many opportunities doesn’t mean that I have to forget my own roots,” she said. “Coming to a new country is adapting and accepting, not changing my own identity, because every culture is beautiful in its own way.”

Kathirvel Kumararaja, a Hindu from Tamil Nadu in the south of India, is also seeking to help diaspora children take pride in their origins. He is the president of the more than 50-year-old New York Tamil Sangam — the first community organization for the ethnic and linguistic group in North America. The platform is for the “global Tamil community,” which stretches from India to Southeast Asia, to “share pride in belonging.”

“Starting from Indra Nooyi, Sundar Pichai, to the vice president of America, Kamala Harris — they’re all Tamils and come from the same tradition,” said Kumararaja, who is also the chair for the International Tamil Entrepreneur Network. “Starbucks CEO, FedEx CEO, you name it, they’re all Tamils. These kids have so many role models in society.”

Puthandu, the New Year holiday marking the beginning of the Tamil calendar and month of Chitterai, is a time for family, according to Kumararaja, who is married to a Tamil Christian. Kids and parents arise at the same time, laying eyes on a mirror in which they can see an abundant tray of fruits, flowers and coins, as well as a dish of raw mango, tamarind, jaggery and neem leaf, which they eat “just to show that life is sweet and sour.” Everyone prays together, seeks blessing from their elders and eats typical Tamil delicacies to bring in a prosperous beginning.

And importantly, the holiday is a public observance back home for all Tamil people, whether they are of Hindu, Christian or Muslim background. Like other ethnic New Years, including Chinese New Year, he says, many people don’t necessarily look at the Scriptures to find a reason to celebrate. It is a joyous time for all, reflected in his New York organization’s celebration with musical performances from popular Tamil singers.

“Typically, acculturation happens in American society in the name of freedom,” he said. The community festivals, he said, are one way to “show our kids what our culture is about and what are the values that we as Tamils represent. We don’t have to be shy about our culture or identity.”

Appen Menon, a board of trustees member for the Kerala Center of New York, understands this multi-religiosity. Hailing from the southern state of Kerala, where Christianity and Islam are widely practiced, Menon’s organization is no stranger to hosting combined cultural and religious events, like Easter and Vishu celebration.

“It’s a great feeling that we have people from diverse backgrounds from Kerala here, and we all celebrate all the celebrations including religious holidays together,” said Menon. “Although we are away from home, we found a home here.”

Vishu, the New Year holiday of Malayali Hindus marking the defeat of demon Narakasura by Lord Krishna, begins before dawn, when devotees make sure to lay their eyes on an idol of Krishna and a plate of abundance first thing after they wake up. Families then bathe, eat a sweet dish, go to the temple and finish the celebration with a sumptuous lunch feast.

While the scale of celebration cannot be the same in the U.S. as it is in Kerala, Menon, an attorney, says there are still benefits from forming new traditions. He and his family never celebrated Diwali, the well-known Hindu festival of light, in the same festive way of North Indians, but here, they are able to join in.

“While you’re in India, you know, you don’t see too many people from other states,” he said. “You see mostly people from Kerala and you are not exposed to those kinds of celebrations. Here, we are. And in a big way or small way, we also participate.”

After a delicious feast made by his wife, which he says he “can claim he helped with,” Menon says it’s time for a nap and a reflection on the new year.

“Back in India, when I was growing up, I didn’t know too much Hindi,” he said. “But I heard this phrase: ‘Alag bhasha, alag vesh, phir bhi apna ek desh.’”

Different language, different dress, still a country of our own.

AARC-Asian American Republican Coalition Supports Trump’s Election Bid As The 47th President Of United States

AARC has announced to extend its full support to President Donald J. Trump to win elections as the 47th President of United States, at its Press conference recently held at ITV Gold Auditorium, Edison, NJ. Press Conference was addressed by Hemant Bhatt, AARC- Founder and Chairman, Sridhar Chillara, AARC- National President and Dr. Sudhir Parikh, AARC- National Advisor and Chairman, Parikh Worldwide Media. It was emced by Sanjiv Pandya, Vice- Chair, AARC Public Relations and one of the founding members of AARC.

AARC DJT PC 2This Press conference begun by singing American National Anthem by Mathy Pillai, a renowned singer and pledge of Allegiance by Rima.

Mr. Bhatt in his speech spoke of bringing the community from regions of US to the Republican fold. He said that America has been going through a number of crisis and today’s America is not what we used to see earlier. There are darkened clouds all over. He referred the sense of fear for safety amongst residents, rising prices, cost of living increase, high inflation and ‘America has no border’. Legal and merit-based immigration is the only way America is meant for. Illegal immigration would hurt America big time. He further stated that life in America was much different even just four years ago during the Trump Administration, when there was safety, security, stock markets were booming, retirement accounts were rich in value and America was considered as world leader. President Trump visited North Korea, he was able to take on China and there would not have been any Ukraine- Russia war, Hamas Israel war and the world would not have been on fire as it is today. For these AARC DJT PC 3reasons, AARC announced its full support to President Trump to win Presidential elections on November 05, 2024.

Mr. Chillara said the voting patterns showed how even a small percentage of population like Asians, Indian Americans could influence the outcome of results of elections which are lost by very small margins. Asian Americans, Indian Americans and some minorities can change the results of elections and we could send our Republican candidates to White House, Senate and Congress. Asian Americans make about more than 25 Million. Why can’t we come together? Such power we have. In order to make it happen, large percentage of Asians have to be convinced about Republican party and educated about the values it represents, and have to go to polls and vote for Republican candidates.

Dr. Parikh recounted his lifelong support and engagement with the Republican party over many decades especially since 1992 the administration of President George H.W. Bush, when he and few Indian Americans republican raised $ 4 Million for the campaign. This was our community was very small and not doing very well at that time. He further mentioned that his 50 years of observation the Republican party is more pro India than the Democratic party and it is proven that Donald J. Trump would be pro India and that is good for the motherland and for us.

AARC DJT PC 1Several Asian Indian American Republicans encouraged and appealed the community to come forward in support of President Donald J Trump’s candidacy.

AARC’s NJ President Dharmesh Patel, Women wing President Tarang Soni, AARC- PA President Yagnesh Chokshi, Community leader Dr. Avinash Gupta, Sunil Hali ji, Nimish Patel, Neil Shah, Ashish Raval, Peter Carota, Dilip Bhatt, Raj Bansal, Manisha Bhatt, Inder Soni, Nayna Bhatt, Pawanji, Michael, Vijay Shah, Pankaj Parikh, Parth Patel, Ajay Shah and many prominent persons were present at this wonderful event.

A Q & A session followed the speeches.



San Francisco’s Historic Vedanta Society Old Temple: A Testament to Harmony Amidst Tragedy

Tucked away within the Cow Hollow district lies a remarkable architectural treasure – the Old Temple of the Vedanta Society, recognized as America’s inaugural Hindu temple.

The inception of this establishment dates back to 1900 when Swami Vivekananda established a local branch in San Francisco, aimed at disseminating the teachings of Vedanta, a prominent school of Hindu philosophy.

Crafted under the creative direction of Swami Trigunatitananda and architect Joseph A. Leonard, the monastery materialized in 1905, commencing its religious services in January 1906. The architectural blueprint amalgamates diverse styles, drawing inspiration from the grandeur of the Taj Mahal, the serenity of Bengal temples, and the solidity of European castles, symbolizing an overarching harmony among all religious ideologies.

Remarkably, the formidable 1906 earthquake left the temple unscathed, as confirmed by the Vedanta Society of Northern California.

However, the tranquility of the temple was disrupted in 1914 when it became the unfortunate target of a bombing. During a service, a former student detonated explosives, resulting in his demise and inflicting fatal injuries upon Trigunatitananda, who succumbed to his wounds shortly after. This tragic event, as reported by SFGATE, marred the temple’s history with a somber chapter.

Zooming out from this specific incident, presently, the Old Temple serves as the venue for Friday scripture classes and Sunday school sessions catering to children, while the New Temple, situated at the junction of Vallejo and Fillmore Streets, stands as the central headquarters for the Vedanta Society.

GOPIO Convention 2024: Empowering Diaspora Indians for India’s Future

The 35th Anniversary celebration of the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO) International and the GOPIO Convention 2024 are set to be hosted by GOPIO International, in collaboration with its chapters in the New York area and other community organizations. The events are slated to occur from April 26-28, 2024, at the Royal Albert Palace in Fords, New Jersey.

According to a press statement from GOPIO International, which was founded in New York in 1989, the organization has been dedicated to serving the 4.5 million strong Indian American community and the broader 35 million global Indian community for the past 35 years. The statement underscores the timeliness of the Convention, noting that it will center on “India’s Present and the Future and what role the Diaspora Indians can play in helping to realize this desirable future.”

The theme of the Convention is titled “Opportunities for Diaspora Indians in India’s Big Manifest Future.”

The Convention will feature six major conference sessions, each addressing critical aspects of the Indian Diaspora’s role in shaping India’s future. These sessions include discussions on Diaspora Youth and Young Achievers, focusing on their potential contributions to India’s future and how GOPIO can facilitate their involvement; Diaspora Women and their Growing Contributions in Various Sectors; Technologies and AI, where Diaspora Indians are leading research and innovations; GOPIO Chamber of Commerce and Industry, highlighting the global networking of Diaspora businesses and SMEs in India; India’s emergence as an alternate market hub for supply chain logistics and potential partnerships with US businesses; and Medical and Health Issues, emphasizing Diaspora Indians’ participation in India’s frontline role in pharmaceuticals, vaccines, medical tourism, and the promotion of yoga and its benefits.

Additionally, a second track of conference sessions will address topics such as Diaspora Seniors Aging Gracefully, Diaspora Literature, and Diaspora Arts and Artists.

Delhi Committee of Chicago Sister Cities International Hosts Annual Global Connections

The Delhi Committee of Chicago Sister Cities International, ComEd and Navy Pier, came together as partners through a shared commitment to Chicago and its diverse communities to host this year’s Global Connections: Holi event on Saturday, March 23rd. “As the Chairman of the Delhi Chicago Sister Cities Committee, it’s really an honor to present and be a part of  this Holi celebration,” said Smita N. Shah, Delhi Committee of Chicago Sister Cities International Chairman and SPAAN Tech, Inc. President & CEO. “Navy Pier’s Global Connections Program curated a memorable celebration that has grown into the largest program in the United States for Holi.  Chicago Sister Cities International is proud to be its partner as it represents why we do what we do: honor the diverse international communities that make up Chicago, celebrate the best of their culture and support the desire for others to experience the American Dream, all of which makes Chicago stronger.”

Delhi Committee of Chicago Sister Cities International Hosts Annual Global Connections 2
Picture: Asian Media USA

“Holi is a reminder that good always triumphs over evil and those forces that wish to divide us, make no mistake about it, not here in the city of Chicago. Black. Brown. White. Asian. Young. Old. Rich. Poor. We are the greatest city in the world because of the diversity that makes up this city,” said City of Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson. “Chicago’s positive impact is felt all around the world…thanks to the hard work of Chicago Sister Cities International and the volunteer work of our committee members like Smita [Shah], who are so passionate about our city, so passionate about diplomacy and so passionate about our democracy.”

The free, public event transformed the Aon Grand Ballroom and Navy Pier Beer Garden into the country’s largest Holi celebration of its kind, featuring live music, traditional cultural performances, authentic food from local vendors, the iconic powder-throwing (which pay homage to the bright colors of spring and represent the triumph of good over evil) and more.

Delhi Committee of Chicago Sister Cities International Hosts Annual Global Connections 1
Picture: Asian Media USA

Delhi’s position as a sister city to Chicago demonstrates the strong relationship between India and the city, and the cultural impact the established Indian-American community had on Chicagoland. Under Shah’s leadership, the Delhi Committee of Chicago founded the Annual Legacy of Mahatma Gandhi Luncheon in 2014, honoring the long-standing exchange of ideas between Mahatma Gandhi and the U.S., and the ever important principles of truth and non-violence. Shah, who serves on President Biden’s Advisory Commission on Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders also helped secure the designation of October 2nd as Mahatma Gandhi Day in Chicago.

This program would not have been possible without the generous support of Niranjan S. Shah and Pratima Shah, the winner of the Pravasi Bharatiya Award, Darryl Tom for whom whose family the famous Ping Tom Park is named, and the Sue Ling Gin Foundation.

“We have about 260,000 Indian, Indian American, Indian origin people (here), so thank you, Mayor, for making it a great home for them and for hosting Holi every year,” said Indian Counsel General Somnath Ghosh. “This is the second year of celebration for me, and I see it is even bigger than last year. I hope to see the event continue to grow in the years to come and look forward to many more celebrations in Chicago.” For a full video of this weekend’s celebration, please visit here.

Founded in 1998, SPAAN Tech, Inc. is a leading global, award-winning, engineering and construction management firm. SPAAN Tech provides and implements sustainable solutions in transportation, aviation, water, energy, and technology. SPAAN Tech has been recognized by Inc. Magazine as One Of The Fastest Growing Companies and by the Small Business Commerce Association as Best of Business in Chicago Engineering Services. Learn more about SPAAN Tech, Inc. at (Photographs and Press release by: Asian Media USA)

Sikh Coalition Fights for Legislation Against Book Bans

Over the past few months, the Sikh Coalition has been working diligently to advocate state-level legislation that confronts an increasing trend of book bans and targeted political attacks on literature representing marginalized communities in K-12 public schools and public libraries.

As a start to this body of work, we have filed letters of support for proactive and protective bills in Washington state, Colorado, Maryland, and Pennsylvania; you can track our work on these issues here. The Washington state bill, HB 2331, was signed into law by Governor Jay Inslee on March 26. As an additional means of supporting this kind of legislation, in February, Sikh Coalition Senior Education Manager Savleen Singh provided testimony in support of Colorado’s anti-book ban bill SB24-049. The Sikh Coalition is also exploring ways to oppose measures that actively work to suppress the voices of marginalized communities, increase censorship, and even criminalize efforts to protect the freedom to read—such as our letter of opposition to Utah’s House Bill 29.

“The Sikh Coalition chooses to support the freedom to read for several reasons,” explains Sikh Coalition Senior Policy Manager Harmeet Kaur Kamboj. “First, Sikh authors have had their books banned just like authors from many other communities. Second, the banning of books that shed light on marginalized groups denies students the chance to explore cultures and perspectives outside of their own—and to develop an appreciation for those cultures and perspectives. And finally, book bans are increasingly targeted political efforts that prioritize ideological agendas over shared values like freedom of speech and the marketplace of ideas.”

The Sikh Coalition will continue to assess this space for further advocacy, given how the growing trend of increasing book bans is explicitly linked to other politically-motivated advocacy against the teaching of so-called ‘divisive’ concepts such as systemic discrimination, white supremacy, and other issues affecting faith communities like ours. For more information about how we approach the intersection of school bullying, inclusive curricula, and difficult topics like book bans or Critical Race Theory, please view our Policy Principles for Creating Safer and More Inclusive Schools, which includes information about the legislation we support or oppose and an extensive community FAQ. In addition, we will be hosting a Sikh Coalition Live on Instagram on April 8 at 7:30 PM ET to discuss these topics and more with author and Sikh Coalition Fellow Dr. Simran Jeet Singh, Director of the Hoboken Public Library Jennie Pu, and Harmeet Kaur Kamboj.

Alongside this work, we are continuing to make strides in providing resources of Sikhi history that are accurate and accessible. On March 20, Sikh Coalition Senior Education Manager Savleen Singh presented “Unveiling Bhagat Singh Thind’s Journey”, a lesson plan developed by the Sikh Coalition and Dr. Pritpal Kaur, to more than 20 social studies educators at the Los Angeles County Office of Education. As a reminder, you can find this lesson plan and all of our resources available for free on our website.

Diaspora Urges Modi Government to Sign into Law, NRI Protection Bill that Protects Their Assets in India

In 2023, the Indian Police arrested five people involved in a most shocking incidence of forgery against NRIs. All the five accused, including a lawyer, had teamed up to forge the documents of an NRI’s land valued at Rs 40 crore. NRIs and OCIs, who live abroad most of the time in a calendar year, do often fall prey to such crimes as land encroachment, forgery, unauthorized money withdrawals…in India. Precisely, one out of every 3 NRIs is a victim of organized crime, according to the NRI Grievance Forum led by Indian American Subhas Balappanavar in San Francisco.

Indian Diaspora, at over 30 million, is not only the largest in the world but also more successful than any other immigrant community. Besides their substantial contribution to the economy of their country of residence, they play an important role in bolstering India’s foreign exchange reserves through investments, remittances and deposits. More than one-fourth of NRIs, OCIs and PIOs invest a significant portion of their overseas earnings in various sectors, including real estate, stocks, mutual funds and bonds, in India.

Some own ancestral properties in India, some others deposit their money in Indian bank accounts, and a large number of NRIs send money to their families and relatives back home. The total remittance inflow into India in 2023 accounts for $125 billion, which is higher than the net worth of the richest Indian billionaire Mukesh Ambani. Notably, India is the largest recipient of foreign remittances. A common concern of the overseas Indian community with active financial ties to their homeland is their susceptibility to fraud and deception.

Non-residents are an easy target for scamsters who indulge in criminal activities from property encroachment to signature forgery and illegal bank withdrawals. And seeking legal action is full of challenges for NRI victims. They are often plagued by jurisdictional complexities, lack of proper awareness and guidance, and lengthy legal proceedings often requiring NRIs to be physically present for extensive documentation, court appearances, etc.

The grim situation of NRIs who lose their hard-earned money to swindlers prompted the NRI Grievance Forum to advocate for the ‘NRI Protection Bill’ at every Indian embassy and consulate, marking one of the largest worldwide initiatives by NRIs. This month, Subhas Balappanavar and his team visited all 6 consular offices across the USA and petitioned them to protect NRI investments and assets in India. They had already emailed their concerns to the Prime Minister of India and also submitted the memorandum at Indian consulates in East Asia, Australia, Middle East, Europe and Canada.

The Forum urges the Indian Government to enact the NRI Investment Protection Bill and establish a centralized NRI Investigation Agency to address NRI grievances, digitize documentation processes, and provide timely resolution. Its other proposals include legal protection for property disputes, provisions for online FIR filing, online inquiry and documentation, 90-day timeframe for issue resolution, non-bailable warrants for accused parties, invalidation of counter FIR against NRIs, and prosecution of officers involved in false arrest of NRIs.

The NRI Protection Bill also advocates for a uniform tax structure for NRI taxation in India in terms of TDS etc. Swift repatriation of investments and online voting facility are other proposals of the bill. Assurance of safety and legal protection can go a long way in encouraging NRIs’ participation in the nation’s growth, reiterates Subhas Balappanavar. (Courtesy: Indian Eagle)

GOPIO International To Celebrate 35th Anniversary With Convention In New Jersey

The 35th Anniversary of the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO) International and GOPIO Convention 2024 will be hosted by GOPIO International in collaboration with its chapters in the New York area and other community organizations. The events are scheduled to take place from April 26-28, 2024, at the Royal Albert Palace in Fords, New Jersey.

GOPIO International To Celebrate 35th Anniversary With Convention In New Jersey 1“GOPIO, founded in New York in 1989, has been serving the 4.5 million strong Indian American community as well as the 35 million global Indian community for the last 35 years,” said a press statement from GOPIO International adding the Convention is extremely timely since “[It] will focus on India’s Present and the Future and what role the Diaspora Indians can play in helping to realize this desirable future.”

“Opportunities for Diaspora Indians in India’s Big Manifest Future” is the theme of the Convention.

The six major conference sessions at the Convention include, Diaspora Youth and Young Achievers and the role they can play in India’s Future and how GOPIO can facilitate their participation; Diaspora Women and their Growing Contributions in Various Sectors; Technologies and AI and other Innovations: Diaspora Indians Leading Research and Innovations; GOPIO Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Worldwide Networking of the DiasporaGOPIO International To Celebrate 35th Anniversary With Convention In New Jersey 3 Businesses and SMEs in India; Emergence of India as an alternate market hub of supply chain logistics and how US businesses can take advantage by partnering with India; and Medical and Health Issues and how Diaspora Indians can Participate in India’s Frontline Role in Pharmaceuticals, Vaccines and Medical Tourism and in Propagating YOGA and its Benefits.

A second track of conference sessions include, Diaspora Seniors Aging Gracefully; Diaspora Literature; and Diaspora Arts and Artists.

GOPIO International To Celebrate 35th Anniversary With Convention In New Jersey 2This convention is a must-attend for anyone interested in connecting with the global Indian diaspora. Get ready for an exciting lineup of speakers, workshops, and networking opportunities. Immerse yourself in the rich culture, traditions, and achievements of the Indian community worldwide. Don’t miss out on this unique chance to engage, learn, and celebrate together. Mark your calendars and get ready for an unforgettable experience at the GOPIO International Convention -2024!

U.S. Government Overhauls Racial and Ethnic Categories for First Time in 27 Years to Better Reflect Diversity and Inclusion

The U.S. government is undertaking a significant overhaul in its approach to categorizing people by race and ethnicity, marking the first such change in 27 years. The effort aims to provide more accurate representation for individuals identifying as Hispanic and those of Middle Eastern and North African heritage, reflecting evolving social attitudes, immigration patterns, and the desire for inclusivity in a diverse society.

According to Meeta Anand, senior director for Census & Data Equity at The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, this shift holds immense emotional significance for individuals as it shapes societal perceptions and allows people to tell their own stories through data. The key alteration involves combining race and ethnicity questions into a single inquiry, enabling respondents to select multiple categories simultaneously, such as “Black,” “American Indian,” and “Hispanic.”

Previously, many Hispanic individuals faced difficulty in accurately responding to the race question when presented separately, often selecting “some other race” or opting out altogether due to perceived similarities between race and ethnicity. With the inclusion of a Middle Eastern and North African category, individuals from regions like Lebanon, Iran, Egypt, and Syria—who previously defaulted to identifying as white—now have the opportunity to identify within this newly recognized group. The 2020 census revealed approximately 3.5 million residents identifying as Middle Eastern and North African.

Florida state Rep. Anna Eskamani, whose parents hail from Iran, expressed her relief at the newfound representation, noting that her family previously checked the “white” box due to the absence of a more suitable option. The removal of outdated and potentially offensive terms like “Negro” and “Far East,” as well as the elimination of “majority” and “minority” labels, underscores a commitment to accurately reflecting the nation’s racial and ethnic diversity.

The revisions extend beyond mere terminology, advocating for the collection of detailed data to capture nuances within racial and ethnic groups. This disaggregation allows for a more comprehensive understanding of disparities in income, health, and other socio-economic factors, as emphasized by Allison Plyer, chief demographer of The Data Center in New Orleans.

While the process of revising these standards involved a non-partisan group of federal statisticians and bureaucrats, the implications are far-reaching, impacting legislative redistricting, civil rights laws, health statistics, and potentially even politics. The initiative gained momentum during the Obama administration but faced setbacks under the Trump presidency before being revived following President Joe Biden’s inauguration.

Implementation of these changes will be widespread, affecting federal and state government forms, surveys, and census questionnaires, as well as private sector practices which often align with governmental standards. Federal agencies have been given 18 months to develop plans for incorporating these revisions.

The historical evolution of racial and ethnic categories within the U.S. government reflects shifting societal dynamics. From the inclusion of “Free Colored People” in the 1820 census to the addition of “Chinese” in 1870 following increased immigration, these categories have evolved over time to mirror the nation’s demographic changes.

However, not all individuals are fully supportive of the latest revisions. Some Afro Latinos fear a reduction in their representation within combined race and ethnicity categories, although previous research suggests minimal differences in responses when questions are posed separately versus together. Mozelle Ortiz, of mixed Afro Puerto Rican descent, expressed concern over the potential erasure of her lineage.

Additionally, certain groups such as Armenians or Arabs from Sudan and Somalia feel overlooked in the examples provided to define Middle Eastern or North African backgrounds. Maya Berry, executive director of the Arab American Institute, while appreciative of the new category, criticized its lack of inclusivity, emphasizing the need for a more comprehensive representation of racial diversity within these communities.

Indian-American Leaders Confront US Officials on Terrorist Threats Against India

A contingent of prominent Indian-Americans residing in Silicon Valley convened a special gathering with high-ranking officials from the Department of Justice, FBI, and local law enforcement, shedding light on the exploitation of US territory for terrorist endeavors against India.

The assembly, spearheaded by community leader Ajai Jain Bhutoria, aimed to address the escalating frequency of hate crimes targeting Hindu and Jain establishments in California. Approximately two dozen distinguished Indian-Americans participated in the session, which was attended by Vincent Plair and Harpreet Singh Mokha from the Department of Justice’s Community Relations Service, alongside representatives from the FBI and police departments of San Francisco, Milpitas, Freemont, and Newark.

Expressing their discontent, attendees lamented the apparent inertia of US law enforcement in curtailing individuals promoting terrorism activities in India. They bemoaned the lack of action against those responsible for orchestrating hate crimes and issuing threats, including the attempted arson at the Indian consulate in San Francisco and overt intimidations directed at Indian diplomats.

According to members present, senior law enforcement officials professed ignorance regarding the Khalistan movement within the US and solicited assistance from Indian Americans in raising awareness about these terrorist factions. They cited resource constraints and competing priorities as impediments to taking decisive action.

Ajai Jain Bhutoria emphasized the gravity of the situation, stating, “This meeting was a crucial moment as we united to confront the recent surge in hate crimes targeting Hindu places of worship.” He underscored the urgent need for collective action in safeguarding religious sites amidst a wave of attacks and desecrations.

Sikh leader Sukhi Chahal elucidated on the discussions, highlighting the menace posed by supporters of the Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) Khalistani movement targeting Hindu temples and disseminating inflammatory propaganda. He urged law enforcement agencies to address the alarming rhetoric of pro-Khalistan figures like Gurpatwant Singh Pannu, stressing its potential to sow discord and radicalize youth.

In response to the deliberations, it was agreed to establish a working group under the auspices of the US Department of Justice, tasked with implementing safety protocols at places of worship and instituting a streamlined reporting mechanism for untoward incidents. The group would comprise representatives from various segments of the Indian community.

Despite these developments, community leaders voiced apprehensions regarding the efficacy of law enforcement in assuaging prevailing anxieties and thwarting terrorist activities emanating from US soil. Concerns were raised over the perceived lack of understanding among authorities regarding the nuances of the Khalistan movement and the alleged tacit support extended to its proponents by certain factions within the FBI.

Participants emphasized the urgency of addressing the brazen threats issued by Khalistani leaders, including purported plots to target Air India flights and the unabated dissemination of anti-Hindu sentiments. They underscored the imperative of countering such rhetoric to preserve social harmony and safeguard bilateral relations between India and the US.

WHEELS Global Foundation Receives Grants From RIST Foundation To Impact Lives In Madhya Pradesh

President of WHEELS Global Foundation’s President Ratan Agarwal is pleased to announce ‘WHEELS receiving a major grant of $400,000 from RIST Foundation to address pervasive newborn malnutrition and impact 10m lives in the State of Madhya Pradesh’.

WHEELS Health Council’s Chairman Dr. Raj Shah, MD, along with the partners IIT Bombay’s Health Spoken Tutorials, CSIS, RIST Foundation and State of Madhya Pradesh’ has launched a strategic initiative to address pervasive newborn malnutrition across the entire State of Madhya Pradesh, one of the largest States in India. It is built upon the pioneering work of HST’s lead researcher Dr. Rupal Dalal and groundbreaking mass communication innovation ‘Spoken Tutorial’ by Professor Kannan Moudgalya at IIT Bombay. RIST Foundation is providing the grant to support the first phase deployment in 7 districts, which will eventually impact the entire health infrastructure of MP and >10 million babies and mothers.

What is this Grant About?

It is part of our broad strategic MOU with State of M.P. Health Department signed in June 2022 to collaborate and deploy technology-driven interventions to improve health outcomes.

We are grateful for the great partnership and support from the CSIS team to jointly drive the dialog with M.P. Health leaders (Additional Commissioner and team) and grateful to the RIST Foundation for their large grant to ensure the success of this highly strategic and high-impact initiative, which would open the doors to many other States deploying this proven solution.

Where is the intervention implemented?

Phase 1 covers seven districts of Madhya Pradesh for a duration of 12-18 months and Phase 2 will cover the remaining 46 districts and is expected to start as Phase 1 comes to a close.

Why the initiative?

After very strong results in five rural and tribal districts like Nandurbar (in Maharashtra) where malnutrition rates came down from 67% to low single-digits and weight gain went up as much as five-fold, this initiative would accelerate the intervention at State level. Grant is supporting phase-1 deployment in seven strategically chosen districts to enable capacity building for State (through Training-the-trainer model) to then scale the program to remaining 46 districts, impacting 10m babies and mothers.

The pioneering research by Dr. Rupal Dalal identified the cause of newborn malnutrition as poor breastfeeding techniques that often limit babies to getting only about 28% of the available milk supply from the mother.

This initiative validates WGF’ unique model and ability to bring strategic partners and achieve impact at scale in line with its stated mission of impacting ‘20% of Rurban population in India by 2030’.

How is the intervention planned? 

It is built upon pioneering work of HST’s lead researcher Dr Rupal Dalal and groundbreaking mass communication innovation Spoken Tutorials by Professor Kannan Moudgalya at IIT Bombay. RIST Foundation is providing the grant to support the first phase of seven district deployment, which will eventually impact the entire health infrastructure of M.P. and >10 million babies and mothers.’

The initiative is leveraging an innovative training and communication platform, called Spoken Tutorials, developed at IIT Bombay, to overcome tough scaling challenges of communicating new behaviors and practices across highly distributed, remote, and under-resourced target populations with needed speed and very low cost to match the affordability in the system.

This is a great example of public-private partnership involving several mission-aligned partners, leveraging on-the-ground vast public resources (in this case thousands of PHCs and CHCs, tens of thousands of Asha and Aanganwadi workers), integrated with power of technologies (Spoken Tutorials) and original thinking and research (by Dr. Rupal Dalal) and business creativity (train-the-trainer model) to create necessary long-lasting capacity-building in the public health system to sustain the change and impact.

The teams will be using our Health Spoken Tutorials, created at IIT Bombay in the field. Sharing a short video! Health Spoken Tutorial Promo Video ( 

FIA Joins Indian Consulate in New York Celebrating International Women’s Day

The heavily attended event saw several accomplished women being honored. The Chairwoman of FIA IWD committee Smita Micky Patel addressed the gathering, thanking all those involved in making the event a success —  the Consulate and Consul General Binaya S. Pradhan, and Deputy CG Dr. Varun Jeph, leaders of FIA like Chairman Ankur Vaidya and President Dr. Avinash Gupta and the whole Women’s Empowerment Team.

The FIA President Dr. Avinash Gupta briefly addressed the gathering stressing values women bring to the family and society. he called the inspiration of the women as a “nutritional source” and called for standing together to build a society where every woman and girl gets the chance to achieve. He also thanked the women in FIA who :stand shoulder to shoulder” with the rest of FIA for every event. “Except, today, they did it all on their own,” Dr. Gupta said.  The sponsors of the event included Dr. Sudhir Parikh, chairman of Parikh Worldwide Media.

FIA Joins Indian Consulate in New York Celebrating International Women’s Day 2The celebration commenced with a welcoming Meet & Greet, followed by a digital showcase of the FIA’s history of furthering diversity and gender equality. Payal Shah, Co-chair of International Women’s Day, emceed the event.

The Consulate noted on X, formerly Twitter, that the occasion, “celebrated the achievements & indomitable spirit of women.”

Indian Consul General Binaya S. Pradhan presenting awards to women recipients at March 8, 2024, IWD celebrations hosted by FIA-NYNJCTNE. Clockwise, Megha Desai, Indu Lew, Neena Singh. PHOTO: X @IndiainNewYork.

The four women honored and recognized for their contributions included Radhikaraje Gaekwad, who was not present and had been presented the honor in her hometown in India; Mayor of Montgomery township Neena Singh, the first Indian American Sikh woman to win that position; Indu Lew, executive vice president and Chief of Staff of Robert Wood Johnson Barnabus Health; and Megha Desai, president of the Desai Foundation which has the goal of elevating health, livelihood and menstrual equity for women and children through community programs in rural India.

A portrait of awardee Radhikaraje Gaekwad broadcast on screen March 8, 2024, at the FIA event in the Indian Consulate. PHOTO: videograb Facebook @India in New YorkRadhikaraje Gaekwad was presented the honors from FIA in India. Seen with her are FIA representatives Ankur Vaidya,left and Srujal Parikh, right. PHOTO: FIA

India’s Consul General, Binaya Srikant Pradhan, in his speech, shared insights on the achievements of Indian woman and the government’s commitment to empowering them and India’s women-led development. He presented a sash with the honorees’ name, a trophy, as well as a bouquet to each woman, recognized.

The three awardees present in person, spoke to the audience about their ideas and vision, and all of them spoke about lifting the second generation of Indian American youth, and youth in India.

Mayor Singh, among other things, discussed one of the programs her administration is engaged in which encouragesFIA Joins Indian Consulate in New York Celebrating International Women’s Day 3 youth to be mentored in various departments in the Township “Representation matters,” Singh said, adding, “We are making a mark in this country.”

Indu Lew praised the other recipients of the FIA awards and thanked the organization for choosing her as one. In any industry, from entertainment to technology, she said, women bring a unique perspective, experience, and intelligence to bear on the issues. And in all cases, “Outcome far exceeds the expectation,” when a woman is leading. They are balancing so many balls, that even if by some chance, they drop one of them, it will be the one that bounces back, she said. Her motto “As we raise, we must rise,” emphasized that everyone has a responsibility to mentor and guide the next generation, and also their own colleagues. “I am proud to be an Indian American and to have this honor,” Lew said.

Megha Desai spelt out the goals of the Desai Foundation and its goal of achieving dignity for women. “What we mean by women’s empowerment is we shouldn’t have to be extraordinary in order to be empowered.” One can be ordinary and empowered, she emphasized, poor and empowered. She cited an example of a young woman who felt empowered in one of the Foundation’s projects. According to her, if the millions of women in India could be empowered, it would raise the GDP, improve healthcare, and other aspects of life.

IOC Inaugurates Karnataka Chapter to Further Bolster INC Efforts in Upcoming Lok Sabha Elections

On February 24, 2024, the Indian Overseas Congress USA confirmed the appointment of new officers for the Karnataka Chapter during their inaugural dinner ceremony held at the Five Star Banquet Hall, Long Island City, New York. This chapter will work under the leadership of Sri Rajiv Gowda, an experienced advocate who has dedicated his life to fighting for equality, fairness, and democratic principles.

Sri Harbachan Singh, Secretary General, IOC USA, opened the event with greetings and remarks, “Congratulations to Sri Rajiv Gowda, today marks a momentous occasion as we embark on this journey under your capable leadership. Your ability to assemble such outstanding team speaks volumes, and I am eager to witness the remarkable achievements that await us, especially with the Lok Sabha elections in the horizon. The upcoming Elections are particularly important, and we will communicate with each other to ensure we are in sync with the voters of India and support their yearnings for a change in the status quo. We need every voter to participate and support the Indian National Congress so democracy can be saved for everyone today and future generations.”

Vice Chairman of IOC USA, Sri George Abraham, addressed the gathering and highlighted India’s dire current political situation and the apparent threat to democracy and free and fair elections. Sri Abraham introduced the new president of the Karnataka Chapter and said, “It is my distinct pleasure to have the Karnataka Chapter officially on board to help us in the people’s fight to retake our beloved country from those who want to foster and facilitate discrimination, division, and a blatant disregard for freedom in our motherland.”

In his address via Zoom, IOC Global Chairman Sri Sam Pitroda offered a heartwarming congratulations and introduction. He said this chapter’s presence marks a particular moment in our collective mission, “I stand with unwavering pride to extend my heartfelt congratulations to you and your team. Your dedication has formed a new bedrock for the INC and is poised to be a loyal advocate for democracy in India. The Karnataka Chapter will resonate as a powerful voice, upholding the fundamental principles of democracy, justice, freedom, equality, fraternity, and secularism, regardless of caste, language, or religion.” Sri Pitroda specifically commented on the crucial timing as the INC is poised to shape the future of India, particularly in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. He said, “the recent Supreme Court ruling on electoral bonds, farmer unrest, and encroachments on civil liberties serve as stark reminders of the challenges facing Indian democracy. Yet, united as a cohesive force, we possess the power to cause meaningful change. Through our collaboration, we will thwart any further attempts to erode the democratic fabric of India.”

In a taped video message, Dr. Arathi Krishna, charge secretary of the All-India Congress Committee IOC, offered a warm welcome and congratulated Sri Rajiv Gowda. She said, “You are bringing a unique experience to the IOC USA family, and we are confident that the newly organized chapter will soar to success under your leadership. Karnataka’s decisiveness in the state elections sent a powerful message to the nation under the leadership of CM Sri Siddaramaiah and Deputy CM Sri D.K. Shivakumar. Our democracy is in crisis, and we must stand shoulder to shoulder to fight for a win in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.”

IOC USA President Sri Mohinder Singh Gilzian, who is in India on an important INC work via phone, congratulated Sri Rajiv Gowda and wished him and his team a successful inaugural event as you earnestly start working this election year.

Senior leaders Sri John Joseph- Sr. VP/IOC USA, Sri Baldev Randhav – VP/IOC USA, Malini Shah, VP/IOC USA, Sri Sharat Vemuganti- General Secretary/IOC USA, Rajeshwara Reddy – President Telangana Chapter, Ram Gadula -Chair Telangana Chapter, Amer Sing Gulshan- President Haryana Chapter, Leela Maret- President Kerala Chapter and Dr. Joshua Jaya Singh-President Tamil Nadu Chapter addressed the gathering and congratulated Sri Rajiv Gowda.

Sri Rajiv Gowda, the newly appointed president, thanked everyone for the opportunity to serve Indians everywhere and the tremendous responsibility he is ready for. In his remarks, Sri Rajiv Gowda said, “India is the largest democracy in the world and must stand as a beacon for all others who dream of living in a democratic country. As a democracy, we cannot be afraid of those who abuse the power given to them by the people. Instead, when they abuse that power, the people must take it back from them and give it to those that will strive to create a unified India, an India that can truly emerge on the global stage as a rights-respecting democracy.”

Yamuna Nagaraj and Thomas Matthews were appointed as General Secretary and Treasurer, while Manoj Mulki assumed the role as Joint Secretary. Abhishek Harish, Nivedita Chandrappa, Mohammad Sahada were appointed as members of the Executive Committee. Newly appointed Nikhil Thagdur- Joint Secretary, Indira Reddy – President, Mahila Congress, Govindaraj and Madhu Iyer – executive board members were unable to attend the event.

The event was packed with senior party officers, Kannada Association leaders and media outlets including Sakshi TV and TV Asia, progressed into lamp lighting, enchanting classical dance, Mysuru Jathi and Varaha Roopam by Mayuri Karanth, release of souvenir and vote of thanks by Thomas Matthews.

Tamil Nadu Foundation Celebrates Golden Jubilee

Tamil Nadu Foundation (TNF), established in 1974 in Baltimore, stands as the oldest and largest U.S.-based humanitarian organization dedicated solely to Tamil Nadu. Over the last 50 years, TNF has evolved as a social organization impacting the lives of less privileged children and families through Education, Women Empowerment, Rural Development and Health & Hygiene.

Over the past five decades, TNF Life Members, TNF Chapters, and TNF Convention donors have collectively supported over 700 projects, positively impacting more than 500,000 underprivileged individuals across Tamil Nadu. This includes providing aid to over 200,000 students in government schools through TNF’s flagship ABC education initiative, assisting over 60,000 victims of the 2015 floods, aiding more than 20,000 victims of Cyclone Gaja in 2018, and donating over 1 million USD during the challenging COVID-19 pandemic.

To commemorate TNF’s Golden Jubilee, a significant milestone, we are delighted to announce our celebratory event scheduled from May 24 to 26 in Rosemont, IL (Chicago), marking fifty years of our Foundation’s impactful journey.

TNF lifetime members and the Tamil diaspora are eager to celebrate their accomplishments, reflecting on our journey from a small group of visionaries to impacting over 250,000 children and families across 650 villages in Tamil Nadu. The event promises a rich blend of music, dance, and informative sessions, providing an opportunity to engage with our Youth Force, the future bearers of our mission, and to minimize administrative costs through event profits, ensuring that 100% of donor dollars directly benefit the beneficiaries in Tamil Nadu.

Event Highlights:

  • Grand Music Concert: Featuring the legendary “Isai Gnyani Illayaraja.”
  • Therukoothu: By Sangagiri Rajkumar with 260 participants (Attempting to make Guinness record).
  • “EGAI” Tamil Symphony: A spectacular musical event by Dr. Kanniks Kannikeswaran featuring over a hundred artists.
  • Fusion Dance Performance: Showcasing 150 local talents.
  • Tamil Isai – Featuring traditional Tamil musical instruments.
  • The Renowned YouTube – Village Cooking Channel Team.
  • Emerge 2024: An all-day Entrepreneurs Event sponsored by TNF and ATEA.
  • Youth Conference: Organized by young adults.
  • College Alumni Gathering: Expecting participation from over 25 colleges.
  • Districts Parade: Representing 38 districts from Tamil Nadu.
  • Other high-quality programs from TNF Chapters and local organizations.

Guests from various parts of North America and at least 50 other countries will converge to witness this mega event. Visit for more details.

Kolkata Dancer Shot Dead In Missouri

The Consulate General of India in Chicago promptly responded, expressing deep condolences and ensuring support for Ghosh’s family.

An Indian classical dancer was fatally shot on the evening of Feb. 27 in the St Louis Academy neighborhood in Missouri.

Amarnath Ghosh, a Bharatnatyam and Kuchupudi dancer from Kolkata, was reportedly shot mutiple times by an unknown assailant during his evening walk in the neighborhood. He was pursuing an MFA in Dance at the Washington University in Saint Louis.

The news was initially shared by noted television actor Devoleena Bhattacharjee, who expressed deep sorrow and urged the Indian Embassy to assist in claiming the body.

“Well, the reason, accused details, everything are not revealed yet or perhaps no one left in his family to fight for it except his few friends. He was from Kolkata, an excellent dancer, was pursuing a Ph.D., was taking an evening walk, and suddenly he was shot multiple times by an unknown,” her post on X read.

“Some friends in the US are trying to claim the body but still no update about it. @IndianEmbassyUS kindly see to it if you could. At least we should know the reason for his murder,” she added, tagging Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar.

The Consulate General of India in Chicago promptly responded, expressing deep condolences and ensuring support for Ghosh’s family. “Taken up the case strongly with St Louis police and the University for investigation of the reprehensible gun attack,” the consulate’s post said.

This tragic incident adds to a concerning trend of attacks against Indian nationals and people of Indian origin in the United States. The country witnessed a surge in such incidents, including the brutal killing of Haryana’s Vivek Saini in Georgia and the mysterious deaths of students Sameer Kamath, Akul Dhawan, and Neel Acharya.

The White House addressed the alarming situation, with John Kirby, coordinator for strategic communications at the National Security Council, stating, “There is no excuse for violence, certainly based on race or gender or religion or any other factor. That’s just unacceptable here in the United States.”

President Joe Biden’s administration is reportedly working tirelessly to prevent and disrupt such attacks, emphasizing the commitment to holding perpetrators accountable. In this context, the Consulate General assured that they are extending all possible help to the relatives of the deceased Amarnath Ghosh.

According to Ghosh’s website, he was pursuing a Master of Fine Arts in Dance at Washington University in Saint Louis. As investigations unfold, the artistic community mourns the loss of a talented dancer, and authorities work towards unraveling the circumstances of this tragic incident.

The Indian Panorama Celebrates 18th Year Of Publication At “Gratitude Gala”

The Indian Panorama, a weekly publication from New York, celebrated its 18th anniversary by hosting a Gratitude Gala on February 25 in Hicksville Long Island, NY.

Ambassador Ruchira Kamboj  honored four eminent Indian American, and Congressman Tom Suozzi, felicitated The Indian Panorama and its contributions.

The Indian Panorama Celebrates 18th Year Of Publication At “Gratitude Gala”For the news weekly’s Founding Editor and Publisher Prof Indrajit Singh Saluja, it was a double celebration as he also cut a cake for his 80th birthday. Editor-Publisher Indrajit S. Saluja thanked the patrons for their support and loyalty.

In a busy evening program, India’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Amb. Ruchira Kamboj presided and presented awards to the four honorees. Congressman-elect Tom Suozzi thanked Prof Saluja and the Indian community for their support. The Indian Panorama also lent its platform to launch Blitz India’s US edition.

Even as Prof Saluja expressed his heartfelt gratitude to the guests present in the chandeliered ballroom of Pearl Banquet Hall, as well as his readers and the Indian community for their loyal support all these years, he chose to honor four eminent Indian Americans at the event. All were honored with a citation scroll, a shawl, and a model of the Golden Temple.

The four honorees are well-known in the community. Dr. V.K. Raju (Life Achievement Honor) is on a mission to eliminate childhood blindness through his Eye Foundation of America.

Ranju Batra (Excellence in Promotion of Diplomacy Award) honors diplomats at the Diwali Stamp – Power of One awards after securing the Diwali Stamp from USPS.

Harry Singh Bolla (Excellence in Entrepreneurship Award)  runs a billion-dollar chain of gas stations and has started a charity to support good causes here in New York and India. He could not be present in person.

The Indian Panorama Celebrates 18th Year Of Publication At “Gratitude Gala” 1Purnima Desai (Excellence in Culture Award) is the founder of Shikshayatan Cultural Center and Sriniketan Foundation which encourage and support Indian music and arts through training and events.

They were also presented citations from Nassau County Executive  Bruce Blakeman.

Introducing the Chief Guest, eminent attorney Ravi Batra said Ambassador Ruchira Kamboj joined her post when India was already a Member of the UN Security Council and she took it to a higher trajectory.

Amb Kamboj, in her address, commended The Indian Panorama for not only being a mirror of the vibrant roots of our culture but also showcasing the journey of the Indian diaspora. She also called the US diaspora the best in the world.

The new Consul General of India in New York, Amb. Binaya S. Pradhan could not make it because of a conflict in scheduling.

Blitz India Chairman and Editor-in-Chief Deepak Dwivedi and CEO Sandeepp Saxena flew in from New Delhi for the US launch of their news weekly, which is India’s first chronicler of development news and already has a UK edition. The duo was joined by Prof Saluja and other dignitaries and mediapersons to release printed copies of the paper.

Two more media events followed. Journalists Beyond Borders (JBB), a fraternity organization founded by Prof Saluja in 2022, was formally launched. Local publishers and editors joined in to reveal its logo. Through journalism, JBB  aims to protect and promote human rights, human values, and world peace. Prof Saluja used the occasion to facilitate his friend Parveen Chopra on the first anniversary of his, a wellness and spirituality web magazine.

The Indian Panorama Celebrates 18th Year Of Publication At “Gratitude Gala” 2The guests at the gala included Padma Shri Dr Sudhir Parikh, Publisher of Parikh Media Worldwide, and Dilip Chauhan who represented NYC Mayor Eric Adams. Prominent Community organizations were represented: Gobind Munjal and Dr Jagdish Gupta from AIA, Dr Avinash Gupta, Srujal Parikh, and Alok Kumar from FIA-Tristate, and Thomas Abraham from GOPIO. IOC-USA was represented by George Abraham.

Veteran Sikh community leader Master Mohinder Singh, a former president of Gurdwara Sikh Cultural Society, Richmond Hill, and a founder President of Gurdwara Baba Makhan Shah Sikh Center was present with Gurmej Singh, a former president of Gurdwara Baba Makhan Shah Lobana.

The media fraternity stood in solidarity with Prof. Saluja. They included: Sunil Hali (Promoter, Radio Zindagi, and Publisher, The Indian Eye), Sharanjit Singh Thind (Editor-Publisher, South Asian Insider), and Varinder Bhalla  (Publisher, Bollywood Insider).

The standing-room-only audience was hooked to the show beginning with the very first item when two lithe dancers from Battery Dance took to the floor. The last item was the adrenaline-pumping bhangra dance. In between, dancers trained by Shilpa Jhurani and Rimli Roy showed their classical moves. The artists were profusely applauded by the audience and thanked by Prof. Saluja.

The evening’s program was dexterously emceed by Piya Jyoti Kachroo, ITV anchor and producer.

The sumptuous dinner with a top-of-the-shelf bar was enjoyed by the guests.  Prof. Saluja expressed his heartfelt thanks to Pearl CEO Gary Sikka and his staff for the excellent food and hospitality.

The Indian Panorama Celebrates 18th Year Of Publication At “Gratitude Gala” 3Those at the event from the electronic media included Pardeep Gill from Global Punjab, Munish Byala, and Gurinder Hothi. Photographers included Mohammed Jaffer, Vijay Shah and Kripa Prasad.

Guests came from various parts of the US and even India. They included  Bidisha Roy, Assistant Editor of The Indian Panorama (TIP) from Tampa, Florida, Zia Khan, a celebrated photographer who looks after TIP’s Dallas edition, and Parminder Singh Aujla, TIP’s California representative, from Sacramento.

Politician Puneet Ahluwalia came from Virginia, social activist Murtaza from Pennsylvania. Harry Singh Panaser, Mrs. Manjit Kaur Panaser,  Harvenderpal Singh, Seema Jagtiani, Nutan Dabholkar, Dave Makkar, Mrs. Rashmi Makkar, Prachi and Surya Makkar, Rimli Roy, Rupinder Singh, and many more from New Jersey.

From India came Arminder Arora and his wife Tript Arora, Sparsh and Bhola.

Prof Indrajit Saluja has become synonymous with The Indian Panorama, a labor of love. He is not only an eminent editor but also a well-respected community leader who has forged links across the ethnic, ideological, and political spectrum.

For Prof Saluja, his paper is an expression and extension of his love for India as well as a platform to project the rich South Asian culture and how our successful community has made a place in the melting pot of America. A trilingual, he has also helped start newspapers in Hindi and Punjabi.

Indefatigable Prof Saluja’s spirit and intensity of work belie his years. He came to the US over 20 years ago after having a long career as a Professor of English Literature at leading colleges in India. Alongside, he founded a prominent monthly magazine titled ‘Punjab Beat’.

Prof Saluja feels proud that The Indian Panorama has remained true to its motto, EVER TRUTHFUL”. “This commitment is not just a slogan but a guiding principle, a promise to our readers, and a testament to the collective effort that sustains the publication,” he insists.

(Parveen Chopra is the founder-editor of, the premier wellness and spirituality magazine started in 2022.)

8 March, 2024: The Plaque set in Arijejen, Nauru

When Father was called into the office of the Republic of Nauru Hospital, he had no idea he was being given an award that had been bestowed on him by the government of Australia. In major countries like Australia or the US, or even in relatively bigger countries like Fiji, in comparison to Nauru, it was common to give awards or titles to doctors to commemorate their hard work and improve their morale. Father knew of these things happening in practice, but he had never expected getting anything like that himself because it wasn’t customary in Nauru. People weren’t really recognised in general. They spent their time watching the sunset from the silty coastline outside of their houses, fishing, chatting for hours with their relatives or neighbours, and getting drunk when they were younger or getting high off of the Gospel when they were older.

They lived their life, let it be lived, and didn’t think much about what they were doing.

So, when Father came into the office and noticed one of the people who worked for administration unwrapping bubble wrap off of a plaque, he was curious. The plaque appeared to be made out of wood, but it was covered with a gold plating. Whether it was fake or real, Father did not know. But then he saw what was written in a black font at the top.

Community Care Excellence 2023, Dr Bruno Neneiya 

His name was Bruno Neneiya. And underneath that was a signature of a Mr Robin White and the name of a medical association based in Australia. Father felt a pang in the deepest parts of his chest, but then the emotion that followed after was resounding, filling, warm. He was being recognised, and from a foreign institution, and it had all been unprompted, unasked for. The happiness that was flooding Father was almost overwhelming. He thought he was going to cry, though he didn’t.

The hospital administrator handed him the plaque, saying with a dull smile, ‘Congrats.’ Father noticed how glassy his eyes were. It was the same lifeless look he had had last year when Father had given his presentation, arguing how the hospital could improve their services by buying more modern medical equipment and giving salary increases to workers. Father always remembered how the administrator had put on a smile, thanked Father for his hard work, then waddled away to close the door on him after saying that the administration would take the time to think about it. They never gave a response, and Father accepted that this was the most likely outcome. But it certainly felt good, seeing a plaque coming from one of the NGOs Father had been writing to to ask for advice on how to improve the medical infrastructure for his island country.

Father touched the plaque. The written imprint felt rough on his fingers, almost like he were touching pebbles. Yet the wooden frame was so smooth, as if it hadn’t been made out of real wood or the kinds of woods Father was used to touching. He turned the plaque to see his name written in gold. He couldn’t help but smile. Then he just as quickly turned off his smile when his administrator came over to his side, his three double chins melting into one mass of fat as he glared at it.

There was no fancy celebration or ceremony. This was the only hospital on the island, and they didn’t really celebrate things like this. The administrator asked his assistant to take a picture of the two of them holding the plaque and smiling so that he could send it back to the organisation who had awarded him. They would make a social media post on behalf of the hospital. Father and the administrator held hands for the photo, but the moment after the agreeable picture was taken, the administrator let go of his hand. The fake smiles went away, and the administrator’s face returned to being lifeless. He was probably wondering when he would have his next sandwich, Father thought. Father only wished he could become a little more inspired, have a little more jealousy so as to wonder how he could do better and improve his service to the hospital to win awards like this in the future.

It bothered Father, but it also did not. He let himself enjoy the smoothness of the plaque in his hands. He thought about how his wife would feel upon seeing the plaque. She would smile at him all night and give him a warm kiss on the neck and cuddle with him in bed as they beheld the plaque on the wall.

And then he thought about how his own mother, who was now staying at home with them, would react. His mother had always been proud of him for being the most educated person in their household, and for generously sending money back home to support her and his brothers. But he had never won an award, had never been recognised so publicly for his work. Now his mother had dementia and probably wouldn’t understand the importance of it.

But Father imagined a version of his mother from a few years ago, that beautifully active, bronzed woman who kept her grey hair in a tightly knit bun and her full body in a red flower dress. This was the version of his mother who’d pace up and down the kitchen waiting for a call from her grandson. This was the version of his mother who’d spend all morning flipping the fish on the grill to make sure it would not get burnt, only toasted. He imagined this version of his mother holding the plaque, crying because she was so proud of her son, holding him in a way she had never done when she was lucid enough to do such things. Father imagined himself telling this version of his mother that he would have never been able to do any of this without her support, and that he loved her.

How he wished he could have had this moment with his mother.

Father held this plaque for some time, then he put it back in its bubble wrap. The time to celebrate was over. It wouldn’t be until the evening when his shift ended and he would be able to show it to his loved ones.

Student-Curated Exhibition Celebrates South Asian American Youth Voices in Connecticut

The Indian Cultural Center (ICC) of the University of Connecticut’s Asian and Asian American Studies Institute (AAASI) recently presented its second annual student-curated exhibition at the Historical Society Museum Lobby in collaboration with the Greenwich Historical Society.

Entitled ‘My Story Our Future: South Asian American Youth Voices in Connecticut’, the exhibition showcased personal oral family histories and associated artifacts. Mihir Shah, a sophomore at Greenwich High School, shared, “My grandparents lived in India, and they made a lot of sacrifices to be sure my father would have a better life in America,” as reported by Greenwich Time.

Shah and his peers undertook an extensive oral history initiative, conducting interviews with family members and gathering significant items and mementos for display.

The exhibit premiered on February 4, attended by families, community members, and various government officials, as noted by Greenwich Sentinel. It was open to the public from February 13 to February 25.

At the opening reception, ICC founders Nisha Arora, Mudita Bhargava, and Meera Gilbert served as guest speakers. They elucidated the ICC’s mission and activities aimed at fostering cultural education and community engagement. Arora underscored the significant contributions individuals of Indian heritage were making to American society, citing leading roles in major corporations such as Google, Microsoft, IBM, and Starbucks.

The exhibition sought to gather and share narratives pertaining to the identity of South Asian American youth in Connecticut, aligning with the state’s mandated K-12 Asian American/Pacific Islander (AAPI) curriculum.

During the autumn of 2023, student participants engaged in learning sessions focused on interviewing family members regarding their experiences as immigrants from South Asia to North America. These sessions were conducted under the guidance of faculty from the AAASI at UConn.

Moreover, students deliberated on their own identities as South Asian Americans, reflecting on how their family narratives of life in India and migration to the United States influenced their sense of self. These interviews, central to the ‘My Story Our Future’ initiative, will also inform the development of the K-12 AAPI curriculum, slated for introduction in 2025.

GAPI Volunteer Clinic in Atlanta Expands Healthcare Services In Collaboration With SEWA

“There are several chronic diseases that if identified at initial stages can prevent catastrophic life-threatening events among people,” says Dr. Sreeni Gangasani, current national Treasurer of the American Associations of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI), past President of Georgia Associations of Physicians of Indian Origin (GAPI) and the Director, GAPI Volunteer Clinic. Dr. Gangasani, who is a cardiologist by profession, understands the risks to individuals, their families, the nation, and the larger community by unidentifying and preventable illnesses such as Diabetes, High Blood Pressure, various Cancers, Heart Disease, Stroke, and Liver Disease.

With the objective of helping and supporting the local community in Atlanta, especially those who are uninsured, living in poverty, and immigrants with no way of finding quality and affordable healthcare, GAPI has decided to collaborate with SEWA to expand the GAPI Volunteer Clinic in Atlanta and make its services available to maximum number of people who need healthcare.

GAPI“GAPI Volunteer Clinic in Atlanta recently started working with SEWA volunteers to serve Hispanic and other underserved communities along with Indian and South Asian patients,” says Dr. Gangasani. “At present, the clinic is open first and third Saturdays, and we have plans to open the clinic every Saturday if volunteer physicians are available,” says Dr. Gangasani.

Dr. Gangasani while describing the origins of the Clinic said, “Following the astounding success of the SAI Health Fairs initiated by Dr. Sujatha Reddy, where thousands of poor, uninsured, and underinsured in the community received free and effective health care, GAPI’s past Presidents thought of extending the services through the GAPI Volunteer Clinic.”

GAPI Volunteer Clinic was started in 2010 at the Global Mall to help uninsured patients in the Metro Atlanta region after the GAPI Executive Committee decided in 2009 and was opened by then-congressman Tom Price. GAPI was established in 1987 and it has more than 800 members and over 300 Life members. It is well known for rendering sterling services in health care to the community.

GAPI CLINIC 2As the director of the GAPI volunteer clinic since 2010, Dr. Gangasani says, “I just wanted to take a moment to express how grateful I am to work at the GAPI clinic. It is truly a blessing to be able to provide medical care to those who may not otherwise have access to it. The gratitude that our patients express when they are seen is truly heartwarming and makes all the hard work worth it. I feel good knowing that I am making a positive impact in the lives of others. Thank you to all the dedicated staff and volunteers who make this possible.”

Dr. Gangasani says, on average over a dozen patients turn up at the clinic. All of them are uninsured or underinsured or visitors to Atlanta or seniors from India visiting their family members. Some seek urgent help during emergencies and are recommended to seek the clinic’s help. He is hopeful that he would like more people to come to the clinic. Spring is already here, so there will be many visitors and visiting relatives from India. It is vital that the community knows about GAPI Volunteers Clinic and makes good use of it.

Recalling the many lives he was able to touch during his 15-year-long association with the Clinic, Dr. Gangagasni said, “One of my best moments was identifying a tongue cancer in a clinic patient without insurance, who subsequently traveled to India and got the surgery done with a cure.”

GAPI CLINIC 1During Covid, the clinic was closed and referred for free telehealth consultations by telehealth companies like Eglobaldoctors who helped many patients during difficult times. Now that the pandemic is behind us, the organizers of the Clini want to expand the services and help more patients who are in need of healthcare.

In addition to 2-3 physicians being available at the clinic on Saturdays, the collaboration with SEWA, which has a wider network of volunteers will help in having adequate staffing to the clinic with Nursing, Managing Front Desk, and Follow-up services/referrals.

Talks are on with the Georgia Indian Nurses Association (GINA) who provide volunteer nurses to the clinic. If each of the GAPI’s more than 800 members volunteer his or her services for four hours a month, the Clinic will run smoothly.

The clinic has been approved for free EMR by clinical works. EMR (Electronic Medical Record) was installed and updated so that physicians can use it to provide better patient care. Run by GAPI volunteer physicians with the state of Georgia community health program support, Malpractice Insurance coverage to the physicians is covered by the Georgia state.

GAPI CLINIC 3Dr. Gangasani urged GAPI physicians and nurses to step up to the plate and volunteer for a few hours at the clinic. GAPI volunteer free clinic is available at the Global Mall for people with no Insurance and low income. Free Primary care consultation is available for the family. The leaders of the Clinic are working on getting discounted rates at pharmacies.

Services Available:

Minimal cost for lab work
Discounted rate for medications and Flu shots (in season).
Referral to Specialists at a discounted fee.


5675 Jimmy Carter Blvd
Suite 736
Norcross, GA. 30071
(Inside the Global Mall)

Time of Operations:

Open on the 1st and 3rd Saturday of every month from 1:00 PM – 4:00 PM.

Dr Gangasani requests the members of the community to come forward to help with successfully running the clinic. If anyone with a Georgia license wants to help and be part of this noble initiative, please contact Dr. Gangasani via email at: [email protected]

5 Eminent Indian Americans To Be Honored At The Indian Panorama’s 18th-Year Gala

The Indian Panorama is celebrating its 18th year of publication with a Gratitude Gala on February 25 in a grand way. Says its Founding Editor and Publisher Prof Indrajit Singh Saluja, “I want to say my heartfelt thanks to our readers, friends, supporters, and advertisers for the love and support they have blessed us with all these years.”

Prof Indrajit Saluja has become synonymous with his weekly newspaper, a labor of love. He is not only an eminent editor but also a well-respected community leader who has forged links across the ethnic, ideological and political spectrum. His friends, supporters, and who’s who of the community are set to grace the gala at the glittering Pearl Banquet Hall in Hicksville not only to felicitate The Indian Panorama but also to wish him a long life on his 80th birthday.


Presiding the delightful event will be Hon. Ruchira Kamboj, India’s Ambassador to the United Nations, the first woman diplomat to hold that position.

The new Consul General of India in New York, Amb. Binaya Srikanta Pradhan will be offered a welcome toast by the community at the event.

The newly elected Congressman, Mr Tom Suozzi, whom the Indian Panorama endorsed on the first day of his campaign, has promised ‘my loyal friend’ Prof Saluja that he will be there to personally thank Long Island’s Indian community, with whom he has forged bonds over the years.


The four eminent people to be honored at the gala with whom The Indian Panorama has had a long association, are:

  • Dr V.K. Raju – Life Achievement award. The President and Founder of the Eye Foundation of America, he has a mission to eliminate childhood blindness from the world. He has helped start two eye hospitals in India and held free eye camps in 30 developing countries.
  • Ms Ranju Batra – Excellence in Promotion of Diplomacy Award.  She is the Chairperson of Diwali Foundation USA which holds the Diwali Stamp – Power of One awards event at the UN every year to honor diplomats. She also led the campaign to get USPS to release the Diwali stamp.
  • Mr Harry Singh Bolla – Excellence in Entrepreneurship Award. He is the Founder and CEO of Bolla Oil Corporation which runs a chain of gas stations and convenience stores in the New York area. Through his Bolla Charity Foundation, he gives back to the community here and extends help to the needy in India.

·         Mrs Purnima Desai — Excellence in Culture Award. As Founder and President of Shikshayatan Cultural Center and Sriniketan Foundation, she has been instrumental in encouraging and supporting Indian culture through music and arts training and events. She has also produced and directed over a thousand cultural programs.

US launch of Blitz India

The Indian Panorama’s gala event will also get an international sheen. The US edition of Blitz India will be jointly launched by its Chairman and Editor-in-Chief, Deepak Dwivedi, CEO Sandeepp Saxena, and Prof Saluja. Blitz India, the country’s first chronicler of development news, has several editions in India and was launched in the UK last year.

At the event for the ages, Prof Saluja will also introduce, launched by his friend, Parveen Chopra, exactly a year ago at the Indian Consulate. Lotus is a web magazine presenting free content on wellness and spirituality, a first by an Indian American.

The attendees at the gala will also be welcomed and entertained with both traditional Indian and contemporary touches.

Indefatigable Prof Saluja

For Prof Saluja, The Indian Panorama is an expression and extension of his love for India as well as a platform to project the rich South Asian culture and how our successful community has made a place in the melting pot of America. A trilingual, he has also helped start newspapers in Hindi and Punjabi.

Started 18 years ago in New York, The Indian Panorama also has a Dallas edition now. It reaches the Indian diaspora in the entire US and the world. Its editorial content is the right mix of community news as well as Indian and American current affairs.

Indefatigable Prof Saluja’s spirit and intensity of work belie his years. He came to the US over 20 years ago after having a long career as a Professor of English Literature at leading colleges in India. Alongside, he founded a prominent monthly magazine titled ‘Punjab Beat’.

Robert Frost’s words “The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have miles to go before I sleep”, aptly characterize Prof. Saluja’s journey in life.

(Parveen Chopra is a seasoned journalist with an entrepreneurial spirit. He founded in 2022 as a social enterprise.)

Report On India Exposes Transnational Repression and Online Censorship of Minorities

On World Social Justice Day this year, the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF) unveiled a pioneering report titled, Virtually Vulnerable: Exposing the Human Cost of Digital Harassment. This in-depth study examines the escalating problem of online harassment and censorship, specifically targeting the Sikh diaspora and allied communities like secular Hindus, Indian Muslims, and Dalits.

The report traces the evolution of digital censorship against all non-Hindu supremacist advocates and leaders in the 2020s, offering a detailed analysis of the sophisticated methods used to silence minority voices online. It highlights the troubling practices of Big Tech, specifically social media firms in censoring content under the guise of preserving national integrity, often resulting in the shadow banning and deletion of community-based social media accounts.

Key sections of the report include:

  • Online Harassment and the BJP IT Cell: Analyzing the role of the Bharatiya Janata Party in controlling online narratives.
  • Censorship of the Sikh Diaspora: Documenting the trends in misinformation and suppression of Sikh voices on significant dates and events–by SALDEF.
  • Silencing Dissent: Examining the strategic misinformation campaign against various minority groups, including Indian Muslim and progressive Hindu communities–by the Indian-American Muslim Council (IAMC) and Hindus for Human Rights (HHR).
  • Big Tech’s Failure to Protect Caste Equity: Discussing the manipulation of technology by nationalist groups and the implications for caste equity–by Equality Labs.

In addition to detailing these critical issues, SALDEF and our co-authors of “Virtually Vulnerable” present a series of policy recommendations aimed at promoting transparency, accountability, and collaboration between tech companies and democracy-oriented nonprofits. These recommendations are geared towards mitigating international censorship and supporting the rights of free speech for diasporic communities.Report On India Exposes Transnational Repression and Online Censorship of Minorities

“This report goes beyond simply highlighting the challenges faced by the Sikh diaspora; it serves as a clear call to action,” said Kavneet Singh, SALDEF Acting Executive Director. “We must urgently address the lack of transparency and accountability in the digital realm to safeguard the fundamental human and civil rights of all communities.”

“As the US government grows increasingly concerned about India’s escalating transnational repression, it is important to understand that this issue has roots in India’s ongoing abuse of online platforms against religious minorities and dissenters,” said Safa Ahmed, Associate Director of Media and Communications for IAMC. “This report offers critical recommendations to the US government on how to better protect Indian Americans from being targeted by the Modi regime online.”

“’Virtually Vulnerable’ sheds crucial light on the insidious ways digital harassment is employed against minority voices, including those in the Hindu community who stand for secular and democratic values. This report not only exposes these harmful practices but also provides vital policy recommendations. It’s essential that we come together to ensure that digital platforms are spaces of free expression and not tools of oppression.” said Sunita Viswanath, Executive Director, HFHR.

“We are currently witnessing the digitization of caste apartheid, violent disinformation campaigns, and an era of surveillance capitalism exacerbated by right-wing authoritarianism. Caste-oppressed people have a right to advocate for their communities without the fear of being attacked and targeted by foreign state actors. This report is a critical look into the correlations between Big Tech, civil rights advocacy, and repression of dissent, and anyone concerned with free and ethical digital spaces should pay attention to it,” said Thenmozhi Soundararajan, Executive Director of Equality Labs, the nation’s leading Dalit civil rights organization.

The report is available for download on the SALDEF website, as well as those of our partners, and is a must-read for policymakers, human rights activists, and anyone interested in the intersection of technology, human rights, and minority representation.

For more information or to request an interview with the authors of the report, please contact Amrita Kular, Communications Director at (202) 393-2700 | [email protected]

NY Consulate Celebrates India’s 75th Republic Day

The 75th Republic Day of India was celebrated in Consulate General of India, New York with a flag hoisting ceremony on Thursday, January 26th 2024.

Consul General Mr. Binaya Srikanta Pradhan unfurled the national flag. Over 150 members of Indian American community and friends of India joined as the national anthem were sung. Consul General then read out the Address of the President of India which she had delivered on the eve of India’s Republic Day. A short cultural program of patriotic songs was presented by Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan.

A large number of members of Indian diaspora and friends of India participated in the
celebration filling the hall with patriotic fervor. New Jersey State Senator, Mr. Raj Mukherji graced the occasion with his presence and spoke about the strong US-India partnership.

Artists from Bharatiya Vidya bhavan presented Patriotic songs. The event was webcast live through the Consulate’s social media platforms.

NY Consulate Celebrates India’s 75th Republic DayIn the evening, Consul General hosted a reception which was attended by prominent members of the diaspora, elected officials, members of the diplomatic corps, friends from media and people from different walks of life. Among the esteemed guests were Congressman Michael Lawler, Mayor of Edison Township Mr. Sam Joshi, and senior diplomats and officers from NYC Mayor’s office and NY State Governor’s office.

A video messages conveying congratulations on the 75th Republic Day were played from notable figures, including New York State Governor Ms. Kathy Hochul, Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick, etc.

The program included a video showcasing the Consulate’s activities across the ten states in the northeast U.S. The event also saw vibrant cultural performances from young but very talented artist, Ms. Maheshwari Jagabattula and a captivating performance from Grammy award winner, Ms. Falu Shah. Guests were then treated to a delightful Indian dinner, featuring a diverse array of regional cuisines from various parts of India. The celebration embodied the spirit of unity, diversity, and shared heritage, marking a memorable Republic Day for all in attendance.

GOPIO-CT Chapter Raises Funds For CIRI, FUTURE 5 And Women’s Mentoring Network

GOPIO-CT chapter organized a fundraiser at its Holiday Party on December 15th to benefit Connecticut Institute for Refugees and Immigrants (CIRI), a statewide nonprofit organization that assists refugees and immigrants. It was one of most successful Holiday Party and fundraising for charities. With a full house and overflowing, the chapter raised $5,000 and the check was presented to CIRI President and CEO Susan Schnitzer.

GOPIO-CT also presented checks to two other charities with similar amounts, Future 5 and Women’s Mentoring Network. These two later groups have been supported by GOPIO-CT since 2016.

The Holiday Party started with President Dr. Jaya Daptardar with a welcome speech. GOPIO-CT Board Member Prof. Sujatha Gadkar-Wilcox, who is a professor Quinnipiac University, was recognized for being appointed by Governor Ned Lamont as a Commissioner at Connecticut Human Rights Commission. constitution and international law.

GOPIO-CT honored its Past President Anita Bhat at the Holiday Party with Liberty Award 2023 for community leadership and for her services to GOPIO for over a dozen years. This was to be presented earlier at the India Independence Day Celebrations in August but she was not available at that time. Anita said that GOPIO-CT is doing a great job in community service.

GOPIO-CT has reelected the team for 2024 at the General Body Meeting held before the Holiday Party. The new team members are President Dr. Jaya Daptardar, Executive Vice President Mahesh Jhangiani, Vice President Prachi Narayan, Secretary Sushanth Krishnamurthy, Associate Secretary Ashvini Persaud and Treasurer Srinivas Akarapu. The General Body also elected Dr. Thomas Abraham and Totty Narang to the two open positions of Trustees. Continuing Trustees are Shelly Nichani (Chair), Joe Simon, Shailesh Naik and Prasad Chintalapudi. Up to 11 new Board Members will be appointed by the Executive Council.

A musical evening followed and was organized by GOPIO-CT President Daptardar and was compered by Board Member Sonali Gannu.
Singers at the evening were Raashmi Sathe, Anant Nimkarde, Sachin and Shilpa Kulkarni, Leena Damle, along with DJ Ryan Persaud. A sumptuous Indian dinner followed.

Photo below:
Top left: Anita Bhat (in the middle) being presented with Liberty Award 2023. From the left, Past Presidents Sangeeta Ahuja and Shelly Nichani along with in the right GOPIO Chairman Dr. Thomas Abraham and GOPIO-CT President Dr. Jaya Daptardar; Top right: CIRI President Susan Schnitzer accepting a check from GOPIO-CT Trustee Chair Shelly Nichani, flanked by GOPIO EC and Board Members and Trustees; Bottom left: Future 5 Executive Director Amanda Dubois-Mwake receiving a check from GOPIO-CT Treasurer Srinivas Akarapu; and Women’s Mentoring Network Executive Director Lana Gifas accepting a check from GOPIO-President Jaya Daptardar and Treasurer Srinivas Akarapu.

GOPIO International Announces Convention to be Held in April

Executives of the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO) and representatives of community and professional organizations, held a kick-off planning meeting to launch GOPIO 2024 Global Convention of People of Indian Origin which is scheduled to be held in April 26-28 in Royal Albert’s Palace in Fords, NJ. The planning meeting was held Jan. 28, 2024, at the same venue.

The April convention will focus on “India’s Present and the Future” and what role the diaspora Indians can play in helping to realize this desirable future. The theme of the convention is ‘Opportunities for Diaspora Indians in India’s Big Manifest Future.’ GOPIO Executive Council has appointed New Jersey businessman Prakash Shah as the Convention Convener.

GOPIO International Announces Convention to be Held in April 2At the planning meeting, Shah said, “Lauding the positive optimistic vision prevailing in India, presents opportunity to invest in India which provides the best and biggest opportunity in the World. The Bombay Stock Exchange has just crossed $4 Trillion and has overtaken Hong Kong to become third largest in the world. While India needs the 35 million Diaspora to invest, it is an incredible opportunity for the Diaspora to prosper.”

Apart from Prakash Shah, 50-member convention committee includes Dr. Asha Samant as Co-Convener, Chitranjan Belwariar as Secretary and Srinivas Akarapu as Treasurer. Committee Chairs include the following: Awards – Lal Motwani, Finance/Fundraising – Siddarth Jain, Reception – Hemant Patel, Souvenir Brochure – Jigar Shah with Dinesh Mittal and Lal Motwani as advisor, Volunteers – Bharat Rana, Publicity/PR – Rohit Vyas with Vijay Shah as Media Representative/Adviser, Registration – Dhananjay Desai, Banquet – Dr Rajeev Mehta, Additional Trips and Events – Shatrughan Dawani. Conference Sessions are chaired by Vasu Pawar for Youth, Dr. Thomas Abraham for Diaspora Indians in Technologies and AI, Dr. Asha Samant for Medical and Health and Prakash Shah for Networking Business through GOPIO Chamber of Commerce.

GOPIO President Lal Motwani, who had earlier served as the Convener of GOPIO convention in New York in 2016, said, “We are doing this major event in the USA after 8 years, this time in New Jersey. This is a big opportunity for our vibrant community in the Tr- State Area and in the USA to participate and help with this very Important event for the 35 million strong Indian Diaspora.”

GOPIO Chairman Dr. Thomas Abraham spoke about the history of GOPIO and its accomplishments since the formation of GOPIO in 1989, implementation of the resolutions passed by the First GOPIO Convention which included issues of Dual Nationality and Voting Rights for NRIs, demands already met by New Delhi.

GOPIO Vice President Ram Gadhavi who served as the Co-Convener of the First Global Convention in 1989, urged younger GOPIO members to not only become actively engaged, but to consider leading the organization into the future.

The GOPIO Convention will also be a fun event, with some side trips (including optional trips to New York City, Atlantic City and Washington DC).

Five conference sessions are planned at the convention, Diaspora Youth and Young Achievers and the role they can play in India’s Future and how GOPIO can facilitate their participation; Diaspora Women and their Growing Contributions in Various Sectors; Technologies and AI and other Innovations: Diaspora Indians Leading Research and Innovations; GOPIO Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Worldwide Networking of the Diaspora Businesses; and Medical and Health Issues and how Diaspora Indians can Participate in India’s Frontline Role in Pharmaceuticals, Vaccines and Medical Tourism and in Propagating YOGA and its Benefits.

The nearest airport is Newark, New Jersey, so GOPIO is making arrangements for pick-up.  Those arriving at John F. Kennedy Airport or LaGuardia Airport, could take a shuttle to Newark Airport to be picked up.

As part of the convention program, GOPIO is arranging a trip to the Capitol Hill in Washington DC on Monday April 29th to lobby Congressional Representatives on House Resolution 6542 “To amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to eliminate the per-country numerical limitation for employment-based immigrants, to increase the per-country numerical limitation for family sponsored immigrants, and for other purposes.”

GOPIO advised overseas delegates attending the convention to register first before invitation letter for visa is sent out. Those who want to apply for a US visa may write to Prakash Shah at [email protected] or contact him at +1 908-267-5021 or contact Lal Motwani at + 516-581-3332.

FIA Chicago Hosts Largest Republic Day Celebrations In USA

The Federation of Indian Associations, Chicago (FIA), elevated the celebration of India’s Republic Day to new heights on January 28th, at the prestigious Matrix Club in Chicago. This momentous occasion, dedicated to honoring the adoption of the Constitution of India, transcended expectations through a symphony of grand celebrations, patriotic fervor, and a vibrant tapestry showcasing the rich cultural diversity of the nation. The 2024 Republic Day festivities orchestrated by FIA were a testament to the organization’s unwavering commitment to excellence, featuring a diverse array of events, impactful community service initiatives, and a spectacular grand show that unequivocally underscored India’s profound unity in diversity.

FIA Chicago Hosts Largest Republic Day Celebrations In USA 3
Picture: Asian Media USA

A noteworthy highlight of the evening was a breathtaking performance by acclaimed artists from India, led by the talented Shahid Rafi, the son of the legendary Padmashree Mohammad Rafi, revered as the Greatest Voice in Indian Cinema. The evening not only celebrated the heritage of the Indian Republic but also served as a beacon of cultural brilliance and artistic prowess.

The inaugural moments of the event unfolded in the timeless Indian tradition, symbolizing the illumination of knowledge and wisdom through the ceremonial lighting of the lamp. Standing as custodians of this symbolic act were luminaries of FIA: Founder and Chairman Sunil Shah, President Vinita Gulabani, President Pratibha Jairath, and esteemed past presidents, each contributing to the collective radiance. In keeping with FIA’s commitment to inclusivity, the stage beckoned all Advisory Board members, Directors, and Members, to partake in this auspicious initiation.

The grandeur of the main event was ushered in by the dynamic presence of FIA’s General Secretary, Nilabh Dubey, seizing the stage to a resounding applause that echoed through the venue. Nilabh Dubey, set the tone by introducing the evening’s main MCs by his eloquent articulation that offered a glimpse into the diverse talents that define FIA, specifically that highlighted the professional achievements of the evening’s MCs. The spotlight of the evening shifted seamlessly to the captivating presence of the main MCs, Anu Malhotra and Suchitra Kukreja, who effortlessly took command of the stage, igniting the atmosphere with great excitement.

FIA Chicago Hosts Largest Republic Day Celebrations In USA 4
Picture: Asian Media USA

Inviting Founder Chairman Sunil Shah to share his insights, Sunil Shah, in his smooth style, painted a vivid picture of FIA’s pivotal role in uniting the diaspora in and around Chicago land over the past several years, including expanding into neighboring states. Sunil Shah eloquently articulated the organization’s vision and mission, setting the stage for a night of celebration and reflection.

Past President Vinita Gulabani, gracing the stage, highlighted the remarkable achievements of 2023, emphasizing the phenomenal growth from 58 to over 160 members—a testament to a staggering 300 percent increase in funding, event sizes, and the number of events hosted. Current President Pratibha Jairath, invited to the stage by Anu Malhotra, expressed gratitude to the Executive members and outlined her ambitious plan for 2024. In a groundbreaking move, she introduced an additional event focusing on Animal Medical Welfare and Care, reiterating FIA’s commitment to diverse and impactful community engagement.

The stage then welcomed the esteemed Chief Guest for the evening, Consulate General Somnath Ghosh, who spoke passionately about the relevance of India’s Republic Day to the Indian Diaspora, conveying key messages from the President of India to the captivated audience.

In a poignant moment, FIA’s Advisory Board members, instrumental in the organization’s decade-long growth, took center stage. Syed Hussaini, Manish Gandhi, Asha Oroskar, Pinky Thakkar, Lakhvir Sahota, Dr. Anuja Gupta, Dr. Bhupinder Beri, Dr. Suresh Reddy, Nimish Jani, Shrujal Patel, Sushma Bhanot, Shital Daftari, and Jasbir Suga shared their perspectives on FIA’s contributions to the community, underscoring the collective impact made month after month.

The culmination of this segment gave way to an exhilarating and patriotic performance, as children from the Atharv Dance Academy, unleashing a foot-stomping patriotic dance that echoed the spirit of the evening.

The festivities included bestowal of awards and honors upon exceptional individuals who have left an indelible mark on the community across diverse fields. Founder Chairman Sunil Shah, President Vinita Gulabani, President Pratibha Jairath, and Consulate General Somanth Ghosh, graced the occasion to present these accolades. The luminaries acknowledged for their unwavering generosity in both time and funding, breathing vitality into numerous remarkable FIA and community initiatives, were Sudhir and Archana Agarwal, Pinky & Dinesh Thakkar, Chintan & Digna Patel, Chirag Patel, Sunny Patel, Arjun Patel, Manish & Shailja Gandhi, Suketu Amin, Kunal Sarangi (ex-MLA), Naresh Shah, Dr. Bhupinder Beri, and Jayanti Oza. The dynamic duo MCs, Anu Malhotra and Suchitra Kukreja, brought their collective expertise to the forefront, turning the award ceremony into a flawless celebration of community service and contribution.

Jaspreet Kharbanda, the CFO of Dabur USA, took us on a heartfelt journey to India, not just through geography but through the senses, creating an immersive experience. In a gesture that transcended the ordinary, he generously treated all attendees to the rich flavors of Badshah masala chai/tea and the delightful burst of aromatic richness of Pani Puri. Truly Jaspreet’s thoughtful gesture reinforced the simple act of breaking bread together.

In a commitment to fostering community development, the FIA proudly extends its support through a commendable scholarship program presented annually on India’s Republic Day. This initiative, grounded in both financial need and academic excellence, attracted an impressive pool of more than 35 applications this year. Rigorous evaluation led to the shortlisting of 17 exceptional candidates, and we are thrilled to announce that, on this occasion, 6 remarkable individuals were honored with scholarships.

The entire process was led by Vinita Gulabani and Kamlesh Kapoor from FIA. Consulate General Somnath Ghosh, Swapnil Shah, Sahaj Shah, Asha Oroskar, Lakhvir Sahota, Kamlesh Kapoor, graciously presided over the awards ceremony. Vice President of FIA and pro-MC Richa Chand, with an eloquent and inspirational delivery, announced the recipients of the scholarships, highlighting their remarkable achievements. Richa Chand infused the moment with a sense of pride and uplifting experience for the exceptional accomplishments of the scholarship winners. These scholarships, a testament to the collaborative spirit of various businesses and the visionary leadership within the FIA, symbolize our unwavering dedication to nurturing talent and empowering the aspirations of the deserving students in Chicago land.

Chandini Duvvuri, Vice President of FIA, eloquently conveyed the Vote of Thanks, embodying gratitude and appreciation on behalf of the entire organization. In her heartfelt expression of thanks, Chandini extended sincere appreciation to Founder Chairman Sunil Shah, acknowledging the enduring legacy he has crafted and commending current and past presidents for consistently elevating the standards of FIA events to unprecedented heights. She expressed deep gratitude to Consulate General Somnath Ghosh, Linda Davenport, Court Judge, and other esteemed dignitaries whose presence added prestige to the occasion. Chandini offered a profound thank you to the altruistic individuals whose generous contributions made the event and scholarships possible. Recognizing the dedication and unwavering commitment of FIA Advisory Board members and Directors, she emphasized their pivotal role in shaping the organization’s collaborative spirit and serving as a continual source of inspiration.

President Vinita Gulabani set the stage ablaze, ushering in the main cultural show with a magnetic presence that commanded attention. Her introduction of renowned artists from India and across the globe heightened anticipation, reaching a crescendo when the iconic Shaid Rafi was warmly welcomed on stage, earning a resounding standing ovation. Shahid Rafi, with grace and nostalgia, guided the audience through the corridors of memory, offering poignant insights into Mohammad Rafi’s personal life and his role as a father.

The cultural extravaganza unfolded with a cascade of melodies that transported the audience through a time capsule of Bollywood’s golden era. Classics such as “Aajkal Tere Mera Pyar Kay Charche,” “Chaahe Koi Mujhe Junglee Kahe,” “Yeh Chand Sa Roshan Chehra,” “Gulabi Aankhen,” and “Parda Hai Parda” echoed through the venue, setting the stage on fire.

During the electrifying rendition of ‘An Evening in Paris,’ Sunil Shah’s signature dance moves ignited the crowd, prompting an impromptu dance floor and stage invasion by the audience. The infectious energy made it a delightful challenge for our ace photographers—Suresh Bodiwala, Vivek Joshi, Nilabh Dubey, Ramesh Punetar, Jayanti Oza and Matt Chennoor—to capture the essence of the unbridled celebration.

The crowd, carried away by the euphoria, chanted “Once more, once more” after each super-hit performance by Neelajan Ray, Priyanka Mittra, Sammy M., Gautami Roy, Prakhar Ghosh, and Mohammad Salamat. Even the Q&A session between Rizwan and Shahid Rafi added a touch of humor, leaving the audience clamoring for more in a night that seamlessly blended patriotism, nostalgia, entertainment, and sheer joy.

FIA Chicago Hosts Largest Republic Day Celebrations In USA 2
Picture: Asian Media USA

As the resonant notes of Mohammad Rafi’s songs, sung by Shahid Rafi, patriotic melodies filled the air, a poignant scene unfolded among some of the senior citizens who had witnessed the trials and triumphs of India’s freedom struggle. The evocative strains of timeless classics like “Mera Rang De Basanti Chola,” “Karo Zindagi Ko Watan Ke Hawaale,” and “Nafrat Ki Laathi Todo” stirred deep emotions, bringing tears to the eyes of those who had personally lived through the historic era. In those heartfelt moments, the power of Rafi’s voice became a bridge, connecting the present to the indomitable spirit of the past.

Songs such as “Naujawaanon Bharat Ki Taqdeer,” “Sarfaroshi Ki Tamanna,” and “Yeh Desh Hai Veer Jawaanon Ka” acted as an emotional time machine, transporting these seniors back to a time of sacrifice, unity, and an unyielding love for their motherland. The tears that welled up in their eyes were not just a response to music; they were a poignant tribute to the enduring legacy of India’s struggle for independence. The yearning for more was felt through the audience, an audible echo of their profound connection to the mesmerizing performance, many requests were made to Founder Chairman Sunil Shah to continue the program for some more time. Yet, as the clock struck twelve midnight, signaling the culmination of a spectacular show, a collective sigh of both satisfaction and reluctance filled the air. The lingering applause and non-stop dancing, though a token of appreciation, was also a wistful plea for the FIA’s Republic Day magic to continue.

As the Consulate General of India, Sonath Ghosh, truly remarked “This FIA, Chicago event was not merely a reflection, but a vivid manifestation of our love for India and profound pride in being part of the world’s largest democracy, India.  The celebration left an indelible impression, cultivating a heightened sense of patriotism and national pride among the Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) connected to their roots and heritage”. FIA Chicago’s Republic Day festivities were not just a commemoration; they were a powerful testament to the enduring spirit of India and its diaspora.

The Coming-of-Age of Indian Americans

“Despite constituting less than 1% of the U.S. population, Indian Americans are 3% of the nation’s engineers, 7% of its IT workers and 8% of its physicians and surgeons,” wrote the popular Forbes magazine in 2008. “The overrepresentation of Indians in these fields is striking–in practical terms, your doctor is nine times more likely to be an Indian American than is a random passerby on the street.”

Sixteen years later, in 2024, the Indian American community has grown even stronger; their successes encompassing almost all areas of American life – living  the American Dream.  The less than four million Indian Americans appear to be gaining prominence and have come to be recognized as a model community, and a force to reckon with in this land of opportunities that they have come to call as their adopted homeland.

In 1960, there were only 12,000 Indian immigrants living in the United States, according to the Migration Policy Institute. Today, the number of Indian Americans or Indian immigrants has climbed to more than 4 million, census data shows. Historically, Indians in the US worked in medicine, science & technology, engineering and mathematics-related jobs. Some, like the Patel community from Gujarat, took to the hotel industry and grew to dominate it. Others were entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley after the digital revolution of the 1980s.

In 1997, Ramani Ayer became the CEO of the Fortune 500 financial firm The Hartford, becoming the first in the list of Indian leaders heading American businesses. At present, 2% of the Fortune 500 companies of American origin — including Microsoft, Alphabet, Adobe, IBM, and Micron Technologies — are led by Indian American CEOs. One in every seven doctors in America is of Indian descent.

Among all these fields, if there is one area, where the influential Indian Americans have come to be recognized more than any other is the political arena, where they are seeking to win elections at the national, state and local levels, vying to occupy top jobs across the nation.

The Coming of Age of Indian Americans 3Ever since Gov. Bobby Jindal the first ever major Indian American presidential candidate who had sought to occupy the White House, there have been many others who have followed in his footsteps. Indian Americans have expressed keen interest in carving out their political space at the national table for decades, and now, the fruits of their labor are paying off, with more successes now than ever before.

Four years ago, it was then-California Sen. Kamala Harris, who made headlines and then elected as the vice president, becoming the highest-ranking person of Indian descent in the US government. The rise of Kamala Harris, daughter of an Indian mother, as the Vice President represented a coming-of-age of the Indian American community in the United States. Harris was born to civil rights activist parents a year before the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 was passed; this Act relaxed the quota regime that restricted foreigners. At that time, there was one Indian American lawmaker in the US House of Representatives — the Punjab-born Dalip Singh Saund, also from California.

It’s still a relatively small number, compared with the country’s total population of more than 333 million. But Devesh Kapur, co-author of “The Other One Percent: Indians in America,” said he was not surprised to see three Indian Americans in the political spotlight in the 2024 race. “Indian Americans have been selected to be the outliers — they have been selected for success,” Kapur wrote in his book with Sanjoy Chakravorty and Nirvikar Singh.

The 2024 election season in the United States (US) kicked off and now with less than 10 months to go until Election Day and a week before the next Republican primary, one group that has emerged on the national political stage in a way they never have before in U.S. history: Indian Americans.

The current election cycle is shaping up to be historic for the Indian American community at every level, from local to the presidential. After months of campaigning, only a handful of GOP hopefuls were qualified for the last Republican Party Presdetial Debate; two of them were former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley and Vivek Ramaswamy, an entrepreneur and commentator whose White House bid has skyrocketed his profile.

While insurgent candidate Vivek Ramaswamy bowed out after finishing fourth in the Iowa Caucus, former South Carolina governor, Nikki Haley, emerged with a strong showing and is now poised to give former President Donald Trump a run for his money in South Carolina primary on Tuesday, February 13.

“You have to sit and wonder, we have these two folks who are showing these all-star abilities — will we end up with an Indian American on this ticket?” said Sara Sadhwani, an assistant professor of politics at Pomona College and co-author of the Indian American Election Survey.

Harris, Haley, and Ramaswamy have many notable political differences. In a way, each is competing against the other in the 2024 election. But together, they represent a remarkable moment in American politics, experts say: Indian Americans account for about 1.3% of the country’s population, according to census data — and three Indian American politicians have risen close to the top of both major parties. “Mathematically, you would not have expected this,” said University of California, Riverside, public policy professor Karthick Ramakrishnan.

Haley had made history as the first female governor of South Carolina and the first Indian American to be appointed to a cabinet-level position, serving as the US ambassador to the United Nations in 2016. I am the proud daughter of Indian immigrants who reminded my brothers, my sister and me every single day how blessed we were to live in this country,” said Haley, as she announced her presidential campaign last February.

In addition to the leading Presidential aspirants, there are five Indian American members in the current US Congress —Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Ami Bera (D-CA), Ro Khanna (D-CA), and Shri Thanedar (D-MI) who are seeking re-elections this year. Each of them is expected to be reelected in 2024 due to the advantages of incumbency and their substantial campaign funding.

According to Indian American Impact, an organization dedicated to strengthening the political influence of the community, there are already more than 200 Indian Americans who are elected to positions ranging from school boards and city councils to state assemblies and senates across the country.

However, what is promising as the nation goes into another round of elections is the prospect of several candidates from a wide range of congressional districts across the country from New York to California, and from Illinois to Alabama, are aiming to join the ranks of the “Samosa Caucus.”

Kevin Thomas, a New York state senator vying to win the fourth congressional district, is a prominent Democratic contender to become the sixth Indian American member of the 119th Congress. The district, currently represented by first-term GOP Rep. Anthony D’Esposito, has historically leaned towards the Democratic party, consistently supporting their presidential nominees in the past eight elections. This favorable trend significantly boosts Thomas’ prospects of winning the primary and securing a seat in Congress.

Ohio state senator Niraj Antani is seeking the GOP nomination from the state’s second congressional district. The 32-year-old, who has been in the state legislature since 2014, is expected to get elected to Congress if he wins the Republican primary, as the district is heavily Republican. “In Congress, I will have a steel-spine in standing for life, our 2nd Amendment rights, and for pro-growth economic policies. As a fiercely pro-Trump Republican, I will work hard every day for our community in Congress to ensure every Ohioan has an opportunity to achieve the American Dream.”

Arizona State Rep. Amish Shah, the first Indian American elected to the Arizona legislature, is seeking the Democratic Party’s nomination for Arizona’s first congressional district. Shah, an emergency physician, has raised more than $1 million for his campaign and will have a fair shot in November if he wins the primary in this seat, currently represented by Republican David Schweikert and leans slightly Republican.

Ashwani Jain, a former Gubernatorial candidate of Maryland, is running for Congress from Maryland’s 6th District. He says, “I am running for Congress in the district I live in and call home – not just to be Maryland’s first Millennial, first Asian-American and first Indian-American ever elected – but because I have specific policy solutions that will open the doors of opportunity for our community.” Jain, a cancer survivor, is focused on issues including immigrant rights, climate change, labor rights and raising teachers’ pay, reproductive justice, and gun violence.

Hoboken Mayor in the state of New Jersey, Ravi Bhalla is running for Congress from the 8th District. At Congress, Bhalla says, he “will be an advocate for New Jersey’s working families as he fights to make healthcare a right for everyone, tackle climate change, protect a woman’s right to choose, and build an economy that works for all New Jerseyans.”

Suhas Subramanyam and Krystle Kaul: Two Indian Americans are vying for the Democratic Party nomination in Virginia’s 10th congressional district. Krystle Kaul Kaul, much like Subramanyam, is focusing on issues such as national security, women’s rights, economy & jobs, healthcare, education, and energy & the environment. Subramanyam, a Virginia state senator has been serving in the state legislature for the past four years. Kaul, a veteran of the defence and intelligence community, is running on her national security experience. If either of them wins the primary, they would be formidable candidates to represent this Democratic-leaning district.

Susheela Jayapal, a candidate for Oregon’s third congressional district, and Rishi Kumar, who is running for California’s 16th congressional district are other Indian Americans, who are “strong candidates who have run for office before and have name recognition.” Jayapal had served as the commissioner of Oregon’s most populous county, Multnomah County. In 2020, Kumar secured nearly 37% of the votes against the incumbent and fellow Democrat Anna Eshoo, who is now retiring, boosting his chances of victory in 2024.

Vimal Patel from Alabama’s 2nd district abd Nikhil Bhatia from Illinois’ 7th District are others who are in the fray to enter the Congress this Fall. Another Republican seeking to win on a Republican ticket is Dr. Prashanth Reddy from Kansas’ 3rd district is a physician, who is focused on defending the nation and standing up for parents and students in addition to securing the border, supporting law enforcement, standing up to China, and protecting taxpayers.

In addition, dozens of highly qualified and experienced Indian American candidates are also vying for statewide offices in this election cycle. Among those who have announced their candidacies for statewide offices, include: Minita Sanghvi, a Democrat currently serving as the Saratoga Springs finance commissioner, vying for the 44th state senate district in New York; Tara Sreekrishnan, a member of the Santa Clara County Board of Education, running for the California state assembly from district 26; Ashwin Ramaswami seeking election to the Georgia state senate from senate district 48; and Seema Singh, a member of the Knoxville City Council, running for district 90 of the Tennessee house of representatives.

Irrespective of political differences, the Indian American community is happy about the sharp increase in their political participation, especially over the last three election cycles, and is proud of the rise of another of their own. As Jon Huntsman, former Governor of Utah and United States Ambassador to China, had said: “In the last half-century, Americans of Indian descent epitomize how new waves of immigrants have been renewing our communities and our economy. ”

Shekar Narasimhan, founder and chairman of the AAPI (Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders) Victory Fund, sums it all, saying that while he is happy to see more Asian-Americans gain prominence in politics,  “A beautiful thing is happening: Indian-Americans are coming to the forefront. If our children see Americans with a name like Ramaswamy run, and a Khanna or Krishnamoorthi can win, that’s a good thing.”

Indian American Community Rallies Behind Tom Suozzi’s Return to Politics, Advocating for Common-Sense Solutions

The recent gathering of Indian Americans at the Santoor Restaurant in Floral Park, Queens, New York, radiated enthusiasm and energy, signaling their excitement over Tom Suozzi’s return to the political arena. According to Mr. Koshy Thomas, a key organizer of the event, “The Indian Community has always admired Mr. Suozzi for standing up for issues that our community has cared for, and this gathering strongly reflects those feelings.” The attendees, hailing from diverse backgrounds rooted in South Asia, came together to show their support.

In his speech, Mr. Suozzi expressed gratitude to the Indian community for their backing and emphasized the significance of voting, particularly in the context of the special election. He pledged to continue his efforts in uniting people to address various challenges, including the border crisis.

Recognized as a moderate politician, Mr. Suozzi is deeply attuned to the concerns of the average citizen, such as rising crime, inflation, the quality of education, and job creation. Despite these pressing issues, the political discourse often veers towards extremes, sidelining the priorities of the majority. Mr. Suozzi advocates for a return to pragmatic policies that benefit the broader population, echoing the sentiments of many voters who feel sidelined in the current political landscape.

Raju Abraham, another event organizer, commended Mr. Suozzi’s commitment to principled leadership, stating, “Tom is a strong advocate for consensus-building and is capable of bringing together diverse factions for necessary compromises, ending the gridlock in Washington and propelling the nation forward.”

George Abraham, a fervent supporter of Mr. Suozzi, urged the community to exercise their right to vote and send a clear message to Washington. He emphasized the need for policies that enhance people’s lives rather than disrupt them, whether addressing rising crime rates or combating inflation. Mr. Suozzi’s emphasis on common-sense solutions resonates with voters who believe in upholding the American dream of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. According to George, those who seek to undermine this dream must be held accountable.

Eminent Indian Physician Leaders in USA organize a FAREWELL for MR. AMBASSADOR!

Hon. Ambassador Taranjit S. Sandhu is retiring at the end of the month as an Ambassador to USA after 4 years. He has had an illustrious career having served as Ambassador to Sri Lanka and DCM as well as other    Prestigious positions in USA

Eminenet physician leaders joined  on Zoom on Jan 17th Wednesday

Organised by

Dr Sudhir Sekhsaria, Dr Raj Bhayani

Dr Manbir Takhar

Dr Hemant Dhingra

Dr Narendra Kumar

About 30 physician leaders from USA joined the meeting

Meeting was initiated by Dr Sudhir Sekhseria with warm welcome and introduction of all participants and greetings to hnorable ambassador.

Dr Raj Bhayani expressed gratitude to Ambassador for his amazing leadership in making Indo-US leadership stronger and applauded his role in making Prime Minister Modi ji historic visit to white house.a grand success.

Dr Narednra Kumar emphasized the role of Ambassador in uniting all different factions of Indian communities in USA.

image0 (3)Dr Hemant Dhingra said in his remarks how the economic ties between two countries have reached a new high under leadership of Ambassador

Dr Manbir Thakkar elaborated how Indian community had warm reception at India House in Washington DC and bond between India House and community has been strongest ever during the last four years..

Dr Vinod Shah appreciated the services of Ambassador to Indian Physicians in USA.

Dr Harbhajan Ajrawat who knows Ambassador for a long time gave a historical perspective of life of Ambassador

As Taranjit Singh Sandhu is finishing his current assignment as the Ambassador of India to the United States of America, I would like to take this opportunity to wish him farewell and success in any future endeavor he may choose to undertake.  It is no secret and much has been said about his illustrious career in the Indian Foreign Service. This was his second appointment as Ambassador, his first being Ambassador to Sri Lanka. He was posted to the United States four times, three times with the Indian Embassy in Washington DC.  During his tenure in Washington, he was not only instrumental in bringing the Indian Diaspora in the United States together but also bringing the two great democracies together as well.  Due to his untiring efforts, and his diplomatic acumen he was able to mitigate and thwart quite a few obstacles that threatened the relationship of the two countries. At present India continues to enjoy a very good relationship with the United States. That he was able to make this meaningful contribution is no small task and is easy to understand once one is familiar with his rich family legacy and heritage.

Taranjit Singh Sandhu belongs to a prominent Sikh family with deep roots in Punjab, India. He is the grandson of Sardar Teja Singh Samundri.  Sardar Teja Singh Samundri was a prominent leader and visionary who played a key role in the Gurdwara Reform Movement (GRM) which returned the Sikh religious institutions to their democratic roots and brought  the sikh community into the freedom struggle and thereby altered the perception of Sikhs in Colonial India. In honor of his work and contribution to the sikh community, he is the only non-guru in whose honor a building inside the sacred Golden Temple complex has been named The Teja Singh Samundri Hall. Besides his role in the GRM movement, Sardar Teja Singh Samundri was very much involved in bringing education, knowledge and information to the common man. Even though he had limited education himself, he opened several schools to educate the masses and was instrumental in launching the newspaper Hindustan Times which was later acquired by M.M.Malaviya and later GD Birla. Much of this was through personal sacrifice and putting up his own funds. This promising young life came to a tragic end, under mysterious circumstances, at the young age of 44, while imprisoned by the British in a Lahore jail.  Nevertheless, his legacy continued through his son, Sardar Bishan Singh Samundri who was awarded a scholarship to study at Ohio State University. After acquiring his Masters degree, he returned to India and became the Principal of Khalsa College Amritsar, Punjab. He eventually became the founding Vice Chancellor of Guru Nanak Dev University, Punjab. Sardar Bishan Singh was the father of Taranjit Singh Sandhu. Taranjit’s mother, Jagjit Sandhu, also having studied abroad, retired as Principal of Government College for Women in Amritsar, Punjab.

Mr Gary Sikka president of American Punjabi Association emphasized the role of Ambassador in uniting the Hindu Sikh community and his visit to New York Gurudwara.

In concluding remarks Ambassador expressed his gratitude to Indian community in USA. He applauded the strength of the Indian diaspora. It is the bond of Indian diaspora which has been very powerful in making the Indo us relationship stronger. He highlighted the role and sacrifice  of Indian physicians during covid in serving humanity. He emphasised the strength of Indian physician community in USA which has helped him to create closer ties between INdia and USA.

Dr Sudhir Sekhseria thanked Ambassador and all eminent physicians for joining the farewell for Ambassador and everyone expressed that they all are in solidarity and supportive of next endeavour of Ambassador in serving our motherland

Indian Americans Overwhelmingly Support Tom Suozzi

New York is gearing up for early voting in the New York District 3 Congressional special election scheduled for February 13, with the early voting period set from February 3 to February 11, 2024. The Indian community has thrown its support behind Tom Suozzi, a Democrat and long-time congressman from the district.

The special election for his seat has kicked off a season of intense congressional races in New York as Democrats seek to flip a handful of seats in the state and retake control of the House. Suozzi – who previously held Santos’ seat before leaving Congress to run for governor last year – has a lot going for him: name recognition, close relationships with the Democratic establishment.

Suozzi represented the congressional district – one of the nation’s wealthiest – for three terms from 2016 to 2022. In June 2016, Suozzi won a five-way Democratic primary before going on to defeat Republican state Sen. Jack Martins in the general election. Two years later, he defeated Republican nominee Dan DeBono to win reelection. In June 2020, he won a three-way Democratic primary and then went on to defeat Republican nominee Santos by more than 12 points in the general election. Last year, Suozzi gave up his seat in order to run for governor, which cost him an influential spot on the House Ways and Means Committee.

The special election was triggered by the expulsion of George Santos from Congress due to dishonesty. His opponent, Masi Melesa Philip, is the Nasa County Legislator, but chances of success for the opposition seem slim.

A strong advocate for the Indian community, Suozzi has garnered support from notable figures like State Rep. Jennifer Rajkumar, Sanjeev Jindal, Satnam Prahar, Koshi Thomas, and others who participated in a recent meeting in support of Suozzi.

Suozzi, an attorney and CPA, served as the former Nassau County Executive and Glen Cove Mayor. Over his 30 years of public service, he has championed causes such as environmental protection, gun safety, reproductive freedom, and immigration. His track record also includes advocacy for veterans, affordable health care, and fiscal responsibility.

If Suozzi emerges victorious in the special election, the Republican majority in the House will be reduced to 7 seats. Democratic leaders emphasize Suozzi’s background in securing life in Long Island and Queens in a statement.

Highlighting his extensive experience as an attorney and in executive and political roles, Suozzi pointed to his achievements as mayor, where he improved the city’s healthcare system, revitalized downtown businesses, and spearheaded a $100 million cleanup effort. As Nassau County executive, he reduced crime and led a $150 million environmental program.

While in Congress, Suozzi coined his famous mantra “no SALT, no deal” and brought together a coalition of lawmakers from New York, New Jersey, California and Illinois to demand changes to the SALT cap – which limits the amount of state taxes that taxpayers can deduct from their federal tax bill. He fought to either remove or increase the $10,000 cap on state and local tax deductions in high-tax states, pledging to oppose any sweeping tax measures that didn’t include changes to the SALT cap.

Suozzi’s commitment to fighting corruption is evident through initiatives like ‘Fix Albany,’ and he played a key role in passing the statewide Medicaid cap. As chairman of the New York State Property Tax Relief Commission, he worked for the people. In Congress, Suozzi fought to restore the SALT tax cut, negotiated a bipartisan infrastructure bill benefiting New York, and provided substantial aid to the state’s hospitals, small businesses, and residents during the Covid-19 pandemic as Vice Chair of the Problem Solvers Caucus.

In 2016, Tom Suozzi, then a candidate for election to the US Congress, had announced that if elected, he would join the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans. Soon after his election, he kept the promise by joining the influential Caucus.

Suozzi, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee had announced, “As part of the India Caucus and as a Representative and friend of so many Indian Americans, I hope to play a special role in enhancing the relationship between our two countries. India and the United States share a special bond based on the shared values of democracy, the rule of law and belief in the intrinsic value of every human being. It is essential that during these times of globalization and accelerating technology, as well as threats from common enemies, that the United States and India strengthen our bonds of friendship and collaboration.”

On June 3rd, 2016, the Indian American Voters Forum had honored Congressman Suozzi at a special reception held after he enrolled himself in the India Caucus, in Long Island, New York.

As a congressman, Suozzi has closely aligned himself with the Indian American community. In 2021, for instance, he had sent Holi greetings to Indian-Americans, stating that the festival of colors sends renewed opportunity to celebrate peace, friendship and opportunity.

On December 19, he unveiled a 10-point plan to help restore sanity to Washington and get things done. The intention of Suozzi rolling out his plan is to demonstrate his belief that Congress needs to move beyond petty, partisan, and performative finger-pointing and focus on working across the aisle to get things done for the people he serves.

The plan  details Suozzi’s blueprint to:
1. Lower the Cost of Living, Repeal the SALT Cap, and Further Reduce Prescription Drug Prices
2. Address the Immigration Crisis by Passing the Tom Suozzi-Peter King Compromise
3. Protect the Long Island Sound, Provide Clean Drinking Water, and Address Climate Change
4. Improve Public Safety and Get Guns off the Streets
5. Stand Up to Extreme Attacks on Reproductive Freedom
6. Support Israel and Ukraine
7. Never Forget the Vet
8. Expand Affordable Health Care and Long-Term Care, and Protect Social Security and Medicare
9. Defend Democracy
10. “No Wrong Door”: Comprehensive, Wraparound Social Services for K-12 Students

Suozzi has a long record of working with Democrats and Republicans to tackle the problems that the people of Nassau and Queens face. Suozzi’s 10-Point Plan is in sharp contrast to his opponent Mazi Pilip’s refusing to answer reporter’s questions about her positions on the issues.
“Throughout my career, I have always prioritized delivering results for the people over petty partisan politics,” said Suozzi.

“The growing influence of the far right and far left has led to gridlock in Congress. My 10-point plan is a blueprint to address the real concerns people face and my intention to work with anyone of goodwill who has the same objective of actually addressing challenging problems and working together to come up with a solution.”

New Yorkers Celebrate Inauguration Of Ram Mandir With Car Rally

Being thousands of miles away from Ayodhya, where a monumental Temple in honor of Lord Ram was inaugurated this month, Indian Americans living in the United States and other countries celebrated this historic occasion, showcasing their unbridled enthusiasm and reverence to Lord Ram.

image1Braving the sub-zero temperatures, hundreds of enthusiastic Non-Resident Indians filled the streets of New York with a Car Rally on January 21st, 2024. Devotion to Lord Ram filled up the air in New York as over 150 cars drove through the busy streets starting in Hicksville, NY, while thousands of devotees gathered to celebrate and show their devotion and solidarity to Ram Mandir’s consecration in Ayodhya.

The car rally was organized by the ASA MAI Hindu Temple in New York as a way of expressing gratitude and joy for welcoming Lord Sri Ram to the newly constructed Temple that has been awaited for almost 500+ years.

Starting the car rally from Patel Brothers in Hicksville in Long Island, New York,  a hamlet within the Town of Oyster Bay in Nassau County on Long Island, in New York, with a large Indian American population, the car rally halted midway at a Gurudwara in Hicksville. Dr Raj Bhayani said, “The Hindu, Sikh, Jains and Buddhist communities have all come together to celebrate this historic moment.”\

Floats that were part of the rally had DJ which played Bhajans devoted to Lord Ram, while others played videos on large screens from the epic TV seria, Ramayana, and other floats displayed images of the Rama Mandir.

Indian Americans who were part of the rally wore the saffron scarf with Hanuman and Rama pictures in them, with the bitter cold conditions not dampen the enthusiasm and the celebratory mood.

In addition to the cars, the floats and the LED trucks with children dressed as Ramayana characters such as Rama,image0 Sita, Laxman, and Hanuman,  brought the experience and excitement to the rally. Each car was adorned with saffron-colored flags. The huge lineup of cars finally reached the beautiful AsaMai temple in Hicksville. LED Truck displayed Ramayana and float carried the banners celebrating Ram Mandir. The entire event was telecast live on AASTHA TV AND radio Zindagi.

Dr. Raj Bhayani, Mukesh Modi, Dr. Dipak Nandi, Mohan Wanchoo, Naveen Shah, Chintu Patel, Gary Sikka, and Dr Neeta Jain were among others who had organized the cart rally. The committee comprised of Sunil Hali, Gobind Bhatija, Pradeep Tandon, Dr Urmilesh Arya, Vimal Goyal, Eric Kumar, Kanak Goliya, Kishore Malik, Harahad Bhai Patel, Vibhuti Jha, Mohinder Taneja, Dr Satish Anand, Dr Inderpal Chhabra, and Ajay Patel.

Hindu American Community Holds Grand Car Rally in Greater Boston to Celebrate Ram Mandir Inauguration

Over the weekend, Greater Boston witnessed a spectacular display of unity and celebration as the Hindu American Community organized one of the largest car rallies in the region. With an impressive turnout of over 250 cars and more than 500 attendees, the rally covered a total distance of 70+ miles, making stops at five prominent temples along the route. This event, which took place in frigid temperatures of 16 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 10 Celsius), stands out as one of the longest car rallies in the United States, as affirmed by the organizers.

The participants, undeterred by the chilly weather and biting winds, embarked on the rally to mark the inauguration of the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya, the birthplace of Lord Rama. The rally commenced at 7:30 AM following a Puja ceremony at the Sri Chinmaya Maruti Mandir in Andover, Massachusetts, and continued on to include stops at the ISSO Swaminarayan Mandir in Lowell, Shri Radha Damodar Mandir in Shrewsbury, Sri Radha Krishna Mandir in Northborough, and concluded at the Sri Lakshmi Temple in Ashland.

Devotees from various other mandirs, including BAPS in Lowell, Satsang in Woburn, Dwarkamai Temple in Billerica, Sarv Dev Mandir in Oxford, and Sri Raghavendra Swami Matha, Shri Gita Mandir in Shrewsbury, joined the main rally at different stopping points, contributing to the overall enthusiasm of the participants.

During each stop, young representatives from the rally extended invitations to the temples to partake in the festivities related to the inauguration of the Ram Mandir. Temples and Hindu Americans were encouraged to perform puja-archana to the temple deity, light five diyas in celebration of Diwali, engage in kirtan-bhajan, recite the Hanuman Chalisa, ring bells, and watch the online broadcast of the Pran Pratishta (consecration) at the newly constructed Ram Mandir in Ayodhya at 12:30 PM IST on January 22nd, 2024.

The youths also shared brief statements about the divine qualities of Bhagwan Ram, emphasizing virtues such as courage, sacrifice, justice, compassion, ideal behavior, and good governance (Ram Rajya). They highlighted how the exemplary life of Lord Rama has influenced the culture in numerous Southeast Asian countries. As a gesture of goodwill, the participants carried small gift packages containing Jap Malas, the Hanuman Chalisa, and a token cash offering. The temples warmly received them, extending welcomes with kirtan, tilak, and Prasad.

The participating temples reciprocated the rally participants’ warmth with open hearts and lively festivities. At ISSO, Vivek Swami, the resident, blessed the participants and spoke about the importance of incorporating the core qualities of Shree Ram into one’s life. The India Heritage Foundation in Shrewsbury presented all rally participants with a copy of the Gita and other relevant books. Additionally, at the Sri Lakshmi Temple, everyone received a Jap Mala to take home for their Japa of “Shri Ram Jai Ram Jai Jai Ram.”

The cars that formed the caravan were adorned with vibrant orange flags and signs, proudly displaying the message “Jai Shri Ram,” which translates to “victory to the virtues” as Lord Ram is considered a symbol of virtues. The cooperation and warm welcome from the police departments in the four towns through which the rally passed reflected the excellent reputation the Indian community holds with law enforcement authorities.

This grand rally, a celebration of unity and devotion, was made possible through the collaborative efforts of volunteers from various dharmic organizations, including the Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America (VHPA), Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS), and numerous Hindu temples.


GOPIO-CT chapter organized a fundraiser at its Holiday Party on December 15th to benefit Connecticut Institute for Refugees and Immigrants (CIRI), a statewide nonprofit organization that assists refugees and immigrants. It was one of most successful Holiday Party and fundraising for charities. With a full house and overflowing, the chapter raised $5,000 and the check was presented to CIRI President and CEO Susan Schnitzer. GOPIO-CT also presented checks to two other charities with similar amounts, Future 5 and Women’s Mentoring Network. These two later groups have been supported by GOPIO-CT since 2016. The Holiday Party started with President Dr. Jaya Daptardar with a welcome speech. GOPIO-CT Board Member Prof. Sujatha Gadkar-Wilcox, who is a professor Quinnipiac University, was recognized for being appointed by Governor Ned Lamont as a Commissioner at Connecticut Human Rights Commission. constitution and international law. GOPIO-CT honored its Past President Anita Bhat at the Holiday Party with Liberty Award 2023 for community leadership and for her services to GOPIO for over a dozen years. This was to be presented earlier at the India Independence Day Celebrations in August but she was not available at that time. Anita said that GOPIO-CT is doing a great job in community service. GOPIO-CT has reelected the team for 2024 at the General Body Meeting held before the Holiday Party. The new team members are President Dr. Jaya Daptardar, Executive Vice President Mahesh Jhangiani, Vice President Prachi Narayan, Secretary Sushanth Krishnamurthy, Associate Secretary Ashvini Persaud and Treasurer Srinivas Akarapu. The General Body also elected Dr. Thomas Abraham and Totty Narang to the two open positions of Trustees. Continuing Trustees are Shelly Nichani (Chair), Joe Simon, Shailesh Naik and Prasad Chintalapudi. Up to 11 new Board Members will be appointed by the Executive Council. A musical evening followed and was organized by GOPIO-CT President Daptardar and was compered by Board Member Sonali Gannu. Singers at the evening were Raashmi Sathe, Anant Nimkarde, Sachin and Shilpa Kulkarni, Leena Damle, along with DJ Ryan Persaud. A sumptuous Indian dinner followed.


A Tribute to the Late Prod. Ved Prakash Nanda By Dr. Thomas Abraham, Chairman, GOPIO International Prof. Nanda was a good friend. He was a patriotic Indian. I have had an opportunity to work with him closely since 1981 when I took up a job at the University of Denver where Prof. Nanda was already working at the law school. Since then, we worked together on many community campaigns. We jointly did a couple Indian-American fundraising campaigns for candidates running for elections in Colorado in the 1980s.        Other than his professional contribution as a professor of law and a leading legal expert, he stood out for his contribution to the Indian Diaspora community for the last five decades.   Other than what others spoke earlier, Prof. Nanda’s had made major contribution to the mainstream Indian community organizations. At our First Global Convention of People of Indian Origin in 1989 in New York City, Prof. Nanda was entrusted to come up with a structure for a global Indian Diaspora organization. He helped to draft the constitution and bylaws of the Global Organization of People Indian Origin (GOPIO). He had attended many of our early steering committee meetings and conventions in the USA, Europe and India.   He was also a frequent speaker at the conventions organized by the National Federation of Indian American Associations (NFIA) held in different US cities.   After our First GOPIO Convention in 1989 in New York, he had chaired GOPIO Human Rights Council and successfully campaigned on the human rights violation of Indo-Sri Lankans and Indo-Fijians at the UN Human Rights Commission in 1991 and 1992 in Geneva.   He made substantial contribution to build Indian American community’s infrastructure through national organizations for the last five decades. His passing away is a great loss for our community.   GOPIO International and its chapters convey our heartfelt condolences to Nanda family and particularly Anjali and her family. We will miss him in our midst. May his soul rest in peace. Like a bird singing in the rain, let grateful thoughts prevail at this time. In fact, we are now celebrating his life for his contribution to Indian Diaspora, India and society at large.

Grand Celebrations and Global Enthusiasm Surrounding Ayodhya’s Ram Temple Inauguration

As anticipation grows in India for the opening of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya later this month, Indians residing in the United States have displayed their enthusiasm through a grand car rally organized in Edison, New Jersey. More than 350 cars, adorned with flags depicting images of Lord Ram, participated in the event, as captured in visuals accessed by ANI.

Simultaneously, preparations for the ‘Pran Pratishtha’ ceremony at the Ram Temple on January 22 have taken on a global scale. Giant billboards featuring Lord Ram and the majestic shrine have been erected in over 10 states in the United States, thousands of miles away from Ayodhya. The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), US chapter, in collaboration with Hindus from across the country, has installed over 40 billboards, conveying the significance of the grand ceremony at the birthplace of Shri Ram Lalla.

These billboards are prominently displayed in states such as Texas, Illinois, New York, New Jersey, and Georgia. Additionally, Arizona and the State of Missouri are scheduled to join this visual celebration from January 15 onwards, according to the VHP, American chapter.

Amitabh VW Mittal, the general secretary of the Hindu Parishad of America, emphasized the joy and excitement of Hindu Americans, stating, “The resounding message conveyed by these billboards is that Hindu Americans are elated and joyously participating in this once-in-a-lifetime event. Their emotions overflow as they eagerly await the auspicious day of the consecration ceremony.”

Teja A Shah, joint general secretary of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, America chapter, echoed this sentiment, expressing the palpable enthusiasm within the Hindu community in New Jersey. He mentioned the various events leading up to the ceremony, including a car rally, exhibition, curtain raiser, and billboards across New York and New Jersey, culminating in a grand celebration on the 21st night.

To mark the inauguration of the Ram Temple, the Hindu American community in the US has organized several car rallies, with more events planned in the lead-up to the ‘Pran Pratishtha’ in Ayodhya.

Meanwhile, President Bhojraj Ghoorbin of the Mauritius Sanatan Dharm Temples Federation shared the preparations in Mauritius. Temples across the country will organize Ramayan Chanting and celebrations on January 22, commemorating the Pran Pratishtha of Lord Ram in Ayodhya. Ghoorbin highlighted the festive atmosphere, revealing that all Hindu brothers and sisters in Mauritius are actively participating in the celebrations, with special events planned, resembling the fervor of Diwali.

“In Mauritius, we are celebrating two Diwalis. The first Diwali is on January 22, and the second Diwali is on October 31. We will do it the same as we all know: after 14 years of Vanwas (exile), Prabhu Shri Ram is coming to Ayodhya. So this time, not after 14 years, Prabhu Ram is coming after 500 years,” added President Ghoorbin. He also announced a cultural program a day before the inauguration of the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya, with Mauritius Prime Minister Pravind Kumar Jugnauth attending as the chief guest.

On the Indian front, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to attend the ceremonial installation of the idol of Shri Ram Lalla inside the sanctum sanctorum of the grand temple on January 22. Leaders and dignitaries from various fields have been invited to the grand temple opening, which will span seven days starting January 16. The Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust has set the date for the enthronement of Ram Lalla at noon on January 22, with Vedic rituals for the Pran-Pratishtha ceremony beginning on January 16, a week prior to the main event.

Reflecting on the cultural significance of the Ramayan, the Indian envoy to the US, Taranjit Singh Sandhu, highlighted its universal appeal and timeless lessons. Speaking at an event titled ‘Ramayana across Asia and Beyond’ at the US Capitol Hill, Sandhu stated, “The epic gives insights into the complexities of human relationships, governance and spirituality, dharma or duty, justice, sacrifice, loyalty, and the eternal struggle between good and evil.”

He emphasized the global reach of the Ramayan, serving as a bridge across geographies and influencing diverse cultures in the Indo-Pacific region. Ambassador Sandhu shared his personal observations of the epic’s impact across boundaries, showcasing its adaptability in various artistic, literary, and religious traditions.

Nikki Haley Seeks to Surpass Expectations in Iowa Caucuses, Emerging as Top Contender Against Trump in Republican Primary

Nikki Haley aims to exceed expectations in the upcoming Iowa caucuses, positioning herself as a formidable challenger to former President Trump in the Republican presidential primary. Recent weeks have witnessed a surge in Haley’s poll numbers and fundraising efforts, prompting increased attention and scrutiny from Trump, indicative of concerns about her growing influence.

As of now, Trump maintains a substantial lead in Iowa, raising uncertainties about Haley’s ability to generate enough momentum to carry into the subsequent New Hampshire primary. According to The Hill/Decision Desk HQ polling average, Trump commands 51.6 percent support in Iowa, with DeSantis trailing at 18 percent and Haley closely behind at 17.1 percent.

Matthew Bartlett, a New Hampshire-based Republican strategist, emphasizes the significance of outperforming expectations in Iowa, stating, “It would always be great for someone to outperform expectations in Iowa, and right now Trump’s expectations are a resounding win.”

However, strategists anticipate that New Hampshire and Haley’s home state of South Carolina will play crucial roles in her campaign’s trajectory. In New Hampshire, Trump leads with 41.6 percent, followed by Haley at 29.7 percent, Chris Christie at 10.9 percent, and DeSantis at 7.4 percent. Bartlett suggests that if Trump fails to secure over 50 percent in New Hampshire, a strong showing by Haley could reshape the narrative of the race.

Addressing the dynamics between the two states, Haley hinted at the correction of Iowa’s results during a recent visit to New Hampshire, a statement that drew criticism. Doug Heye, a national Republican strategist, notes that Iowa often serves to “winnow the field,” emphasizing the greater importance of New Hampshire and South Carolina.

While Haley currently leads DeSantis in South Carolina polling, Trump holds a commanding lead with 53.6 percent support, leaving uncertainty about Haley’s ability to surpass him in her home state. Some South Carolina Republicans believe that the outcome in their state could be influenced by events in New Hampshire.

Alex Stroman, a South Carolina Republican strategist, suggests, “If she’s able to win in New Hampshire, I think it really sets up a true battle royal in South Carolina.”

Despite challenges, Haley’s allies maintain optimism about her multiple paths forward. Preya Samsundar, spokesperson for the pro-Haley Stand for America PAC, asserts, “I think they’re all states that we want to win. Nikki is not playing for second. She’s said that over and over again. At the end of the day Nikki has so many pathways to moving forward.”

Trump has signaled his perception of Haley as a threat, evident in recent campaign ads targeting her in New Hampshire. The ads focus on immigration issues, portraying Haley’s perceived weakness against Trump’s claimed strength. Additionally, a pro-Trump super PAC has released an ad featuring past remarks from Haley, highlighting her stance on describing immigrants crossing the border as “criminals.”

Haley is beginning to reveal her strategy for a one-on-one matchup against Trump, taking a more aggressive stance during a CNN town hall in Iowa. She emphasized the need for stability, asserting, “We can’t have a country in disarray and a world on fire and go through four more years of chaos. We won’t survive it.”

In contrast to Trump’s approach, Haley concentrates on counterpunching rather than direct attacks. Haley’s focus is on running her own race and providing truthful responses when necessary. Matthew Bartlett notes, “That is a position of strength. That is somebody that is saying, ‘I’m not going to start it, but I’m certainly not going to take it.’”

However, Republicans caution Haley against falling into Trump’s provocations, drawing parallels with past candidates like Marco Rubio, whose campaigns faltered after direct confrontations with Trump. Bartlett advises, “Remember, when you roll around in the mud with a pig, you both get dirty, but the pig likes it. Donald Trump wants that.”

Haley faces competition not only from Trump but also from DeSantis, who is actively challenging her in the race. The two will engage in a one-on-one debate in Iowa, providing insight into their dynamic. DeSantis has criticized Haley for ties to big-dollar donors and labeled her as “phony,” while Haley has countered by scrutinizing DeSantis’ positions on China.

The upcoming debate will be a pivotal moment for both candidates. Despite potential challenges, Haley has proven her debating prowess in previous encounters, gaining appreciation from voters. Bartlett observes, “It seems as if voters appreciate that.”

Hindu Temples in San Francisco Bay Area Face Vandalism, Prompts

Call for Increased Security

In the span of two weeks, three Hindu temples in the San Francisco Bay Area have fallen victim to acts of vandalism, raising concerns among Hindu advocates about the safety and security of temples across the United States. The incidents have prompted a call for heightened vigilance and security measures within the Hindu community.

On January 5, Vijay’s Sherawali Temple in Hayward, California, experienced an act of vandalism when the entrance sign was spray-painted with the phrases “Modi is a terrorist” and “Khalistan Zindabad” (Khalistan Forever). Khalistan represents the aspiration of Sikh separatists for an independent state carved out of the Indian state of Punjab. This incident follows an earlier burglary at the Shiv Durga Temple of Santa Clara on January 1, where three perpetrators were captured on camera stealing gold jewelry from the temple’s idols and donation boxes.

Sunil Khanna, president of the Santa Clara temple’s board, expressed shock at the incident, emphasizing the community’s belief that temples are invulnerable. He highlighted the emotional impact, stating, “The main thing that hurt all of us was how they misbehaved with the gods.”

The Shree Swaminarayan Temple in Newark, California, faced a different form of desecration on December 23, with a vulgarity aimed at Narendra Modi, India’s prime minister, defacing the premises. Jonathan Arguello, police captain for the city of Newark, indicated that the act appeared to be targeted, leading to a commitment to a thorough investigation.

These attacks are part of a concerning trend of anti-Hindu hate crimes, according to Ramya Ramakrishnan of the Hindu American Foundation. She noted the impact on community members, saying, “This is supposed to be a safe place where you go to pray and get peace of mind. But this holy and sacred space is now being violated.”

The recent wave of vandalism follows previous incidents, including an attack on the Indian Consulate in San Francisco and the vandalism of a Mahatma Gandhi statue in New York. These occurrences point to a growing pattern of anti-Hindu sentiments and actions.

The incidents also coincide with charges by the U.S. Department of Justice in November, accusing an Indian government official of plotting to murder Sikh separatist leader Gurpatwant Singh Pannun in New York. The Canadian prime minister’s office had earlier accused India of involvement in the assassination of Sikh separatist leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar.

Pro-Khalistani vandalism has been ongoing since at least March 2023 when protesters in San Francisco entered the Indian Consulate, displaying Khalistani flags. A subsequent arson attack in July further highlighted the issue. Despite these incidents, law enforcement has emphasized the criminal nature of vandalism against diplomatic facilities without explicitly addressing Sikh separatism.

Anti-Khalistani activist Puneet Sahani highlighted the need for the Hindu and Sikh communities to address separatist sentiments, referencing a 2021 incident in Queens where Khalistani rhetoric was spray-painted. Sahani expressed concern that Hindu organizations might avoid speaking out against the Khalistan movement due to fears of being labeled anti-Sikh. He emphasized the importance of addressing extremists within the community.

Ramakrishnan pointed out that Hinduphobia is yet to be fully recognized by law enforcement, calling for increased federal-level efforts. While local authorities have responded promptly to recent crimes, she stressed the need for broader recognition and swifter action, comparing the incidents to potential reactions if they had occurred in synagogues or mosques.

The Hindu American Foundation, the largest Hindu advocacy organization in the U.S., regularly provides resources for temples to enhance security measures. These resources include a manual with information on safety assessments, education on security measures ranging from CCTV cameras to alarms, and a call for reporting all incidents to prevent Hinduphobia-related crimes from going unnoticed.

“We really want our Hindu community to be aware that this is happening in your backyard,” Ramakrishnan said. “Not to be afraid, but to face this. We need to be united as a community.”

Sunil Khanna, determined to rebuild, aims to lead a consortium for Bay Area Hindu temples, advocating for recognition of the community’s unity in the face of these attacks. He emphasized resilience, stating, “No temple should close their doors… This is a time to stand up and rebel against the negative forces.”

AAPI & WHEELS Global Announce $10,000 Award for Menstrual Health Project During Global Healthcare Summit in New Delhi

(New Delhi, India – January 3m 2024) Inspired by the physicians and engineers of Indian origin in the United States, the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) in collaboration with WHEELS Global Foundation has announced a $10,000 award towards the Project – Kanya: Sanitary Napkin Machine, during APPI’s 17th annual Global Health Summit held at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in New Delhi on January 3rd, 2024.

The announcement was made during a joint panel discussion held as part of the GHS on ‘Menstrual Health’ (under the banner of ‘Kanya Conference’). The Kanya Challenge Award seeks to catalyze groundbreaking advancements in menstrual hygiene for Indian women through the development and commercialization of absorbent materials made from indigenous Indian resources.

“To accelerate the journey to a fully affordable, safe, accessible, and domestically self-reliant solution, AAPI & WHEELS are jointly announcing a $10,000 Award with the objective of using the funds to accelerate affordability and access – which when achieved gets us national scale penetration, said Dr. Anjana Samadder, President of AAPI.

The Kanya Challenge Award, Transforming Menstrual Hygiene through Indigenous Innovation will be given to the entity submitting “the best plan, using the funds, to achieve material acceleration of affordability and access of an environment-friendly imports-avoiding solution, with the submissions deadline marked for March 31st, 2024.”

WHEELS and AAPI teams will have a joint panel of experts to select the winning entry for the announcement at the appropriate forum soon after. The Project – Kanya is aimed at developing a high-performance, eco-friendly absorbent material for feminine hygiene products using locally sourced Indian materials; and, commercializing the product, achieving sales and use by 100,000 consumers with at least 50% satisfaction (based on surveys by 10% of users).

The Panel Session was led by Dr. Inderpal Chhabra, Dr. Anajana Samadder, President, AAPI, Dr. Sumul Rawal, Secretary, AAPI, Anitha Thampi (of MCup), Jayadeep Mandal: Aakar Innovations & Aakar Social Ventures, Prof Virendra Kumar Vijay (of IIT-Delhi’s UBA Program) speaking on UBA supporting Saukhyam: Dr. Meenakshi Bharat, a Gynecologist and Fertility specialist who is a green campaigner, an advocate for Clean India. Prof Satish Agnihotri: Professor, Centre for Technology Alternatives for Rural Areas (CTARA), IIT Bombay with messages from Dr. Raj Shah, Dr. Vriti Khurana Founder, Kanya Project and Ratan Agarwal, President of Wheels Global Foundation.

The panel discussion focused on the five compelling solutions we are bringing to the target beneficiaries – to not only address the unmet need for 46m rural girls and women but do it with environmentally friendly (sustainable) solutions that also eliminate India’s import bill.

The panel discussion focused on the innovations by NOBA Initiative for Menstrual Health, M-Cup by Anitha Thampi (IIT-B CTARA graduate) – supported by Prof Satish Agnihotri (IIT-B) and Prof Kannan’s Spoken Tutorials solution (to make it easy to communicate value-proposition to rural residents); Anandi Pads by Jayadeep Mandal, supported by WHEELS’ Yogesh and Arjun Malhotra, Saukhyam founded by IIT-Delhi alum Praveen Bist and Anju Bist – providing Banana fiber-based solution, and, Aashraya Seth providing a low-cost dispenser (Rs. 2,500) for schools along with education curriculum and reusable cloth-based pads.

“Kanya project” was first started by a 14-year-old girl Vriti in 2013, after she had visited a village in Telangana, deeply disturbed and saddened by the lack of support for young girls like herself. She raised funds in the US, collaborating with an Indian company “Aakaar” and had the first self-sustaining “sanitary napkin manufacturing machine” installed in Burgula, Telangana, India in 2018. Today, there are multiple companies that are working towards the same goals and we at WHEELS Global Foundation would like to take the issue of “Period Poverty” forward. (

UNICEF reports that “in countries where menstrual hygiene is taboo, girls in puberty are typically absent for 20% of the school year”. Most girls drop out at around 11 to 12 years old and miss school not simply because they fear being teased by their classmates if they show stains from their period, but also because they are not educated about their periods, and their need for safe and clean facilities is not prioritized.

WHEELS’ objective is to drive a portfolio of solutions to address the problem at a national scale in the next 3-5 years so there is a right-fit solution to each segment – meeting affordability, accessibility, sustainability, and self-reliance for the country.

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 for the health and wellbeing of all the peoples of the world. For more details, please visit: and

AAPI’s Global Healthcare Summit Begins at AIIMS in New Delhi

New Delhi (January 2, 2023): The 17th annual Global Healthcare Summit by the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) began focusing on the theme, “Cutting Edge in Healthcare and Artificial Intelligence” at the pioneering All India Medical Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in New Delhi on January 2nd, 2023.

In her welcome address, Dr. Anjana Samadder, President of the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) said, “I extend my warmest greetings to each and every one of you attending this prestigious 17th annual Global Healthcare Summit in New Delhi and Manipal. For the first time it is being held in two cities, in collaboration with prestigious institutions, such as AIIMS, New Delhi and MAHE in Manipal. As the president of AAPI, I’m honored to welcome a diverse gathering of experts, policymakers, healthcare professionals, and advocates dedicate dedicated to advancing global health. I want to thank was speakers and sponsors for their contributions.”

For the first time ever, AAPI has planned to have the annual Global Healthcare Summit (GHS) in two cities in India, giving delegates, who are coming from the United States to participate in GHS and gain a unique perspective and experience India from the North and the South ,

AAPI’s 17th annual Global Healthcare Summit (GHS) 2024 being held at the at the Le Meridien Hotel from January 1-3rd and at the Kasturba Medical College, Manipal, MAHE in Karnataka from January 4th to 6th, 2023. The GHS was inaugurated at the prestigious Le Meridien Hotel in New Delhi with a memorable New Year’s Day Eve celebration on December 31st, 2023.

GHS is being organied by AAPI in collaboration with AAIMS, Kasturba Medical College in Manipal, the Indian Medical Association, and the Government of the State of Karnataka and the Global Association of Indian Medical Students (GAIMS),

AAPI Collage 1The annual event of AAPI, GHS has contributed to ushering in new ways of providing healthcare to India’s 1.4 billion people, who live in the congested urban centers and in the rural/remote regions of the country. The 17th annual GHS will build on the past initiatives and add several new programs, Dr. Samadder added.

Dr. Sampat Shivangi, Chair of GHS 2024 said, “With the rapidly changing healthcare landscape, AAPI has rightly chosen to focus on the future of Healthcare and Artificial Intelligence during the GHS 2024, and is being organized in collaboration with AIIMs, and University of Manipal, which are in the league of the best academic centers. With the invention of Artificial Intelligence, we want to explore its impact on Medicine and Healthcare in the 21st century.

In his keynote address, Dr. Anupam Sibal, Chair of GHS – Delhi highlighted the enormous accomplishments of India and Indian Americans across many spectrums. He pointed to the advances in Medical Education in India, particularly since its independence, “In the past seven to eight decades, we’ve made considerable progress in higher education, and this is just a snapshot of the area. We have 149 institutes of national importance, more than 1000 universities and more than 50,000 colleges. fourth highest number of doctoral graduates in the world, the fourth highest research output in the world. We produce 6.5 million graduates every year 1.5 million engineers, 300,000 MBAs and 100,000 graduates.:

In his address, M. Srinivasan, Director of AIIMS said, “It is my pleasure that we are onboard with AAPI for its 17th annual Global Healthcare Summit. AIIMS New Delhi was established in 1956 to accomplish the trinity of mission, advanced medical education, cutting edge research, and quality patient care. I am certain that this conference will act as a platform for exchange of ideas and collaboration across the domains for cutting edge research and breakthrough in medical education. We look forward to meeting professionals, researchers and experts in the field of healthcare and research from across the globe.”

AAPI Collage 3Dr. Lokesh Edara, Chair of AAPI BOT said, “AAPI’s GHS is yet another way of continuing with our constant commitment towards making quality healthcare affordable and accessible to all the people of India. In addition, GHS 2024 focusses on promoting Healthcare Technology including Artificial Intelligence in the Healthcare arena.”

Several prominent physicians and academicians are participating at the GHS and are leading the keynote addresses and are chairing various academic sessions that are being organized during the summit. Latest Advances, CME, ELS, Discussions on Research Methodology, and Scientific Writing by Academic Experts are part of the summit.

The CEO Forum addressed by eminent panelists that included, Air Marshal Sadhana Nair, Saurav Kasera, Sreeprasad Guduppa, Sudharshan Jain, Shenoy Robinson, Karthikeyan, IPS, and Suresh Samuel, in their eloquent addresses spoke on Equity, Ethics, and how to adapt to the changing landscape in the healthcare arena and make a positive and lasting impact, benefitting the physicians, industries and the larger population.

Physician Burnout and mitigating mental health issues among physicians was the major theme during the evening session, moderated by Dr. Shubham Anand, Dr. Inderpal Chadda, and Dr. Chanchal Pal. Distinguished panelists included: Dr. Sreenivasan, Director of AIIMS; Dr. Suresh Kumar, Director of LNJP Hospital; Dr. Subhash Giri, Director of LHMC; Dr. Ishwar Singh, Director of Indira Gandhi Hospital; Dr. Vinay Kumar, President, RDA, AIIMS; and Dr. Rohan Krishnan, Chairman, FAIMAR.

Dr. Amit Chakrabarty, Vice President of AAPI, said, “It is these learning opportunities and collaborative relationships that have now enabled AAPI and participating organizations to be part of an outstanding event attended by nearly 100 prominent and experienced physicians and surgeons of Indian origin from around the world, who are very passionate about serving their homeland, Mother India.”

Dr. Sumul Raval, Secretary of AAPI said, “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. AAPI’s mission is to make a positive and meaningful impact on the healthcare delivery system both in the US and in India.”

AAPI Collage 4“AAPI GHS offers an opportunity to meet directly with these physicians who are leaders in their fields and play an integral part in the decision-making process regarding new products and services,” Dr. Sreeni Gangasani, Treasurer of AAPI said.

Healthcare in India is one of the largest sectors, in terms of revenue and employment. India is making significant improvements in its healthcare infrastructure and is building modern medical facilities throughout India. Doctors of Indian origin have made tremendous progress in the 21st century and India is now being touted as a medical tourism hub.

The Global Healthcare Summit has come a long way from the first Indo-US Healthcare Summit launched by AAPI USA in 2007. Since then, AAPI has organized 16 Indo – US/Global Healthcare Summits and developed strategic alliances with various organizations.

Highlighting the importance of the flagship annual GHS, Dr. Samadder said, “This summit serves as a powerful platform for knowledge exchange, collaboration, and the forging of meaningful partnerships. The work we do today paves the way for a healthcare landscape that is more efficient, accessible and affordable toward all individuals. For more details, please visit:

Investment Banker Tarun Ghulati Enters 2024 London Mayoral Race, Promising Transformation and Fresh Vision for the Capital

Investment banker Tarun Ghulati has declared his candidacy for the 2024 London mayoral elections, expressing a commitment to bring about a fresh perspective in response to the desires of Londoners for “something different.” With two decades of residency in the city, Ghulati aims to address concerns about the incumbent mayor, whom he accuses of having “brought London to a standstill.” If successful in the election scheduled for May 2, the 63-year-old, hailing from north London, envisions a transformative agenda for the capital, placing a primary emphasis on rejuvenating the city’s transportation system.

Ghulati, in an interview with the BBC, outlined his determination to “get London moving again” by proposing the complete abolition of the Ultra Low Emission Zone (Ulez). In addition to scrapping the Ulez, he plans to eliminate the congestion charge on weekends and holidays, coupled with initiating a comprehensive review of the existing 20mph speed limit zones and Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs). Ghulati’s stance aligns with several other mayoral candidates, including those from the Conservative Party, Reform UK, and various independents, who have also expressed intentions to reverse the Ulez expansion if elected.

Among his priorities, Ghulati emphasizes the need to bolster law enforcement in the city, advocating for an increased police presence on the streets and the establishment of additional police stations in areas grappling with high crime rates. This focus on public safety underscores his commitment to addressing the concerns of Londoners and creating a safer urban environment.

The London mayoral race features a diverse array of candidates, with seven others vying for the position. The candidates include Rob Blackie of the Liberal Democrats, Natalie Campbell running independently, Howard Cox as an independent candidate, Zoe Garbett representing the Green Party, Susan Hall from the Conservative Party, Sadiq Khan of the Labour Party, and Andreas Michli as an independent candidate.

Originating from India, Ghulati, now a seasoned businessman, highlighted his observation that “London can be a lonely place to live.” In response to this, he envisions fostering greater community cohesion, expressing concern about the isolation of various communities and the lack of a sense of belonging among residents. Ghulati’s personal experiences and cultural background inform his commitment to a “levelling up agenda” for the capital, where he envisions improvements in living standards for those facing poverty and an increased emphasis on digital connectivity for all of London.

In an effort to distinguish himself from traditional politicians, Ghulati, in his conversation with the BBC, emphasized his status as a non-politician, positioning himself as a “catalyst for positive change.” He believes that his outsider perspective will resonate with voters seeking a departure from the political status quo. Ghulati aspires to be the embodiment of the change Londoners are craving, emphasizing that people desire someone different to lead the city.

As the 2024 London mayoral elections approach, Ghulati’s candidacy introduces a unique blend of business acumen, cultural sensitivity, and a commitment to addressing key issues affecting Londoners. His proposals to overhaul the city’s transportation policies, enhance public safety, and foster community cohesion underscore a comprehensive vision for London’s future. The electorate now faces a choice among a diverse pool of candidates, each offering their own perspective on the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for the dynamic and vibrant city of London.

Mass Wedding in Kabul: A Symbol of Love Amid Economic Challenges

In a heartwarming display of unity and resilience, a mass wedding ceremony recently took place in Kabul, Afghanistan, involving 50 couples. These collective celebrations have become increasingly common as low-income couples seek alternatives to the exorbitant costs associated with traditional weddings.

The brides, veiled and concealed in a separate wing, made their appearance only after the midday meal, according to reports from local media. The event, meticulously organized by a charitable organization, not only joined couples in matrimony but also provided them with essential items such as carpets and household appliances to help them embark on their married lives.

An official from the Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice addressed the attendees during the understated ceremonies. While Koranic recitations filled the air, it’s important to note that dancing and music, once integral parts of joyous occasions, remain effectively banned by the Taliban rulers who returned to power in August 2021.

The newlyweds, adorned in traditional attire, were whisked away in cars adorned with green ribbons and heart-shaped red plastic roses. This poignant scene symbolized not only the union of hearts but also the hope for a shared future despite the challenges imposed by societal restrictions.

Roohullah Rezayi, an 18-year-old from the Hazara Shia Muslim minority in Ghor province, shared with AFP news agency the financial constraints that led him to opt for a mass wedding. He revealed, “A traditional wedding would have cost us at least 200,000 to 250,000 Afghanis [£2,220 to £2,770; $2,800 to $3,600], but this time it will be between 10,000 and 15,000 Afghanis.” Roohullah, who earns a modest income of 350 Afghanis per day through odd jobs, emphasized the financial relief provided by this collective celebration. “We invited 35 people from our two families; otherwise, it would have been 300 to 400,” he added.

For many grooms, like 23-year-old Samiullah Zamani, a farmer from Kabul province, the mass wedding marked the end of a prolonged wait. Expressing his excitement, Samiullah said, “I’ve been waiting for this day for three years. I can’t wait to see her.”

This mass wedding serves as a testament to the economic challenges faced by the Afghan populace, particularly the lower-income individuals who struggle to finance elaborate ceremonies. It reflects a growing trend where couples are opting for more affordable and practical alternatives to celebrate their love, even in the face of societal constraints.

The choice to organize such collective ceremonies not only alleviates the financial burden on individual couples but also underscores the resilience of the Afghan people in finding ways to celebrate love and commitment. The provision of essential items by the organizing charity further emphasizes the collaborative effort to support these couples as they embark on their marital journeys.

While the traditional elements of music and dance may be absent due to the prevailing restrictions, the couples’ joy and the communal celebration paint a picture of hope and unity. The decorated cars carrying the newlyweds through the streets serve as a visual representation of the community’s support for these unions, despite the challenges imposed by the current political climate.

As the newlyweds begin their lives together, this mass wedding stands as a poignant reminder of the strength of love and the resilience of individuals in the face of adversity. It signifies a departure from extravagant ceremonies, highlighting the importance of simplicity, unity, and community support in celebrating the enduring bonds of marriage.

India’s Modi hosts Christian leaders for Christmas amid rising persecution

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, leader of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), hosted over 100 Christian leaders from all denominations at his official residence on Christmas morning amid criticism for the continued persecution of Christians in India.

Several Catholic leaders, including Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Mumbai and Delhi Archbishop Anil Couto, who were seated on either side of Modi during the event, were in attendance.

The archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Church, Kuriakose Bharanikulangara, and Bishop Thomas mar Anthonios of the Syro-Malankara Church also joined bishops of different denominations and Christian leaders from different walks of life at the gathering.

Asked to comment on the meeting with the prime minister, considering the uptick in attacks on Christians in the country, Bharanikulangara told CNA: “Everybody knows what is happening … But when the prime minister invites [us], how can we decline?”

“It is for the prime minister to show that he is really concerned about the Christians,” said Bharanikulangara, a former Vatican diplomat.

“Christmas is an occasion to remember Jesus Christ’s life’s message and values,” Modi said, addressing the gathering of Christian leaders that included academicians and Christian businessmen from across the country. The prime minister went on to hail the service of the Christians, saying: “The nation proudly acknowledges the contribution of the Christian community.”

“Our government is ensuring that the benefits of development reach everyone and no one is left untouched,” Modi said, adding that many people of the Christian faith, especially poor segments, are benefitting from his government’s welfare programs.

Among several Christians who spoke during the two-hour program was Cardinal Gracias, who thanked Modi for his “efforts” on behalf of the country, the Christian community, and the world.

“Our country could be the leading country in the world,” Gracias said, according to an ANI report.

However, several Christians said they were skeptical about the motivation behind Modi’s Christmas meeting and his failure to address the steadily worsening persecution that has taken place in nearly a decade of Modi rule.

“This [Christmas celebration] is a political gimmick and image-making by Prime Minister Modi ahead of the next elections,” A C Michael, an outspoken Catholic activist, told CNA.

“We are concerned over the silence of Prime Minister Modi, who praises Christian service publicly but does nothing to stop the increasing violence and persecution of Christians,” pointed out Michael, coordinator of the United Christian Forum (UCF), which monitors atrocities and incidents of persecution against Christians.

UCF published a report Dec. 8 recording 687 incidents of violence against Christians in 334 days of 2023 (from the start of the year to the end of November). The report further said that while only 147 incidents of violence against Christians were reported in 2014 (when the BJP regime under Modi came to power), the incidents steadily spiraled to reach 687 by November’s end.

Armed with this data, Michael along with Catholic activist John Dayal and Supreme Court lawyer Sister Mary Scaria addressed a news conference with secular activists on Dec. 28 in New Delhi on the Modi government’s “Lunch Diplomacy and Christian Persecution.”

“The prime minister is not only free but duty-bound to embrace the nation’s religious minorities and invite their leaders to functions at his house on Christmas. … But the Christmas spirit must not let us forget the condition and tribulations of our brothers and sisters who suffer because of government impunity and the brazen political elements who have no respect for the constitution of India and its guarantees of freedoms to the citizens,” the Catholic leaders lamented in their press statement.

“The persecution of the community is rampant, hate towards it from the highest quarters of nationalist religious leadership as deep as it can be,” they decried.

“The government seems keen to starve it [Christianity] out of existence by withdrawing the FCRAs [license to receive foreign donations] of a vast number of churches and its NGOs [nongovernmental organizations], and using the investigating agencies against cardinals and bishops, pastors and laypeople. In UP [Uttar Pradesh], for instance, over 100 pastors and even ordinary men and women are in jail under charges of illegal conversions when celebrating birthdays or conducting Sunday prayers,” the statement said.

Dayal, former president of All India Catholic Union, dubbed Modi’s Christmas hosting of Christian leadership as “just an eyewash to impress the Christians.”

“The prime minister has made a mockery of the pains of the Christian community by remaining silent and [was] not bothered to even visit bleeding Manipur,” Dayal told CNA Dec. 29.

“If he was concerned about peace and safety of the hounded Christians, he could have taken stern preemptive action to curb and stop the Manipur violence,” Dayal added.

Beginning in May, Manipur state in northeast India, which borders Myanmar, has witnessed a protracted violent ethnic clash between the majority Meiteis, most of them Hindus, and the minority Kuki tribals (almost all of them Christians).

St Paul's Church in Imphal capital of Manipur state after the church was set on fire in 2023 Credit Anto Akkara
St. Paul’s Church, in Imphal, capital of Manipur state, after the church was set on fire in 2023. Credit: Anto Akkara

Among the nearly 200 killed and over 60,000 displaced in Manipur, the overwhelming majority are Kukis who have been chased out from Meitei strongholds, such as the Imphal Valley, in the simmering violence.

Media and independent investigators have blamed the BJP-led state government’s condoning of the violence by Meitei groups that have also destroyed or damaged more than 600 churches.

A Bold Call to Action in the Heart of New York City

On December 19, 2023, the bustling streets of New York City witnessed an extraordinary event that turned heads and sparked critical conversations. On Fifth Avenue, a giant puppet resembling Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi rode in a convertible, brandishing a banner with a provocative message: “I could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and get away with it, OK?” This audacious display, echoing a controversial statement made by former presidential candidate Donald Trump in 2016, was more than a theatrical stunt; it was a stark symbol of protest and a desperate cry for global attention.

The Collaborative Effort of Diaspora Groups

This remarkable demonstration was the brainchild of leading Hindu, Sikh, and Muslim diaspora organizations. These groups came together in a show of unity and strength to highlight a disturbing and pressing issue: the alleged strategy of the Indian government in assassinating and intimidating US citizens of Indian descent, as well as other activists living abroad. The audacity of this act in a foreign nation and its implications for international relations and human rights have raised significant alarms.

Alarming Incidents and International Concerns

A Bold Call to Action in the Heart of New York City 2The backdrop to this protest is a series of troubling events that have unfolded both in the United States and Canada. In June, reports emerged of an alleged attempt by Indian authorities to assassinate a US citizen in New York. This harrowing incident occurred simultaneously with the killing of a prominent Canadian Sikh activist. The situation escalated to such an extent that the FBI felt compelled to warn several activists in California about similar threats. These incidents are not random or isolated; they represent a clear and disturbing pattern of behavior that has caught the attention of US prosecutors and the international community.

Voices of Protest and the Demand for Action

Sunita Viswanath of Hindus for Human Rights put forth a powerful message: “The point we make is deadly serious. American lives are not chips in trade deals. It’s high time President Biden acknowledges this reality and communicates unequivocally to both American citizens and Prime Minister Modi that our lives matter and are to be protected.”

Echoing these sentiments, Safa Ahmed of the Indian American Muslim Council highlighted the urgency of the situation: “We find ourselves asking who is next and what will it take for our government to intervene? America needs to stand up not just for its citizens but also for the principles of democracy and human rights across the globe.”

The Significance of the Stunt and the Path Forward

Today’s event in NYC was not just a visual spectacle; it was a powerful and symbolic act of protest and a call for urgent action. It reminds us of the critical role of democratic nations in safeguarding the rights and lives of individuals, regardless of their nationality or location. The Biden administration, along with the global community, faces a crucial test in responding to these allegations and taking concrete steps to ensure the safety and rights of diaspora communities.

In the wake of this demonstration, we are left with pressing questions: How will the global community respond to these alleged acts of cross-border violence? What measures will be taken to protect the vulnerable and hold perpetrators accountable? The answers to these questions will shape the future of international relations, human rights, and the very essence of democratic values.

As we reflect on the events of today, let us remember that the struggle for human rights and justice knows no borders. It is a universal pursuit that demands our collective attention and action.

FIA-Chicago and Indian Consulate Hold OCI Camp

The Federation of Indian Associations of Chicago (Established in 1980) and India’s Consulate in Chicago hosted an Overseas Citizen of India/Passport Camp Chicago at Manav Seva Mandir, Bensenville, IL on Dec 10, 2023.

The camp was attended by more than 500 families of Indian descent, a press release from Asian Media USA said.

Consul General Somnath Ghosh extended all the support from his office providing more than six staff members to help answer questions and process the paperwork for OCI Cards. More than 550 individuals registered for the OCI camp, where 590 individuals took advantage of the services offered, including new applications.

According to organizers, the camp offered the following:

– OCI Card Services: The camp offered a streamlined process for various OCI services, including new applications, re-issuance, and addressing queries related to OCI cards.

FIA Chicago and Indian Consulate Hold OCI Camp 1-Indian Passport Services: Attendees had the opportunity to engage with consular officials, seeking guidance and support on various consular matters, ensuring a seamless experience for all.

– Informational Sessions: Expert-led informational sessions were conducted, covering topics such as legal rights, cultural exchange programs, and updates on the latest developments related to OCI regulations.

–Adhaar card and Pan Card: The event also featured queries and assistance filling out forms and form attestation.

-Visa applications: Participants had the chance to apply for an Indian Visa and submit the applications for the same.

The Consul General and VSF representative expressed gratitude for the FIA initiative and the community’s active participation, saying, “The OCI Camp reflects our ongoing commitment to providing essential services and support to the Indian diaspora. We are grateful for the partnership with the Federation of Indian Associations, which has contributed to the success of this event.”

“Collaborating with the [Embassy/Consulate General] for this OCI Camp has been a significant step towards strengthening our community bonds. We look forward to more such initiatives that benefit the Indian diaspora,” said Dr, Rashmi Patel, president of the Federation of Indian Associations Chicago. The FIA also thanked Manav Seva Mandir and its volunteers for allowing the use of the facility and resources to hold the camp.

Dr. Bharat Barai praised the success of the camp and said the community needed to conduct this type of camp at least twice a year. He noted the presence of the FIA’s executie committee members Nitin Patel (Ex. VP), Vijendra Doma, and Dr. Hemant Patel. Also present were FIA Trustees Bhailal Patel, Kanti S. Patel, Kanti N. Patel, Rajesh Patel, Hina Trivedi and Ajai Agnihotri.

The FIA provided 7 laptops 3 printers/scanners as well as snacks and refreshment for the event and Manish Jain and Aalap Patel provided Notary services throughout the day pro bono.

FIA Holds Health Fair, Coat and Blanket Drive in Chicago 

Chicago IL: On Dec 03, 2023, Federation of Indian Associations, Chicago (FIA) organized a Health Fair and Coat and Blanket donation drive at the Golf Maine Community Center in Niles. This event was attended by more than hundreds of folks from Chicago land. The event was supposed to end at twelve noon, yet people continued to walk-in. Excellent arrangements were made for the guests by providing them early morning breakfast, tea, and coffee as many of the people came for the testing and the blood work, fasting.

This event was based on the core values of FIA of servicing the community in which we all live. There were more than 40 volunteers from the FIA team to ensure everything went with precision. Doctors from different specialties provided their services free on a Sunday morning, and they all said ‘time well spent’. The registration desk was taken care of by special multilingual volunteers who ensured all the details were captured, including the HIPAA release forms. This made the senior citizens who did not know English very welcome. The key question that was never ever asked during the six hours was ‘Do you have insurance? as everything was free to our guests.  Apart from doctors, we had people from Medicare, Medicaid, and Home Care Solutions. Dr. Raj Dhingra, renowned Chiropractic and Acupuncture consultant, brought his entire team to support the event. During the doctor speak session, Dr Parag Doshi, a noted cardiologist, went into details about how we should take care of a diet and lifestyle to ensure we have a healthy heart for a very long time. Dr Alamdar Badar and Ashima spoke about the care of the teeth and how it impacts the overall well-being and why it is important to have preventive care.

FIA Holds Health Fair Coat and Blanket Drive in Chicago 2The highlight of the event was the use of innovative technology in detecting foot problems. Krishna Chitluri brought his entire computerized equipment, which was based on artificial intelligence to analyze and diagnose foot problems, He also provided solutions after identifying the issues in the feet. Anu Malhotra, the Vedic and Yoga Guru, conducted a session on stress relief and exercises for the seniors. We could hear from folks in the room, on how relaxed and energetic they felt, after the session. Dr. Usha Karthan conducted a session on the need for identifying psychological issues in the current population and provided an overview on the resources available to take guidance and help in resolving psychiatric problems.

Phase two of the program began by the FIA Chairman and Founder Mr. Sunil Shah informing everyone that this was the 13th event conducted by FIA, this year in the service of the community and the society. Sunil Shah also emphasized the importance of healthcare and how the idea came up when the FIA Executive Board realized that there were many underinsured or uninsured people in our community who could not see a doctor when required. This was followed by the President of FIA, Vinita Gulabani, talking about the different events organized over the year successfully, for the community, and how we have more events coming up in December of 2023. President-Elect, Miss Pratibha Jairath spoke about the upcoming event next week, which now focused more on the children and young adults, ‘Toy donations and Coat drive’. Pratibha Jairath also spoke about the close collaboration that FIA has with various government agencies, such as State reps, Mayors, City Councils of different parts, the Chicago area, and how FIA works in supporting the communities at all levels. As a part of this Health Fair, coat drives and blanket donations were included. More than 300 items were collected within six hours, which will be donated to the needy this winter and help them keep warm.

Part of Phase Three of the program was the speech by the Chief Guest of the day, Ms. Michelle Mussman, State Representative of Illinois. Congresswoman Ms. Michelle, President Vinita Gulabani, President-elect Pratibha Jairath, and Founder-Chairman, Sunil Shah, distributed awards for people who contributed to the growth of FIA under their leadership in 2023. These volunteers contributed hundreds of hours over the year to ensure the success of these events. Awards were presented to Jitendra Bulsara, Richa Chand, Jenish Bulsara, Dr Bhupinder Beri, Kamlesh Kapoor, Anu Malhotra and Harry Sidhu. Vandana Jhingan from the Press and Media was specially called out and honored for the community service and supporting each and every event of FIA and others.

A special award was given to Jayantibhai Thakkar for his contribution to his 40th health fair in the Chicagoland area. Past President Neil Khot spoke about more such events in the upcoming year, which will include Visa Services, Tax services, and General Counseling for people in the Chicagoland region. This program was supported by the Consulate General of India Chicago. In the vote of thanks, Kamlesh Kapoor, said, everybody agreed it was a Sunday well spent and hundreds of people benefited for six hours.

Kamlesh Kapoor thanked FIA sponsors, FIA Leadership, and the super-busy doctors and healthcare givers who provided generosity, endless commitment, and invaluable services. It was inspirational to see our own FIA Executive Director Ila Patel, the super charged phlebotomist, be on her feet and actually taking the blood samples for the entire duration of the program. The required equipment and blood sampling kits were provided by Neal Patel from MedStar. The program concluded with a very healthy and balanced lunch, which was designed especially by our very own dietitian associated with FIA.

The grand finale of the event featured a delicious Punjabi feast, bringing the day to a close on a satisfying note. The Senior Friendship Group Chicago’s Christmas Party was a resounding success, weaving together joy, camaraderie, and the spirit of the festive season.

Bihar-Jharkhand Association Plans For 50th Anniversary  Under New Leadership

The Bihar Jharkhand Association of North America (BJANA) recently elected new leadership for the 2-year term 2024-2025.

Sanjeev Singh, who has served BJANA in various capacities including as Secretary, and as Vice President, has been elected as the new President of BJANA.

The other office-bearers include Priti Kashyap as Vice President, Sushant Krishen as Secretary, Vandana Kumar as Joint Secretary, and Priya Ranjan as Treasurer. Additionally, the elected executive members are Dr. Avishek Kumar, Akhilesh Azad, Sarika Dubey, Dipen Banerjee, Rahul Sahay, Ranjeet Kumar, Anish Anand, Bishwanath Sharma, and Saloni Sah.

Established in 1975, BJANA says it remains steadfast in its commitment to continuing its philanthropic efforts. For the future, it has set an ambitious goal to celebrate its grand golden jubilee, marking 50 years of service, and community engagement. The participation from all over North America indicates a desire to unite and involve a broad spectrum of individuals who share a connection with Bihar and Jharkhand, the organization said in a press release.

BJANA achieved significant milestones under its previous President, Anurag Kumar, providing valuable services to the people of Bihar and Jharkhand in the USA, and in India, a press release from the organization said. Sanjeev Singh expressed his gratitude to Anurag Kumar for his guidance, and the opportunity to serve the community.

Anurag Kumar expressed confidence in the new team, and wished them success.

The BJANA Election Commission, consisting of Late Dr. Anil Kumar, Ranjit Sinha, and Rakesh Kumar, also congratulated the new team and the young leaders.

Several community leaders, including Dr. Avinash Gupta, Dr. Binod Sinha, Dr. Sudhanshu Prasad, Shashi Sinha, Rajiv Akhaury, Bhawesh Choudhary, Anjali Prasad, and Vinay Singh, congratulated the new team, and wished them well. Alok Kumar, the past president of the Federation of Indian Association, and a BJANA member, also did the same.

Sanjeev Singh, born and raised in Bokaro Steel City with roots in Vaishali, Bihar, brings a wealth of experience to his new role, the press release said. With a management and finance background, he has spent close to two decades in the USA, working with global consulting organizations, and serving Wall Street financial services firms.

He maintains connections to his roots, and has actively participated in various community activities, and implemented many new ideas, including mentoring BJANA’s new generation and summer camp, working with local philanthropic organizations, building welfare partnerships in Bihar and Jharkhand, and establishing collaborations with local businesses in the USA to raise funds for BJANA’s charitable causes, and events.

Singh wants to press on with strengthening the community’s youth development network, building a robust professional network, backing entrepreneurs, and startups in the USA. His other objectives include fostering collaboration with colleges, and universities in Bihar & Jharkhand, and actively participating in community development initiatives related to economy, education, and health.

Senior Friendship Group Chicago’s Festive Extravaganza Unveiled in a Symphony of Joy and Unity for Christmas

Chicago, IL:The Senior Friendship Group Chicago, a close-knit community of seniors, recently organized a joyous Christmas Party on December 17, 2023, from 9:30 AM to 3 PM. The event was filled with heartwarming moments, delicious treats, and a variety of performances.

The festivities kicked off with a delightful breakfast featuring hot tea, coffee, and cookies, fostering a warm and communal atmosphere. President Harshadbhai Patel extended heartfelt wishes for a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all attendees, including special guest Jayeshbhai Parekh. An overview of the day’s program was also presented.

Senior Friendship Group Chicago's Festive Extravaganza Unveiled in a Symphony of Joy and Unity for Christmas 2Notable highlights of the event included the honoring of Jayeshbhai Parekh by Harshadbhai Patel, Smita Parekh, Pinkiben, and Dineshbhai Thakker. Pinkiben shared festive greetings, sang Ganapati Aarti, while Smita Parekh mesmerized the audience with Pratharna and Madhurashtakam. Kantibhai Patel added a musical touch with a Christmas song, and Kiritbhai Thakkar and Pinkiben showcased Srinathji’s Bhagan. Jayashreeben Pandya presented Shiv Stuti, adding a spiritual dimension to the celebration.

The birthdays of members born in December were joyously celebrated, with Dineshbhai Thakkar, Meenaben Patel, and others cutting a cake and dancing to the birthday song. The atmosphere was lively and filled with laughter, creating cherished memories for everyone.

Asian Media USA played a crucial role in capturing the day’s highlights through pictures and videos. Harshadbhai Parekh expressed gratitude for his efforts, ensuring that the memories would be cherished for years to come.

Jigar Kiritbhai Shah took the opportunity to advertise Sahara Home Care, sharing information about his presentation and generously gifting water bottles and other items to all members and guests. His announcement added an extra layer of joy to the event.

In a delightful celebration of December birthdays, Dineshbhai Thakkar orchestrated a joyous event. Sunilbhai Shah and Pinkiben Thakkar, with their melodious voices, initiated birthday songs, creating a lively atmosphere. Harshadbhai Parekh, the President, added a special touch by starting the DJ, unleashing a burst of dance and happiness among members and guests. This innovative and memorable event marked a unique moment in the senior group’s history, and Harshadbhai expressed gratitude to Sunilbhai Shah and Pinkiben for their exceptional contributions. Kudos to their dynamic leadership!

The festivities continued with a lively Gujarati garba, where all the sisters of the group joined in, creating a jubilant and celebratory atmosphere.

First Time Ever AAPI Plans Global Healthcare Summit In Two Cities In India

Chicago, IL, December 11, 2023: “For the first time ever the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) has planned to have the annual Global Healthcare Summit (GHS) in two Cities IN India, giving delegates, who are coming to India to participate in GHS a unique perspective and experience from the North and the South India,” Dr. Anjana Samadder, President of the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) announced here today.

The flagship annual event of AAPI, the Global Healthcare Summit has contributed to ushering in new ways ofFirst Time Ever AAPI Plans Global Healthcare Summit In Two Cities In India 2 providing healthcare to India’s 1.4 Billion people, who live in the congested urban centers and in the rural/remote regions of the country. The 17th annual GHS will build on the past initiatives and add several new programs, Dr. Samadder added.

“The registration for AAPI’s 17th annual Global Healthcare Summit 2024 at the prestigious Le Meridien Hotel from January 1-3rd and at the Kasturba Medical College, Manipal, Mahe in Karnataka from January 4th to 6th, 2023 is filling up fast,” said Dr. Samadder. The CMEs and other related events will be held at the pioneering All India al Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in New Delhi on the January 2nd.

Dr. Lokesh Edara, Chair of AAPI BOT said, “AAPI’s GHS is yet another way of continuing with our constant commitment towards making quality healthcare affordable and accessible to all the people of India. In addition, GHS 2024 will also focus on promoting Healthcare Technology including Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare.”

First Time Ever AAPI Plans Global Healthcare Summit In Two Cities In India 3While elaborating on the themes and areas that are going to be covered during the Summit, Dr. Sampat Shivangi, Chair of GHS 2024 said, “Future of Healthcare and Artificial Intelligence” will be the theme for the GHS 2024, which is organized by AAPI in collaboration with Kasturba Medical College in Manipal, the Indian Medical Association, and the Government of the State of Karnataka.”

The GHS will be inaugurated at the Le Meridien Hotel in New Delhi with a memorable New Year’s Day Eve celebration on December 31st, 2023.

Several prominent physicians and academicians have been invited and have been accepted to be the keynote speakers and chairs of various academic sessions planned and organized during the summit. Latest Advances, CME, ELS, Discussions on Research Methodology, and Scientific Writing by Academic Experts will be part of the summit.

The focus this year will be on Mental Health, Infant and Maternal Mortality as well as Medical Jeopardy and Research Poster presentations by medical students. In addition, there will be panel discussions by International Medical Education experts and National Medical Council Board officials and mentoring of Young Professionals.

Advocacy to dismantle the stigma of mental illness and Suicide Prevention will be the highlight of the program. Chronic Disease Reversal and Prevention, Rural Health Initiatives will continue to be promoted and other Global Health Issues including Climate Change and its impact on health will be discussed.

The CEO Forum will focus on Equity, Ethics, and Physician Burnout issues. The Women’s Forum will deliberate on Gender Bias and Leadership. Dr. Manoj Jain, Chair of CETI – Collaboration to Eliminate TB in India supported by CDC and USAID will discuss their ongoing long-term TB Elimination Projects in India. Comprehensive details and outcomes of TB Elimination Projects in India will be presented to the GHS delegates.

Other activities will include CPR Training for Police personnel; a Walkathon on combating mental health stigma and prevention of Childhood Obesity and several other initiatives will be announced, including treatment modalities for non-communicable medical diseases.

Dr. Anupam Seibel, GHS Chair – New Delhi says, “With physicians from the United States, the Summit is expected to be attended by nearly 400 delegates from India, the US and other parts of 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.”

Lt. Gen. Dr. M.D. Venkatesh, Co-Chair of GHS – India says, “Many of the physicians who will attend this convention have excelled in different specialties and subspecialties and occupy high positions as faculty members of medical schools, heads of departments, and executives of hospitals and pharma companies.

According to GHS Convenor – USA, Dr. Subramanya Bhatt, “The preliminary program is in place, the major attractions include cutting-edge CMEs with renowned speakers, CEO Forum, Innovation Forum, an Entrepreneur Forum, Women’s Forum, and Product Theaters to highlight the newest advances in patient care and medical technology.”

“Alumni meetings for networking, an AAPI-India Strategic Engagement Forum to showcase the AAPI initiatives in India, TB Eradication in India, and recognition of AAPI Award winners will make this Summit unique,” added Dr. Rohit Singh, GHS Convenor – India.

According to CME Chair – USA Dr. Banbwal Suresh Balinga and CME Chair -India, Dr. Dr. Padmaraj Hegde, the focus of GHS 2024 will be on Mental health, Infant and Maternal Mortality, Medical Jeopardy, and Research Poster presentations by medical students with panel discussions by International Medical Education experts and National Medical Council Board officials will help mentoring of young professionals.

GHS Scientific Chair Dr. Rajendran Alappan said, “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, the GHS in Delhi and Manipal will have clinical tracks that are of vital to healthcare in India.”

Dr. Sumul Raval, Secretary of AAPI says, “GHS 2024 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.”

Healthcare in India is one of the largest sectors, in terms of revenue and employment. India is making significant improvements in its healthcare infrastructure and is building modern medical facilities throughout India. Doctors of Indian origin have made tremendous progress in the 21st century and India is now being touted as a medical tourism hub.

Dr. Anjana Samadder said, “We are collaborating with senior leaders from leading healthcare organizations including pharmaceuticals, device and medical equipment manufacturers and major medical teaching institutions, hospitals and the Ministries of Health, External/Overseas Affairs and regulatory bodies to attend and coordinate with AAPI with an ultimate goal to providing accessible and affordable high-quality healthcare to all people of India.”

The Global Healthcare Summit has come a long way from the first Indo-US Healthcare Summit launched by AAPI USA in 2007. Since then, AAPI has organized 16 Indo – US/Global Healthcare Summits and developed strategic alliances with various organizations.

Dr. Samadder said, AAPI is hopeful that several international healthcare industry partners are looking for opportunities to participate at this event for greater collaboration on Research & Development and philanthropic engagements.

Dr. Samadder expressed gratitude to all the Chairs and members of various Committees who are working hard to put together a great Summit and to enable members to return home with memories that will last a lifetime.

“Physicians and healthcare professionals from across the country and internationally will meet and participate in the scholarly exchange of medical advances, to develop health policy agendas, and to encourage legislative priorities in the coming year. We look forward to seeing you in New Delhi and Manipal!” said Dr. Samadder. For more details, please visit:  To register for the Global Healthcare Summit 2023, please visit:

Rajasthani Association Announces 2023-25 Leadership

The Rajasthan Association of North America has elected a new leadership team for the year 2023-25 .Current president and prominent New York-based social activist Prem Bhandari has been re-elected to the post of president.

In addition to Bhandari serving as president, the newly elected vice president, Dr Sharad Kothari, secretary Ravi Jargad, and treasurer Neelam Modi make up the executive committee of RANA, New York. According to the organization’s election committee, the elections were unanimous.

In light of RANA’s upcoming 25th anniversary, Bhandari announced that preparations are underway to host a worldwide convention next year. The organisation has held several international conventions over the years, which former Rajasthan Chief Ministers, Ashok Gehlot and Vasundhara Raje attended.

RANA’s primary goals include bridging the gap between the state of Rajasthan and its diaspora and bringing attention to and support for Rajasthani cultural heritage across the United States. This year the organisation spearheaded the Millets awareness campaign abroad on the occasion of the International Year of Millets (IYM).

Bhandari, who also serves as the chairman of Jaipur Foot USA and of US chapter of REDIO – Rescuing every Distressed Indian Overseas, was instrumental in the globalisation of the millets awareness campaign. Under his direction an an all millets meal was launched in collaboration with the head chef of New York-based restaurant SAAR. He has also worked with Harsh Vardhan Shringla, Chief Coordinator for India’s G20 Presidency in 2023 to organize the Jodhpur Millets Festival, among others. RANA’s primary goals include bridging the gap between the state of Rajasthan and its diaspora.

Sewa USA Launches Fundraiser For Cyclone Michaung Victims

Sewa USA, a Hindu-faith-based humanitarian nonprofit service organization with over 40 chapters in the country, has called for donations to help victims of the tropical storm cyclone Michaung that recently battered the south Indian states of Andhra Pradesh (AP) and Tamil Nadu (TN).

“Our Cyclone Michaung Relief Fund provides immediate assistance to those in need. Your support can make a significant difference in the lives of affected individuals and families,” the campaign reads. The organization has requested contributions toward emergency shelter and supplies, medical aid, and food and water distribution. They have garnered US $2,842 in donations from their US $50,000 goal.

Sewa USA Launches Fundraiser For Cyclone Michaung VictimAt least 17 people were killed in rain-related incidents in Chennai, which suffered the most damage from the cyclone, according to city police. These deaths were caused by collapsing walls, electrocution, drowning, and falling trees. More than ten people were injured in the city and taken to various hospitals for treatment. Despite Michaung making landfall with sustained winds of 90-100 kmph, no casualties were reported in Andhra Pradesh.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a post on X, “My thoughts are with the families of those who have lost their loved ones due to Cyclone Michaung, especially in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Puducherry. My prayers are with those injured or affected in the wake of this cyclone. Authorities have been working tirelessly on the ground to assist those affected and will continue their work till the situation fully normalises.”

Aside from the loss of life and property, the constant rains in the states of AP and TN caused the cancellation of hundreds of inbound and outbound flights from the airports in Hyderabad and Chennai. The downpours caused power outages and cellular network outages in different areas of these states.

ICAI Washington DC Chapter Celebrates Election of Kannan Srinivasan To Virginia House of Delegates

Members of the ICAI Washington DC Chapter gathered to honor and celebrate the historic achievement of CA Kannan Srinivasan, recently elected to the Virginia House of Delegates District 26. In a groundbreaking moment, CA Kannan Srinivasan becomes the first Chartered Accountant from India to be elected to the distinguished House.

As Chair of the Virginia Medicaid Board, CA Kannan Srinivasan has also been instrumental in expanding Medicaid access, positively impacting the lives of over 2 million Virginians.

Speaking at the event, CA Kannan expressed gratitude to his supporters and outlined his commitment to addressing critical issues such as healthcare, education, accessibility services, infrastructure, and the economy.

CA Srihari Tolasi, representing the current managing committee of the ICAI Washington DC Chapter at the event, underscored the significance of this achievement for CA members in DC and the broader U.S. He emphasized that CA Kannan’s journey serves as an inspiring beacon for many immigrants, showcasing the rewards of hard work and dedication.

The event was attended by distinguished members of the ICAI Washington DC Chapter, including CA Kalpesh Desai (Chairman, External Relations, ICAI Washington DC Chapter), CA Gokuldas Pai (Founding Chairperson), and esteemed senior members of the Washington DC CA Fraternity such as Sree Harsha, Dinesh Nath, Sneha Rajagopal, Priya Mushti, Shailaja Chari, Vijay Rathi, Pradeep Sahajwalla, and Sarvesh Sharma.

About Kannan Srinivasan

ICAI Washington DC Chapter Celebrates Election of Kannan Srinivasan To Virginia House of Delegates 2The 26th House District includes the South Riding and Brambleton areas, and stretches from the Dulles Greenway to the southeastern corner of Loudoun County.

“My experience in both the public and private sectors will serve the residents of Loudoun and Virginians across the Commonwealth well,” said Srinivasan, who had previously filed to run for the 27th District.

“I will fight for our public schools, stand up for gun safety, and protect abortion rights,” he said in his campaign announcement.

In 2019, Srinivasan unsuccessfully ran against Republican Loudoun County Treasurer Roger Zurn. A Loudoun resident for almost 25 years, Srinivasan immigrated from India in 1993, according to his campaign.

As a young man, Srinivasan was hit by a truck and was denied medicaid assistance. He now serves as vice chair of the Virginia State Medicaid Board, and has helped to expand Medicaid to cover more than two million Virginians.

“Kannan Srinivasan has been a public servant for years. I enthusiastically endorse his candidacy for Virginia State Delegate and will do all I can to help him become a member of the Virginia General Assembly,” Loudon County Board of Supervisors Chair Phyllis Randall said.

Srinivasan served in Loudoun Fiscal Impact Committee, which helped him learn the drivers of Loudoun’s growth and the multitude of needs to support the growth. He currently serves as a Commissioner in Loudoun Economic Development Advisory Commission where his focus is on helping Loudoun diversify its economy.

Born to parents who were school teachers, Srinivasan says he believes in education being the greatest equaliser and the best investment for our community’s future.He completed his Bachelors in Commerce from University of Madras.

Gujarati Physicians’ Association Celebrates Sardar Patel Jayanti in New Jersey

The Gujarati Physicians Association (GPA) held Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Jayanti which would fall on December 15th, combined with a Diwali and New Year celebration at the Royal Albert’s Palace in Fords, New Jersey Friday, December 1, 2023.

Attended by more than 200 Indian American physicians from Gujarat, the evening’s program began with lighting of the ceremonial lamp by GPA committee members and Dr. Sudhir Parikh, chairman of Parikh Worldwide Media and ITV Gold, and H.R. Shah, Chairman of TV Asia.

After the lamp lighting, a song rendered 20 years ago by famous Indian singer Sonu Nigam was played to honor Sardar Patel. The song was the same one which Nigam sang when Albert Jasani inaugurated the Sardar Patel Statue in New Jersey, Dr. Jayesh Patel informed attendees.

The first award of the evening went to Albert Jasani. Announcing the award, Dr. Jayesh Patel, who emceed the event, said Jasani was a big man with a heart of gold. Noting that Jasani was going to be the Grand Marshal at the upcoming Woodbridge Holiday Parade, Dr. Jayesh Patel said it was the first time that an Indian American was going to act as the Grand Marshal in a parade organized by any Indian association. He went on to praise Jasani saying he was always ready to help in any manner, and added that the evening’s dinner was provided by him.

Accepting the award, Jasani said he remembered the ceremony from 20 years ago. Speaking of the Ramji Temple in India which is going to be consecrated in January 2024, Jasani invited everyone present to the temple consecrating ceremony.

Dr. Mukund Thakar of Aristacare, was recognized for his services in adult care, and contributions to the healthcare industry in that sector, especially in regard to the Indian American community.

Dr. Parikh presented an award to Dr. Vithal Dhaduk in absentia. His award was accepted by Shobhna Patel of Royal Albert’s Palace as Dr. Dhaduk was away in Florida for an emergency.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Parikh said it was good to see so many Gujarati physicians and their families gather for the evening’s celebrations. He credited Dr. Hemant Patel, past president of AAPI, Dr. Jayesh Patel, Dr. Sumul Raval, and many other volunteers for organizing the event.

“The organization provides a great networking platform to us and also for our second generation,” Dr. Parikh said, urging those gathered to keep supporting the association and be part of the family.

Wishing those gathered a happy Diwali and New Year, Parikh reminded them about the upcoming office bearer’s elections in January 2024, and asked them to support Dr. Sumul Raval for the post of the Vice President of national AAPI.

He described Dr. Raval as a good person and a good physician, ready to help the Gujarati physicians and their families, and the AAPI families in general. “God bless you, our tristate physicians’ association,” Parikh said, adding, “God bless India and God bless America.” (Courtesy: News India Times)

United Christian Cultural Association Organizes Grand Christmas Carols Nite Banquet 

Chicago IL: United Christian Cultural Association [UCCA] hosted a grand Christmas Carols Nite Banquet brimming with sights & sounds pervaded by melodious carols, colorful dances, skit, inspiring yuletide sermonette – all that was significantly enhanced by an exceptionally prolific singer/ composer Quincy Chett who enthralled the guests with his distinct melodic compositions evoking laudatory ovation. This interfaith and inter-denominational celebration was held at the Monty’s Elegant Banquet in Bensenville, Illinois drawing over 300 guests.

United Christian Cultural Association Organizes Grand Christmas Carols Nite Banquet 2United States Congressman Hon. Raja Krishnamoorthi who was the Chief Guest of Honor heaped fine compliments on the leadership team of United Christian Cultural Association for hosting a grand Christmas celebrations. Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi highlighted the significance of Christmas and said Christmas is a time of coming together of all religions and added, we should walk humbly, do justly and love mercy in this season. Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi said while Christmas is dear to Christians, but it remains special to the people of all faiths, as Christmas is largely a set of ideals that symbolize the birth of savior Jesus Christ who is revered as the prince of peace and concluded that we should not preach sermon, but live the essence and ideals of sermon.

UCCA women’s team Havilah Maddela Devarapalli, Ujwala Neela, Saritha Pasumarthi, Persis Dadepogu, Sujata Pulikuri, Margaret Sanyogita Charles and Dr. Ramya Joshua all dressed in resplendent colors took to the stage to honor Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi and Dr. Priya Krishnamoorthi with Shawls and flower bouquets in appreciation and gratitude for his inspiring remarks and for their gracious presence.

Mr. T D Bhutia, Deputy Consul General of India offered special greetings on behalf of the office of the ConsulateUnited Christian Cultural Association Organizes Grand Christmas Carols Nite Banquet General of India and thanked UCCA team for hosting truly a spirited Christmas celebratory event.

Earlier, Dr. Heyer Paul Devarapalli welcomed the guests and outlined the mission and purpose of the United Christian Cultural Association. Dr. Heyer Paul Devarapalli emphasized that UCCA is deeply committed to advance the culture and faith of the Christian community and added UCCA has conducted several charitable mission drives including hosting Health Fair for the underserved families.  Keerthi Kumar Ravoori, Director in his remarks said Christmas is largely celebrated as a universal festival all across the world and added Christmas represents Peace, Joy and more importantly, it offers an opportunity to foster an interfaith harmony in a largely polarized world.

Rev. Dr. Peter Pereira, in his yuletide sermonette, presented the contemporary vision of Christmas and said Christmas is timeless, and the same message is still relevant today. In fact, the central story of Christmas has a lot to say about the world we live in today wherein the birth of Savior Christ gives us hope to the entire world, said Rev. Pereira.

Dr. Heyer Paul Devarpalli, Raju Pasumarthi, Emmanuel Neela, Sunil Joshua, Vasanth Charles, Keerthi Kumar Ravoori, Satish Dadepogu and Ravi Pulukuri were the principal hosts for the Christmas Banquet. Raju Pasumarthi Enoch, UCCA President, said that UCCA has been initiating innovative programs to empower the Telugu Christian community to make a difference in the lives of the people.  UCCA Vice President Emmanuel Neela outlined the vision statement of the UCCA and spelled out its future programs, which includes music festivities, cricket tournaments, and family retreats.

The event was attended by a large number of Christian families, complemented by the presence of representatives from the Hindu, Muslim, and Sikh communities including Ajeet Singh, Gladson Varghese, Nag Jaiswal, Vinesh Virani, Vibha Rajput, Shree Guruswamy, Alli Dhanraj, Chris Veteran, Babu Verma, and Khurram Syed. There was a large telugu organizational leadership presence including Madan Pamulapati, Murthy Koppaka, Srinivas Yelamchanchali, Mahesh Kakarla, Srinivas Pidikit, Srinivas Boppana from NATS; Rao Achanta, Ravi Achanta and Hema Chandra.  Media Partners Suresh Bodiwala of Asian Media USA and Prachi Jaitley, Phani Krishna of IUSA Media were present. Several local pastors & clergies attended the celebrations including Rev. David Vidysagar, Rev. Robert Saturi, Rev. Smt. Subhadra Vipparthi, Rev. Thomas Polepaka & Rev Omega.

Exploring the Depths of Spirituality: Insights from Pew Research

The terms “spiritual” and “spirituality” have posed a challenge for researchers and scholars in the realm of religion, defying easy definition. What constitutes being spiritual? Does it entail a sense of wonder, well-being, or peace? Is belief in God or a higher power a prerequisite? These terms appear so elastic that they encompass a myriad of disparate ideas and experiences.

A recent study conducted by Pew Research delves into the meaning of “spiritual” for those who identify with the term, shedding light on the beliefs and practices of individuals who consider themselves “spiritual but not religious.” In their report titled “Spirituality Among Americans,” Pew surveyed over 11,000 people earlier this year, revealing that 7 in 10 U.S. adults describe themselves as spiritual in some way.

The study finds that almost half of respondents identify as both religious and spiritual. This suggests a dual engagement, where individuals participate in religious institutions while also maintaining personal spiritual practices or perspectives outside formal religious traditions. Meanwhile, 22% of U.S. adults identify as “spiritual but not religious,” 21% claim neither spiritual nor religious affiliation, and 10% identify as religious but not spiritual.

The shifting landscape of religious affiliation in the United States has witnessed increased diversity in recent years. While Christianity remains the predominant faith, there has been a rise in the numbers of Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and other religious groups. However, there is an overarching trend of declining religious affiliation, indicating a reduced identification with specific religious groups.

Lead Pew researcher Becka Alper notes the ongoing attempt to make sense of this shift, asking, “Is the U.S. public becoming more secular? Are they becoming more spiritual?” The study aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of spiritual beliefs, practices, and experiences.

Key findings from the survey include:

– 83% of all U.S. adults believe in the existence of a soul or spirit alongside the physical body.

– 81% acknowledge the presence of something spiritual beyond the natural world, even if it is imperceptible.

– 74% assert that there are aspects science cannot explain.

– 45% report experiencing a sudden connection with something beyond this world.

– 38% claim to have felt a strong connection with a departed person communicating from beyond.

Regarding the meaning of “spiritual,” the majority (74%) associate it with “being connected to something bigger than myself.” A substantial 70% specify that it means “being connected with God,” while 64% interpret it as “being connected with my true self.” Only 40% equate spirituality with adherence to a specific religious faith. The term also encompasses various other interpretations, such as a connection with nature, other people, deceased loved ones, open-mindedness, or the continuation of family traditions.

A recurring theme across these interpretations is the idea of being “connected.”

Notably, evangelical Christians, predominantly white, and members of historically Black Protestant churches share similar experiences. Both groups overwhelmingly report a deep sense of well-being at least once a month due to their spiritual beliefs and practices, a sentiment less prevalent among other religious groups like Catholics or Mainline Protestants.

In allowing respondents to describe in their own words what being spiritual means, Pew received a diverse range of anonymous responses, including:

– “Being one with your soul, emotions, feelings, actions.”

– “Believing in something larger and more creative than science.”

– “One with the universe!”

– “The belief that a supreme being is the creator of the universe, and that humans’ existence in this realm is transient.”

– “It means having a relationship with God and a belief system that includes a responsibility to do what is right.”

Given that this survey marked the first time Pew posed many of these questions specifically about spirituality, it serves as a baseline rather than establishing trends. Pew plans to continue exploring these themes in subsequent years, offering a deeper understanding of the evolving landscape of religion and spirituality among Americans.

Neha Mahajan, Ilayas Quraishi Elected To Asian Indian Chamber Of Commerce BOD For 2024-2025

Ilayas Quraishi, COO at the Parikh Media and Neha Mahajan, Business development and Outreach manager at Chugh are among those elected to the Borad of Directors of The Asian Indian Chamber of Commerce (AICC) after the elections held on November 29, 2023 at the prestigious Mogul Ballroom in Edison, NJ.

Other newly elected Board of Directors for the term 2024-25 include: Rajeev Krishna, Rekha Sarathy, Chetan Wattamwar,  Harry Mehta, Komal Dangi, Ajay Kumar, Parag Nevatia, and Shachi Rai Gupta.

This term marks the inclusion of three new faces, Neha Mahajan, Shachi Rai Gupta, and Ajay Kumar, bringing fresh perspectives and energy to the AICC leadership, the organization said. “Each member of the newly elected board brings a wealth of experience and enthusiasm, and their leadership is expected to contribute significantly to the growth and success of the chamber,” a press release isued here stated.

Addressing the gathering, current President Rajeev Krishna,  highlighted the accomplishments of the last two years under his leadership. He expressed gratitude to the dedicated Board members who he said, worked tirelessly to elevate the organization.  He said he expected AICC to achieve new heights, and hoped to organize AI technology seminars to impact small businesses positively. He encouraged Board members to share their ideas and actively participate in implementing them.

“I am thrilled to share the exciting news ablut the newly concluded elections for AICC. Each member to the BOD brings a wealth of experience and enthusiasm to the table, and I am confident that their leadership will significantly to the growth and success of our chanmber,” wrote Ilayas Quraishi after being elected to the Board.

Neha Mahajan in her remarks after being elected to the BOD said, “Super excited and thankful to be voted and appointed to the Borad of Directors of The Asian Indian Chamber of Commerce. Looking forward to serving the community at large, one step at a time, creating newer heights for the business community.’

Anil Bansal and Priti Pandya Patel, past presidents of AICC,  conducted the election process efficiently, in their positions as  election committee members. They announced the results, and extended heartfelt congratulations to the new board.

As a gesture of appreciation to the members, Kunal Lamba, a well-known singer from New Jersey, entertained the audience with Bollywood melodies at the event.

PEW Study Says, Nearly 50% Of Asian Americans Face Discrimination In US

Most Asian Americans experience discrimination in many parts of their day-to-day lives. In the survey, we asked Asian American adults if they have ever experienced discrimination or been treated unfairly because of their race or ethnicity.

In addition to this broad question, we also asked whether they have experienced specific discrimination incidents in their everyday life. These include incidents in interpersonal encounters with strangers; at security checkpoints; with the police; in the workplace; at restaurants or stores; and in their neighborhoods.

A recent report from the Pew Research Center reveals that encountering prejudice is a commonplace experience for the majority of Asian Americans living in the US.

About 58 percent of Asian individuals have experienced racial discrimination or unfair treatment because of their race or ethnicity, according to the report, which was based on a poll of more than 7,000 participants. Of those, 53 percent said they encounter racial discrimination sometimes and 5 percent say it happens very often.

PEW Study Says Nearly 50% Of Asian Americans Face Discrimination In US (VOA)
Picture: VOA

The prevalence of reported racial discrimination among Asian adults varies across demographic groups, particularly concerning ethnic origin. In this context, 67 percent of Korean adults recall experiencing racial discrimination, a higher percentage compared to Vietnamese adults at 57 percent, Filipino adults at 55 percent, and Indian adults at 50 percent. According to the report, U.S.-born Asian adults are more inclined to acknowledge experiencing racial discrimination compared to their immigrant counterparts, with 65 percent of U.S.-born individuals reporting such experiences, as opposed to 55 percent among immigrants.

The report also found that 57 percent of U.S.-born Asian adults have been called offensive names by strangers, almost twice the rate of Asian immigrants at 30 percent. Among Indian adults, 26 percent report that strangers have used offensive names to refer to them, a percentage lower than that reported by individuals from other ethnic origin groups.

About six-in-ten Asian adults (58%) say they have ever experienced racial discrimination or been treated unfairly because of their race or ethnicity. This includes 53% of Asian adults who say they have experienced racial discrimination from time to time and 5% who say they experience it regularly.

Whether Asian adults say they have experienced racial discrimination varies across some demographic groups:

  • Ethnic origin:67% of Korean adults say they have experienced racial discrimination, higher than the shares among Vietnamese (57%), Filipino (55%) and Indian (50%) adults.
  • Nativity:S.-born Asian adults are more likely than immigrants to say they have experienced racial discrimination, 65% versus 55%.
  • Immigrant generation:69% of Asian immigrants who are 1.5 generation – those who came to the U.S before they were 18 years old – say they have ever experienced racial discrimination. About half of immigrants who traveled to the U.S. as adults (first generation) say the same.
  • Years in U.S.:45% of immigrants who arrived in the U.S. in the last decade say they have experienced racial discrimination, compared with 60% of those who have been in the U.S. for more than 20 years.12

Discrimination in interpersonal encounters with strangers

In the survey, we asked Asian adults whether they have experienced discrimination incidents in their daily interpersonal encounters with strangers.

  • 37% of Asian adults say strangers have called them offensive names.
  • 18% say strangers have acted as if they thought they were dishonest.
  • 12% say people have acted as if they were afraid of them.

About 37% of Asian adults say that in day-to-day encounters in the U.S., strangers have called them offensive names. Whether Asian adults say they have had this experience is associated with their experiences with immigration:

  • 57% of U.S.-born Asian adults say strangers have called them offensive names. They are nearly twice as likely as Asian immigrants (30%) to say this.
  • Among immigrants, 54% of Asian adults who immigrated as children (1.5 generation) say they have been called offensive names by strangers, while 20% of those who immigrated as adults (first generation) say the same.
  • 39% of immigrants who have been in the U.S. for more than two decades say they have been called offensive names. By contrast, 16% of those who immigrated 10 years ago or less say the same.

Responses also vary across other demographic groups:

  • Ethnic origin:26% of Indian adults say strangers have called them offensive names, a lower share than other origin groups.
  • Regional origin: This pattern is also echoed among regional origin groups. Among South Asian adults overall, 29% say they have been called offensive names, compared with higher shares of East (41%) and Southeast (39%) Asian adults.
  • Age:About four-in-ten Asian adults under 50 years old say they have been called offensive names, compared with 33% of those 50 to 64 and 25% of those 65 and older.
  • Race:50% of Asian adults who identify with two or more races – that is, those who identify as Asian in addition to at least one other race – say they have been called offensive names by strangers during day-to-day encounters. In comparison, 36% of those who are single race – those who identify as Asian and no other race – say the same.

In the survey, we also asked Asian Americans whether they have ever hidden part of their heritage – including cultural customs, food, clothing or religious practices – from non-Asians. Whether Asian Americans have hidden their culture is associated with their experiences of being called offensive names:

  • 60% of Asian adults who have hidden their heritage say they have also been called offensive names by strangers, compared with 32% of those who have not hidden part of their heritage.

Indian Overseas Congress New Jersey Ignites Spirit with Mega Event

The Indian Overseas Congress New Jersey recently orchestrated a monumental event, drawing over 500 individuals from the vibrant New Jersey and Tri-state area. This gathering marked the triumphant relaunch of the Indian Overseas Congress New Jersey, encapsulating three pivotal focal points: the ongoing elections in five states, the kickoff campaign for the 2024 elections, and a poignant Diwali celebration, symbolizing the triumph of light over darkness.

Indian Overseas Congress New Jersey Ignites Spirit with Mega Event 2Under the distinguished leadership of Indian Overseas Congress New Jersey President Pradip (Peter) Kothari and Chairman Harkesh Thakur, the event hosted esteemed guests, including the chief guest Sam Pitroda, Global Chairman of the Indian Overseas Congress. Notable leaders of Indian Overseas Congress such as Vice Chairman George Abraham, Secretary General Harbachan Singh, and Working President Pradeep Samla also graced the occasion along with other IOC office bearers.

Mr. Sam Pitroda captivated the audience as he took the stage, recounting his inspiring journey from India to the USA and back. With a spotlight on his significant contributions to shaping India’s IT and telecom industry, Pitroda addressed pressing challenges, including communal disharmony and threats to constitutional values. Drawing poignant parallels with global crises in Ukraine, Israel, and Palestine, he underscored the divisive nature of contemporary society. In his concluding remarks, Pitroda emphasized the paramount importance of upholding Gandhian principles, advocating for their role in fostering a more harmonious world.

In a passionate address, Peter Kothari inspired the audience to embrace their rights and freedoms, firmlyIndian Overseas Congress New Jersey Ignites Spirit with Mega Event 4 denouncing hate and divisive politics. Advocating for active participation in the Indian National Congress, he stressed its role in championing the rights of the deprived and oppressed. Kothari highlighted the profound impact of adhering to Gandhian ideology for positive societal change. Acknowledging the pivotal contributions of leaders like Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Patel, he underscored their role in laying the foundation of modern India, creating institutions that provided free education to many abroad. Kothari also lauded Ms. Indira Gandhi’s support during Bangladesh’s Liberation War and Rajiv Gandhi’s efforts to propel India into the digital revolution through advancements in science and technology. Urging those aligned with Congress ideology to join the movement, he emphasized the principles of secularism, humanity, and democracy, welcoming everyone who shares these values.

Chairman IOC NJ Harkesh Thakur conveyed his wishes and support, encouraging widespread participation to ensure the success of Congress events. The gathering concluded with a shared commitment to uphold democracy and the principles outlined in the Indian constitution.

The proceedings were overseen by Qayam Mausmi, Secretary of Indian Overseas Congress New Jersey, focusing on the Congress themes of fostering unity across India. The Bharat Jodo Movement, aimed at bringing together people from all states and walks of life in India, served as the cornerstone of the event. Mr. Mausmi eloquently delved into the rich history of the Indian National Congress, emphasizing its profound significance as a symbol of India’s democratic ethos. Arjumand Juweria, Joint Secretary, voiced concerns about escalating disharmony in India, underscoring the imperative for collective attention and concerted efforts to address this pressing issue.

Indian Overseas Congress New Jersey Ignites Spirit with Mega Event 1Ram Gadula, Chairman of the Telangana Chapter, played  a pivotal force in orchestrating a seamlessly coordinated event. He played a crucial role in bringing together chapter heads from Kerala, Punjab, Telangana, Haryana, Andhra and other chapters of the Indian Overseas Congress in New Jersey. The event, a culmination of collective efforts, saw Sam Pitroda and Peter Kothari graciously acknowledging Chapter Heads. This celebration of unity and acknowledgment of leadership from diverse chapters marked a significant moment in the Indian Overseas Congress’s New Jersey chapter’s journey.

In a spirit of camaraderie and enthusiasm, the Indian Overseas Congress (IOC) New Jersey Chapter witnessed a momentous event as Sam Pitroda, Peter Kothari, and Harkesh Thakur warmly greeted all members and office bearers. Vice Chairman Bharat Patel and Mr. Mukesh Maid, along with Vice President Manmitsing Vasdev, Tanzeem Ansari, and Mahesh Patel, added their support, further contributing to the event’s resounding success.

Qayam Masumi, a seasoned and dedicated member, has taken on the role of New Jersey Chapter Secretary, demonstrating the chapter’s trust in his capabilities. Raj Desai has assumed the position of Treasurer, while Dipak Valsadia and Harvender Singh have been appointed as Public Relations Officers. Pamposh Shaikh joins as Joint Treasurer, emphasizing the chapter’s dedication to effective communication and outreach. Together, these key figures embody the unity that is a hallmark of the IOC, showcasing their collaborative efforts and commitment to the organization’s objectives.

The spotlight of the event shone on the newly formed Executive Committee, a dynamic group comprising Raj Macwan, Vihari Patel, Neeraj Gamadia, Kirit Jakaria, Nandini Kothari, Nina Thakur, Jyoti Ruben, Dave Makkar, Chandrakant Bhatt Basha Syed and Ashish Master. Their diverse expertise, acknowledged and celebrated at the event, promises to be a driving force, enriching both the IOC NJ Chapter and the overarching Indian Overseas Congress.

The grand event, held in New Jersey by the Indian Overseas Congress, served as a powerful rallying point for the diaspora, promoting unity, peace, and a steadfast commitment to democratic values. The gathering resonated with enthusiasm and optimism, with participants expressing their fervent wishes for the Indian National Congress to triumph in all state elections and the upcoming 2024 elections.

NIAASC Holds 34th Conference In Tavares, Florida

The National Indo-American for Senior Citizens (NIAASC) held its 34th annual conference in the town of Tavares, Florida on Saturday, November 18th, 2023. This event which was attended by over 100 participants was held in collaboration with Shantiniketan-3, Tavares, Florida. Being that it was the signature annual event of NIAASC, a plethora of renowned professionals were in attendance and talked on various topics. The theme of the conference was: “Empowering Aging”.

NIAASC Holds 34th Conference In Tavares Florida 5Topics are appended below:

1 Protecting Seniors Citizens (Safeguarding against Scams) by Alicia Ramirez (AARP)

2 Aging — A Curse or Boon by Baldev Seekri

3 Debunking Anti-Aging Myths by Srinivasa Rao

The above-named speakers are nationally known professionals and have been endeared by the community-at-large. Alicia Ramirez is a retired professional from AARP and in her speech cautioned that AI technology is being used to scam the seniors and advised that seniors need to be cognizant on the aforementioned. Baldev Seekri is the author of ‘Meaningful Aging’ and one of the highlighting topics was how the mind-set can make meaningful aging happen. Srinivasa Rao, a bio-medical scientist who has authored a slew of articles on food and nutrition and in his presentation shed light on reverse aging via nutrition.

The conference started with lighting of the lamp and invocation by Acharya Praygraj, followed by the openingNIAASC Holds 34th Conference In Tavares Florida 1 remarks provided by Yogesh Naik from Shantiniketan-3 (Advisory Committee) and Chandrakant Shah (NIAASC Conference Coordinator) who welcomed all the participants and the guests. This was followed by the lecture topics as per above. All the above-named speakers are subject matter experts, and the delivery of the topics were succinct and material content was one that allayed a lot of apprehension/misgivings that the attendees had relating to Aging and its effects.

In her welcome speech, Gunjan Rastogi, NIAASC president greeted all participants and talked about the detailed program and in her concluding remarks assured the members of her unwavering commitment to the organization and further reiterated that the vision will continue to fortify the organization’s mission to be a force multiplier for helping the Seniors. Gunjan’s speech was followed by Rajeshwar Prasad who is the Founder and Chairman of NIAASC. He spoke at length the need to foster partnerships and collaboration which in an effort to seek synergy so as to pave the way for organizing an array of nation-wide workshops for Seniors.

NIAASC Holds 34th Conference In Tavares Florida 3The conference was financially supported by various sponsors and donations ranged from $51.00 to $10,000.00. The major sponsor being Santosh Kumar from Chicago she is also known as “Mother Teresa of Chicago”. India Home (NY) was another notable sponsor and supported the event by sponsoring the food. The cultural program was emceed by Tara Ashok and thoroughly regaled the audience with great fanfare.

At the end of every conference, it is the practice of getting evaluations done by the members in attendance with the sole purpose of getting better the next time. Deep dive into what works and what does not work are carefully examined so that areas and opportunities for improvement are taken intoNIAASC Holds 34th Conference In Tavares Florida 4 cognizance at the subsequent events.

NIAASC has been in operation since its inception of Spring of 1999 with the stated objectives “To provide help to seniors through information, referral and advocacy services.”.

For more information about NIAASC, please visit or email at [email protected].

NAMAM Excellence Awards 2023 Recognize Achievements Of Indian Americans

The North American Malayalee Association (NAMAM) has announced the winners of the NAMAM Excellent Awards 2023 for Indian Americans who have excelled in their respective fields, who will be honored at the 2023 NAMAM Excellence Awards Gala at the Knanaya Catholic Center in New York City on December 2nd 2023. Organized under the auspices of the MBN Foundation, the annual awards recognize the achievements and contributions of Indian American community members from across North America.

Literature: Lakshmi M Nair

Lakshmi M Nair, a dynamic writer recognized by her pen name Amy Lakshmi, has been chosen to be awarded with the 2023 NAMAM Excellence Award for Literature. Her proficiency in both English and Malayalam is evident in her published short stories, articles, and translations, which have graced major Malayalam periodicals. Lakshmi’s travelogue, “Latin American Travels,” earned her the S K Pottakad Award for the Best Travelogue from FOKANA.

Karma Shresta

NAMAM Excellence Awards 2023 Recognize Achievements Of Indian Americans 2

: Anil Kumar Pillai

Anil Kumar Pillai, Commissioner of Consumer Affairs in Chicago and a former President of Kerala Hindus of North America (KHNA), is being honored with the 2023 NAMAM Karma Shresta Excellence Award. His more than four decades of service, including work at Quest Diagnostics, and continued dedication to social activities, mark him as an exemplary leader in the community.

Art & Culture: Mitrahs Group

Mitrahs Rajan and Mitrahs Shiraz, founders of Mitrahs Group will receive the 2023 NAMAM Excellence Awards for Arts and Culture. This recognition underscores their significant contributions in promoting and preserving Indian arts and culture in North America. Through Mitrahs Arts, established in 2011, they have provided a platform for talented artists, fostering creativity and innovation.

Community Service: A. K. Vijayakrishnan

  1. K. Vijayakrishnan, serving as a diplomat in the Indian Ministry of External Affairs, is the recipient of the 2023 NAMAM Community Excellence Award. His extensive 33-year career has seen him shoulder challenging responsibilities, including serving as the Community Affairs Consul at the Indian Embassy in New York since December 2019.

Medical Administration: Dr. Jacob Eapen

Dr. Jacob Eapen, a respected pediatrician and public health expert will be honored with the 2023 NAMAM Excellence Award for Medical Administration. His contributions, including serving on the State Health Care Board of California and securing a general election victory to the Board of Directors of the Washington Hospital Health Care System, showcase his dedication to healthcare leadership.

Politics: Legislator Dr. Aney Paul

Legislator Dr. Aney Paul, the first Malayalee legislator in New York State and a four-term elected official will receive the 2023 NAMAM Excellence Award for Political Leadership. Her notable achievements include initiating the Tobacco-21 Law and driving the recognition of August as the Indian Heritage month in NY State.

Young Entrepreneur: Akhil Suresh Nair

Akhil Suresh Nair, a distinguished marketing and e-commerce professional has been chosen to  receive the 2023 NAMAM Excellence Award for Young Entrepreneurship. Currently leading XENA Intelligence, Akhil has transformed the venture from a consulting firm into a thriving technology powerhouse. XENA is pioneering the industry with precise algorithms designed to scale e-commerce companies on platforms such as Amazon and Walmart.

Business: Dr. Mukund Thakar

Dr. Mukund Thakar, Founder and President of Aristacare, an esteemed Indian nursing home will be honored with the 2023 NAMAM Business Excellence Award. With over 19 years of medical experience, Dr. Thakar’s vision has led to the establishment of twelve facilities across New Jersey and New York, providing specialized rehabilitation and long-term care for elderly Indians.

Yuvadeepthi: Dr. Cilgy Abraham

Dr. Cilgy Abraham, a remarkable individual with a background in healthcare and law will be  honored with NAMAM Yuvadeepthi Excellence Award. Currently, she is serving as a research associate at Rutgers University RWJ Medical School and a law student at Georgetown University. In addition, she is actively engaged in an internship within the Executive Office of the President’s Office of Management and Budget within the White House, showcasing her commitment to multifaceted professional growth.

Visual & Social Media: Shijo Paulose

Shijo Paulose, a well-known journalist and blogger will be awarded with the 2023 NAMAM Visual and Social Media Excellence Award. With two decades of active presence in American media and captivating content on platforms like YouTube, Shijo stands out as a rare Malayali media personality with accreditation from important institutions, including the US State Department and the United Nations.

NAMAM President, Madhavan B Nair, expressed excitement about the upcoming awards night, celebrating individuals who have excelled in art, literature, science, medicine, humanitarian service, and business. Dr. Asha Menon, NAMAM President, and Paul Karukappilli, Program Coordinator and Managing Director of Kerala Times Online News Channel are pivotal figures in making this event a success. For more information, please visit

Indian Community Bids Farewell to Ambassador Randhir Kumar Jaiswal

The Indian American community in the New York region organized a farewell dinner in honor of India’s Consul General in New York Randhir Jaiswal, who returns to India soon to take over another important assignment as spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs. Held at the Moghul restaurant’s banquet hall in Edison, NJ on November 20, 202 hundreds of Indian Americans and leaders representing several community organizations attended the event, sharing of their fond memories of their close association with the Consul General of India.

Indian Community Bids Farewell to Ambassador Randhir Kumar Jaiswal 2Nearly 400 people attended the Federation of Indian Association’s farewell for one of the most memorable diplomats in recent history from India, one who had weathered the storm of COVID, brought the diaspora of Indian Americans closer to the Consulate, and who oversaw the delivery of consular services to the doors of many communities in the 10 states of the United States which were under his jurisdiction – for a period of 3 years.

In addition to Consul General Jaiswal and his wife Abha, the leadership and executive committee of FIA-NYNJCT, there were several high-profile guests who came to bid a fond farewell, among them Dr. Sudhir Parikh, advisor to FIA and chairman of Parikh Worldwide Media, Deputy Consul General Dr. Varun Jeph, Mayor of Edison Sam Joshi, Mayor of West Windsor Hemant Marathe, and H.R. Shah of TV Asia, to name a few. Edison, NJ, which boasts possibly the highest number of people of Indian origin, presented a proclamation in the name of CG Jaiswal, to him, at the event.

In all the speeches delivered at the event, the departing Consul General was recognized for his easy accessibility toIndian Community Bids Farewell to Ambassador Randhir Kumar Jaiswal those in his jurisdiction. Whether it was opening the Consulate to numerous community events, or going to many other events where he was honored and where he was making the presence of India felt in the diaspora.

Dr. Sudhir Parikh said CG Jaiswal was the “exceptional” person for exceptional times, when Covid hit, and India celebrated its 75th independence year. As soon as he landed, “he right away recognized the plight of the Indian students. … he did such an excellent handling of the situation,” Dr. Parikh recalled. He also helped many Indian organizations channel their assistance to India including the FIA, to help victims there; He took the Consulate to the community, holding consular camps all over the 10-state jurisdiction. “Jaiswalji has broken the record with events every other day. I have seen the last 23 Consuls General work here, and I can tell,” Dr. Parikh said.

Describing him as a “people person” – “calm, cool, always smiling,” Dr. Parikh said, whose quality of making one feel he or she is the center of his attention – “I really appreciate that quality.”

Edison Mayor Sam Joshi speaking at the farewell function for Indian Consl General in New York Randhir Jaiswal, hosted by FIA Nov. 20, at Edison, NJ. PHOTO ITV Gold

Edison’s Mayor Joshi said he had come to see CG Jaiswal not only as a diplomat but as a friend. He recounted an instance of when a building burnt down in Edison and most of those affected were Indian origin. He called CG Jaiswal about their passports etc., and they got the help needed.

“On behalf of all of Edison, thank you so much,” the Mayor said, and he read out from a special proclamation issued for the time and effort the Indian diplomat had given to help Edison citizens, and for his “superior leadership.”

Consul General Jaiswal in his speech, praised the Indian community for helping and supporting him and his team to carry out their duties. “In this 3 years, we have received excellent support in meeting our responsibilities,” he said, describing it as a “very healthy relationship” between the Consulate and the people it served. He added that he is most impressed by the achievements of the Indian American community and the second generation.

After Covid hit, “Since May of 2020, the Indian Consulate has been open every day of the week,” CG Jaiswal told the audience, something not seen in any other consulate around the world. He recounted some highlights during his tenure – such a the raising of the Indian flag at Times Square; people coming at 2 am at night to listen to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s telecast speech; and the 8,000 who came to the White House to welcome PM Modi during his state visit to Washington, which he said, speaks volumes for the community’s achievements and recognition.

Deputy Consul General Jeph spoke of how the Consular team worked diligently under CG Jaiswal’s leadership, and how community engagement was the departing diplomat’s primary objective.

Ankur Vaidya, chairman of FIA, spoke emotionally about how CG Jaiswal had served his Motherland in taking up the diplomatic path of the Indian Foreign Service. “You have championed the diaspora,” Vaidya noted, adding, that the farewell was more to recognize and salute the journey to serve their nation. He also recognized Abha Jaiswal for her steadfast support without which the hard task would not have been possible.
Vaidya recalled the millions and millions of dollars in aid sent by organizations from the US and how the CG facilitated all that. “Kudos for putting that effort … to you and your team.”

From a time when going to the Consulate was intimidating, Vaidya said, today, people want to visit the building and see for themselves. “May your career shine…” to bring India and US closer together, he added.

Ambassador Randhir Kumar Jaiswal , on July 19, assumed charge as Consul General of India in New York . He succeeded Ambassador Sandeep Chakravorty  who remained Consul General from April 2017 to June 2020. Ambassador Jaiswal ‘s last posting was as  Joint Secretary cum Social Secretary to the President of India Ramnath Kovind . A 1998 Indian Foreign Service officer, Jaiswal headed the foreign affairs office of the Rashtrapati Bhavan and advised  the President on India’s foreign policy. He had earlier served as Consul General of India in Johannesburg ,South Africa.

Jaiswal is no stranger to New York. He had earlier worked as a Counselor at the Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations in New York. Jaiswal, an officer of the 1998 batch of the Indian Foreign Service, will succeed the current spokesperson, Arindam Bagchi, who has been appointed India’s permanent representative to the United Nations (UN) in Geneva.

During his diplomatic career of more than two decades, Jaiswal has served in Portugal, Cuba, South Africa and at India’s permanent mission to the UN in New York. Jaiswal has also served in the external affairs ministry as the deputy secretary, looking after relations with the US and as joint secretary managing ties with countries in western Europe. In mid-2017, he was deputed to serve the President as the joint secretary responsible for international relations. He was appointed in his current position of consul general in New York in July 2020.

Jaiswal has also been part of the Indian delegation at climate change conferences. He has a masters degree in history from Delhi University.

Diwali Celebration at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Chicago

The celebrations of culture, spirituality, and community that began with the opening of BAPS Swaminarayan Akshardham in New Jersey continue to resonate in all BAPS Mandirs throughout North America this Diwali. The BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Chicago, IL hosted a grand Diwali celebration on November 13, 2023, allowing the local community to immerse themselves in the deep-rooted traditions of this beloved Festival of Lights.

Diwali, the revered Hindu ‘festival of lights’, celebrates the triumph of light over darkness, and good over evils a time for reflection, rejuvenation, and celebration for millions across the world. This year, the local BAPS Mandir presented an experience that seamlessly wove age-old traditions with contemporary expressions of faith, culture, and community.

“I just love the fact that this is such a family and community-oriented space. I think that often times when you are out in the world, you can feel disconnected or that you do not belong anywhere. Spaces like this bring people together and remind them that they are connected, and that there are people out there that share the same traditions and values. That is really important especially for the youth,” shared Karina Villa, IL State Senator representing the 25 th District.

Devotees and visitors were welcomed with a vibrant and traditional reception at the Mandirs entrance, where colorful decorations, including a beautifully intricate rangoli, an ornate floor design crafted from colored powder. This artistic display not only added to the festive atmosphere, but also served as a fitting introduction to the rich cultural heritage celebrated locally and nationally at the BAPS Swaminarayan Akshardham in Robbinsville, NJ, a landmark of Hindu architecture and culture.

Another awe-inspiring feature was the Annakut, where hundreds of vegetarian dishes were offered as a token of gratitude to the divine, symbolizing abundance and the community’s unwavering devotion for God and for the New Year, celebrated by some Indian Americans from the northern and western regions of India. Devotees, young and old, had poured weeks of preparation into ensuring the Annakut was a feast for both the eyes and the soul. “The Annakut preparation begins very early in the morning for us,” explained Jasmine Patel, a BAPS youth volunteer. The vegetarian food is traditionally arranged in tiers or steps in front of the sacred images of God. Today over 1,000 food items have been offered on this day of celebration and appreciation.”

For families, volunteers organized an array of children's activities, allowing younger generations to

bond with their cultural roots while partaking in the festivities. These encompassed storytelling sessions, craft workshops, and traditional games to engage all that took part in the celebrations. Similar to this local community celebration, BAPS mandirs across North America welcomed visitors with the glow of lights, bright colors, and a festive ambiance as they took in the colorful and joyful spirit of Diwali. The multiple days of Diwali are steeped in traditions and rituals that symbolize new beginnings and a renewed commitment to family.

The spiritual head of BAPS, His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj sent blessings to all devotees and well-wishers for Diwali. He encouraged all to find the light within them and make it shine brighter by incorporating unity, values, spirituality, and a spirit of giving.

Reflecting on the day, the spirit of Diwali was palpably felt not just in the surroundings of the mandir, but in the hearts and souls of every visitor. The celebration marked a renewal of finding the good within and maintaining goodwill towards all around us. The BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir remains a pillar of culture, community unity, and spiritual enrichment. As the lights of Diwali continue to glow within our memories, the mandir extends its deepest gratitude to all who made this celebration a cherished moment in time.

About BAPS

BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha (B.A.P.S) is a volunteer-driven spiritual organization committed to fostering individual growth through Hindu values of faith, service, and harmony. It enriches society with the devoted efforts of tens of thousands of volunteers from diverse professional and social backgrounds, contributing millions of volunteer hours annually. Under the spiritual leadership of His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj, BAPS nurtures Hindu traditions in over 100 North American and 3,500 communities worldwide. Through these communities, it champions holistic personal growth, promotes social progress, and encourages diversity by embracing all. For more details, please visit

About Mahant Swami Maharaj

His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj is the sixth and current spiritual successor of Bhagwan Swaminarayan. He was ordained a swami by Yogiji Maharaj in 1961 and named Sadhu Keshavji vandas. As he was appointed the head (Mahant) of the Mandir in Mumbai, he became known as Mahant Swami. His devout, humble, and service-focused life earned him the innermost blessings of Yogiji Maharaj and Pramukh Swami Maharaj. Mahant Swami Maharaj travels throughout the world inspiring people through his insightful spiritual discourses and disciplined conduct. His virtuous lifestyle and profound devotion to Bhagwan Swaminarayan and gurus are ideals toward which devotees strive. Mahant Swami Maharaj became the guru and President of BAPS upon Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s passing in 2016.

Preet Bharara and June Kwan Receive CACF’s 2023 Catalyst for Change Awards 2023

The Coalition for Asian American Children and Families (CACF) this week hosted the 2023 Catalyst for Change Awards to honor leaders who are a force for positive change in the AAPI community. The event raised over $340,000 for the organization and was held at Tribeca 360° in Manhattan.

The Coalition for Asian American Children and Families is the only pan-Asian children and families’ advocacy organization in the United States which brings together community-based organizations as well as youth and community allies to fight for equity for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

CACF honored June Kwan, entrepreneur, philanthropist, and mother of Academy Award-winner Daniel Kwan, who presented her with the award, and Preet Bharara, former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.

Preet Bharara and June Kwan Receive CACF’s 2023 Catalyst for Change Awards 2023 3Attendees included NYC Comptroller Brad Lander, NYC Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, NYS Senator Brian Kavanaugh, NYC Councilmembers Shekar Krishnan and Linda Lee, and former NYS Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou. NYS Attorney General Letitia James joined via video. The program was hosted by journalist and host/reporter of CUNY-TV’s Emmy-award winning “Asian American Life” Ernabel Demillo, Sesame Street star Alan Muraoka, and Emmy-winning TV journalist Vivian Lee, in addition to auctioneer Paul Florez-Taylor.

CACF Chair Art Chang greeted the guests and thanked all those in attendance for their help in growing the work of CACF. “CACF believes in love and action. Our vision is for all children and families including Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in New York to be safe, healthy, and able to reach their full potential in life. Much of our success depends on our elected officials in New York State and New York City who have championed major legislative and budgetary wins for our communities, including passing data disaggregation laws in both New York City and New York State and getting almost $75 million for AAPI-serving community groups over the past three years,” said Chang.

Co-Executive Director Anita Gundanna expressed how proud CACF is to have won $35 million from the City andPreet Bharara and June Kwan Receive CACF’s 2023 Catalyst for Change Awards 2023 2 State this year and to have been entrusted to fund over 120 AAPI-serving community organizations. “We continue to be motivated by the real impact our budget wins are having on communities facing bias and hate. As a unified community, we are a powerful force for action to create an equitable New York,” said Gundanna.

Co-Executive Director Vanessa Leung echoed those sentiments and added “For every organization that is able to access funds to support their communities, we know we are sustaining life-affirming services and programs on the ground,” said Leung. “We hear back from our members that CACF reminded us of the importance of building together, to continue to share our stories, to help one another address immediate needs and create long-lasting change for our communities. We are energized by our coalition-members’ desires to learn to advocate together.”

Past honorees include AAPI leaders in media, education, business, philanthropy, arts and culture, and leadership development. The evening drew over 300 diverse and influential New Yorkers, many who are leaders, innovators and changemakers themselves, who are interested in investing in the AAPI community.

Why Do NRIs Want To Invest And Retire in India?

NRI’s want to retire to India

Manjiri Thomare, a non-resident Indian entrepreneur based in the San Francisco Bay area says that she wants to return to India after retirement. Thomare and her family had relocated to the States nearly a decade ago owing to her husband’s transfer and for better prospects for the children. After her children have established themselves, Thomare and her husband plan to return to India and reconnect with family and friends.

Why Do NRIs Want To Invest And Retire in India (India Currents)In India, hiring reliable home help is a game-changer, especially as one gets older, she feels. Thomare believes friends, acquaintances, and neighbors are also a big part of India’s companionship and social interaction scene. It’s been proven that social connections can make life less stressful and longer.

“The cost of living in India is way lower than in the USA. Housing is super affordable, and healthcare doesn’t break the bank. Everyday stuff like food, transportation, and household services won’t drain your wallet either. So, living in India means you can make your retirement savings last longer, allowing you to follow your passions, travel, and have a blast during your golden years. It’s all about having a great quality of life without burning through your hard-earned cash!” she says.

Emerging trends among NRIs

A recent survey by the Fintech platform SBNRI found that more than half of NRIs in countries like the USA, Australia, Canada, Singapore, and the UK want to invest and retire in India.

Earlier most Indians who left the country for better opportunities abroad preferred to retire in the developed nations they migrated to. However, in recent years, the retirement trends have changed and many NRIs are now aspiring to invest and retire in India.

Shubham Banerjee from the Founder’s Office of SBNRI feels there are several reasons for this change. In some developed nations, Indians go on work trips for a few years and these countries do not offer permanent residency or citizenship, so they must return to India.

“Many Indians want to have global exposure and move abroad for short durations. They also have emotional ties to their home country and want to come back and retire here,” Banerjee says.

Reasons to return

SBNRI found that more non-resident Indians are investing in India now and the potential has been rising in the last few years. Economic growth and the rise in tech, startups, and investment platforms have been the major reasons. Return from investments has also been higher in the last ten years, Banerjee believes.

Abhay Kumar Singh, a Senior Director at Oracle moved to the United States two years ago. While he feels the US is a great place to be in, he plans to move back to India with his wife after his son gets into an undergrad college in the US.

“We do feel that we live far away from my aging parents who are in India. While I do have my brother and sister there, my parents have mostly stayed with me when I was in India, and they are very close to my kids,” Singh says.

“While the US has several great things, we personally love India. Everybody’s life is very, very busy here, and most people would have a self-contained, family-centric upbringing. In India, we would go and meet our friends, brothers, sisters, and parents more often and the social attachment is stronger in India compared to the US,” he adds.

Reasons to leave

In India, there’s immense competition in terms of education and careers, and Singh’s family’s move was fueled by the fact that his kids could get better opportunities in the US. Quality in terms of education in America is much more practical-oriented and explorative compared to India where learning by rote is still prevalent.

“We felt our son could get a better platform for education in the US and choose from a wider variety of choices in terms of subjects,” Singh adds.

U.S. vs India

Healthcare costs in the US are much higher than in India, and people are often put on a long waitlist to see a medical practitioner unless it is an emergency. While most employers take care of health insurance, there can be cases where it is not fully covered. If paid out of one’s own pocket, medical costs could be too high for many people to afford.

“India is also growing at a much higher pace compared to other countries now. We came to the US to explore and see how things are. Both my wife and I are working now. We have seen what we wanted. After another 5-7 years, when we’re no longer working, we would like to be closer to our families and friends and mingle with the culture, traditions and festivities back home in India,” Singh says.


Americans’ Trust in Scientists Continue to Decline

A new Pew Research Center survey finds the share of Americans who say science has had a mostly positive effect on society has fallen and there’s been a continued decline in public trust in scientists.

Key findings

image7Impact of science on society

Overall, 57% of Americans say science has had a mostly positive effect on society. This share is down 8 percentage points since November 2021 and down 16 points since before the start of the coronavirus outbreak.

About a third (34%) now say the impact of science on society has been equally positive as negative. A small share (8%) think science has had a mostly negative impact on society.

Trust in scientists

When it comes to the standing of scientists, 73% of U.S. adults have a great deal or fair amount of confidence in scientists to act in the public’s best interests. But trust in scientists is 14 points lower than it was at the early stages of the pandemic.

The share expressing the strongest level of trust in scientists – saying they have a great deal of confidence in them – has fallen from 39% in 2020 to 23% today.

As trust in scientists has fallen, distrust has grown: Roughly a quarter of Americans (27%) now say they have not too much or no confidence in scientists to act in the public’s best interests, up from 12% in April 2020.

Ratings of medical scientists mirror the trend seen in ratings of scientists generally. Read Chapter 1 of the report for a detailed analysis of this data.

How scientists compare with other prominent groups

Why does public trust in scientists matter?

People with greater trust in scientists are more likely to align their own beliefs and actions with expert guidance and understanding.

For instance, those with high trust are more likely to have gotten vaccines for COVID-19 and the flu. They are also more likely to say human activity contributes to climate change.

In addition, scientific leaders are concerned that differences in levels of trust by things like party identification, race and ethnicity, and education could contribute to the benefits of science being spread unevenly across society.

Americans’ Trust in Scientists Continue to Decline (CNN)
Picture: CNN

The Center survey of 8,842 U.S. adults conducted Sept. 25-Oct. 1, 2023, finds that, despite recent declines in ratings, scientists and medical scientists continue to be held in high regard compared with other prominent groups in society. Smaller shares of Americans express confidence in business leaders, religious leaders, journalists and elected officials to act in the public’s best interests. As with scientists, most of these groups have seen their ratings decline in recent years.

Americans have expressed low trust in federal government and other institutions, like Congress, for decades. And political polarization – the widening gap between the views of Republicans and Democrats across a broad range of issues and attitudes – has come to be a dominant feature of American political life.

Differences between Republicans and Democrats in ratings of scientists and science

Declining levels of trust in scientists and medical scientists have been particularly pronounced among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents over the past several years. In fact, nearly four-in-ten Republicans (38%) now say they have not too much or no confidence at all in scientists to act in the public’s best interests. This share is up dramatically from the 14% of Republicans who held this view in April 2020. Much of this shift occurred during the first two years of the pandemic and has persisted in more recent surveys.

image8Confidence in scientists has also moved lower among Democrats. The share of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents with a great deal of confidence in scientists – which initially rose in the pandemic’s first year – now stands at 37%, down from a high of 55% in November 2020. But unlike Republicans, a large majority of Democrats (86%) continue to express at least a fair amount of confidence in scientists to act in the public’s best interests. The overall differences in partisan views remain much more pronounced today than they were prior to the coronavirus outbreak.

One of the starkest illustrations of polarization in views of science is the drop in the share of Republicans who view the societal impact of science positively.

Fewer than half of Republicans (47%) now say that science has had a mostly positive effect on society. In 2019, 70% of Republicans said that science has had a mostly positive effect.

image9A majority of Democrats (69%) continue to say science has had a mostly positive effect on society, though this share is 8 points lower than it was in 2019.

Republicans were largely critical of the country’s response to the coronavirus outbreak. For instance, large shares said too little priority was given to respecting individuals’ choices, supporting businesses and economic activity, and meeting the needs of K-12 students. In addition, many Republicans felt that public health officials’ personal views had too much influence on policy and that officials were too quick to dismiss views that challenged their scientific understanding.

Government investments in science

Despite declines in ratings of scientists and science, a large majority of Americans continue to see government investments in science as worthwhile. And most place at least some importance on the United States being a world leader in scientific achievements.

image10About eight-in-ten Americans (78%) say government investments in scientific research are usually worthwhile for society. Far fewer (20%) think these investments are generally not worthwhile. Large majorities across demographic and education groups see government investments in scientific research as worthwhile, as do large majorities of both Democrats and Republicans.

In addition, 52% of Americans think it is very important for the U.S. to be a world leader in scientific achievements; an additional 37% think this is somewhat important. These shares are more or less unchanged since last year.

Gurdev Singh Hehar Appointed as President of IOCUSA’s Southwest Chapter

In a significant show of solidarity and commitment, the Indian Overseas Congress, USA (IOCUSA) conducted a landmark membership drive at the ‘Our Place Indian Cuisine’ in Dallas, Texas. The event, characterized by spirited discussions, united prominent community leaders and political figures in their vision for a stronger, more inclusive Indian community.

The drive was kick-started with a stirring address by Mr. Mohinder Singh Gilzian, President of the IOCUSA. Mr. Gilzian’s message resonated deeply with the attendees, emphasizing the crucial need for active political participation in the upcoming elections in India.

He said, “Our engagement in the democratic process is essential to safeguarding the unity and progress of our motherland. Let us unite to ensure a future where diversity and harmony would triumph.”

Sam Pitroda, the Chairman of IOC, and a renowned innovator, joined the meeting through Zoom. He touched upon his connections to Dallas and the broader role of the Indian diaspora. “Our roots here in Dallas are just as important as our ties to India. By harnessing our collective strengths, we can significantly contribute to India’s journey towards modernization and inclusivity,” Pitroda said. He then reminded the audience of the pivotal role of the diaspora in shaping India’s future.

IOC USA established the Southwest Chapter and appointed Mr. Gurdev Singh Hehar as President. In his address, Mr. Gurdev Singh emphasized the significance of unity and collective efforts. He said, “Our strength lies in our diversity and ability to work together, transcending religious and cultural differences, towards a common goal – a thriving and united India, reaffirming the ethos of the IOC.”

Avi Dandiya, the Global Social Media Chief for the IOC, played a key role in the local coordination and setup of the event. His efforts in leveraging social media platforms greatly enhanced the membership drive and brought many community leaders to the event.

The membership drive by the Indian Overseas Congress in Dallas marks a new chapter in the annals of Indian diasporic engagement. It was an event that echoed the sentiments of unity, attention, and proactive participation, critical tenets in shaping a future that the Indian community across the globe aspires for.

Ms. Sophia Sharma, General Secretary of the IOCUSA, moderated the event.

The Indian Overseas Congress is a platform for Non-Resident Indians to participate actively India’s growth and development. It seeks to bridge the gap between the Indian diaspora and their homeland, fostering democratic principles and inclusive development. (

Indian Overseas Congress, USA Appoints Mr. Minhaj Akhtar As The Working President, IOCUSA Midwest Region

The Indian Overseas Congress, USA (IOCUSA) proudly hosted a Membership Drive on 19th October 2023 at the Shalimar Banquet in Chicago, Illinois, where it appointed Mr. Minhaj Akhtar as the working President for the Midwest Region. This event echoed the organization’s continuous mission to galvanize the Indian diaspora toward active socio-political participation.

Indian Overseas Congress USA Appoints Mr Minhaj Akhtar As The Working President IOCUSA Midwest Region 3
Picture: Asian Media USA

The Membership Drive was a hub of insightful dialogues and vibrant discussions, reflecting the IOC, USA’s core tenets of democracy, inclusivity, and celebration of Indian heritage. Over the years, the organization has established a legacy of fostering dialogues between India and its overseas community that have significantly impacted policies and their proper implementation.

The event’s centerpiece was the keynote address by Mr. Sam Pitroda, a distinguished political and technology thought leader. Mr. Pitroda’s political acumen, reflected in his tenure as an advisor to former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and his instrumental role in India’s telecommunication revolution, aligned seamlessly with the event’s essence and the broader objectives of the IOC, USA.

Indian Overseas Congress USA Appoints Mr Minhaj Akhtar As The Working President IOCUSA Midwest Region 1
Picture: Asian Media USA

Mr. Pitroda said, ‘India is all about diversity, inclusion, love, democracy, and all these things are being attacked systematically under the current governance. Congress is an idea that fought for an independent India, and it’s under attack. It is time for us to raise our voices and preserve democracy.” Following his address, Mr. Pitroda engaged in an interactive session, addressing queries from the Indian diaspora present, further enriching the discourse.

The panel featured an array of distinguished and seasoned leaders within the IOC, USA, and the broader community. Mr. Mohinder Singh Gilzian, President of IOCUSA, said in his address, “We are on our way to establishing a team in all the states of the USA and uniting the Indian Diaspora to support freedom and justice for everyone back in our motherland.”

Ms. Sophia Sharma General Secretary IOCUSA, was the moderator of the event. Mr. Gurpreet Singh, Chairman IOCUSA Haryana Chapter, Mr. Satheesan Nair, Executive Vice-President of the Kerala Chapter and Senior Leader of IOCUSA, and Mr. Iftekhar Sharif, a prominent community member, seasoned businessman, and philanthropist, were also present at the event.

This illustrious panel delved into pertinent discussions resonating with the event’s theme, further cementing IOC, USA’s credibility, and the collective endeavor towards a robust India-US partnership. With over 100 attendees, the event provided a rich networking platform and fostered a collaborative spirit amongst like-minded individuals. The Membership Drive was not just a means to augment IOCUSA’s membership but also became a celebration of the diaspora’s collective achievements and aspirations.

About Indian Overseas Congress, USA:

Indian Overseas Congress, USA, is a vanguard in fostering social, economic, and political engagement among the Indian diaspora in the United States. Through various initiatives and events, IOCUSA is committed to crafting a vibrant platform for dialogue and action that propels a stronger India-US alliance.

For those inspired by the event’s objectives and looking to join the Indian Overseas Congress, USA, you are encouraged to contact 646-732-5119 for more information on membership and upcoming events. (

The Indian Diaspora’s ‘Indentured Route’ – And A ‘Lost’ Children’s Quest For Identity

Ironically, the forced migration also laid the seeds of a diaspora in countries where Indians of another generation looking for better economic opportunities would not have normally settled.

The Indian diaspora – estimated at 30 million and growing depending on how inclusive one makes it – has been the subject of much writing and discussion in recent times.  It is seen as an important source of  ‘soft power’ for India, and the one to leverage it politically and diplomatically has been none other than Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who unfailingly includes an engagement with the diaspora in every country he visits where Indians have settled in substantial numbers. The Indian diaspora is a source of investment and support for the ruling dispensation, and large sections of the diaspora in turn idolizes Modi – he calls them “brand ambassadors” of the country  – and the mass adulation that he receives from New York to Sydney has been the envy of his hosts, whether in the United States to Australia.

The Indian Diaspora's 'Indentured Route'However, the diaspora is not just the affluent and well-settled Indians In the richer economies of the United States, United Kingdom, Europe, or Down Under who have been the subject of special reports in The Economist and other reputed international publications as a “powerful resource” for the nation. When talking or writing about the Indian diaspora and their experiences, a segment that is often lost sight of are the so-called ‘lost Indians’ – descendants of “more than 2,2 million indentured labor (who) were moved from India to more than 26 countries in various parts of the world, making it one greatest mass movements of India’s future Diaspora worldwide”.

Bhaswati Mukherjee, a former Indian diplomat who was Ambassador to UNESCO and the Netherlands and has studied this subject extensively, delves in her recently published book “The Indentured Route: A Relentless Quest for Identity”,  about how a few million Indians were shipped in the 19th and early 20th century as indentured or contract labour to work in British plantations across the world, from Suriname to South Africa, to Mauritius and the Reunion Islands; to Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago in the Caribbean.

The Kalapani metaphor

This is a story that hasn’t been told in its entirety or the trials and tribulations of the shipped labour documented for posterity. “The journey of India’s children across the Kalapani, their suffering and humiliation at the hands of the colonizers and their relentless quest for identity cannot remain an untold narrative,” argues Mukherjee who chose to shine the light on what she calls “a forgotten part of our history” in which the British, adept at using transportation to distant shores as a form of punishment, came up with the system of indenture “as a substitute for slavery” after the British Parliament abolished slavery in 1833.

How the term Kalapani – literally meaning ‘dark waters’ – gained currency as a metaphor for the forbidding ocean whose crossing, it was believed, would not just bring them evil but make high-caste Indians lose their exalted status is itself a fascinating commentary on how the British played upon Indian religious sentiments and economic deprivation, which in many ways was their creation, to set one community against another in the process of crushing “a so-called subordinate culture”.

The penal act of transportation across the high seas and oceans as contract labour to run the sugar and coffee plantations of British, as well as Dutch and French colonies, that had lost African labour following the abolition of slavery was just not an act of crafty business and political manipulation but a cynical economic action that duped tens of thousands of poor Indian workers into believing that they were being given the choice of a better life which they could harness to better the indigent family conditions back home.

This thinking gets reinforced by a question from the Oxford History of the British Empire Companion Series quoted by Mukherjee that, in a bout of self-searching, wonders if  “It is important to consider whether the Indian indentured labour had been inveigled into a new system of slavery’.

Rainbow nations

Ironically, the forced migration also laid the seeds of a diaspora in countries where Indians of another generation looking for better economic opportunities would not have normally settled. “The movement of one-and-a-half million Indians across continents from the mid-nineteenth century was dictated by the demands of imperialism and finance capitalism,” noted Mukherjee, as the “descendants of the indentured built new rainbow nations in the erstwhile plantation colonies as free and independent states” to become the “protagonists of a hybrid culture, similar to India but also different.”

How Indian culture and traditions, in the form of festivals like Diwali, have not only taken roots in these countries, much to perhaps British chagrin, in the form of cross-cultural celebrations is perhaps illustrated in the nine-day Divali Nagar festival, a popular diaspora draw, that takes place in Trinidad and Tobago, where nearly 40 per cent of the 1.3 population of the twin islands is of Indian extraction.

At the recent inauguration of the 35th edition of the festival, Mayor Faaiq Mohammed of Chaguanas, Central Trinidad, pointed out that the National Council of Indian Culture, through the Divali Nagar festival,  “(had) brought cultural traditions of our ancestors, allowing our multi-cultural and multi-religious and multi-ethnic society to embrace Divali and what it represents as a national festival” in the Caribbean nation.

This is a meticulously researched book spanning continents that narrates the painful story of India’s earliest migrants who established new cultural roots that kept them emotionally connected to their native land and whose forefathers’ epic transoceanic journeys have now come to be acknowledged in the UN system as one of history’s greatest tragedies of human exploitation just as slavery had come to be accepted. (The author is a veteran editor and founder, South Asia Monitor. Views are personal. He can be contacted at [email protected])

Read more at:

Diwali Celebrations Held At BAPS Swaminarayan Akshardham

Diwali was celebrated with grandeur at BAPS Swaminarayan Akshardham, featuring an Annakut with hundreds of food items, intricate rangoli designs, 2,700 diyas, and festive lights on Sunday, November 12, 2023.

The largest Hindu mandir in the USA, Akshardham is an iconic testament to Hindu art, architecture, and spirituality, offering profound insights into Hindu traditions and teachings.

Diwali Celebrations Held At BAPS Swaminarayan AkshardhamThe BAPS Swaminarayan Akshardham drew thousands of worshippers throughout the day. There was a long line to take part in the Ceremony of Light, a practice of waving a lighted wick before the sacred image of God. The food symbolizes devotion.

“Families will come together to bake what they like. You’ll see cookies and traditional Indian sweets and delicacies. Because we celebrate the mountain of food, you’ll see many items stacked like a mountain,” said Viren Shah, who is among the many celebrating the festival.

Billions of people around the world are celebrating Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights. The holiday is bringing people together across Central Illinois, too. The Hindu, Jain and Sikh faiths are the primary faiths that celebrate Diwali. The festivities span multiple days before and after the official date.

The holiday marks new beginnings for Hindus and a chance to enter their Lunar New Year with fortuitous blessings from the goddess of wealth. It’s their biggest celebration, and is akin to a mix of winter holidays and New Years.

As Indian immigrants have crossed oceans and borders for new countries, the holidays and traditions they brought with them have both endured and evolved with the next generation. Diwali – a festival with various meanings, histories and names depending on the region and religion observing it – is no exception.

Every corner of Akshardham invites everyone to embark on a transformative journey that guides them toward the radiant joy of the Divine. BAPS Swaminarayan Akshardham is a spiritual campus created by the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha.

Over 12,500 people volunteered in the creation of BAPS Swaminarayan Akshardham. Students, parents,Diwali Celebrations Held At BAPS Swaminarayan Akshardham 3 professionals, and more, dedicated their time and effort—for two weeks, six months, two years, or even more than a decade—to make Akshardham a reality.

The volunteers came to help build the mandir but discovered transformative experiences. Following are a few stories highlighting the devotion and sacrifice of the volunteers excerpted from the book, People of Akshardham: Stories Beyond the Stones.

Akash Patel, a 39-year-old from Charlotte, North Carolina, reflects on his upbringing and the importance of leaving a meaningful legacy for his daughter. Despite facing financial challenges, Akash worked his way up the corporate ladder, eventually joining Ernst & Young. He decided to volunteer at Akshardham, a spiritual place, during a two-week vacation. This experience led him to realize that material wealth alone wasn’t enough to provide purpose and meaning. Inspired by the spiritual atmosphere, he and his wife, Vandana, made a life-changing decision to move to NJ and volunteer at Akshardham while raising their daughter, Prapti. Akash’s journey highlights the importance of imparting moral and spiritual values to the next generation, valuing inner peace, and leaving a lasting legacy beyond material wealth.

Harmiksha Patel, a 24-year-old registered nurse from Brampton, Ontario, lost her father, Snehal, to cancer in 2020. When presented with an opportunity to serve in the Akshardham construction project, she initially hesitated but ultimately chose to volunteer, as she felt that her dad would be so happy if he knew I was volunteering at Akshardham. For nearly a year, she served in the Akshardham’s inner sanctum, cleaning, treating, repairing, and grouting stones. Harmiksha worked with a sense of reverence that expanded over time. “Every stone, every part of this mandir is touched by God, and so are the people building it: these volunteers have done so much for my guru, and we are all connected because of him. Volunteering in Akshardham has lessened the gap between me and the people around me.” She wishes to bring this attitude home and learn to recognize the beauty in all people.

Yesha Shah, 27, of Skokie, Illinois, volunteered for three days in 2019 but when she returned to pharmacy school, she missed the fulfillment she had felt while volunteering. She took a 1.5-year leave to continue volunteering to be part of this once-in-alifetime opportunity. She served as co-lead of the rebar team. Inspired by the virtues of her teammates, Yesha strove to serve humbly, accept criticism positively, and develop patience. Reflecting on the impact of her time volunteering, Yesha said, “I used to get very easily hurt if someone pointed out my mistakes. Over the last year, I stopped dwelling so much on the external factors I can’t change and chose to focus on things that I can change in myself. This has helped me feel more at peace with myself.”

As a 10-year-old,Nilkanth Rao, 40, accompanied his father, Ramesh, to Kandla, Gujarat, where artisans carved stones for the BAPS mandir in London. Pramukh Swami Maharaj was visiting, and he addressed the artisans, which Nilkanth remembers vividly. Inspired by his father’s years of volunteering in mandir construction, Nilkanth began serving on the Akshardham site in 2012 and joined full-time in January 2022, taking a year’s sabbatical from his work as a manager at Accenture Federal Service. He weatherproofed, cut, clamped, placed, and repaired stones throughout the Akshardham campus. Nilkanthʼs volunteering has taught him to imbue all his actions with spirituality. “With the right sentiments, there is no real difference between physical service on site and devotion we offer in the mandir. Every stone we place, every stone we dip, is an offering to God.” (Courtesy: News India Times)

King Charles Marks 75th Birthday with Launch of ‘Coronation Food Project’ to Combat Hunger and Food Waste

Britain’s King Charles marked his 75th birthday on Tuesday, seizing the moment to launch a new initiative aimed at combatting food poverty and reducing the staggering amounts of discarded food. With a history of over five decades as an ardent advocate for environmental causes and a champion of a sustainable economy, the monarch officially introduced the ‘Coronation Food Project,’ a mission dedicated to alleviating hunger.

In an article penned for the “Big Issue,” a magazine typically sold by homeless individuals, Charles emphasized the gravity of the food crisis, stating, “Food need is as real and urgent a problem as food waste – and if a way could be found to bridge the gap between them, then it would address two problems in one.” The project highlights that 14 million people in Britain grapple with food insecurity. The king, known for his outspoken stance on social issues, lamented that “too many families and individuals are missing out on nutritious meals due to the cost of living pressures that have caused hardship for so many.”

In a heartfelt plea, Charles expressed his birthday wish, writing, “To mark my 75th birthday in this Coronation year, I could ask for no greater gift than that the Coronation Food Project creates a lasting legacy to help others – and help the planet.”

To kick off his birthday celebrations, Charles, accompanied by his wife Queen Camilla, visited a surplus food distribution center in central England. There, staff and volunteers serenaded the king with a spirited rendition of “Happy Birthday.” The day’s festivities extended beyond the distribution center, with traditional gun salutes echoing in London and across the country. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Charles’ eldest son and heir, Prince William, took to social media to convey their birthday wishes.

Despite reported estrangement, the BBC disclosed that Charles’ younger son, Prince Harry, would communicate with him by phone. In addition to the birthday commemorations, Charles had scheduled a reception on Tuesday to honor the contributions of nurses and midwives, marking 75 years of the National Health Service.

As the milestone birthday unfolded, the king’s commitment to addressing societal challenges remained at the forefront. The ‘Coronation Food Project’ emerged as a testament to Charles’ enduring dedication to fostering positive change. The initiative aims not only to provide immediate relief to those facing food insecurity but also to tackle the pervasive issue of food waste.

The project’s core philosophy, as articulated by the monarch, hinges on the belief that addressing both food need and food waste concurrently represents a comprehensive solution. Charles articulated this in his article for the “Big Issue,” stating, “Food need is as real and urgent a problem as food waste – and if a way could be found to bridge the gap between them, then it would address two problems in one.”

Highlighting the scale of the problem, the ‘Coronation Food Project’ emphasizes that 14 million people in Britain live with food insecurity. Charles, renowned for his advocacy on environmental issues, underscored the human impact of this crisis, noting that “too many families and individuals are missing out on nutritious meals due to the cost of living pressures that have caused hardship for so many.”

In a poignant plea for collective action, Charles used the occasion of his 75th birthday to express a deeply personal wish for the ‘Coronation Food Project’ to leave a lasting legacy. “To mark my 75th birthday in this Coronation year, I could ask for no greater gift than that the Coronation Food Project creates a lasting legacy to help others – and help the planet,” he wrote, signifying a desire for a positive and enduring impact on both societal well-being and the environment.

As part of the birthday celebrations, Charles and Queen Camilla visited a surplus food distribution center in central England, underscoring the tangible efforts behind the initiative. The visit was punctuated by a heartfelt rendition of “Happy Birthday” by staff and volunteers, symbolizing the collective spirit behind the ‘Coronation Food Project.’

The birthday festivities extended beyond the distribution center, with traditional gun salutes echoing in London and across the country. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Prince William, Charles’ eldest son and heir, joined the chorus of well-wishers, using social media platforms to convey their birthday greetings.

Despite reported familial estrangement, the BBC reported that Prince Harry, Charles’ younger son, would engage in a phone conversation with his father. This connection, albeit remote, underscored the significance of the occasion and the enduring familial ties.

In addition to the birthday celebrations, Charles had scheduled a reception on Tuesday to honor the invaluable contributions of nurses and midwives. This event formed part of a series of activities commemorating 75 years of the National Health Service, showcasing the king’s multifaceted commitment to societal well-being.

Britain’s King Charles celebrated his 75th birthday not only with traditional fanfare but also with a resolute commitment to addressing pressing societal issues. The launch of the ‘Coronation Food Project’ symbolizes his enduring dedication to combating food poverty and waste, encapsulating a vision for a more sustainable and equitable future. As the celebrations unfolded, Charles’ words echoed, emphasizing the need for collective action to bridge the gap between food need and waste, ultimately creating a positive and lasting legacy for generations to come.

Rotary Club of North Shore District 7255, NY Installed

It was a special evening at Antuns’ on October 29, 2023. The Installation of Newly formed Rotary Charter the Rotary Club of North Shore, which was initiated by the Rotary Club of Hicksville was held at the Antun’s, LI. Rotary District 7255, District Governor Tom Crowley officiated the Oath ceremony of the Rotary Club of North Shore President Dr. Mamta Shaha along with her slate of officers, board members, and founding members to serve the club for fiscal year 2023-24.

Rotary Club of North Shore District 7255 NY Installed 1Dr. Mamta Shaha thanked all members for putting their trust in as their Charter president. She talked about the importance of the Rotary motto of “Service Above Self” and added that Honesty, Integrity, and Transparency will be the guiding principles for this club. She mentioned the work of club for the year will be focused on 1) Feeding Hungry 2) Protecting the Environment and 3) Mentoring and education of children.

She thanked Rotary district Governor Tom Crowley and his team. Special thanks was given to the host club-Rotary Club of Hicksville South, the charter President and Past District Governor Mr. Kamalesh Mehta, current President Mr. Mizan Rehman for their help through the process.

Nilima Madan- Past President of the Rotary Club of Hicksville South, was appreciated for her vision and leadership. She is also the Stewardship Chair of District 7255. She had the vision of starting a new club which came to fruition on October 29,2023. She has been a great mentor and guide to all of us throughout the process.

At this occasion, Indian Consul General Mr. Randhir Jaiswal was conferred upon the honorary membership ofRotary Club of North Shore District 7255 NY Installed 3 Rotary Club of North Shore. The Honorable Consul General was not able to attend. He will be presented with the plaque soon.

Naveen Shah of the Navika Capital Inc. was honored with a plaque for his leadership and philanthropy in the community. Nilima Madan was honored with a plaque for her mentorship and guidance.

Prominent among  those who were in attendance included:  North Hempstead Supervisor, Jennifer S. DeSena; North Hempstead Town Clerk Ragini Srivastava ; Nassau County Minority Affairs Executive Director, Lionel Chitty; Town of Oyster Bay Asian American Affairs Director. They all presented the Citations to the Rotary Club of North Shore and the awardees.

All the members of the Club celebrated by cutting a cake. The beautiful evening concluded with musical entertainment and dinner.

Diverse Cultures Unite Under the Glow of Lights At Aurora Diwali Celebration

Diwali, the esteemed “Festival of Lights” is a time honored in celebration of hope, light, and unity for millions of people of Indian origin around the world. In recent years, the City of Aurora in Illinois has become home to a remarkable Diwali celebration drawing a few thousand visitors, thanks to the Indian American Community Outreach Advisory Board (IACOAB).

This annual event, which was organized at Waubonsie Valley High School, Aurora, IL on October 28, 2023, has grown in significance, transcending cultural boundaries and uniting the community in a radiant display of togetherness. Supported wholeheartedly by Mayor Richard Irvin office of the City of Aurora and local volunteers, this event has reached new heights. The IACOAB Board members commenced the festivities with a traditional lamp-lighting ceremony, a symbol of hope and new beginnings. Sunil Patel, the Chairman of the Board, could not conceal his excitement at the remarkable turnout. He credited the event's success to the unwavering support of his board members, volunteers, and the Mayor office and expressed his gratitude to Alderwoman Sweta Baid for helping the team with the amazing display of Rangoli, a traditional Indian art form made with sand.

Diverse Cultures Unite Under the Glow of Lights At Aurora Diwali Celebration
Picture: Asian Media USA

Mayor Richard Irvin has consistently been a great supporter of the board and brought an electrifying energy to the crowd with his inspiring speech. The mayor officially proclaimed Diwali, a festival of lights, as a day of tolerance, compassion, and the triumph of good over evil. This proclamation resonates with the American and Aurora Spirit, which also celebrates these values.

The highlight of the event was the outstanding cultural program, which brought together Indian dancers and performers for a night of sensational entertainment. While the majority of the audience was of Indian descent, the event warmly welcomed people from all backgrounds who appreciated the vibrant Bollywood dances and delicious Indian food that was served.

The City of Aurora  Diwali celebration is a community event that has brought together local participants to learn about the services provided by small businesses and local non-profit organizations. The participation of non-profit organizations such as Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh USAh, ISKON, Indian Nurses Education and Welfare Fund and Adhyatmik Vishwavidyalaya has helped to raise awareness of Indian culture and the community’s efforts to preserve their traditions and culture.

“This year, we saw great involvement from different vendors who offered unique merchandise not readily available in local shops, along with a wide array of delectable food options” Board members Nitin Fuldore and Ghosia Wajid.

Vice Chair Nadia Kanhai expressed her sincere gratitude to the local participants, stating that the event would not have been a success without their presence. She also extended an invitation to sponsors and merchants to join the event again next year. As the radiant lights of Diwali continue to shine brightly in Aurora, they remind us of the enduring power of community and the timeless significance of this beautiful festival. The future of the Diwali celebration in Aurora looks even brighter, casting a warm and welcoming glow over all who attend.

During Diwali, “Dispel the Inner Darkness through the Light of Knowledge”

Gopi Diwali at Times Square, presented by KIA, lit up the heart of Times Square, celebrating cultural diversity, equity, and inclusion. Aligned with the NYC Diwali school holiday, the event transcended the traditional symbolism of Diwali, focusing on illuminating the inner self and fostering unity, enlightenment, love, peace, and harmony for a more peaceful world.

“The festival aimed to unite people from diverse backgrounds, focusing on education to foster unity and diversity, prioritized including children and teaching them to be responsible citizens, compassionate individuals, and good neighbors.”, said the Founder of Diwali at Times Square, Neeta Bhasin.

One of the evening’s highlights was the grand Diya (lamp) lighting on stage, synchronized with the countdown on the One Times Square tower. The ceremony drew distinguished guests, including Eric Adams, NYC Mayor, Senator Chuck Schumer, Deputy Mayor Meera Joshi, Consul General of India Randhir Jaiswal, Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar, Justice Karen Gopee, and various esteemed dignitaries.

During Diwali Dispel the Inner Darkness through the Light of Knowledge 2The Gopi, a California-based family-run dairy company, emphasized the universal message of peace and love through Diwali. Annie Keropian-Dilsizian, Gopi’s Marketing Manager, highlighted the event’s historic significance. Festival goers received complimentary full-size product samples, including Gopi Lassi and Paneer, to add joy and tradition to their Diwali celebrations.

Steven Center, COO & EVP of Kia America, expressed “Diwali’s core values of balance, harmony, and joy are mutual guiding principles of Kia’s ‘Opposites United’ design philosophy, which takes inspiration from the contrasts found in nature and humanity, that’s why Kia is proud to participate as presenting sponsor of Diwali in Times Square and recognize the festival of lights.”

The festival showcased an awards segment, honoring outstanding individuals: Neera Tanden the recipient of the “Woman of the Year in Public Service” US Domestic Policy Council Director, expressed gratitude “Celebrating Diwali in Times Square was a pleasure. Thanks to Neeta Bhasin and the Board for recognizing my commitment to improving lives. This event honored the invaluable contributions of the Indian American community, enriching and strengthening America”.

Procter and Gamble COO, Shailesh Jejurikar, was honored with the “Man of the Year in Private Service” Award said “I am humbled and honored by this recognition. As I reflect on my career, I am inspired by Procter & Gamble’s commitment since its founding 185 years ago to improve consumers’ everyday lives. This dedication fuels my determination to create a meaningful and lasting impact.”

Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar who played a pivotal role in establishing the NYC School Holiday and strong support for Diwali at Times Square was honored with the ‘Samman Award’.

NYC Mayor Eric Adams declared October 28th as Diwali Day.

Senator Chuck Schumer who never misses Diwali at Times, loves the Indian community. In support of the community Senator said ‘I wrote laws to allow more Indians to come to America and New York. The more Indians are in New York, the better New York is. I will change the law to make it more so”.

Randhir Jaiswal, the Consul General of India, NY stated, “As we celebrate Diwali in Times Square, we mark not just a festival but a milestone in the recognition of our culture, as Diwali becomes a public holiday in schools.”

The “Light Up Concert” dazzled with Bollywood star Mika Singh, Indian American sensation Shuba, and local talents, making it a vibrant celebration of cultural diversity and impactful individuals.

A R Helping Hands Diwali at Times Square is an annual event that celebrates Diwali with grandeur, bringing together people from diverse backgrounds to embrace unity in diversity, honor outstanding achievements, and celebrate the festival of lights.

We are honored to receive a message from Prime Minister Modi, extending heartfelt greetings for the joyous occasion of Diwali.

New England Choice Awards Gala In Boston Celebrates Accomplishments of Indian Americans

The New England Choice Awards, a prestigious event held annually celebrating the achievements and accomplishments of the Indian American community was held on Sunday, November 5th, 2023 in Boston, MA.

Organized by the non-profit INE MultMedia, Inc., in collaboration with INDIA New England News, New England Choice Awards gala was attended by, among others, Chief Guest and Keynote Speaker Boston Mayor Michelle Wu and Guest of Honor Pillar VC Founder and CEO Jamie Goldstein.

Over 400 entrepreneurs, corporate executives, philanthropists, educators and community leaders gathered in the packed Grand Ballroom of the Burlington Marriott to honor New England Choice Awards winners of 2023 and be part of the celebration of the fast growing Indian American community.

New England Choice Awards Gala In Boston Celebrates Accomplishments of Indian Americans (Cocoon Media) 2
Picture: Cocoon Media

This year’s NECA award recipients were: Ash Ashutosh, a serial tech entrepreneur and Global Director of Solution Sales at Google; Pranav Ghatraju, a rising Tabla player and New Product Development Engineer at Entegris; Dr. Salil Midha, MD, Cardiology Chief at Melrose-Wakefield Hospital;Priyamvada Natarajan, a Physics Professor and Theoretical Astrophysicist at Yale University, known for her work in mapping dark matter and dark energy; Trupti Patel, an immigration attorney and Saheli Advisory Board Member; Phil Scarff, a Saxophonist, Composer and Founder of world-jazz ensemble Natraj; and the India Society of Worcester, which is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year as a vibrant non-profit community organization.

Raj Sharma, Managing Director of Wealth Management and Head of The Sharma Group, a high-end boutique within Merrill Lynch’s Private Banking and Investment Group, received the 2023 Lifetime Achievement Award.

“For centuries, Boston has been the threshold to New England—our nation’s gateway to and for the rest of the world. And for centuries, we’ve benefited from the hearts and minds—the courage and vision—of those who have made our city home,” said Mayor Wu.

“This room, and the incredible individuals and organizations being honored here tonight, are a testament to the possibilities we unlock when we empower our communities to thrive. And I know that India New England shares that belief and our mission: To ensure that the Indian community here in New England is informed by your thoughtful coverage of global-to-local events; that your stories are centered and celebrated.”

Mayor Wu, congratulated all the winners Sunday night and shared her own story of growing up as a daughter of immigrant parents.

“Growing up as the daughter of immigrants from Taiwan, they always told me to get a stable job, that paid well, and wouldn’t get me into trouble. So you can imagine how they felt when I told them I’d decided to go into politics. But their perspective was colored by their experience as immigrants,” said Mayor Wu. “Never feeling fully welcomed, or valued; and when attention was directed their way it was rarely positive. So the idea that any of us could grow up to be leaders in a community where they didn’t even feel like we belonged wasn’t on their radar. The best thing we could do was keep our heads down and not make waves—blend in.”

Mayor Wu also thanked Dr. Manju Sheth and Upendra Mishra for creating this multimedia platform to empower the community. “I want to thank Upendra, and Dr. Manju, for your leadership here at India New England because standing out was dangerous. We didn’t have examples of leaders in government, the media, or business to look up to—or if we did, we didn’t know about them. Which is why the work that India New England does is so important,” said Mayor Wu.

“Because for every one of our stories that are told—for every event where we are celebrated for holding our heads high and making waves…The more we empower our young people to recognize that they can do and be whatever they want. So I want to take a minute to not only congratulate all of tonight’s awardees, but thank you for opening the door for the next generation: Ash, Pranav, Dr. Salil, Priyamvada, Trupti, Phil, everyone at the India Society of Worcester. And to Raj Sharma—who I am honored to be presented with this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award: Thank you!”

New England Choice Awards Gala In Boston Celebrates Accomplishments of Indian Americans (Cocoon Media)
Picture: Cocoon Media

Dr. Manju Sheth congratulated all the winners and thanked attendees and NECA supporters and sponsors. “Our goal at NECA Awards is to always outdo the previous year show and this was no exception,” said Dr. Sheth.  “The fun and excitement lies in raising the bar every year. It is only possible due to the support of an incredible team and the love and support that we get from the community . I am so happy and grateful for the incredible success of the show this year.”

Upendra Mishra welcomed everyone in his opening remarks and said that there was only goal of the evening: to share and celebrate success and inspire and get inspired by fellow leaders and pioneers of the community.

“Every year, after winners are selected by an independent committee of judges, we send them a set of questions, and eagerly wait for their answers,” said Mr. Mishra. “This year, my favorite questions were: If life gives you another chance, what will you do? And the second one was: what does success mean to you?”

All the winners had different definitions of success, but the core messages were the same: following their dreams and their passion, Mr. Mishra said. “For some, it is internal happiness, good health, a great family and a complete satisfaction with what one has achieved. Some say success is all about achieving peace of mind and personal fulfillment,” added Mr. Mishra. “And some said success is deeply personal, and everyone needs to craft their own definitions and keep refining them as they learn and grow in life. The definition of success evolves over time.”

The 2023 New England Choice Awards 2023 Committee consisted of Anu Chitrapu, Upendra Mishra, Mandy Pant, Anupendra Sharma, Manju Sheth and Aditi Taylor. The judging committee consisted of: Anu Chitrapu, Senior Vice President, Bank of America; Rohit Mahajan, Managing Partner,; Girish Mehta, Founder, Indian Circle for Caring USA; Upendra Mishra, Publisher, INDIA New England News and Co-Founder of IneMultimedia and New England Choice Awards; Zenobia Moochhala, CEO, Sittercity & Co-Founder,; Deepti Nijhawan, Director, India Initiatives, Boston University Global Programs; Mandy Pant, Lead Technologist, Design Engineering Group at Intel; Jasmine Shah, Founder, Aangikam Dance Academy; Anupendra Sharma, CEO, AXLMED, Dr. Manju Sheth, MD, Co-founder, INE MultiMedia, Women Who Win, NECA and Physician at Harvard Vanguard / Atrius Health; Venkat Srinivasan, Founder and Managing Director of Innospark Ventures; Madhu Sudan, Gordon McKay Professor of Computer Science at Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences; and Aditi Taylor, Chief Risk Officer, MFS Investment Management.

Mouli Pal, an accomplished Odissi dance artist, choreographer and cultural ambassador, and recording artist Shraddha Agrawal provided the entertainment at the gala. NECA Sponsors included Atrius Health, Leader Bank, The Commonwealth of Massachusetts Asian American and Pacific Islanders Commission, IndUS Business Journal, Jay Patel, Women Who Win and Gourmet India. Community sponsors and supporters were, Cocoon Media, TaranOm Creations, SRAVEO, Boston Sound & Light Company, and Fotu Duniya.

ITServe Alliance’s Highly Successful Synergy 2023 Sets the Path for a Brighter Future

(November 9th, 2023: Atlantic City, NJ) Networking, learning, and sharing of knowledge, great and highly acclaimed speakers, insightful workshops, collaborating with one another, strengthening bonds, celebrating one’s achievements and accomplishments, cultural and fun events, awards ceremony, showcasing of business booths and products, and delicious and multi-ethnic cuisine, and attended by over 2,200 members of ITServe Alliance, who are small and medium size companies of Information Technology were only some of the highlights of ITServe Alliance’s flagship Synergy 2023 held from October 26th to 27th, 2023 at the popular Harrah’s Resort in Atlantic City, NJ.

In his presidential address, Vinay K. Mahajan, National President of ITServe Alliance, welcomed the members, leaders, chapter presidents, sponsors, and volunteers to Synergy 2023 and expressed his “sincere gratitude for your unwavering commitment, and dedication, and for investing your time and energy and resources. You are the backbone of our organization, and your unwavering commitment is what propels us forward.”

Describing the mission of ITServe Mahajan said, “We are the voice representing the interests of small and medium scale enterprises of IT industry, protecting our members’ interests. We give back to the community and invest in startups, which is to help the United States maintain its leadership in innovation and technology. It is about coming together, collaborating, and liberating our collective strength. It is about finding synergy, not only within our own businesses but also across our entire community.”

Vinodbabu Uppu, Governing Board Chair of ITServe said, “Synergy 2023 is the only one-of-a-kind conference delivering innovative strategies, unique insights, and proven tactics for success, exclusively for IT service companies and individuals. Synergy 2023 will focus on developing strategic relationships with our partner organizations, sponsors, and supporters to work for a better technology environment by building greater understanding.”

Venu Sangani, Director of Synergy 2023 said, “As we gather here, let’s remember that our unity as a community is our strength. I took on this leadership role, an opportunity, driven with a single objective: to help at the end of the conference, each attendee departs with concrete insight to grow their business to the next level. Because in all of you here today, there is both gratitude and a deep sense of accomplishment, knowing our collective vision is alive and thriving.”

Sangani, who led a dedicated and visionary team organizing this historic event said, “Synergy 2023 is our landmark flagship gathering. The essence of synergy lies not only very knowledge exchange but inspiring one another. Let the success stories of fellow entrepreneurs ignite your ambitions, be it scaling your business to the next level, diversifying investments or starting new territories. Let’s make the most of Synergy.”

Jagadish Mosali, President-Elect of ITServe said, “Hope everyone at our flagship event has enjoyed Synergy 2023. Some of you know and some might not know the countless amount of time our “Volunteer CEOs” from the Synergy Team as well as the Board have spent to make the event successful as you have seen. My deepest appreciation to both Sung Hero’s as well as  the “Unsung Heroes. Thank you all for your service and commitment to the organization and giving back to the community.”

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, the Chief Guest at Synergy 2023 delivered the Keynote Address during an interactive session with ITServe members on October 27th evening. Ms. Clinton, the 67th Secretary of State of the United States has dedicated over four decades in public service as an advocate, attorney, First Lady, and US Senator.

During a candid “Fireside Chat” Secretary Clinton shared with the audience very candidly about her private life, growing up as a child, her marriage to Bill Clinton, struggles in managing careers as a daughter, wife, mother, and a public figure holding numerous important positions locally, nationally and internationally.

Secretary Clinton praised the contributions and accomplishments of the fast-growing and influential ITServe Alliance members. She said, “I’m so proud of the many accomplishments of the Diaspora in the United States. I want to thank you and commend you for your extraordinary contributions to the nation.  I am so impressed by the many contributions you’ve made, in addition to building your businesses and providing employment for people.”

Secretary Clinton urged the ITServe member community “to continue to be involved in your communities, to be members of civic clubs, volunteer groups and take part in American society in every way possible, and also decide if you so may choose to become an American citizen. And for those of you who have children, who are American citizens, guide them to be very active. Not just getting their education or being a successful person economically but being involved in civic life. There’s a lot to it. I know you are good role models for people in many parts of our country. So, I am very grateful for the many contributions that you are making and will make in the future.”

Steve Forbes, Chairman and Editor-in-Chief of Forbes Media spoke about “Leadership Lessons: The Stunning Parallels Between Great Leaders of the World and Today’s Top Business Leaders.” He said, “You have to do things even if you feel you’re not fully ready to do it. The next year or two will be very severe. But also keep in mind that enormous positive changes are coming. There will be in 2025, after the elections, with your help a new immigration law on H1 B Visas, virtually unlimited to meet the needs of a growing economy.” Giving hope in this world of wars, Forbes pointed to areas of hope. “We saw it in the meeting between President Biden and Prime Minister Modi weeks ago. These forces are coming together to make sure there is peace in the world.”

Phaneesh Murthy, Founder & CEO of Primentor addressed the audience with his insightful talk on, “Strategies for Scaling and Sustaining a Successful IT Company from One to 100 Million Plus” The keynote address by Zack Kass, Technology Futurist, and Generative AI Solutions Specialist focused on: “AI for Small Business Success: Navigating the Future of Entrepreneurship.”

Ashish Agarwal from Turbo Start, DVC led the Startup Cube Panel on “GTM Pitfalls Faced by Growing Startups.”  Post Lunch, a Financial Panel Discussion explored “Alternative Investments for Diversified Business Portfolios and Funding Solutions for Diversified Growth.” The Breakout Session in the Afternoon was about: “Mastering the Art of Effective Recruiting in the Staffing Industry” by Barbara Bruno.

“State, County, City, High-Ed & Federal Government Contracting: Opportunities & Challenges” was yet another important topic at the Breakout Session in the afternoon and was led by Nazeera Dawood, CEO of The M & A Panel Discussion deliberated on, “Driving Growth and Value Through Strategic M&A: Opportunities and Challenges: Accelerating Business Expansion.”

Another interesting Breakout Session on the first day was about, “Increase Cash Flow $$$ and Collect Bad Debt,” led by Douglas Fuchs at Goldman, Evans & Trammell LLC.

Kevin O’Leary, a Venture Capitalist and Star of ABC’s Shark Tank delivered the Evening keynote address on: “The Path to Profit: Strategies for Building a Successful Business.” Through specific portrayals from his popular Shark Tank, his insightful address to the loud applause from the crowd referred to successful business strategies to enhance business profits.

During the Gala ITServe honored the Grand Sponsors: Four Oaks Insurance and TrackEx, as well as the Platinum Sponsors of Synergy 2023: AG FinTax, BBI Law Group, Ceipal, Imagility, Oorwin, Q 1 Technologies, SOMIREDDY Law, Tech Insurance Agency, and Vitel Global were honored for their generous support to ITServe Alliance and its Synergy 2023. In addition, 20 Platinum Members of ITServe were honored during the Gala with Mementos.

The morning of October 27th began with the keynote address on “Navigating the Financial Crises and Regulatory Landscape: Lessons Learned and Insights for IT Staffing Company Owners” by Sheila Bair, Former FDIC Chair.

Other sessions in the morning included a Startup Cube Finals on GTM Pitfalls Faced by Growing Startups, which Ashish Agarwal, Turbo Start, DVC led. The Immigration Panel Discussion focused on “Navigating Immigration Challenges and Policies.” The CXO Panel focused on “The Evolving Role of IOs and CTOs in AI and ChatGPT Powered Digital Transformation.” Other panel discussions addressed issues related to “Contracts And Litigations,” and “Direct Client Engagement in the World of Contingent Workforce.”

A Special Guest Session at Synergy was a “Dialogue with Yuvraj Singh,” a highly popular international Cricketer, Entrepreneur, and Philanthropist. Synergy 2023 will conclude with a Live Musical Concert by Bollywood Playback Singer and Filmfare Awardee Kanika Kapoor.

During Synergy 2023, ITServe honored high-achieving Entrepreneurs with Leadership Awards. ITServe Alliance recognized and honored companies that have demonstrated exceptional growth and success during a specific period. The ITServe Fastest Growing Company Awards were a testament to the impact of businesses that embrace innovation and strive for excellence.

Ashok Dandamudi, PR Director for ITServe said, “Synergy 2023 offered participants a platform to come together to hear industry leaders speak, engage in discussions with lawmakers, participate in interactive breakout sessions, deliberate on the latest trends, challenges, and opportunities in the world of IT Staffing and Technology.

Amar Varada, Chair of Synergy 2023 said, “Synergy 2023 had prominent speakers, and valuable sponsorships, and helped grow a community network of industry professionals across the country. We are grateful to the unwavering support of our members, volunteers, and sponsors, whose collective efforts made this event a memorable one for all.”

Anil Atyam, Chair of Speakers for Synergy 2023 emphasized the curated lineup of speakers and panels. “We are thrilled to have a diverse and esteemed set of speakers for this year’s conference. From policymakers, and technology leaders to industry innovators, our speakers are pivotal in shaping the discussions and providing invaluable insights that can be immediately applied in various sectors of the IT industry.”

As a participant at Synergy put it, “Synergy 2023 an incredible experience, and I feel so grateful to have been a part of it. The energy and enthusiasm that you brought to the event were truly inspiring, and I came away with a wealth of knowledge and new connections. Once again, thank you for all of your hard work in putting together such a fantastic event.”

With cultural events, music, dance, and sumptuous food, in addition to all the learning and sharing of knowledge, Synergy 2023 provided actionable insights and strategies that companies can directly implement, serving as a catalyst for taking businesses to the next level. Beyond being an arena for networking and knowledge sharing, Synergy 2023 has proved to be a veritable marketplace for ideas and innovations.

Led by an amazing, energetic, and inspiring leadership, ITServe is a fully voluntary organization, where its members and leaders dedicate their valuable time and resources, working selflessly to strengthen the organization and its mission to give back to the larger society. ITServe’s core leadership consists of: Vinodbabu Uppu, Governing Board Chair; Vinay Mahajan, President; Jagadeesh Mosali, President-Elect; Anju Vallabhaneni, Secretary; Mahesh Sake, Treasurer; Ravi K. Komatireddy, Joint Secretary; Sunil Savili, Joint Treasurer. The Governing Board Members include Vinodbabu Uppu, Governing Board Chair; Shashidhar Devireddy, National President 2016; Gopi Kandukuri, National President 2018; Amar Varada, Synergy Chair 2023, & National President 2020; Raghu Chittimalla, National President 2021; Devender Aerrabolu, National President 2022; and, Vinay Mahajan, current National President.

In addition to the 21 ITServe Chapter Presidents across the United States and the dozens of various Committee Chairs, the Executive Board of Directors of ITSeve, who play a critical role in enhancing the mission and vision of ITServe Alliance include: Manish Mehra, Director Chapter Relations; Samba Movva, Director-Corporate Social Responsibility; Srikanth Dasugari, Director-Membership; Ram Nandyala, Director-Benefits & New Chapters Launch; Siva Moopanar, Director-Political Action Committee; Ashok Dandamudi, Director – Public Relations  & Media; Omprakash Nakka. Director- Products & Startups; Dasarath Kunapaneni, Director – Sponsorship; Venu Sangani, Director – Synergy; Vinay Parachuri, Director – Bylaws; and, Anil Atyam, Director – Technology.

Founded in 2010, ITServe Alliance is the largest association of Information Technology Services organizations functioning across the United States. Established to be the voice of all prestigious Information Technology companies functioning with similar interests across the United States, ITServe Alliance has evolved as a resourceful and respected platform to collaborate and initiate measures in the direction of protecting common interests and ensuring collective success. ITServe Alliance now has 21 Chapters in several states across the United States, bringing the Synergy Conference to every part of this innovation country. For more information, please visit:

ITServe’s Flagship Synergy 2023 Held In Atlantic City

(November 1st, 2023: Atlantic City, NJ) Networking, learning and sharing of knowledge, great and hignly acclaimed speakers, insightful workshops, collaborating with one another, strengthening bonds, celebrating one’s achievements and accomplishments, cultural and fun events, awards ceremony, showcasing of business booths and products, and delicious and multi-ethnic cuisine, and attended by over 2,200 members of ITServe Alliance, who are small and medium size companies of Information Technology were only some of the highlights of ItServe Alliance’s flagship Synergy 2023 held from October 26th to 27th, 2023 at the popular Harrahs Resport in Atlantic City, NJ.

In his Presidential address, Vinay K. Mahajan, National President of ITServe Alliance, welcomed the members, leaders, chapter presidents, sponsors, and volunteers to Synergy 2023 and expressed his “sincere gratitude for your unwavering commitment, and dedication, and for investing your time and energy and resources. You are the backbone of our organization, and your unwavering commitment is what propels us forward.”

Describing the mission of ITServe Mr. Mahajan said, “We are the voice represent the interests of small and medium scale enterprises of IT industry, protecting our members’ interests. We give back to the community, and invest in startups, which is to help the United States maintain the leadership in innovation and technology. It is about coming together, collaborating and liberating our collective strength. It is about finding synergy, not only within our own businesses but also across our entire community.”

Venu Sangani, Director of Synergy 2023 said, “As we gather here, let’s remember that our unity as a community is our strength. I took on this leadership role, an opportunity, driven with a single objective: to help at the end of the conference, each attendee departs with concrete insight to grow their business to the next level. Because in all of you here today, there is both gratitude and deep sense of accomplishment, knowing our collective vision is alive and thriving.”

Sanghani, who led a dedicated and visionary team organizing this historic event said, “Synergy 2023 is our landmark flagship gathering. The essence of it so synergy lies not only very knowledge exchange, but inspiring one another. Let the success stories of fellow entrepreneurs ignite your ambitions, be it scaling your business to the next level, or diversifying investments or starting new territories. Let’s make the most of Synergy.”

Vinodbabu Uppu, Governing Board Chair of ITServe said, “Synergy 2023 is the only one-of-a-kind conference delivering innovative strategies, unique insights, and proven tactics for success, exclusively for IT service companies and individuals. Synergy 2023 will focus on developing strategic relationships with our partner organizations, sponsors, and supporters to work for a better technology environment by building greater understanding.”

Jagadish Modsali, President-Elect of ITServe said, “Hope everyone at our flagship event has enjoyed Synergy 2023. Some of you know and some might not know the countless amount of time our “Volunteer CEOs” from Synergy Team as well as the Board have spent to make the event successful as you have seen. My deepest appreciation to both Sung Hero’s as well as  the “Unsung Heroes.”. Thank you all for your service and commitment to the organization and giving back to community.”

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, the Chief Guest at Synergy 2023 delivered the Keynote Address during an interactive session with ITServe members on October 27th evening. Ms. Clinton, the 67th Secretary of State of the United States has dedicated over four decades in public service as an advocate, attorney, First Lady, and US Senator.

During a candid “Fireside Chat” Secretary Clinton shared with the audience very candidly about her private life, growing up as a child, her marriage to Bill Clinton, struggles in managing careers as a daughter, wife, mother, and a public figure holding numerous important positions locally, nationally and internationally.

Secretary Clinton praised the contributions and accomplishments of the fast-growing Indian Americans. She said, “I’m so proud of the many accomplishments of the Indian diaspora in the United States. I really want to thank you and commend you for the extraordinary contributions to the nation.  I was so impressed by the many contributions you’ve made, in addition to building your businesses and providing employment for people.:

Secretary Clinton urged the Indian Diaspora “to continue to be involved in your communities,to be members of civic clubs. volunteer groups, and really take part in American society in every way possible, and also to make the decision if you so choose, to become an American citizen and as you wish to do. And for those of you who are the children, who are American citizens, guide them to be very active. Not just getting their education or being a successful person economically, but to be involved in things. There’s a lot to it. So, I think that the Indian diaspora, you know are good role models for people in many parts of our country. So, I personally am very grateful for the many contributions that you are making and will make in the future.”

Steve Forbes, Chairman and Editor-in-Chief, Forbes Media spoke about “Leadership Lessons: The Stunning Parallels Between Great Leaders of the World and Today’s Top Business Leaders.” He said, “You have to do things even if you feel you’re not fully ready to do it. The next year or two will be very severe. But also keep in mind that enormous positive changes are coming. There will be in 2025, after the elections, with your help a new immigration law on H1 B Visas, virtually unlimited to meet the needs of a growing economy.” Giving hope in this world of wars, Forbes pointed to areas of hope. “We saw it in the meeting between President Biden, Prime Minister Modi weeks ago. These forces are coming together to make sure there is peace in the world.”

Phaneesh Murthy, Founder & CEO of Primentor addressed the audience with his insightful talk on, “Strategies for Scaling and Sustaining a Successful IT Company from One to 100 Million Plus” The keynote address by Zack Kass, Technology Futurist, and Generative AI Solutions Specialist focused on: “AI for Small Business Success: Navigating the Future of Entrepreneurship.”

Ashish Agarwal from Turbo Start, DVC led the Startup Cube Panel on “GTM Pitfalls Faced by Growing Startups.”  Post Lunch, a Financial Panel Discussion explored “Alternative Investments for Diversified Business Portfolios and Funding Solutions for Diversified Growth.” The Breakout Session in the Afternoon was about: “Mastering the Art of Effective Recruiting in the Staffing Industry” by Barbara Bruno.

“State, County, City, High-Ed & Federal Government Contracting: Opportunities & Challenges” was yet another important topic at the Breakout Session in the afternoon and was led by Nazeera Dawood, CEO of The M & A Panel Discussion deliberated on, “Driving Growth and Value Through Strategic M&A: Opportunities and Challenges: Accelerating Business Expansion.” Another interesting Breakout Session on the first day was about, “Increase Cash Flow $$$ and Collect Bad Debt,” led by Douglas Fuchs at Goldman, Evans & Trammell LLC.

Kevin O’Leary, a Venture Capitalist, Star of ABC’s Shark Tank delivered the Evening keynote address on: “The Path to Profit: Strategies for Building a Successful Business.” Through specific portrayals from his popular Shark Tank, his insightful address to the loud applauses from the crowd referred to successful business strategies to enhance business profits.

During the evening Gala Grand Sponsors: Four Oaks Insurance and TrackEx as well as the Platinum Sponsors of Synergy 2023: AG Fintax, BBI Law Group, Ceipa; Corp, Imagility, Oorwin, Q 1  Technologies, Somireddy Law, T I A Tech Insurance Agency, and Vitel Global were honored for their generous support to ITSereve Alliance.

As a participant at Synergy put it, “Synergy 2023 an incredible experience, and I feel so grateful to have been a part of it. The energy and enthusiasm that you brought to the event were truly inspiring, and I came away with a wealth of knowledge and new connections. Once again, thank you for all of your hard work in putting together such a fantastic event.”

With cultural events, music and dance, sumptuous food, in addition to all the learning and sharing of knowledge, Synergy 2023 provided actionable insights and strategies that companies can directly implement, serving as a catalyst for taking businesses to the next level. Beyond being an arena for networking and knowledge sharing, Synergy 2023 has proved to be a veritable marketplace for ideas and innovations.

“Synergy 2023 had prominent speakers, and valuable sponsorships, and helped grow a community network of industry professionals across the country,” said Amar Varada, Chair of Synergy 2023.

Anil Atyam, Chair of Speakers for Synergy 2023 emphasized the curated lineup of speakers and panels. “We are thrilled to have a diverse and esteemed set of speakers for this year’s conference. From policymakers, and technology leaders to industry innovators, our speakers are pivotal in shaping the discussions and providing invaluable insights that can be immediately applied in various sectors of the IT industry.”

Ashok Dandamudi, PR Director for ITServe said, “Synergy 2023 offered participants with a platform to come together to hear industry leaders speak, engage in discussions with lawmakers, participate in interactive breakout sessions, deliberate on the latest trends, challenges, and opportunities in the world of IT Staffing and Technology.

The morning of October 27th began with the keynote address on “Navigating the Financial Crises and Regulatory Landscape: Lessons Learned and Insights for IT Staffing Company Owners” by Sheila Bair, Former FDIC Chair.

Other sessions in the morning included a Startup Cube Finals on GTM Pitfalls Faced by Growing Startups, which were led by Ashish Agarwal, Turbo Start, DVC. The Immigration Panel Discussion focused on “Navigating Immigration Challenges and Policies.” The CXO Panel’s focused on “The Evolving Role of IOs and CTOs in AI and ChatGPT Powered Digital Transformation.” Other panel discussions addressed issues related to “Contracts And Litigations,” and “Direct Client Engagement in the World of Contingent Workforce.”

A Special Guest Session at Synergy was a “Dialogue with Yuvraj Singh,” a highly popular international Cricketer, Entrepreneur, and Philanthropist. Synergy 2023 will conclude with a Live Musical Concert by Bollywood Playback Singer and Filmfare Awardee Kanika Kapoor.

During Synergy 2023, ITServe honored high achieving Entrepreneurs with Leadership Awards. ITServe Alliance recognized and honored companies that have demonstrated exceptional growth and success during a specific period. The ITServe Fastest Growing Company Awards were a testament to the impact of businesses that embrace innovation and strive for excellence.

Founded in 2010, ITServe Alliance is the largest association of Information Technology Services organizations functioning across the United States. Established to be the voice of all prestigious Information Technology companies functioning with similar interests across the United States, ITServe Alliance has evolved as a resourceful and respected platform to collaborate and initiate measures in the direction of protecting common interests and ensuring collective success. ITServe Alliance now has 21 Chapters in several states across the United States, bringing the Synergy Conference to every part of this innovation country. For more information, please visit:

The Kerala Center Honors 8 Distinguished NRIs At Annual Gala

The Indian American Kerala Cultural and Civic Center honored eight Indian Americans with Excellence Awards for their outstanding accomplishments in their respective fields of specialization and contributions to the larger society during the 31st Annual Awards Banquet held on October 28, 2023, in Elmont, New York. The prestigious awards ceremony was attended by nearly 200 people from across the United States and Canda, including several elected officials, community and business leaders.

This year’s honorees were: Dr. Shyam Kottilil (Baltimore, MD) – Life Time Achievement Award; Sajeeb Koya (Pickering, Ontario, Canada) – Entrepreneurship; Dr. Anna George (Long Island, NY) – Nursing; Shelby Kutty (Baltimore, MD) – Medicine; Ajay Ghosh (Trumbull, CT) – Media and Journalism; Lata Menon (Mississauga, Ontario, Canada) – Legal Services; Jayant Kamicheril (Reading, PA) – Pravasi Malayalam Literature; and Gopala Pillai (Dallas, Texas) – Community Service.

“Kerala Center is very happy to honor American Malayalees who excel in their professions and who work for social progress — their examples should be an inspiration for others,” said Dr. Madhu Bhaskaran, Chairman of the Board of Directors. Dr. Madhu Bhaskaran, who is also the Award Committee Chairman introduced the other members of the Awards Committee, including Dr. Thomas Abraham, Daisy P. Stephen and Varkey Abraham.

“The Kerala Center has been honoring outstanding achievers since 1992. Every year we invite nominations and the committee has to make a unanimous choice for a candidate in a category to receive the award and this year is no different from previous years in terms of their achievements. The Center has recognized nearly 200 American Malayalees in the last 31 years and it is great to see that they have continued to rise further in their careers and serve the society,” said Dr. Thomas Abraham, Kerala Center’s Trustee Board Chairman and Award Committee Member¸ who had played a pivotal role in the establishment of Kerala Center. Alex K. Esthappan, Kerala Center President said, “The Kerala Center, a non-profit, member supported organization, is the only center of its kind serving the Keralites and the Indian American community in the tri-state New York area,” he said. “It was founded to provide a platform to discuss the issues that are of concern to us, share our experiences, celebrate our festivals, promote our culture and traditions, and to bring our people together.” Raju Thomas, General Secretary of the Kerala Center in his remarks said, “We at the Indian American Kerala Cultural and Civic Center in Long Island, New York are very pleased to honor the distinguished members of our commnity with the prestigious award during the solemn ceremony here at our Center.”

Inaugurated in 1993, past awardees of the Kerala Center include, US Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, Dr. Shashi Tharoor, NY State Senator Kevin Thomas, Missouri City Mayor Robin Elackatt, American College of Physicians President Dr. George Abraham, Venture Capitalist Sreedhar Menon, Shanti Bhavan Founder Dr. Abraham George and Prof. P. Somasundaran of Columbia University.

In her very eloquent introductory remarks, Daisy Stephen, Vice President of the Kerala Center and Emcee for the ceremony said, “From a modest beginning 31 years ago, the Kerala Center has come a long way to play a vital role in the life of the Malayalee community in the United States.” She lauded the pioneers who had the vision to start the Kerala Center and dealt with many challenges of starting such an institution. “Today, the Kerala Center has become truly a ‘Shining Center’ of our culture and heritage. The Center has outgrown its initial objectives for which it was founded and has become a facility that serves the various needs of the larger Indian American community,” she said.

“I congratulate you on your success,” Kevin Thomas, New York State Senator told the awardees and the Non Resident Keralite community members. He praised the eight honorees for “showing the way” to the rest of the community, and the Kerala Center for being at the center of the Indian Diaspora in New York. “Over the past three decades, it has become a focal point for Indian Americans, coordinating programs, activities, and services to the members and groups of the community in the New York region.”

Dr. Shyam Kottilil, who was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award delivered the keynote address. He provided a brief introduction to Infectious diseases and how the measures initiated by the US Government has saved humanity. While cautioning about the “total lockdown” imposed on the world due to Covid, Dr. Kotilil shared about the many lessons learned and the ways we as members of the larger community can protect ourselves from future pandemics. As part of the Award Ceremony, a Souvenir was released depicting the history and the journey of the Kerala Center. James Thottam was the chairman of the Awards Dinner. Board members Abraham Thomas, Mathew Vazhappally and John Paul coordinated the event. A variety entertainment program curated by and performed by talented artists from Nupura School of Dances and a fabulous dinner was a treat to the body and soul of the participants. Bincy Cherian delighted the audience with beautiful melodies. Kerala Center Exceutive Director, Thambi Thalappillil concluded the ceremony with a vote of thanks to the guests, awardees, audience, sponsors and everyone worked so hard to make it a successful event.

Dr. Shyam Kottilil – Life Time Achievement Award

Dr. Shyam Kottilil is a world renowned virologist and immunologist who has made pivotal contributions in the field of Hepatitis and HIV. He is currently the Interim Director of the Institute of Human Virology in Baltimore, MD, the first and foremost Virology Institute in the world. Dr. Kottilil has had an illustrious career with over 350 major publications, as well as awards and accolades from premier societies in Medicine, Infectious Diseases, Hepatology and the National Institutes of Health.

Sajeeb Koya – Entrepreneurship

Sajeeb Koya, a North American Malayali, is the man behind the LED Façade lighting that lights up Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world. Sajeeb and his team are proud to be part of this project which owns 2 Guinness World Records. His company 3S International Inc., which has its headquarters at Pickering (Ontario, Canda), has executed  numerous vibrant Architectural and Media Façade LED projects all over the world. People just see lights as utilitarian, whereas Sajeeb sees multitude of colors, shades, movements, and blends the beauty of light with technology.

Sajeeb Koya hailing from Trivandrum, is an Electrical Engineer graduated in 1987 from CET Trivandrum. He has held key positions with several Multi Nationals before starting his own business in Canada in 2001. He lives with his family at Pickering, Ontario, Canada. He is very active since childhood in the fields of photography, music and acting. He is currently involved in key positions with several community & charity organizations.

Dr. Anna George – for Nursing

Dr. Anna George is the current President of the Indian Nurses Association of New York (INANY). She is a Nurse, a nurse practitioner, human rights advocate, and a social activist. She works at Molloy University as an Associate Professor, teaching the Nurse Practitioner Track and as a Nurse Practitioner at Northwell Health.

Dr. Shelby Kutty – Medicine

Dr. Shelby Kutty is a physician scientist and academic leader, serving as the Helen B. Taussig endowed professor and director of pediatric and congenital cardiology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He also chairs the analytic intelligence program at Johns Hopkins. One of the world’s preeminent experts on multimodality cardiovascular imaging with over 400 peer-reviewed publications, Dr. Kutty is passionate about patient outcomes and evidence-based assessment of new technologies.

Lata Menon, Esq. – Legal Services

An accomplished Barrister and Solicitor and active community member, Lata Menon has become a recognized name in the legal community in Ontario, as well as the Indian states of Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Kerala, where she practiced as a lawyer before immigrating to Canada. In addition to her professional activities as a lawyer, Lata devotes her time to the community at large and has become an active supporter and champion of women’s equality and rights. She is actively engaged in several social and community programs in her capacity as a Founder, Board Member, Secretary, Legal Advisor, and many other positions. As a professional, Lata has touched the lives of several of her clients who came to her in distress when faced with family discord, domestic violence, abuse, and family disputes, which she has influenced many of her clients to pull their lives together and persevere in the face of adversity. Lata’s achievements and success makes her a true leader, mentor, formidable force, influence, and inspiration to many.

Jayant Kamicheril – Pravasi Malayalam Literature

Jayant Kamicheril is a recipient of Kerala Sahithya Academy award for 2022 for his book “Oru Kumarakom Karantay Kuruthamketta Likhithangal”. He won LANA Award in 2019 for his book: Kumarakathu Oru Pesaha. His essays and stories in English and Malayalam have been published in N. America and India. He lives in Reading, PA with wife Anita Namboodiri and they have two daughters – Aloka and Shreela.

Gopala Pillai –Community Service

Gopala Pillai has served as the President and Board Member of several organizations in CultureTexas and Detroit, and has been with the World Malayali Council from1995 as its Secretary, President and Chairman. Through these organizations he has been able to provide many services for the good of society. His life’s work reflects his unwavering commitment to both the local community in the USA and the betterment of the less privileged in Kerala, India. He has degrees in Economics, Journalism, and Computer Science, pursuing a successful career in Information Technology in the USA since 1975.

Ajay Ghosh Honored With Excellence In Media & Journalism Award

Ajay Ghosh – Media and Journalism

Ajay Ghosh is the Chief Editor and co-publisher of The Universal News Network (www. ), an online publication, launched in 2012, focusing on possibility oriented storytelling that fuels hope and sparks innovative ideas and actions; seeking to lead discussions, creating, disseminating, and using news and information that serves us all, and providing a platform for diverse voices, forms, and continually engaging everyone.

Ajay graduated with a Master’s Degree in Journalism from Marquette University , Milwaukee, WI in 1998.  Prior to coming to the United States, Ajay was the Chief Editor of The Voice Delhi and contributed articles to several national publications in India.

Starting his journalistic career as a reporter in 1999 for India Post, Ajay had worked as the New York Bureau Chief of Indian Reporter and  World News , and he served as the New York Bureau Chief of India Tribune, a weekly newspaper published from Chicago. Ajay was the Executive Editor of NRI Today, and the Bureau Chief of The Indian Express, North American Editions. He was the Chief Editor of The Asian Era, a monthly publication from New York since its launch in 2005 to 2018.

Since 2014, Ajay has been serving as the Media Coordinator of the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI), the largest ethnic medical organization in the United States, representing 100,000 physicians of Indian origin. In 2023, he was appointed as the Media Consultant for Public Relations for ITServe Alliance, the largest association of IT Solutions and services organizations in the United States, with over 2,200 small and medium sized member companies of Information Technology.

Ajay had graduated with a Master’s Degree in Social Work from Delhi University in 1989. Ajay served as an Adjunct Faculty, teaching Social Work Seminar and guiding MSW students at the Fordham Graduate School of Social Work in New York City from 2006 to 2016. He was an Adjunct Professor at Bridgeport University, where he taught Psychology.

Ajay works as a Psychiatric Social Worker at Yale-New Haven Psychiatric Hospital from 2017 onwards, and currently serves as a full-time Licensed Clinical Social Worker at Bridgeport Hospital. He worked as a Social Worker at Hartford Health at Home from 2019 to 2022. Ajay served as the Administrator of the Mental Health Clinic at St. Dominic’s Home, Bronx, NY from 1999 to 2015.

In 2019, Ajay was part of a nearly 200-member expedition to Antarctica, the 7th Continent on Earth. Ajay served as the founder President of the Indo-American Press Club (IAPC) in 2014. He currently serves as the Secretary of the Borad of Directors of IPAC.

Ajay was honored with the Excellence in Reporting Award by AAPI for several years. In 2018, Ajay received the Excellence in Journalism Award from NAMAM, a North American Community Organization. In October 2023, Ajay received the prestigious Excellence in Journalism & Media Award by The Kerala Center in New York.

Ajay is married to Mini, and the couple are blessed with three adorable daughters, Archana, Navya, and Ahana.

Synergy 2023 Begins in Atlantic City, Celebrating Remarkable Achievements of ITServe Members

(October 27, 2023: Atlantic City, NJ) ItServe Alliance’s flagship Synergy 2023 was inaugurated here on Thursday, October 26th, 2023 as over 2,200 members of ITServe Alliance, who are small and medium size companies of Information Technology came together at Harras Resort in Atlantic City in New Jersey for networking, learning and sharing of knowledge, collaborating with one another, strengthening bonds, and celebrating their achievements and accomplishments.

In his Presidential Welcome address, Vinay K. Mahajan, National President of ITServe Alliance, welcomed the members, leaders, chapter presidents, sponsors, and volunteers to Synergy 2023 and expressed his “sincere gratitude for your unwavering commitment, and dedication, and for investing your time and energy and resources. You are the backbone of our organization, and your unwavering commitment is what propels us forward.”

Describing the mission of ITServe Mr. Mahajan said, “We’re in the forefront, guiding and empowering its members. ITServe today is a powerful force focused on safeguarding the interests of small and medium business enterprises. We have more than 2,200 member companies, spread over 21 Chapters, they generate 175,000 high paying jobs across the United States. Our members contribute almost $12 billion to the US GDP. We at ITServe Alliance are immensely proud of us for being very successful. We are the voice represent the interests of small and medium scale enterprises of IT industry, protecting our members’ interests. We give back to the community, and invest in startups, which is to help the United States maintain the leadership in innovation and technology.”

Mahajan went on to say, “I always thank you members, because of you, we are all strong together. Our success today is not about working alone in isolation. It is about coming together, collaborating and liberating our collective strength. It is about finding synergy, not only within our own businesses but also across our entire community. As we navigate the challenges and opportunities of the digital age, our role today is even more critical. We are not just service providers. We are architects of transformation. We shape the future of industries and enhance the lives of individuals worldwide. This event is dedicated to you. Together we will innovate and lead the way in the IT services industry. Thank you for being part of synergy. Let us embark on the journey together and fueled by the spirit of collaboration and the pursuit of success.”

In his opening remarks, Venu Sangani, Director of Synergy 2023 said, “As we gather here, let’s remember that our unity as a community is our strength. Last year in Orlando, Florida, I took on this leadership role, an opportunity, driven with a single objective:  to help at the end of the conference, each attendee departs with concrete insight to grow their business to the next level. Because in all of you here today, there is both gratitude and deep sense of accomplishment, knowing our collective vision is alive and thriving.”

Sanghani, who led a dedicated and visionary team organizing this historic event said, “ Synergy 2023 is our landmark flagship gathering, whether you’re a familiar face from previous years, or you’re experiencing this your first time, I promise you that the opportunities for growth and learning forging a path with connections during this event unmatching with featuring seven keynote sessions from seven different domain panels, panel discussions, interactive breakout sessions and I encourage each one of you to be fully present, engage dynamically and above all, collaborate with fellow members. The essence of it so synergy lies not only very knowledge exchange, but inspiring one another. Let the success stories of fellow entrepreneurs ignite your ambitions, be it scaling your business to the next level, or diversifying investments or starting new territories. That is going to happen at Synergy 2023. Let’s make the most of Synergy.”

Vinodbabu Uppu, Governing Board Chair of ITServe said, “Synergy 2023 is the only one-of-a-kind conference delivering innovative strategies, unique insights, and proven tactics for success, exclusively for IT service companies and individuals. Synergy 2023 will focus on developing strategic relationships with our partner organizations, sponsors, and supporters to work for a better technology environment by building greater understanding.”

In his inspiring inaugural keynote address, Steve Forbes, Chairman and Editor-in-Chief, Forbes Media sooke about “Leadership Lessons: The Stunning Parallels between Great Leaders of the World and Today’s Top Business Leaders.” Forbes said, “You have to do things even if you feel you’re not fully ready to do it. The next year or two will be very severe. But also keep in mind that enormous positive changes are coming. For example, the issue of immigration today looks hopeless in a town called Washington, which is becoming the epitome of hopelessness. There will be in 2025, after the elections, with your help a new immigration law on H1 B Visas, virtually unlimited to meet the needs of a growing economy.”