At Indian American Impact Summit, Kamala Harris Calls On South Asians To “Continue To Lead With Conviction, Continue To Strive To Do The Impossible”

Vice President Kamala Harris praised Indian-Americans for providing leadership in the country and engaging political system at the Indian American Impact Project summit and gala held at the Willard InterContinental Hotel in Washington, D.C.

Indian American Impact Project hosted a first of its kind ‘Dream with Ambition’ summit and gala with a call by Vice President Kamala Harris to “continue to lead with conviction, continue to strive to do the impossible.”

The event, which began May 18, 2022, was attended by more than 300 prominent community members including celebrities, politicians, philanthropists and organizers in a first-of-its- kind event by Impact during AAPI Heritage Month, a press release from Impact said.

In her pre-recorded speech played on May 18, Harris recalled her mother’s work in cancer research and how she and her sister were taught to “Dream with Ambition,” by their mother.

“Every day, in communities across our nation, you are advancing equality, opportunity and justice. You are inspiring the next generation of leaders, and in particular — the next generation of South Asian leaders,” Harris lauded the attendees.

“Today my message to you is this — let us always remember, what brought us to this moment and continue to dream with ambition, continue to lead with conviction, continue to strive to do the impossible. Because you, and we all, are standing on the shoulders of so many who came before, and living their dreams. Our nation is counting on you, on Impact, and all of us to lead us forward,” Harris said.

Besides Harris, all four Indian American US House members Pramila Jayapal, Ro Khanna, Raja Krishnamoorthi and Ami Bera as also celebrities, politicians, philanthropists and organizers attended.

The ‘Dream with Ambition’ summit was a successful educational experience for the guests as they explored the policy & advocacy and constituency subtopics of their choice, according to the release.

The event, it said, is Impact’s latest push to energize and prepare the largest growing voting bloc in the country — South Asians — to integrate into their communities with knowledge on running for office, combating misinformation, mobilizing locally and all the tools with which to lead.

“As you all know, when my mother was 19, she came to the United States from India to become a breast cancer researcher,” Harris, the first Indian American and first African American vice president recalled.

“She raised my sister and me to believe that we could be anything and do anything, if we set our minds to it. She taught us to ‘Dream with Ambition’ and so many of you gathered here today have something special in common. You see what can be unburdened by what has been.”

“Every day, in communities across our nation, you are advancing equality, opportunity and justice. You are inspiring the next generation of leaders, and in particular — the next generation of South Asian leaders,” Harris said.

“Today my message to you is this — let us always remember, what brought us to this moment and continue to dream with ambition, continue to lead with conviction, continue to strive to do the impossible.”

“Because you, and we all, are standing on the shoulders of so many who came before, and living their dreams,” Harris said. “Our nation is counting on you, on Impact, and all of us to lead us forward.”

“Historically, South Asians have been overlooked, underestimated, and underrepresented politically,” said Indian American Impact executive-director Neil Makhija.

“But after witnessing so many community members and future leaders come together this week, it is clear that is a thing of the past,” he said. “At Impact, it is crucial for us to empower young South Asians to mobilize their friends and families to get involved in the political process.”

“As the fastest growing voting bloc in the country, we have strength in numbers and the future of the Democratic party needs to be reflective of the communities they serve.”

“The significance of this event was made possible by our extensive panel of guest speakers and attendees,” Makhija said. “Countless voices this week proved that our community is stronger when we collaborate and celebrate our intersectionality. It’s incredibly encouraging to imagine the possibilities for our collective futures.”

Policy sessions during the Summit including the Climate Crisis, Healthcare Access and Equity, Civil Rights and Voting Rights, and Educational Equity.

After lunch, sessions on women leaders, running for office, combating misinformation, youth leaders mobilizing the pan-South Asian community,

Organizers said in a press release that the event is Impact’s latest push to energize and prepare the largest growing voting bloc in the country — South Asians—and to raise awareness on how to join the political system.

Neil Makhija, executive director of Indian-American Impact contended that historically, South Asians had been overlooked, underestimated, and underrepresented politically, “But after witnessing so many community members and future leaders come together this week, it is clear that is a thing of the past.”

The Summit, he noted was significant because of the high profile lineup of speakers and attendees.

“Countless voices this week proved that our community is stronger when we collaborate and celebrate our intersectionality. It’s incredibly encouraging to imagine the possibilities for our collective futures,” Makhija said.

“Thank you to the Indian American Impact Project for inviting me to take part in their panel discussion on the importance of representation and public service, as well as the pressing issues that our country faces today,” Rep. Krishnamoorthi tweeted May 18.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We look forward to their continued support to bring developments from India to the readers in the US and carry all the excitement from the United States to the people of India. I invite Indo American Press Club to join hands with us in celebrating India@75, our Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav. I wish the Club steady growth, progress and success,” he said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WHO Honors 1 Million ASHA Volunteers

India’s one million all-women ASHA volunteers were honored by the World Health Organization on Sunday, May 21st for their “crucial role” in providing direct access to healthcare facilities in rural areas and their indefatigable efforts to rein in the coronavirus pandemic in the country. They were praised for their contributions in providing basic health care services to the rural population of India.

WHO Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, announced the group of over a million government volunteers, as one of the six recipients of the World Health Organization Director-General’s Global Health Leaders Awards recognizing their outstanding contributions to advancing global health, demonstrated leadership and commitment to regional health issues.

Dr Tedros decides on the awardees for the World Health Organisation Director-General’s Global Health Leaders Awards. The ceremony for the awards, which were established in 2019, was part of the live-streamed high-level opening session of the 75th World Health Assembly.

“Among the honorees is ASHA, which means hope in Hindi. The more than 1 million female volunteers in India were honored for their crucial role in linking the community with the health system, to ensure those living in rural poverty get access to primary health care services, as shown throughout the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said. PM Modi also hailed the selfless service of the Asha Volunteers and congratulated them as their efforts were recognized by WHO.

Accredited Social Health Activists — or ASHA volunteers — are Indian government’s affiliated health-care workers who are the first point of contact in rural India. Most of them gained spotlight during the peak of the pandemic in India for conducting door-to-door checks to trace coronavirus patients. ASHA – means ‘hope’ in Hindi. These health workers provide maternal care & immunization for children against vaccine-preventable diseases; community health care; treatment for hypertension & tuberculosis & core areas of health promotion for nutrition, sanitation & healthy living.

Hindupact To Host Panel Discussion On Diaspora Geopolitics

HinduPACT Executive Director Utsav Chakrabarti and CHINGARI Director Rakhi Israni will speak on a panel at the Gold Institute for International Strategy (GIIS) on May 25 titled, “How the Indian American Diaspora is Affected by Issues on the Indian Subcontinent.”

“As the United States and the Indo-Pacific region become increasingly interconnected, the Indian American community will become an important player in the exchange of soft power between the two regions. At the same time the Indian American community has to watch out for growing efforts to vilify and marginalize them using disinformation, by India’s geopolitical adversaries” said HinduPACT Executive Director Utsav Chakrabarti. “Mutual respect” and “greater interdependability” are going to be the watchwords in this growing relationship.

Issues affecting Indians on the subcontinent also impact the immigrant diaspora communities in the United States. More than 5 million Indian Americans now deal with the impact of geopolitical issues from the Indo-Pacific and South Asian regions in their everyday lives, on campuses, and in the public square.

“As Indian Americans are increasingly being viewed and handled in America as an extension of the Indian subcontinent, it becomes increasingly important to talk about the other side of that same region: Pakistan,” said CHINGARI Director Rakhi Israni. “Until 1947, the people of both India and Pakistan were one people: sharing similar languages, food, and overall customs. The daily atrocities faced by Hindus, Christians, and Sikhs in Pakistan after partition should naturally affect all people from that region. The gross and severe injustices being committed against one part of a cultural people must be a part of any discussion about the region as a whole.”

“As a daughter of immigrants, I understand all too well how issues in the homeland affect and impact the diaspora community,” said Adelle Nazarian, Media Fellow at the Gold Institute for International Strategies. “I look forward to discussing this important topic so that we may find ways to improve the situation for immigrants here in the United States and to foster a healthier environment for all.”

This panel discussion dives into some of those issues and how the Indian American community deals with them.

IAPC To Hold Induction Ceremony Of The New Board Of Directors And National Executive Committee On May 21, 2022 At Indian Consulate In New York

The Indo-American Press Club, the largest organization of Indian descent journalists operating in North America since 2014, is pleased to announce the swearing-in ceremony and inauguration of new office bearers for the years 2022-2024 on Saturday, May 21 from 5pm to 8pm. This induction ceremony is organized at the Indian Consulate in New York. Ambassador Randhir Jaiswal, Consul General, will be the chief guest inaugurating the event at the Grand Ballroom of the Consulate.

The new Board of Directors, including Chairman Kamlesh C Mehta and Secretary Ajay Ghosh, and members of the IAPC National Executive Committee led by President Aashmeeta Yogiraj and General Secretary CG Daniel will be sworn in at the ceremony.

The event, which will be attended by several dignitaries, including former New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio; Dr. Prabhakar Kore, Member of Parliament, India;  Kevin Thomas, New York State Senator; Harry Arora, State Assemblyman, Connecticut; Malkit Singh, Music Legend, and several other elected officials, will surely go down in IAPC history.

IAPC will honor Dr. Thomas Abraham, Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, Dr. Sudhir Parikh, and Pamela Kwatra with Lifetime Achievement Award.  The closing ceremony will include an entertainment feature by the Arya School of Dance, NY followed by a sumptuous dinner.

The hybrid event will also be streamed simultaneously on social media platforms. Your participation and valuable support is requested – please attend this magnificent event in person or Virtually Live on YouTube.

GOPIO-CT Outreaches To Indian American Academics In Connecticut

As part of the GOPIO-CT’s outreach to the university faculty, the chapter joined hands with Quinnipiac University for a Meet and Greet Program on Friday, April 22nd at Clarion Hotel in Hamden, CT. It was an event where GOPIO members and other community organization representatives had a networking reception and an open mike interaction followed by an Indian dinner. Academics were from Quinnipiac, Yale, University of Connecticut and University of New Haven. This is first time Indian American and Indic academics from these schools came together on a Pan-Indian platform.

After the networking Meet and Greet, the program started with a welcome by GOPIO-CT Executive Vice President Prasad Chintalapudi who then introduced GOPIO Founder and current Chairman Dr. Thomas Abraham. Dr. Abraham, spoke on the journey of GOPIO over the years since 1989 and how, the Indian Diaspora community which was outside the political mainstream in many countries changed over to political mainstream in countries with large Diaspora population.

Dr. Abraham also spoke on the Welcome Dinner for new students from India at the UConn Business School at Stamford and Hartford campuses organized by GOPIO-CT and hoping to do the same in the Hamden/New Haven area.

Dr. Abraham also mentioned that the Indian Am3rican academics could play important roles in correcting misinformation on India and the Indian American community, as for example the recent statement by University of Pennsylvania professor Amy Wax.

This program to reach the academics was initiated by GOPIO-CT Board Member Prof. Sujata Gadkar-Wilcox, who has also been a Democratic Party candidate from the assembly district in Trumbull.

“It is a pleasure to have faculty members from Quinnipiac University, Yale University, the University of New Haven, and from the greater South Asian community come together to discuss shared connections and opportunities for collaboration and we look forward to hosting future events that will incorporate students and continue to build programming that serves the local community and highlights the many important contributions of the South Asian community in Connecticut,” said Prof. Gadkar-Wilcox.

Academics who participated included Prof. Ravi Dhar, American behavioral scientist, an expert in consumer behavior and branding, currently the George Rogers Clark Professor of Management and Marketing at Yale School of Management; Prof. K. Sudhir, James L Frank Professor of Private Enterprise, Management and Marketing & Director of the Yale China India Insights Program (CIIP) Yale School of Management; Prof. Shyam Sunder, James L. Frank Professor Emeritus of Accounting, Economics and Finance, Yale School of Management; Prof. Ramesh Subramanian, Gabriel Ferrucci Prof of Computer Information Systems, Quinnipiac; Asha Rangappa, Former FBI agent, Senior lecturer at Yale University’s Jackson Institute for Global Affairs, and a commentator on CNN; Kamal Upadhyaya; Professor of Economics and Business Analytics, University of New Haven; Prof. Narasimahan Srinivasan, Associate Professor Marketing, UConn School of Business; Prof. Ewa Callahan, Associate Professor of Interactive Media and Design, Quinnipiac; and Prof. Mohammad Elahee, Professor of International Business, Quinnipiac.

Connecticut Association of Physicians of India (CAPI) was also represented at the event with Dr. Subbarao Bollepalli (Former President of CAPI), Dr. Veena Vani and Drs. Raminder (Micky) and Rachna Walia. The program was sponsored by Wire and Plastics Machinery manufacturer Rakesh Narang and his wife Neelam along with Prof. Wyn Gadkar-Wilcox who is Professor of History & Non-western Cultures, Western Connecticut University.

In the interactive session many new ideas were shared. Plans are ahead to continue this network and to organize a Welcome Dinner for the new students from India in September in central Connecticut and at the UConn, Storrs campus.

Over the last 16 years, GOPIO-CT, a chapter of GOPIO International has become an active and dynamic organization hosting interactive sessions with policy makers and academicians, community events, youth mentoring and networking workshops, and working with other area organizations to help create a better future. GOPIO-CT – Global Organization of People of Indian Origin – serves as a non-partisan, secular, civic and community service organization – promoting awareness of Indian culture, customs and contributions of the Indian Diaspora through community programs, forums, events and youth activities. It seeks to strengthen partnerships and create an ongoing dialogue with local communities.

FIA Celebrates Gujarat Maharashtra Day

The Federation of Indian Association and the Indian Consulate celebrated Gujarat Maharashtra Day on May 1. 2022 at the Indian Consulate premises in New York as part of the ongoing celebrations of ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’ commemorating 75 years of Indian Independence.

The chief guests to grace the occasion were  Ms. Archana Joglekar – a celebrated actress, director & a renowned Kathak exponent, and Ms. Kaajal Oza Vaidya – a noted author, scriptwriter, radio jockey, and a motivational speaker.

The event was attended by Hon Consul General Sh. Randhir Jaswal, Hon DCG Dr. Varun Jep, FIA President Mr. Kenny Desai, FIA Chairman Mr. Ankur Vaidya, Padma Shri Sh. H R Shah, Padamshri Dr. Sudhir Parikh, Mayor of Edison Mr. Sam Joshi and FIA’s Srujal Parikh, Alok Kumar. Smt Smita Miki Patel amongst others.

Hon CG Shree Randhir Jaswal welcomed the guests and said that the Indian Diaspora from both the states of Gujarat and Maharashtra, not only in America but in other countries as well, continues to contribute towards the economic and social progress of the countries they live in.

Hon DCG Dr. Varun Jep, in his speech said that people from both the states are leaders in Finance, Business, Entrepreneurship and they also stand out for their rich cultural traditions and heritage.

FIA president Mr. Kenny Desai said that the state of Gujarat is the ‘Karambhoomi’ of Lord Krishna and has been the land of many notable figures hailing from different fields like Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Patel, Bhakt Narsi Mehta, Vikram Sarabhai, PM Sh Narender Modi, and the Industrial houses of Ambanis and Adanis. He mentioned that Mahrashtra has been the guardian of Hindu Sanatan Dharam and have produced bravehearts like Chattrapati Shivaji, Baji Rao Peshwa and Ahilyabai Holkar. He said that people from both states have contributed to the Economic, Industrial and Financial growth of India.

FIA Chairman Mr. Ankur Vaidya in his speech said that he was born and brought up in Baroda in Gujarat which had a significant Maharashtrian Influence and as such had the best of both cultures. He also emphasized the need to engage other Indian Communities and have events and gatherings where all the members from the various Indian communities can participate. He said that Hon CG Sh Jaiswal has done a tremendous job in this direction to bring the communities together. He also lauded the efforts of the officials and staff of the Indian Consulate for doing an unprecedented job and in being accessible to all.

One minute silence was observed in the memory of founding member, Past President and Vice Chairman Emeritus Late Mr. Yashpal Soi. Mr. Vaidya remembered him for his selfless service and dedication to the cause of FIA and lamented the loss FIA has suffered in his passing away.

Guru Archana Joglekar spoke about the folk of Maharashtra. She explained in detail about the culture and folk tradition of Maharashtra. She also spoke about the shared culture of both states.

Kajal Oza Vaidya said that both the states should be seen in unison and commended the fact that the twin states took to the path of progress and development and have excelled in the fields of enterprise, culture, commerce, and entertainment. She said that today’s gathering is proof of the fact that our country lives in our hearts.

Padma Shri Mr. H R Shah said that he is honored to be there for the event and gave a brief outline of the history behind the Gujarat Maharashtra day when the 2 states came into being. Ms. Sam Joshi Mayor of Edison said that it was an honor to be present and spoke about his vision to have a satellite office of IIT India in Edison. He thanked the FIA for their initiatives which go a long way in keeping the Indian Community in touch with their Indian roots.

Event Chair, Past President, and member of Board of Trustees of FIA,  Sh. Srujal Parikh said it’s a great honor to celebrate the event and took pride in the fact that Gujarat is the Land of Lord Krishna & Mahatma Gandhi. He recognized and felicitated the sponsors, supporters, partner associations, and members in their effort to make the event successful

Padma Shri Sudhir Parikh said that he shares a personal bond with Maharshtra as he did his schooling from Mumbai. He attributed his success to the State of Gujarat as it accorded him his higher education

The audiences were regaled with cultural performances from both the states and especially the ‘Garbha’ and ‘Laavni’ which they thoroughly enjoyed. The Maharashtrian folk dance was performed by the students of ‘Archana Nritalya’ which is run by Guru Archana Joglekar.

AAPI Presents A Five-Week Webinar On Meditation Practices

American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) in collaboration with the Heartfulness Institute organized a five-week webinar, from March 20th to April 17th on Heartfulness Meditation Practices, guided by Revered Kamlesh D. Patel (DAAJI), who is the Heartfulness Global Guide, and initiated by Dr. Anupama Gotimukula President of AAPI and Dr. Ravi Kolli, President-Elect of AAPI. The Heartfulness Institute has held a series of wellness lectures that provide meaningful practices to AAPI physicians and continuing medical education credits.

AAPI members, including Dr. Chandra Koneru,  Dr. Murthy Gokula, Dr. Jayaram Thimmapuram, and Dr. Kunal Desai, who have been engaging in heart-based meditation for decades presented and led the hundreds of AAPI members who had joined in and participated in the webinars.

“The Covid pandemic has impacted all aspects of human life as never been before,” said Dr. Gotimukula.  “The past two years have been challenging to everyone, particularly those who are assigned with the responsibility of caring for the sick, especially as millions have been impacted by the big pandemic. There has been a noticeable rise in burn out among healthcare professionals,” she pointed out.

AAPI, the largest ethnic medical organization in the country, representing the interests of over 100,000 physicians of Indian origin, has been focusing on ways to help AAPI members, who have been in the forefront helping millions of patients around the nation, to take care of self and find satisfaction and happiness in the challenging situations they are in, while serving hundreds of patients everyday of their dedicated and noble profession, Dr. Anupama Gotimukula said.

In this context, in partnership with the Heartfulness Institute, AAPI has embarked on a mission to educate its members and provide opportunities to promote self-care, improve physician wellness, and reduce burnout.

“Our physician members have worked very hard during the covid 19 pandemic. The Heartfulness Meditation has allowed AAPI to serve these hard working members who are our COVID 19 Heroes.  It is a perfect time to heal the healers with a special focus on wellness as we rejuvenate and relax,” said Dr. Ravi Kolli, who, along with several AAPI members visited and experienced Heartfulness Meditation at the Kanha Shantivanam on the outskirts of Hyderabad, during the Global Healthcare Summit organized by AAPI in January this year.

The Heartfulness Institute is a not-for-profit organization established in 130 countries that provides meditation techniques that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety, improve sleep, enhance emotional intelligence, and explore the depth of human consciousness.

The Heartfulness Institute’s mission is “to offer all humanity a simple and effective set of practices for relaxation, meditation, regulating the mind, and building inner strength and attitudes to create a lasting sense of fulfillment and overall, wellbeing.”

“Our practices include heart-based meditation,” said Dr. Chandra Koneru, an Internal Medicine Professional, AAPI member, and Heartfulness Trainer. “Our values align with the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) mission to facilitate and enable Indian physicians to improve patient care and engage in research that brings distinctive contributions from India.”

The first webinar session led by Dr. Koneru was an introduction to Heartfulness practices: “A Program Overview: Why Meditate? Health, Happiness, and Harmony.”  Dr. Koneru said, “Meditation unleashes the potential within us that we never before knew.” He shared with the audience the values of meditation, how meditation translates to evidence-based health outcomes, and how the harmony and happiness that meditation can evoke in physicians can have a ripple effect on their patients.

Dr. Koneru explained the relaxation techniques physicians can practice to create restorative and refreshing energy boosts. He outlined what it means to connect with the heart, fix your thoughts, and allow divine energy to fill the heart through a practical demonstration. “Heartfulness relaxation techniques remove stress and tension from the body, calm the nervous system, and settle our breathing habits,” he said.

Dr. Koneru also discussed meditation methods, centering oneself, and finding inner stillness and contentment. Heartfulness meditation is supported by the ancient yogic technique of Pranahuti, which allows us to dive deeper into the heart from the outset., he added.

Dr. Murthy Gokula, M.D., C.M.D., DipABLM, Family Medicine, Geriatrics & Lifestyle Medicine, AAPI member, and Heartfulness Trainer, while leading the discussion on “Rejuvenation: Adding Lightness, Joy, and a Carefree Attitude to Life” spoke about the rejuvenation technique, which involves a well-established scientific methodology using guided imagery to remove the day’s stressful impressions and undesirable interactions.

Dr. Gokula said, “Cleaning purifies the mind of all its complexities and heaviness, allowing you to feel light in your approach to life. This 30-minute practice will detox your mind. After the rejuvenation technique, you will return to a simpler and more balanced state. Every cell of your body will emanate simplicity, lightness, and purity.”

Dr. Jayaram Thimmapuram, Internal Medicine, AAPI member, and Heartfulness Trainer, who spoke about “Inner Connect and Good Sleep and Cultivate Meditative Mind, Heartful Living” in two separate sessions, said, “Our quality of sleep and sleeping habits shape our physical and mental health. Our attention, intention, and attitude at bedtime play a significant role in transforming ourselves. With a proper attitude of humility, love, and openness to change, improving our sleeping habits can transform our lives.”

According to him, “Cultivating a meditative mindset is an outcome of meditative practices. A meditative mind is a dynamic state of inner stillness that progressively fills our life with contentment, calmness, compassion, courage, and clarity.”

Dr. Kunal Desai, an Infectious Disease Specialist, AAPI member, and Heartfulness Trainer, while addressing the participants on “Tips for Deeper Meditation Experience” stated that the best way to experience meditation and find purpose is to focus on health-related benefits like stress improvement, sleep quality improvement, and anxiety reduction. He suggested adopting an approach of sitting silently at your desk for a few minutes to focus inwardly. “This small practice can pave the way for more mindfulness and intentional acting. He also advocated for small moments of meditation before bed, prayer, and diary writing to focus on meditation,” Dr. Desai said.  “With interest and the right attitude, you can evaluate yourself to see that you will evolve to find the real purpose of your life,” he added.

Dr. Ranga Reddy, a Past AAPI President stated, “I have been with AAPI for over 25 years. This is the first time AAPI has collaborated with the Heartfulness program to bring awareness to physicians about the benefits of meditation in reducing stress and anxiety and improving patient care during these trying times. I hope AAPI will continue this collaboration to bring harmony and happiness to physicians, patients, and the public to create a healthy and peaceful society for the greater good.”

Dr. Rida Khan, who had attended the webinar, while sharing the impact it had on him, stated, “I have always been a meditation aficionado, so it was heartening to discover that it could be a continuing medical education activity. The practical meditation sessions taught the techniques in real-time and backed them with scientific, informative, and journal club-style didactics.”

Dr. Khan went on to state, “No doctor should battle the vicissitudes of the work of a physician alone. Introducing physicians to meditation provides a powerful tool to help alleviate stress, maintain stability, and enhance fulfillment in their lives.  It helps to meditate in groups to protect your practice from lapsing, receive regular feedback, and exchange intellectually stimulating ideas. Meeting like-minded people in your field broadens your perspective of how a physician should and could be. As a newly minted physician myself, I find it invaluable to have those role models in my life.”

What was begun as a five week series has been planned to be extended for a longer as the AAPI members have shared for the need and expressing as to how the sessions have helped them personally and professionally.

“Heartfulness meditation practices are offered free of cost. By connecting with a local trainer at one of our 6,000 global Heart Spots, you can dive deeper into meditation with free assistance from a certified Heartfulness trainer,” Dr. Gokula added. For more details, please visit: https://heartspots.heartfulness.org. To connect with a virtual trainer, download the Heart-In-Tune app at  https://www.heartintune.org.

For more information on AAPI and its several noble initiatives in the past 40 years, please visit: www.aapiusa.org

Salman Rushdie, Sabyasachi Mukherjee Among Inducted Into American Academy Of Arts & Sciences

The American Academy of Arts and Sciences elected several Indians from around the world to be members of the august body which was established in 1780, and which “honors excellence and convenes leaders to examine new ideas and address issues of importance to the nation and the world, and advance the public good.”

The list which was announced April 28, 2022, contained Indians from U.S., U.K. and India in several fields of endeavor ranging from science to arts and humanities.

This year’s election of 261 new members includes at least 14 persons of Indian descent. “We are celebrating a depth of achievements in a breadth of areas,” David Oxtoby, president of the American Academy is quoted saying in the press release. “These individuals excel in ways that excite us and inspire us at a time when recognizing excellence, commending expertise, and working toward the common good is absolutely essential to realizing a better future.”

The new members join the likes of Benjamin Franklin (elected 1781) and Alexander Hamilton (1791) in the eighteenth century; Ralph Waldo Emerson (1864), Maria Mitchell (1848), and Charles Darwin (1874) in the nineteenth; Albert Einstein (1924), Robert Frost (1931), Margaret Mead (1948), Milton Friedman (1959), Martin Luther King, Jr. (1966), Stephen Hawking (1984), and Condoleezza Rice (1997) in the twentieth; and more recently Jennifer Doudna (2003), Bryan Stevenson (2014), M. Temple Grandin (2016), John Legend (2017), Viet Thanh Nguyen (2018), James Fallows (2019), Joan Baez (2020), and Sanjay Gupta (2021).

This year’s list of artists, scholars, scientists, and leaders in the public, non-profit, and private sectors elected to the Academy include the following of Indian descent:

Physics – Ramamoorthy Ramesh, University of California, Berkeley

Physics – Shamit Kachru, Stanford University

Engineering and Technology- Nilay Shah (IHM), Imperial College London

Computer Science –George Varghese, University of California, Los Angeles

Cellular and Developmental Biology- Arshad B. Desai, University of California, San Diego

Cellular and Developmental Biology- Harmit Singh Malik, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center

Evolution and Ecology- Maharaj K. Pandit (IHM) , University of Delhi

Medical Sciences – Abraham C. Verghese, Stanford School of Medicine

Economics – Rohini Pande, Yale University

Philosophy and Religious Studies – Jamsheed K. Choksy, Indiana University

Philosophy and Religious Studies – Archana Venkatesan, University of California, Davis

Literature – Salman Rushdie

Visual Arts – Sabyasachi Mukherjee (IHM), Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalay

Scientific, Cultural and Nonprofit Leadership – Maya Ajmera Society for Science

Petition In Indian Court To Search Taj Mahal For Hindu Idols And Inscriptions

A petition has been filed in the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad high court seeking directives to the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to open 20 rooms inside the Taj Mahal in Agra to ascertain whether the Hindu idols and inscriptions are hidden there.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) media in-charge of Ayodhya district, Dr Rajneesh Singh has filed the petition which is yet to come up for hearing.

“There is an old controversy related to the Taj Mahal. Around 20 rooms in Taj Mahal are locked and no one is allowed to enter. It is believed that in these rooms there are idols of Hindu gods and scriptures,” said Dr Rajneesh Singh.

“I have filed a petition in the high court seeking directives to ASI to open these rooms to ascertain facts. There is no harm in opening these rooms and setting to rest all controversies,” said Singh on Sunday.

In the plea, the petitioner has sought directives from the court to the state government to constitute a committee that would examine these rooms and look for any evidence related with the Hindu idols or scriptures there.

Rajneesh Singh said he has been trying to ascertain facts about the 20 locked rooms of Taj Mahal since 2020 through the Right to Information Act (RTI).

Singh had filed an RTI in 2020 with the Union ministry of Culture seeking information about the rooms. “Since 2020, I have been trying to ascertain facts about the locked rooms of Taj Mahal. I had filed an RTI. Replying to the RTI, the Union ministry of Culture informed the Central Information Commission (in Delhi) that these rooms were locked due to security reasons and no detail was provided about these rooms,” he added.

“In the RTI, I had sought details about the locked rooms (what is inside them) and directives to open them,” Singh said. “When all my efforts failed then I have approached the Lucknow high court seeking directives to the government to open these rooms and constitute a fact-finding committee to find out whether Hindu gods and scriptures are inside them,” he added.

It may be pointed out that several right-wing organisations claim Taj Mahal to be Tejo Mahalaya, a Hindu temple. (IANS)

People Of All Faiths Celebrate Eid- Ul-Fitr

Chicago IL: The Chicago community, belonging to all faiths, came together to celebrate Eid ul Fitr, with great enthusiasm and reverence, at Falak Banquets. The event was attended by large number of ‘who is who’, representing public offices at the City and State level. Mr. Iftekhar Shareef, Mr. Altaf Bukhari, Mr. Rezwan-ul-Haq, Dr. Tajamul Hussain, Mr. Asad Khan, Mr. Khaja Moinuddin, Mr. Ashfaq Hussain Syed, Mr. Kader Sakkaria and Mr. Khurram Syed hosted the colorful Eid event.

Speaking on this occasion, Mr. Iftekhar Shareef, Community leader said, with a sense of pride, that America is unique and exceptional in its equal respect for all religions. He said that understanding different religions and respecting them has been the hallmark of American culture.

Dr. Tajamul Hussain, said all religions teach love and empathy and we have to build bridges and spread love. He opined that practicing these values is the need of the hour for giving a big boost to mutual co- existence, especially in the present times, which are characterized by increasing distances among people professing different faiths. “My hometown is Hyderabad in India, which is known for “Ganga Jamuni Tahzeeb’, that is, a fusion of elements of different religions”, he added.

Asad Khan, Community leader, said that Chicago is well-known for exceptionally good relations among people belonging to different religions, regions, and nations. “This unique characteristic has mainly contributed for the emergence of Chicago as the best place to live.

Rezwan-ul-Haq, said that all human beings belong to one race and, therefore, love is the single language, which even blind can speak and deaf can hear. He stated that Eid ul Fitr celebrates the value of unity. Khaja Moinuddin, Community leader, emphasized the beauty of the US in general and Chicago in particular which is grounded in principles of diversity and acceptance of fellow Americans.

Ashfaq Syed underlined the importance of building better understanding among people belonging to different backgrounds and thereby contributing to the continuous development of the US on all fronts. Kader Sakkaria, Community leader, said that India believes in the traditional values of giving utmost respect for the religions of others. “The Indian Americans, by practicing this great value, have been enriching the social fabric of the US”, he added.

Altaf Bukhari, Community leader who was dressed in the unique Indian attire said it is important to have interfaith events for all communities. Khurram Syed, Community leader, welcomed the guests for joining the Eid al Fitr celebrations during a busy mother day weekend, when many have family commitments and plans.

The Chicago Eid Committee presented awards to the community leaders for their excellent service to the community of Chicago and Dr. Suresh Reddy, Dr Rajiv Kandala, Rezwanul Haque, Saima Azfar, Shalini Gupta and Rajendra Singh Mago were awarded. The book release of A.Q. Siddiqui was also done by the Chicago Eid Committee and Mr. Siddiqui signed the copies for the community.

An array of eminent persons from different walks of life, including elected officials and many community leaders spoke on the occasion and underlined the need for more and more such occasions for enabling people, belonging to different backgrounds, to interact and understand others’ faiths in their true and total frame of reference. Samreen Khan & Sariq Bukhari were the MC’s and thanked all the guests who attended the Eid celebration. The Live band and singers were outstanding.

Punjabi Association (Mpa) Pays Tribute To He Martyrs Of The Jallianwala Bagh Massacre

Chicago IL: The celebration of Punjabi Virsa (Punjabi Heritage) organized by the Midwest Punjabi Association (MPA) in collaboration with the Consulate General of India set the precedent for paying the perfect tribute to the martyrs of the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre. The event was organized on May 1st, 2022 at Ashton Place, Willowbrook, IL as part of the Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav to celebrate Vaisakhi and pay tribute to the martyrs of the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre.

Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi, CG Amit Kumar, Mayor Rodney Craig, Mayor Tom Daily, Mayor Dr. Gopal Lalmalani, trustee Syed Hussaini along with other elected officials and community leaders graced the event.  Mr. Gurmeet Singh Dhalwan, President, Midwest Punjabi Association gave a brief introduction of the event and briefed the guests about the past activities and upcoming initiatives of Midwest Punjabi Association. He proudly mentioned the guidance given by Mr.Ranjit Singh.

He said keeping in mind the spirit of Ek Bharat Shresth Bhara , Midwest Punjabi Association has decided to pay tribute One author from Punjabi ,one from regional language and one from regional language and one from our national language Hindi. We will continue and take forward the spirit of Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav in all years to come.We all know Gurmeet Singh Dhalwan is a well-known name in the media industry and the Founder President of Adbhhut Media Newspaper and Channel. Dhalwan is an entrepreneur with more than two decades of experience in wholesale & retail business. He is the Founder President of Midwest Punjabi Association, (MPA) a Non-Profit Organization. He is also a member of cultural inclusion and diversity committee/commission Village of Hanover Park, IL. He is a community leader, social worker, and a Philanthropist.

CG Amit Kumar in his inaugural remarks commended the organizers for their unique initiative to throw light on the tragic event through writings and reflections of noted authors like Sardar Nanak Singh, Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore and Subhadra Kumari Chauhan.  He spoke about the impact of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre on the national freedom struggle with the public sentiment across the length and breadth of India turning decisively against the colonial rule.

The master of the ceremony was Prachi Jaitly. The program started with rendition of Gurbani Kirtan by Bhai Jagat Singh Dilliwale and Bhai Bhagat Singh Chicagowale, followed by presentations / recital of Gurudev Tagore’s poems and poems from the Punjabi collection of poems Khooni Vaisakhi, written by Sardar Nanak Singh. A message from Amb (Retd) Navdeep Singh Suri, who is Nanak Singh’s grandson and who translated the poems into English, was played. Navdeep Suri,s video message was followed by the beautiful poetic tribute skillfully crafted by Charandeep Singh along with some of the finests poetic talents like Raj laly Batala, Jasbir kaur Mann, Rakesh Malhotra, Dr. Taufiq Ansari Ahmed, Dr. Afzal-ur-Rehman Afsar, Rakind Kaur, and Suneeta Malhotra. The narration of the performance was done by Prachi Jaitly.

There was also a Kathak dance performance by Shiwali Varshney Tenner based on the poem “Jallianwale Bagh mein Basant” written by Subhadra Kumari Chauhan and a poetry session with local prominent poets of Hindi, Urdu and Punjabi. Bratasree Roy Biswas is also performed Indian classical dance ‘Rabindra Natya Nritya’ which is a form of dance drama based on poems, song and novels composed by the Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore from Bengal. The performance depicted how the epic author had returned his knighthood in protest of the Jallianwalan Bagh massacre in the 1919.

Adding more spark to the event Gurmeet and team proudly announced the launch of his sparkling logo ‘GSD’ in the presence of dignitaries and remarkable organizations from Chicagoland. Logo is the actual reflection of though and dreams.The logo was initially acknowledged with greetings from legendary actor Kamal Hasan and was further showered with best wishes & initials of local guests of honor, congratulating the new founder-president as he embarks on his new venture. Participating Indian American associations included the FIA-1980; Artists Association of North America, Bengali Association of Greater Chicago (BAGC), Punjabi Cultural Society,Michigan; Kalman de Ang Sang; Urdu Samaj of Chicago; Dramatech of America; Guru Ladho Re Seva Society, Wisconsin; Swera (Sikh Women Era); and Punjabi Americans Organization (PAO) Saneevani4U; etc.

The Jallianwala Bagh massacre took place on 13 April 1919. A large peaceful crowd had gathered at the Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar, Punjab to protest against the oppressive Rowlatt Act. In response to the public gathering, general Dyer surrounded the protesters. The Jallianwala Bagh could only be exited on one side, as its other three sides were enclosed by buildings. After blocking the exit with his troops, he ordered them to shoot at the crowd, continuing to fire even as the protestors tried to flee. The troops kept on firing until their ammunition was exhausted. Estimates of those killed vary between 379 and 1500+ people and over 1,200 other people were injured of whom 192 were seriously injured.

It was one-of-a-kind programs that was purely dedicated to Jallianwala massacre victims and paying tribute to their sacrifice with pure patriotism. A special tribute was paid to the former MPA Vice President Alok Suri who passed away recently. The event was supported and sponsored by Anil and Chandni Kalra of Northwest Realty, Pinky Dinesh Thakkar, Syed Hussaini, Standard Home Care, Amrik Singh of Amar Carpet, Iftekar Sharif, Jesse Singh, Remax, Anil Loomba, HMSI, Brij Sharma of Powervolt, Ashton Place, Puneet Sawhney, Lucky Sahota, Dr Vikram Gill.

Eid-Ul-Fitr Celebrations Held In Naperville

On Monday May 2nd,2022 Muslims from all over the Naperville and suburb areas joyfully bustled into the Embassy suites and two locations of ICN to join the celebrations of Eid Ul-Fitr. While there were various venues that held Eid prayers throughout the region, the largest turnouts were at the Naperville where arrangements for Eid prayers were made by the Islamic Center of Naperville (ICN) in five spells, at 7:30 am, at 8:30 am, 9:00 am,10: 00 am, and at 11:30 am. The Imam for the first session of the Eid prayers was Shayakh Ismail Al-Qadhi, Shayakh Omar Hedroug, for second session, Dr. Abdullah Ansari for the Third session, Shayakh Rizwan Ali for the fourth session and Wali Khan for the fifth session. Over 8000 devout Muslims, including prominent Businessmen, Professionals, and Community Leaders, attended the Eid prayers.

 

Women in vibrant colored dresses, men in ethnic outfits and children, smiling and laughing, filled the parking lots and poured into all the three locations. Volunteers of the Eid Committee of the ICN open-heartedly welcomed the incoming persons so as to ensure that every one of them was able to partake in the Eid prayers, without any inconvenience. Despite the large numbers, the volunteers of the ICN and board members were able to direct the crowds effortlessly and efficiently.

 

Imam and Residential Scholar of the ICN, Rizwan Ali, delivered an inspiring talk the peace and tranquility people achieved during the month of Ramadan. This happiness was due to many factors, but he emphasized the importance of leaving sin and being consistent, sincere, and dedicated to continuing the good deeds established during Ramadan. He gave practical ways that people can make fasting, attending the Mosques, reciting the Quran, and giving charity part of their lives even after Ramadan. He also prayed for the volunteers that made Ramadan possible in the community and those who were sick and unable to attend, and those facing difficulties and hardships locally and abroad. He ended by encouraging the congregation to rejoice and celebrate the day of Eid by giving gifts and having fun. 

 

Mr. Kashif Fakhruddin, President, ICN, stated that the month of Ramadan is a blessed month in which the Holy Quran was revealed. He stated that the month of Ramadan is an occasion for spiritual uplifting, softening the heart and humbling oneself, sharing and caring, seeking forgiveness from Allah SWT, extending forgiveness to others, and seeking mercy of Allah SWT and praying for the same to others. “The ICN community, which comprises over 4,500 families, representing heritages from many different countries, addresses the needs of Muslims as well as those who belong to other religions. ICN works very closely with people of other faiths to serve humanity and encourages its members to follow the principles of Tolerance, Justice, Peace and Progress”, added Kashif Fakhruddin.

 

“The sacred month of Ramadan is a time of sacrifice and reflection. Ramadan offers an opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to peace and justice through the power of faith. Ramadan reminds us that our common bonds far outweigh our differences. I wish everyone a blessed and meaningful Eid-ul-Fitr.  We extend our warmest wishes to the Muslim community of Illinois on this occasion”, said Board members of ICN.

Inter-faith Iftar Held In Chicago, Brings Together Leaders of South Asian Origin, Representing Major Religions, Seeking Unity

“At the core of all the faith systems and traditions is the recognition that we are all in this together and that we need to love and support one another to live in harmony and peace in an environmentally sustainable world,” said Dr. Suresh Reddy, past President of American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin, and current Town Trustee Member of Oak Brook in Illinois. Quoting the United Nations, the Hyderabad-born physician and community leader said, “Our world continues to be beset by conflict and intolerance with an increasing number of violent spots in a hostile and unwelcoming world around us. The need for spiritual guidance has never been greater.”

Recognizing the imperative need for dialogue and appreciation among different faiths and religions to enhance mutual understanding, harmony and cooperation among people, an Interfaith Iftar was hosted by Dr. Suresh Reddy, Dr. Anuja Gupta, and Shri Ashfaq Hussain Syed, under the auspices of Verandah Community Outreach on April 25th in Hanover Park, near Chicago, in Illinois. Dr. Suresh Reddy, born and grew up in from Hyderabad, India, a city of many religions, shared his own experiences of Iftar celebrations while growing up in Hyderabad.

Dozens of community leaders and friends of South Asian Origin came together with the hope of fostering unity amongst the people of diverse communities and to help foster fellowship and oneness, said Ashfaq Syed, while underlining the importance of unity and one community & humanity. “The purpose was to celebrate Iftar together and reflect on how we can unifying and support our community to heal after this long and difficult pandemic. Our hope is to continue these thoughtful conversations throughout the year to build bridges that are long lasting.”

Dr. Anuja Gupta welcomed the guests and shared her experience of Ramadan back in Mumbai, India. “It is imperative that we double our efforts to spread the message of good neighborliness based on our common humanity, a message shared by all faith traditions,” she said.

Iftar is the fast-breaking meal observed each evening at sundown during the holy month of Ramadan.  The Interfaith Iftar Dinner is an opportunity for the community to join our Muslim friends for an evening meal as they break their Ramadan fast, added Ashfaq Syed.  Ramadan is a time of revelation and a time of disruption, he said, in which Muslims draw near to God by breaking away from the distractions of the world.

The participants had Iftar, prayer and enjoyed the dinner together, a traditional meal, along with presentations by community peacemakers.

Swami Ishatmanada, Vivekananda Vedanta Society of Chicago,  community leaders from Palatine Gurudwara, Pastor Larry Bullock and Azam Nizamuddin spoke about the need for fostering unity, harmony and understanding each other’s culture and faith.

“We fast from all the things that are getting in our way,” they said. “We fast from our own sense of egocentric centrality in the universe. We fast from the habits of mind and habits of being that get in our way — or in other people’s way — in terms of the spiritual life.”

They stressed the importance of interfaith cooperation and compassion and shared about their  work in supporting peoples of all faiths around the world. We need to be grounded in our own faith. To listen to them and be compassionate. “We need to have self-care and keep our spirits high, have a positive attitude and we can overcome violence and hatred in the name of religion,” they underscored.

34th Sikh Day Parade In New York Showcases Sikh Traditions, Culture

Tens of thousands of people joined in at the 34th Sikh Day Parade including some high-profile politicians, as it marched from 37th Street and Madison to 25th Street in New York City, on Saturday, April 23rd, showcasing the rich traditions and cultural history of Sikh religion.

Thousands crowded the sidewalks to watch floats and performers, as well as the Guru Granth Sahib, being carried on Manhattan’s famous street, as navy blue, yellow, orange and white traditional dresses and flags dominated the colorful landscape amidst the sky scrapers.

The Sikh Parade returned to the Big Apple after being on hiatus for the past two-years due to COVID-19. The Parade had added poignancy and significance in light of recent violent incidents in which Sikhs have been attacked in their own residential areas and near Gurudwaras over the last few weeks.

The event comes in the wake of several recent violent attacks against members of the Sikh community in Queens. Singh is hoping the parade can serve as a bridge for New Yorkers that are not quite familiar. Organizers say despite being one of the oldest immigrant communities in this nation, hate crimes and school bullying still single out their members.

The parade, resplendent with floats and performers in traditional dresses, witnessed the holy book Guru Granth Sahib being carried down from Manhattan. Flags in navy blue, yellow, orange, and white were carried by the participants of the procession.

More than 24 Gurdwaras from around the tri-state area and Washington DC took part, and around 30,000 to 35,000 from the community walked the route, Harpreet Singh Toor, chairman of Public Policy and External Affairs of the Sikh Cultural Society which organized the march told the media.

Music and vibrant decorations adorned floats all throughout the parade. Many Sikh members wearing traditional colored garments and turbans. “It’s a symbol so mostly you will see people today especially wearing blue or yellow turbans otherwise you can wear any color — there is no issue with that,” said Hirdepal Singh member of the Sikh Cultural Society in Queens.

Deep tradition and customs were also on full display in the street to the amazement of onlookers like Pier Smith. “I was just texting my daughter, this is why I love New York, never boring, never goes to sleep — always exciting,” said Smith.

United States Senator Charles Schumer and New York City Mayor Eric Adams also attended the parade. State Assembly woman Jenifer Rajkumar, the first Punjabi person elected to New York State office, was also present.

A New York Police Department band also walked in the parade. The NYPD had also imposed traffic restrictions for Saturday, in view of the parade. Jaspreet Singh, a staff attorney with United Sikhs, estimated there were about 80,000 Sikhs living in New York City, in a 2010 interview with the New York Public Radio.

Vidya Jyoti Inaugurated in Chiacgo

Vidya Jyoti, a newly formed non-profit organization, held a glittering Inaugural Gala on Sunday, April 24, 2022, at Embassy Suites in Naperville, Illinois. The vision of Vidya Jyoti is that every child in India can realize her/his dreams and break the cycle of poverty by having easy access to quality education, The mission of Vidya Jyoti is to channel funds from generous and committed donors of North America to dedicated and bright students in India who are facing financial barriers in their educational journey.

Thanking the community for its love and support, Pratibha Jairath, Founding President of Vidya Jyoti, welcomed the 300 strong audience. The Gala attracted social and business leaders from around the Chicago area. The chief guest for the gala was the philanthropist Mr. Anil Loomba, CEO of Home Mortgage Solutions, inc.

“It is a dream come true,” said Pratibha in her welcome address. “It is gratifying to see so many others share this vision of raising funds to help underprivileged children in India.” Madhu Uppal, the Founding Vice-President, in her address reminded the audience of the Hindu belief of Vasudhaiv Kutumbakam, to look at the world as one family and think of world’s children as our children.

Dr. Santosh Kumar, CEO of Metropolitan Asian Family, in her Keynote address spoke about her own journey and credited education for helping her reach her present position.  Mrs. Malti Loomba, retired Director of Schools in India, accompanied by her son Mr. Anil Loomba, performed the ribbon cutting ceremony and offered her blessings to this noble effort. She spoke about her own experiences as teacher, principal and, finally, director and noted the need for support for the many families with limited means. She also extended her willingness to help guide Vidya Jyoti’s work.

Among the dignitaries present were Dr. Gopal Lalmalani, Mayor, Village of Oak Brook, Judge Kavita Athanikar, Circuit Court Judge, Mrs. Shweta Baid, Alderwoman, City of Aurora, Mrs. Meghana Bansal, Trustee for Wheatland Township and Kevin Morrison, Cook County Commissioner. Each offered their congratulations and extended their best wishes for success to Vidya Jyoti.

Vidya Jyoti recognized the tremendous support of the many sponsors including Grand Sponsors Dr. Bhupinder Beri, Mr. Sanjiv Gulati, Mr. Vimal Jairath and Mr. Bill Lyon as well as Benefactors Mrs. Anita Beri, Dr. Inshu Belani, Mr. Ramesh Mehra, Mrs. Sarita Sood, Mr. Anil Sharma (of Toronto, Canada), Dr. Sarbjit Bhandal, Mrs. Pratibha Jairath and Mr. Brij Sharma. The evening also included introduction of all sponsors and the Board of Vidya Jyoti.

The highlight of the evening was the presentation of plaques to 18 champions of education who have achieved great success in their profession and businesses. After receiving a bouquet of flowers from a family member, these awardees walked the red carpet to receive their plaques that recognized them for their Exceptional Leadership and Service for Education.

The evening also included a dance drama focusing on the theme of transformational power of education, thrilling Polish, Irish and Mexican dances in traditional costumes, and a mesmerizing Tabla Jugalbandi. The entertainment was topped off with a traditional Kathak dance. Another highlight was auction with MacDougall and other gowns, Aspen stay package and a lot more.

“The event exceeded every expectation that we had had,” remarked Pratibha. “Everything proceeded smoothly, for which I must thank our Board, all the volunteers as well as all the others whose work made it a very successful evening.”

Telugu Association of Greater Chicago (TAGC) Celebrates Ugadi and Srirama Navami

Telugu Association of Greater Chicago (TAGC), the first Telugu organization in North America has celebrated this year Ugadi and Srirama Navami on April 16th,2022 at Hemmens Auditorium, Elgin. TAGC is devoted to the awareness and promotion of Telugu Heritage and Culture in the Midwest region headquartered in Chicago, the association was originally founded in 1971 and it recently completed its golden jubilee celebration and entered its 51st year.

Over seven hundred Indian origin members participated in this Ugadi event. Program started with prayer song by Singer Ramya and lighting the inauguration lamp by Smt.Uma Avadhuta President of TAGC 2022. Cultural Chair Prasanna Kandukuri and Co chairs Swetha Chinnari, Sireesha Rebbapragada and Shailja Bethi with all the board members were present on the stage. Anchor Lavanya Guduru came all the way from Atlanta to host the show. Unni Vitta also accompanied Lavanya to make the show more entertaining.

Cultural programs mesmerized the audience with the varieties and the digital projection made the programs livelier. More than 300 kids and Adults participated in the event. Few highlights of the programs were Ramayana, Hanuman Chalisa, Lazy dance by adults, Ugadi theme dances and Senior’s dance etc. Audience enjoyed each and every program with applauds. Cultural committee with the help of others Bod’s Archana Podduturi and Sirisha Madduri ran the program very smoothly. Swaralaya team of singers Ravi Thokala, Mani Thellapragada, Sowjanya and Archana entertained the crowd with their melodious voice and got new energy into the auditorium.

Youth Committee chair Prashanth thanked Youth volunteers and mentioned about their tireless volunteering who were present at the event from the beginning and till the end to help all the areas membership, cultural and food to finish on time.

Decoration was one of the highlights of the event. Star beam event planners decorated the hall and the Lobby with photo booth portraying Ramanavami. Decoration chair Neelima Cheikycharla did a wonderful job in planning the decoration. Membership desk was managed and run smoothly by membership chair Madhavi Konakalla, treasurer Santosh Konduri and Jt. treasurer Sridhar Alavala. Other Board members Siva Desu, Shashi Chava, Srikanth Bethi also helped the team.

Food committee Chair Srinivas Adepu and co-chair Ramakanth Jonnala with team Vijay Beeram, Ramana Kalva, Prashanth Madavarapu and other volunteers did a wonderful job in serving dinner for such a mass crowd in the allocated time. Tasty dinner was served with a variety of food items from Krishna caterers, Naperville. People enjoyed the Centerpiece fountains with Ugadi pachadi and Panakam, Bhakshalu, vada, mango pulihora etc. Got exceptionally good appreciation from everyone.

Apart from Cultural programs on completing 50 years TAGC released a souvenir book showing the journey of the organization. Manasa Lathupalli and team did an excellent job in putting all 50 years memories together in the form of book. Venkat Gunuganti 2021 president released the book along with long time sponsors and past Executive committee members and Souvenir committee members.

TAGC president Uma Avadhuta thanked Past President Venkat Gunuganti and President elect Parameshwar Yarasani, Executive Committee, Board of directors and Volunteers who worked hard for months in planning to make the event grand success. She also thanked all the sponsors, donors and all the youth volunteers who helped in the success of the event. She also thanked all the participants, parents, teachers and guests for their enthusiastic show and support throughout the evening.

Suresh Prabhu, India’s Eminent Parliamentarian Honored In Chicago

Indian American Business Council [IABC] hosted a rousing reception in honor of distinguished visiting Member of Parliament & Former Central Minister Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu at a ceremony held in Downer’s grove, Illinois on April 20, 2022. The reception attracted a great host of community’s prominent organizational leaders who paid glowing tributes to Suresh Prabhu for his exemplary services as the former central minister and as a renowned Indian parliamentarian who leaves behind indelible footprints for his sterling reputation as a man of impeccable integrity.

Ajeet Singh, IABC President & principal host – welcoming the gathering of the distinguished guests – heaped a generous measure of praise on Suresh Prabhu for his illustrious record of accomplishment of remarkable distinction and the honor with which he served the government of India spanning decades with spotless integrity coupled with unwavering devotion to the principles of honesty.  Dr. Sreenivas Reddy, Chair of the Illinois Medical Board – in his remarks – extolled the yeoman leadership of Suresh Prabhu and described him as a highly admired Indian statesman who played a significant role serving as the Indian Emissary and Sherpa at the G20 & G7 Summit. Dr. Sreenivas Reddy added that he leaves behind enduring footprints with his groundbreaking program initiatives that are directed towards the welfare of the citizens and the betterment of the poor.

Dr. Bharat Barai speaking ‘live’ from a remote location hailed Suresh Prabhu for his exceptional leadership and his vision and thanked him for his extraordinary services to the people of India. Dr. Bharat Barai thanked Suresh Prabhu for presiding over some of the most significant portfolios of Railways, Civil Aviation and Commerce & Industry with absolute distinction.

Dr. Suresh Reddy, Trustee Oakbrook Village introduced Suresh Prabhu as a visionary who presided over as central minister with remarkable honor and lauded him for his distinguished credentials that propelled him to the league of top three Indian leaders in Asia.

Shweta Baid, Alderwoman, City of Aurora, Meghna Bansal, Trustee, Wheatland Township and Judge Kavita Athanikar joined with their gracious remarks extolling the leadership of Suresh Prabhu.

Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu in his comprehensive remarks thanked Indian American Business Council [IABC] for hosting such a warm reception and said he is deeply touched by the lavish outpouring of honor and acclamation.  He commended the role of NRI’s in fostering historic Indo-US relations, which he added largely due to your unwavering ambassadorial efforts.

Suresh Prabhu presented a detailed historical overview that shaped India and he delved extensively on education. Suresh Prabhu indicated that he is collaborating with American universities to foster a larger and wider scope of learning in the University he founded.  He said India’s role in a 21st-century world is that of immense responsibility and it is our duty to align the objectives of our institutions to the larger vision of the nation. Suresh Prabhu added that the university he founded is based on the principles of social impact and development. As an institution, my focus is on high-impact areas such as entrepreneurship, healthcare, creativity, education, and leadership. Our great ethos and culture of inquiry have to be explored and applied in a modern sense. Education is the medium to do this, he added.

Earlier, Keerthi Kumar Ravoori, IABC’s Chair in his remarks described Suresh Prabhu a passionate votary of reforms who relentlessly strived to redefine the parameters of growth ushering positive transformation in the Indian society. Gerard Moore, Staff Director for Congressman Danny Davis presented Suresh Prabhu with the congressional proclamation that chronicled his invaluable contributions to the people of India. Vinesh Virani, IABC’s Executive Vice President conducted the question & answer session and while proposing the vote of thanks recognized and acknowledged the presence of many organizational leaders for their presence to honor Suresh Prabhu.

Several other prominent organizational leaders who spoke at the reception including Dr. Vemuri Murthy, Harish Kolasani, Krishna Bansal, Harendra Mangrola, Rakesh Malhotra, Sanjay Shah, Shiveda, Hema Virani, Nirav Patel, Subu Nagasubramaniam, Manoj Singamsetti,, Ganesh Kar, Hema Virani, JD Digsnvker and Rohit Joshi.

India-USA Healthcare Partnership Planned During AAPI’s 40th Convention

Coming from India, a nation that has given much to the world, today physicians of Indian origin have become a powerful influence in healthcare across the world. Nowhere is their authority more keenly felt than in the United States, where Indians make up the largest non-Caucasian segment of the American medical community. The overrepresentation of Indians in the field of medicine is striking – in practical terms, one out of seven patients is seen by doctor of in of Indian Heritage in the United States. They provide medical care to the most diverse population base of over 40 million in the US.

Not satisfied with their professional growth and the service they provide to their patients around the world, they are at the forefront, sharing their knowledge and expertise with others, especially those physicians and leaders in the medical field from India.

Since its inception four decades ago, the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) has grown and is strong today and is the largest ethnic medical organization in the United States, representing the interests of over 100,000 physicians of Indian Origin in the US and is the powerful voice here in the US and back home in India.

Their contributions to their motherland and the United States have been enormous. Physicians of Indian origin are well known around the world for their compassion, passion for patient care, medical skills, research, and leadership. They have excelled in their fields of medicine and thus have earned a name for themselves through hard work, commitment, and dedication to their profession and the people they are committed to serving.

Through various projects and programs, AAPI has been leading healthcare initiatives and contributing significantly to offering education, training, and healthcare collaboration with Not-for-profit and government agencies across the nation. The flagship Global Healthcare Summit organized in India every year has been lauded for the tangible contributions AAPI continues to provide impacting almost every field of healthcare in India.

There is no instant solution for India’s myriad problems. But by collaborating with the governments both nationally and at state levels, and working with the government and NGOs, physicians of Indian origin can make a huge difference.

“AAPI in its unique way has made immense contributions to helping our motherland during the crisis and played a significant role in saving lives,” says Anupama Gotimukula, President, of AAPI. “Today, this esteemed panel is convened to nurture, and further, this collaboration between two of the world’s most challenging healthcare systems in the world’s two greatest democracies.”

Realizing this great mission, AAPI is for the first time organizing an In-Person Plenary Session on India-USA Healthcare Partnership With the Health Minister Of India, Mansukh Mandaviya (invited but awaiting confirmation from his office) during the 40th Annual Convention of AAPI on Saturday, June 25, 2022, at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, San Antonio, TX, said Dr. Jayesh Shah, Chair, AAPI Convention & Past President, AAPI.

The Panel Discussion is being moderated by Dr. Sweta Bansal and Dr. Rajeev Suri, Co-Chairs of the AAPI Convention Committees. The invited panelists include Dr. Rahul Gupta, US Drug Czar; Honorable Taranjit Sandhu, Ambassador of India; Hon. Aseem R Mahajan, Consul General of India in Houston; Senator John Cornyn;  Rep. Raja Krishnamurthy, US congressman; Rep. Joaquin Castro, US Congressman; Rep. Ami Bera, US Congressman; Dr. Dwarkanath Reddy, GHS 2022 India Chair; Navdeep S. Jaikaria, Ph.D., Founder, Chairman & CEO, SGN Nanopharma Inc., GAPIO President, BAPIO President, and All AAPI Alumni Chapter Presidents.

The role being played by the AAPI Charitable Foundation has been very significant, says, Dr. Surendra Purohit, Chair, AAPI Charitable Foundation. He will provide an update on the “Role of AAPI’s free clinics in India in the last 40 years.”

Recalling the many noble initiatives of AAPI, benefitting India during the Covid Pandemic, Dr. Sujeet Punnam, said, “Diseases do not have borders and collaboration in healthcare globally is necessary for the survival of humanity. It is this reality that the recent pandemic has engraved on our collective conscience.” The panel on “The Covid Crisis – AAPI physicians’ response during the largest global pandemic in over a century” will be led by Drs. Sujit Punnam, Amit Chakraborthy, & Raj Bhayani. Sewa International, which has been collaborating with AAPI in reaching the needed supplies to the neediest in India will be represented by Arun Kankani, President of Sewa International.

Dr. Lokesh Edara, Chair, Global Medical Education, who has been very instrumental in medical education, who is well recognized by NMC and medical education boards in India,  will share his persistent efforts in the past three years, and how every Medical School in India will have Emergency Medicine and Family Medicine at Post Graduate Medicine Program in India.

Dr. Thakor Patel will provide an update on AAPI Sevak Project, which has been serving millions of people across the many states in India. A new initiative under the current leadership of AAPI has been “Adopt 75 Villages” in India commemorating the 75th anniversary of India’s Independence and providing much-needed Healthcare Screening for chronic diseases, A Rural Health Project involving 75 Villages in several states. Dr. Satheesh Kathula, who has adopted his Village and believes “Over time, an improved village could lead to an improved region, state and country” will present this new program, whose focus is “prevention is better than cure.”

During the most recent Global Healthcare Summit in Hyderabad in 2022, AAPI had organized camps for Screening for Cervical Cancer and Vaccinations to prevent cervical cancer for 100 young women in Hyderabad. Dr. Meetha Singh, who has been part of the program will brief the audience on this new initiative, benefitting women.

TB Eradication Program by a committed team led by Dr. Manoj Jain in collaboration with USAID and now actively functioning in several states in India will be a topic for discussion during the plenary session.

Dr. Gotimukula, President of AAPI urges “AAPI members to consider joining this movement by participating and leading the India-US Healthcare Partnership. AAPI will work with you in coordinating the efforts and through the support system we have in several states, will help you achieve this goal of giving back to our motherland.” For more details, please do visit: www. aapiusa.org

India Collection Of Books At The Edison Public Library With Govt. of India Help & GOPIO-Edison

The Edison Library in partnership with the Indian Consulate and Global Organization of People of Indian origin Edison NJ Chapter (GOPIO-Edison) hosted the “India Collection Launch” event to donate a large collection of Indian books to be made available thru the Public Libraries in the Middlesex County. There were more than 200 books donated during the initiative to the Library by the organizers and many supporting Organizations like Gujarati Literary Academy of North America, Gandhian Society, Indo American Cultural Society of USA, Assam Sahitya Sabha and Zakir Husain Circle. The grand sponsor of the program was Sabinsa Corporation, a food supplement company located in East Windsor with operations in India.

Photo: Dignitaries, Library and GOPIO officials at the launch before lighting of the lamp, from l. to r. Library Asst. Director Debra Sarr, Library Vice President Lisa Krauze, Library Director Allan Kleiman, Edison Council Vice President Joyce Ship-Freeman, Library President Patricia Massey, Consul General Randhir Kumar Jaiswal, Parikh Worldwide Media Chairman Dr. Sudhir Parikh, GOPIO Vice President Ram Gadhavi, Piscataway Councilman Kapil Shah, Edison Councilman Ajay Patil, Sabinsa Corporation CEP Asha Ramesh, GOPIO Chairman Dr. Thomas Abraham and GOPIO-Edison President Pallavi Belwariar

The Indian Consul General Randhir Kumar Jaiswal was the chief guest along with Consul for Community Affairs A.K. Vijayakrishnan. Many prominent Indian American community leaders, elected council members from Edison and nearby cities, media and a large number of community leaders and Indian American residents from Edison and nearby towns attended the event to show their support to this initiative by GOPIO-Edison.

After a prayer song by GOPIO-Edison President Pallavi Belwariar, a moment of silence was observed for the victims of Russia’s war in Ukraine and for the passing away of GOPIO-Life Member and community leader Yash Paul Soi early this month.

Library Director Allan Kleiman said he was very excited by this collection and told that these books can be issued to anyone in the Middlesex County. He then introduced Library President Patricia Massey who welcomed availability of classic India related books and Indian language books from the library.

GOPIO International Chairman Dr. Thomas Abraham who initiated this effort told the audience that Indian Americans have done extremely well professionally, politically and financially, and that community should do more for the larger society. In this regards, GOPIO-CT chapter successfully launched India Collection of books at the Norwalk, CT and Stamford, CT libraries.

“Edison and nearby towns in New Jersey have one of the largest concentration of Indian Americans and to serve our community members as well as to make a better understanding of India to the local population, GOPIO has joined hands with Govt. of India through its Consulate in New York to launch India Collection of Books at Edison Public Library with several hundreds of books including several classics and Indian language books in Hindi, Urdu, Gujarati, Assamese and other languages,” Said Dr. Abraham.

Speaking on the occasion, Consul General Randhir Jaiswal spoke on the vibrant library system in America that helps spread knowledge and make it a developed country. He said that American Indian partnership is crucial for world peace and security and lauded the efforts of Diaspora in getting this initiative to Edison. He said that the libraries in USA are the best in the world and making the Indian Books available thru this system will help Diaspora with the availability of rare Indian books.

GOPIO Vice President Ram Gadhvi, who is also chairman of the Gujarati Literary Academy, contributed over 60 Gujarati books in this initiative said that the libraries would not be outdated in spite of digitalization and that many new Indian immigrants feel comfortable reading a hard copy of the book.

the Newly reorganized GOPIO-Edison President Pallavi Belwariar spoke on chapter’s plans to organize many community service programs in Edison and nearby areas including supporting and volunteering at soup kitchens, youth programs and welcoming new Indian students to join the nearby Rutgers University.

One of the main Organizer of the event, Pradeep “Peter” Kothari, a veteran community leader who had organized the Oak Tree Indian businesses and serve as the Founder and President of Indo American Cultural society of USA, recognized the work by many Indian American leaders and thanked the town council members for attending. He said someone should write a book on how the community evolved over the period of 35 years and said he was happy to see the community at a comfort zone at present. Kothari then introduced members of Edison Council and nearby towns.

Edison Town Council Vice President Joyce Ship-Freeman complimented the Indian Consulate, GOPIO-Edison and the library for this new initiative. Retired as a literary coach, Councilwoman Ship-Freeman has said that library is her second home and that books are still an important medium of knowledge.

Edison Councilman Ajay Patil said that he had been wanting this for the last 4 years and thanked everyone involved in getting this initiative to its fruition. Piscataway Councilman Kapil Shah said that he had been doing community work for 31 years and said that he was first to take grant from NJ state for video and books for the local library couple of years back. He said that books were still the authentic source for knowledge.

Dr. Sudhir Parikh, a recipient of Govt. of India’s Padma Shri award, recognized the legends of the community. He said that education is the best charitable activity that one can give to anyone. He also said that he ensured that his newspaper is distributed across all libraries in NJ.

Federation of Indian Association President Kenny Desai said that there was nothing more pious than knowledge. He lauded the community on the initiative to donate a huge collection of books and make them available to the Public in Edison and East Coast.

The ceremony was followed by a Holi celebration with a musical program by singer Pallavi Belwariar and Yogesh who entertained the audience with Holi themed Hindi songs.

GOPIO-Edison team member Chitranjan Sahai Belwariar gave vote of thanks and thanked Council General, councilman and all dignitaries who attended. He thanked the Edison library staff for helping support this great initiative. He also thanked the media and sponsors for the event. The program was concluded by Library’s Assistant Director Debra Sarr and invited everyone for a networking dinner.

Consulate provided 140 books while the community organizations including GOPIO, Gujarati Literary Academy, TV Asia, Assam Sahitya Sabha and Zakir Husain Circle donated 110 books. It was a full house of about 120 people attending the event. The registrations were closed a day earlier due to limitation of space.

GOPIO is collecting old Indian classic books and contemporary books in all Indian languages from the community to donate to other libraries. Those who want to donate may contact GOPIO at 203-329-8010 or send an e-mail to gopio@optonline.net

Time For A Higher Poverty Line In India

The time has come for India to raise its poverty line from the existing extreme poverty line of $1.90 per person per day to the lower-middle income (LMI) poverty line of $3.20, a level some 68 percent higher. This may seem odd to aspire to in what is not even the first post-pandemic year, but that is the main message coming out of our recent IMF working paper “Pandemic, Poverty and Inequality: Evidence from India.”

No one should be surprised at this need for a higher poverty line. Per capita GDP growth in India averaged 3.5 percent per annum for twenty years from 1983 to 2003. In 2004, the official poverty line was raised by 18 percent, when the head count ratio (HCR) was 27.5 percent. Rapid growth (5.3 percent per annum) and an improved method of measurement of consumption (the modified mixed recall period (MMRP) rather than the Uniform Recall Period (URP)), resulted in the HCR reaching the low teens in 2011-12.

The poverty line should have been raised then, as Bhalla (2010) argued. Most countries change from the concept of absolute poverty to relative poverty as they get richer, and India should too. Relative poverty—subject to minor debate—is mostly chosen to mean an HCR level of around a quarter or a third of the population. Hence, the$1.90 poverty line was already too low in 2011-12 and is extremely low today.

The HCR of the $1.90 poverty line (Figure 1) has shown a steep decline since 2004—from approximately a third of the population in 2004 to less than 1.5 percent in 2019. These numbers are lower than those shown in the World Bank’s Povcal database, the most commonly used source, because Povcal does not correct for the misleading uniform recall period used or for the provision of food subsidies.

Figure 1. The poverty rate in India steeply declined starting in 2004

Source: NSS 2011-12 MMRP data; Private Final Consumption Expenditure (PFCE)  growth rates for estimates of monthly per capita consumption; authors’ calculations.

By our estimates, in the pre-pandemic year 2019, extreme poverty was already below 1 percent and despite the significant economic recession in India in 2020, we believe that the impact on poverty was small. This is because we estimate poverty (HCR) after incorporating the benefits of in-kind food (wheat and rice) subsidies for approximately 800 million individuals (75 percent of rural and 50 percent of urban residents). This food subsidy was not small and rose to close to 14 percent of the poverty line for the average subsidy recipient (Figure 2) in 2020. This was enough to contain any rise in poverty even in the pandemic year 2020.

Figure 2. Food subsidies contained any increases in poverty

Source: NSS 2011-12 MMRP data; Private Final Consumption Expenditure (PFCE)  growth rates for estimates of monthly per capita consumption; Indian poverty line very close to PPP $1.9 per capita per month; authors’ calculations.

A notable feature of the pandemic response was the provision of a free extra 5 kilograms of wheat or rice per person per month via the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana (PMGKY) program plus 1 kg of pulses. This was in addition to the existing food transfers of 5 kg per capita per month of wheat or rice at subsidized prices. Total subsidized food grain in 2020 therefore amounted to 10 kg, which is the average per capita level of food (wheat and rice) consumption by Indian citizens for the last three decades.

The additional food subsidy was a pandemic-centric response. We would conjecture that a cross-country comparative study could show that this policy response was possibly the most effective in the world. Hence, the Indian experience can provide lessons for individual countries, and multilateral agencies concerned with effective redistribution of income.

Poverty measurement) in India was in 2011-12. The following survey conducted in 2017-18 generated results that have not been officially released, on the grounds that the data were not of acceptable quality. Our paper has an extensive discussion on the validity of the evidence regarding this controversial decision where we conclude that the data is indeed unreliable and of extremely questionable quality and hence should not be released. A very recent World Bank April 2022 study by Edochie et. al. suggests support for our conclusion and inference.

Our paper presents a consistent time series of poverty and (real) inequality in India for each of the years 2004-2020. Our estimate of real inequality (Figure 3) shows that consumption inequality has also declined, and in 2020 is very close to the lowest historical level of 0.28. Poverty and inequality trends can be emotive, controversial, and confusing. Consumption inequality is lower than income inequality, which itself is lower than wealth inequality. And each can show different trends. The levels and trends are different, and intermingled use should carry a warning about this when discussing “inequality.”

Our results are different than most of the commentary and analysis of poverty in India. All the estimates are made in the absence of an official survey post-2011-12. A large part of the explanation for the difference in results is because of differences in definition. Our paper makes a strong case for the acceptance of the official consumption definition (accepted by most countries and also recommended by the World Bank); it should be measured according to the classification of consumption according to the nature of the good or service consumed. This is the MMRP method for obtaining consumption expenditures.

The Indian government has officially adopted this method, and the above mentioned “ill-fated” 2017-18 survey was the first time when the National Statistical Organization exclusively measured consumption (and poverty) according to the MMRP definition.

However, many studies continue to rely on the now obsolete uniform reference period (URP or 30-day recall for all items) method. For example, a very recent World Bank study estimated the HCR to be around 10 percent in 2019; it uses the outdated (URP) definition of consumption and does not adjust for food subsidies. Incidentally, both in 2009-10 and 2011-12, the URP and MMRP poverty estimates diverged by approximately 10 percentage points, as did their respective estimates of mean consumption.

Thus, given the approximate magnitude of definition differences observed both in 2009-10 and 2011-12 and making the necessary adjustment for food subsidies, the World Bank poverty estimate for 2019 is likely to be very close to our estimate.

Inclusive growth is a very relevant policy goal for all economies. With the pandemic ebbing and the IMF’s expected growth for India rebounding very strongly for three successive years from 2021-23, Indian policymakers will soon be confronted with a policy choice—how long should they keep the extra PMGKY subsidy? This query is part of a huge success story of poverty decline. Additionally, another query pertains to whether policies should move toward targeted cash transfers instead of subsidized food grains.

In the past, the key argument in support of a policy shift to cash transfers was to reduce leakages, but our results indicate that leakages have substantially been reduced over the last decade even in the in-kind food transfer scheme. In fact, the recent food transfer program was a very successful intervention, especially during the pandemic when supply chains were breaking down and there was heightened uncertainty. Under normal circumstances, cash transfers are likely to be more efficient, and they retain broadly the same allocative outcomes as food transfers. The debate therefore now should be on the efficiency trade-offs associated with use of either in-kind or cash transfers as the key instrument of poverty alleviation.

These debates are significant given the improvement in targeting of transfers and are consistent with the objective of building a modern social security architecture in developing countries.

Accumulating all the evidence, the strong conclusion from our work is that Indian policy has effectively delivered both growth and inclusion, and in a fundamental sense has faithfully followed the Rawlsian maximin principle—maximizing the welfare of the poorest.

India-USA Healthcare Partnership with Health Minister Of India Planned During AAPI’s 40th Convention

Coming from India, a nation that has given much to the world, today physicians of Indian origin have become a powerful influence in healthcare across the world. Nowhere is their authority more keenly felt than in the United States, where Indians make up the largest non-Caucasian segment of the American medical community. The overrepresentation of Indians in the field of medicine is striking – in practical terms, one out of seven patients is seen by doctor of in of Indian Heritage in the United States. They provide medical care to the most diverse population base of over 40 million in the US.

Not satisfied with their professional growth and the service they provide to their patients around the world, they are at the forefront, sharing their knowledge and expertise with others, especially those physicians and leaders in the medical field from India.

Since its inception four decades ago, the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) has grown and is strong today and is the largest ethnic medical organization in the United States, representing the interests of over 100,000 physicians of Indian Origin in the US and is the powerful voice here in the US and back home in India.

Their contributions to their motherland and the United States have been enormous. Physicians of Indian origin are well known around the world for their compassion, passion for patient care, medical skills, research, and leadership. They have excelled in their fields of medicine and thus have earned a name for themselves through hard work, commitment, and dedication to their profession and the people they are committed to serving.

Through various projects and programs, AAPI has been leading healthcare initiatives and contributing significantly to offering education, training, and healthcare collaboration with Not-for-profit and government agencies across the nation. The flagship Global Healthcare Summit organized in India every year has been lauded for the tangible contributions AAPI continues to provide impacting almost every field of healthcare in India.

There is no instant solution for India’s myriad problems. But by collaborating with the governments both nationally and at state levels, and working with the government and NGOs, physicians of Indian origin can make a huge difference.

“AAPI in its unique way has made immense contributions to helping our motherland during the crisis and played a significant role in saving lives,” says Anupama Gotimukula, President, of AAPI. “Today, this esteemed panel is convened to nurture, and further, this collaboration between two of the world’s most challenging healthcare systems in the world’s two greatest democracies.”

Realizing this great mission, AAPI is for the first time organizing an In-Person Plenary Session on India-USA Healthcare Partnership With the Health Minister Of India, Mansukh Mandaviya (invited but awaiting confirmation from his office) during the 40th Annual Convention of AAPI on Saturday, June 25, 2022, at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, San Antonio, TX, said Dr. Jayesh Shah, Chair, AAPI Convention & Past President, AAPI.

The Panel Discussion is being moderated by Dr. Sweta Bansal and Dr. Rajeev Suri, Co-Chairs of the AAPI Convention Committees. The invited panelists include Dr. Rahul Gupta, US Drug Czar; Honorable Taranjit Sandhu, Ambassador of India; Hon. Aseem R Mahajan, Consul General of India in Houston; Senator John Cornyn;  Rep. Raja Krishnamurthy, US congressman; Rep. Joaquin Castro, US Congressman; Rep. Ami Bera, US Congressman; Dr. Dwarkanath Reddy, GHS 2022 India Chair; Navdeep S. Jaikaria, Ph.D., Founder, Chairman & CEO, SGN Nanopharma Inc., GAPIO President, BAPIO President, and All AAPI Alumni Chapter Presidents.

The role being played by the AAPI Charitable Foundation has been very significant, says, Dr. Surendra Purohit, Chair, AAPI Charitable Foundation. He will provide an update on the “Role of AAPI’s free clinics in India in the last 40 years.”

Recalling the many noble initiatives of AAPI, benefitting India during the Covid Pandemic, Dr. Sujeet Punnam, said, “Diseases do not have borders and collaboration in healthcare globally is necessary for the survival of humanity. It is this reality that the recent pandemic has engraved on our collective conscience.” The panel on “The Covid Crisis – AAPI physicians’ response during the largest global pandemic in over a century” will be led by Drs. Sujit Punnam, Amit Chakraborthy, & Raj Bhayani. Sewa International, which has been collaborating with AAPI in reaching the needed supplies to the neediest in India will be represented by Arun Kankani, President of Sewa International.

Dr. Thakor Patel will provide an update on AAPI Sevak Project, which has been serving millions of people across the many states in India. A new initiative under the current leadership of AAPI has been “Adopt 75 Villages” in India commemorating the 75th anniversary of India’s Independence and providing much-needed Healthcare Screening for chronic diseases, A Rural Health Project involving 75 Villages in several states. Dr. Satheesh Kathula, who has adopted his Village and believes “Over time, an improved village could lead to an improved region, state and country” will present this new program, whose focus is “prevention is better than cure.”

During the most recent Global Healthcare Summit in Hyderabad in 2022, AAPI had organized camps for Screening for Cervical Cancer and Vaccinations to prevent cervical cancer for 100 young women in Hyderabad. Dr. Meetha Singh, who has been part of the program will brief the audience on this new initiative, benefitting women.

TB Eradication Program by a committed team led by Dr. Manoj Jain in collaboration with USAID and now actively functioning in several states in India will be a topic for discussion during the plenary session.

Dr. Gotimukula, President of AAPI urges “AAPI members to consider joining this movement by participating and leading the India-US Healthcare Partnership. AAPI will work with you in coordinating the efforts and through the support system we have in several states, will help you achieve this goal of giving back to our motherland.” For more details, please do visit: www. aapiusa.org

AAHOA Announces 2022 Award Winners

On the third day of the 2022 AAHOA Convention & Trade Show, the association recognized achievement and excellence in the hospitality industry with its annual awards.

Each year, AAHOA honors hoteliers who go above and beyond in service to the hospitality industry.

The annual AAHOA Awards Program recognizes the best of the best, and AAHOA is honored to highlight this year’s award winners’ service and commitment to excellence.

Their hard work and dedication does not go unnoticed, and it is through their leadership, grit, and determination that our industry – and association – continues to thrive.

Winners received their awards on the main stage during the general session on Thursday. The 2022 award winners are:

AAHOA Award of Excellence

This award recognizes a hotelier who has demonstrated strong leadership, has high standards of excellence, and is making a significant contribution to the lodging Industry.

Vimal Patel, President and CEO, QHotels Management, AAHOA Ambassador, Gulf Region Cecil B. Day Community Service Award

Named in honor of Cecil B. Day, the founder of Days Inn known for his commitment to community service, this award recognizes someone who has demonstrated a strong commitment to serving his or her community.

Manhar (MP) Rama, CEO, Sima Hospitality; AAHOA Past Chair (2005-2006)  Outreach Award for Philanthropy . This award is given to an individual deeply involved with helping humanity through philanthropic and charitable activities, domestically or overseas.

Babu Patel, Trustmark Park Hospitality Outstanding Woman Hotelier of the Year Award. This award recognizes a woman hotelier for strong leadership and a commitment to lodging excellence, and for her significant contributions to the industry and to her community.

Pinky P. Bhaidaswala, SSN Hotel Management, LLC Outstanding Young Professional Hoteliers of the Year Award.  This award is for young hoteliers under the age of 30 who have exemplified the spirit, dedication, and achievement of a professional hotelier.

Armaan Patel, AGA Hotels Taran Patel, Managing Principal, A1 Hospitality Group; AAHOA Ambassador, Northwest Region

“This year’s AAHOA award recipients are movers and shakers in their communities and have gone above and beyond to enhance the hotel guest experience,” said AAHOA Chair Vinay Patel. “The hospitality industry has changed over the years, especially throughout the pandemic. Despite that, these individuals have been forward-thinking and proactive in their contributions to hospitality. Congratulations to every award recipient; your commitment to excellence is what sets you apart from the rest.”

“Congratulations to the six award recipients who demonstrated exceptional work, and strived for excellence, through two unprecedented years to ensure our industry thrives and creates generational success for years to come,” said incoming AAHOA Chairman Nishant (Neal) Patel, “We are proud to honor and recognize these individuals for their tremendous impact at AAHOA and in the hospitality industry.”

Indian Nurses Association Of New York Conducts Health Fair In Long Island

Indian Nurses Association of New York (INANY) is conducting a Health Fair in Kennedy Memorial Park, Long Island on April 30th from 10 am to 2 pm in collaboration with Hon. Kevin Thomas, New York State Senator.

The event is supported by Northwell Health System – Stop the Bleed program and Drug addiction prevention team, Molloy College, the non-profit organ procurement organization Live On New York, Stony Brook Mammography, and Marathon Physical Therapy Group.  The address is 335 Greenwich Street, Hempstead, NY 11550.

The goal of this event, which is open to the public “is to promote health and wellness of the society. The main focus is on the underserved and uninsured individuals and families of that area.” said Dr. Anna George, the president of INANY.

The event will facilitate health and wellness education, drug addiction prevention awareness, blood pressure monitoring, diabetes screening, mammography, and training on emergency interventions of cardiopulmonary resuscitation and how to stop bleeding. Marathon physical therapy group will teach body mechanics and simple remedies to alleviate aches and pains.

Masks, hand sanitizers, and at-home-covid test kits provided by the Senator’s office will be distributed free of charge.  There will also many giveaways and refreshments, all free of charge.

For more information:  President – Dr. Anna George (646 732 6143), Secretary – Jessy James (516 603 2024), Treasurer – Lyssy Alex (845 300 6339).

300 Languages Spoken Along This New York City Street

Queens Borough in New York City is known as “The World’s Borough” for a reason: what happens on Roosevelt Avenue has ripple effects near and far.

In this vibrant borough there is a street called Roosevelt Avenue that cuts a cross-section through some of the most ethnically diverse neighborhoods on Earth. Spanish, Bengali, Punjabi, Mixtec, Seke, and Kuranko are among the hundreds of languages spoken here. Nepalese dumplings and Korean noodles, Mexican tortas and Colombian empanadas, Thai curries and spicy South Indian vindaloos are just some of the many food choices.

Passing from one block to the next—through neighborhoods including Elmhurst, Corona, and Jackson Heights—can feel like crossing continents. Plazas and parks are crowded with vendors selling tamales, atole, and large-kernel corn. Tibetan Buddhists, fluent in the Indigenous languages of the Himalayas, walk to worship in their red-and-orange robes. Bangladeshi curbside markets teem with overflowing crates of ginger, garlic and humongous jackfruits, picked out by people wearing saris and shalwar kameez.

Growing up in New York, my own family would come to Queens to watch World Cup matches in South American cafés, just as our abuelos would visit their trusted Argentine butcher for fresh cuts of meat, and our Bukharan Jewish neighbors would come to pray, and our Indian family friends would come shopping for amulets and syrup-drizzled sweets for celebrations, all within this same 10-square-mile stretch of city.

Roosevelt Avenue is a pulsing artery of commerce and life. The road itself is chaotic, dark, and loud. You know you’re on Roosevelt because the elevated 7 train runs overhead, the tracks draping it in slitted shadows, and when the 7 train thunders past, for a moment, the frenzied thoroughfare is consumed: older women look up from their pushcarts; chatting friends fall silent mid-speak; and children cover their ears.

Above the storefronts, at the level of the train, are smaller brick offices with signs that reveal the more pressing needs of such a migrant-rich community: “Sherpa Employment Agency,” “Construction Safety Training,” “Irma Travel: Send Money and Shipments to Lima and Provinces.” Taped to the metal pilings and lampposts are hand-written listings with tear-off phone numbers, mainly in Spanish, advertising “rooms for rent,” “employment needed,” and “help wanted.”

Road signs welcome drivers entering Queens to “The World’s Borough.” But there is another phrase that might be more apt: “Queens, Center of the World.” That’s because what happens on these streets has ripple effects near and far, sometimes as far as on the other side of the globe—and what happens on the other side of the globe also certainly influences who ends up here. Perhaps at no other point has this been more urgently felt than during the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the spring of 2020, the virus ravaged this part of the city. Most people who live here are essential workers who cannot work from home—restaurant cooks, delivery workers, cab drivers, construction builders—and many live in overcrowded quarters, so the disease spread precipitously. Elmhurst Hospital, which serves this community, was declared the “epicenter of the epicenter” for the initial outbreak in the U.S.

In New York, such a rapid and large-scale loss of life meant that the city’s engine sputtered to an even more devastating halt; in other places, like Mexico and Ecuador, Bangladesh and Nepal, it meant that many families could no longer rely on support from relatives in Queens who were suddenly out of work, or worse. Joblessness and hunger skyrocketed, residents just barely getting by. And yet only for a very short while did walking Roosevelt and its surrounding streets have the same eerie, empty feel as in the rest of the city. Its communities and micro-economies, heavily reliant on in-person interactions, cannot afford to stay still.

“The people who come over, they come to help their family,” says Sanwar Shamal, of Bengali Money Transfer in Jackson Heights.

Snippets of South Asia

Around the 74th Street subway station, the neighborhood is heavily South Asian—mostly people of Bangladeshi, Indian, and Nepalese origin. Bengali-speaking men wearing skullcaps sell plush prayer rugs, headscarves, and gold-plated Islamic iconography from milk crates on the sidewalks, cigarette smoke pouring out of their mouths as they talk. Mannequins showcase bright-colored salwars and chaniya cholis through tall glass windows, and restaurants serve curries with rice and water in silver bowls and cold metal cups.

Seemingly everywhere in Roosevelt’s path, there is a heightened sense of the “old country”—of memories that haven’t faded over long stretches of distance and time. You feel it in the money-transfer and international courier stores along Diversity Plaza, where people line up patiently to send remittances and packages to relatives back home, relatives they haven’t seen in years and might not ever see again. You feel it on the weekends, when families drive in from all over to shop for groceries at Patel Brothers, or to eat at Samudra or Dera or the famous Jackson Diner. You feel it at the sweet shops, where grandfathers wearing tweed suits and large wristwatches take their smiling grandchildren for treats.

And you certainly feel it when you step into the United Sherpa Association, a former Lutheran Church that in 1996 was converted into a Tibetan Buddhist temple and community center now serving more than 12,000 Himalayan Sherpas, the largest population living outside Nepal. People come here to pray and to drink salty yak-butter tea poured from tall thermoses into bowls of blue-and-white china. In pre-pandemic times—according to Tshering Sherpa, the president of the association—nearly 100 people would fill two floors in this temple to worship. “You could hear the chanting from Broadway,” she says, beaming.

“Our seniors established this United Sherpa Association,” says Temba Sherpa, the group’s vice president, “to protect and maintain our identity.” The Sherpa are a Tibetan ethnic group who for hundreds of years have made their livelihoods in the Himalayas, raising yaks and high-altitude crops in the remote mountains. Practically no one knows the Himalayas better than the Sherpa, and in recent years they’ve also become synonymous with their work as climbing guides and porters on Mount Everest.

“We got our identity and economic benefit from mountaineering,” says Ang Tshering Sherpa, himself a former trekking guide. “But there’s not much of an alternative if you aren’t educated.”

Climbing is often a perilous endeavor for the Sherpa, especially with little in the way of formalized protections from the turbulent Nepalese government. “Going to the mountains, it’s like going to war,” Ang Tshering says. “You don’t know if you’ll come back.” Many hundreds of Sherpa people have died or been seriously disabled on climbs over the years. “Once a Sherpa gets in a kind of accident, the family gets very little, they don’t have a safety net,” Ang Tshering adds.

Since the 1990s, and especially after major climbing disasters on Everest, Sherpa have left Nepal in large numbers. Many have come to the area around Roosevelt Avenue, where they often work as taxi drivers, or restaurant cooks and supermarket employees. The United Sherpa Association is a central meeting point of worship and community—where people chant and pray, gather for meals of dhal and root-vegetable stews, and share opportunities for work or study.

There are also classes to teach the Sherpa language and traditions to new generations born in the U.S. Shortly after the pandemic began, the association opened a food pantry—available not only to Sherpas but to anyone—and every Tuesday since then, people have lined up in need. And the Sherpas haven’t stopped advocating for their family members back in Nepal, either: for better educational and economic opportunities, and for improved safety infrastructure for climbing guides and porters, especially as recent tourism downturns and pandemic outbreaks have further devastated the country.

“Most of the Sherpa over here, their families are still in Nepal,” says Pasang Sherpa, president of the US-Nepal Climbers Association, a Queens-based nonprofit. “We know exactly who needs help.”

‘La Roosevelt’

Down the road, the sound of spoken Spanish envelops either side of what’s known as ‘La Roosevelt.’  In Jackson Heights there is a block nicknamed ‘Calle Colombia’ (Colombia Street)—where vendors slice cold coconuts with machetes, and tall stalks of sugarcane disappear into juicers for the sweet drink called guarapo. Further east are standing-room-only taquerias, stores bursting with knock-off soccer jerseys, and electronics dealers and barber shops with hawkers outside telling passersby to come in, just for a minute, just to take a look.

On 80th Street, just south of Roosevelt in Elmhurst, Barco de Papel (Paper Boat) stands as the sole Spanish-language bookstore left in New York City. One of the owners is an older Cuban man named Ramón Caraballo who can usually be found there smoking a cigar. He speaks softly and sparingly. “I am just a man who opens up a bookstore in the morning and closes it at night,” Caraballo said when he first introduced himself. “That is all.”

The building is small, just one room, but it is filled from floor to ceiling with a large selection of some of Latin America’s finest writers—Jorge Luis Borges, Gabriel García Márquez, Isabel Allende—as well as lesser-known staff favorites. It is so stuffed with books only its keepers know where anything is to be found.

Caraballo is one of those keepers. Before he co-founded Barco de Papel in 2003, he sold books from a street cart around the corner. “All my life I’ve dedicated myself to literature,” he says. When he opened the nonprofit store—around the same time that Amazon and rising rents began to spell the demise of independent bookstores, especially Spanish-language ones, across the U.S.—it quickly became a community treasure.

Many customers come to Barco de Papel hoping to rebuild the libraries they left behind when they migrated. “They bring their kids, too,” says Paula Ortiz, a high school teacher from Colombia who co-founded the store. “They can’t take them to their countries, so they bring them here.” Others will gather for tertulias—discussions about literature and current events—and live readings.

But Barco de Papel has also become a hub for information. Since the pandemic, many customers leave with information on vaccines, testing, or treatment. New migrants seek out guidance on how to start a small business or learn English. Children whose parents can’t afford to buy another book benefit from book exchanges.

“We have to constantly change with the community, without losing our essence,” Ortiz says. “We owe ourselves to them.”

Corona Plaza

One afternoon in Barco de Papel, I found Caraballo and two helpers unwrapping a large painting that they were planning to put up in a nearby underpass, part of a public art installation in homage to the neighborhood. This one was a bright-colored portrait of a Latina street vendor flanked by a food truck and some ears of large-kernel corn.

Street vending has long been woven into the fabric of Queens, where on the sidewalks you can buy just about anything. In largely Chinese and Korean neighborhoods like Flushing, vendors pull steaming dumplings and salted duck eggs out of steel tubs; plastic bins offer spiced watermelon seeds, eyebrow beans, and goji berry soup. Along Roosevelt, Bangladeshis and Afghans peddling religious items cross paths with Spanish-speaking vendors who sell food and drink, small metal lockets and neon construction vests, disposable masks, rat poison, smartphone cases, and flowered hanging plants.

Some have been selling for years. Many others have only recently begun, after losing their jobs because of the pandemic-induced economic crisis. Pop-up stands of folding tables and tents have appeared (and expanded) on much-transited corners. People walk past with strollers, pulling back the top to reveal not children but candies, popsicles, and sandwiches. Women weave their way through traffic carrying months-old babies in slings on their backs, selling sliced fruit to drivers at red lights.

“Vending has always been big along Roosevelt, especially in Jackson Heights and Corona, but even more so now, because so many people have lost their income, are facing eviction, and have no safety net,” says Carina Kaufman-Gutierrez, deputy director of The Street Vendor Project, a nonprofit that works with street-sellers across New York City. “Every type of relief that came out during the pandemic excluded undocumented folks. And that hit the area so especially hard.”

The Street Vendor Project estimates that during the pandemic, the number of vendors in Corona Plaza, along Roosevelt Avenue at 103rd Street, rose nearly fourfold, from 20-30 people to more than 100. They come prepared for the elements—with tents, tarps, umbrellas and plastic garbage bags—and work through the rain, snow, sun, and cold.

“We used to live in the mountains, my family,” says María Lucrecia Armira, 44, who migrated to Queens in 2019 from a small village in the department of Suchitepéquez, Guatemala. She has had to adjust to spending nearly every waking hour in the smoky heat of a grill stand, selling meat skewers on the loudest corner of the Plaza. Armira arrived two years ago with her 14-year-old son, who enrolled in the local public school; when the pandemic began a short time later, he dropped out and started working full-time selling raspados (shaved ice) and slushies.

“On the one hand I was nervous about the virus,” Armira says. “On the other hand, we were locked down and couldn’t work.” Sharing a single bedroom with her son in an apartment filled with other families, she tries to send $500 per month—or whatever she can—to her two other children, whom she had to leave behind in Guatemala. “Many people count on what we send from here.”

Street vendors now face opposition from brick-and-mortar business owners frustrated with the sudden boom in new and seemingly unlimited competition. In recent months, the city has stepped up its enforcement of street-vending laws, ticketing and removing those without a permit. There are more than 20,000 vendors estimated to be working in the city, and just a small fraction of permits, leading to price-gauging, according to labor activists.

One afternoon on Corona Plaza, the presence of two New York City inspectors sent many vendors scurrying. There were fewer produce-sellers on the sidewalk, food trucks were shuttered, and shopping carts stood empty, piled atop each other beneath the train tracks.

Ana Maldonado stood nervously in the shadows—across the street from her usual spot on the plaza, where for more than 15 years she’s sold tamales and rice pudding and syrupy Mexican-style hot chocolate from a cart of metal vats and orange Gatorade thermoses.

“My customers know me, they know where to find me,” she says, looking out for inspectors from the stairs to the train. The inspectors had warned her to leave, or risk an expensive fine and all of her merchandise being tossed to the trash. “They’re in the middle of the plaza. If they catch me, I’m finished.”

Originally from a small mountain town in Guerrero, Mexico—where, in the green hills, steam rises from rivers swelled with rain—now she wakes up each morning at 4 a.m. and prepares the day’s food for sale on Roosevelt, not returning home until she’s sold everything. Her husband spent 28 days in the hospital with COVID-19 at the start of 2020 and nearly died; he has been unemployed since. “All that my family has, everything comes from this,” Maldonado says. “I work hard to feed them, whatever it takes.”

Queens Globe

As Roosevelt Avenue nears the end of its eastward course, it’s fitting that it passes by the famous Unisphere, the Queens Globe built for the 1964 World’s Fair, that has since become a symbol of this area’s epic cultural diversity. Here in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, the hustling chaos of Roosevelt Avenue abates, if only for a moment, and the world’s borough comes outside to decompress.

In springtime, families take pictures at golden hour in their best sunshine saris, their favorite skirts and collared shirts in front of an explosion of color: the cornelian cherries, the flowering pears, the forsythia and the redbuds in full bloom. Two years after the onset of the pandemic, despite all the challenges the coronavirus has left behind, there are signs of renewal, too—of soccer games returning to dusty fields with goals carried on backs and bicycles; of misting fountains, and the smell of new grass; of the sound of Mister Softee trucks offering ice cream to children with outstretched arms.

I have often thought about what it means to be American on my walks along Roosevelt—what it means to be the product of so many different stories and struggles and heritages that have led us to one singular, raucous mix of a place. In this country that so deeply strives for assimilation, there is often pressure to distill identities, to make them more palatable for others looking on.

But what is both so special and so hard about Queens is that assimilation does not come easy.

I think about this with every scene that crosses my gaze, with every encounter and conversation—whether in a bookstore or a temple, on the 7 train or on a soccer field in the park. I think about the many definitions of “American” when my own family, a blend of cultures shaped by migrations forced and voluntary, ventures out to this neighborhood for tastes of a past that continues to mark our future here. As parents look for fair and just opportunities to raise their children in the U.S., to learn English, to find work, and to support their families abroad, that sense of the ‘old country’ is unlikely to fade from Roosevelt Avenue, so long as people keep migrating to neighborhoods like this one.

I thought about that when I first met Maldonado, the undocumented street vendor who left Mexico two decades ago and cannot return without risk of not being able to get back into the U.S. I told her that I’d recently been there and asked her what part of the country she was from. Instead of answering right away she touched my wrist with her hands and looked into my eyes. “Cómo está?” she asked about her homeland. “How is it?”

Cheti Chand /Sindhi Language Day Celebrations At Indian Consulate In New York

Sindhi Community of USA and Consulate General of India celebrated Cheti Chand Sindhi

New Year at Indian Consulate in New York.

In his opening remarks Jagdish Sewhani Organiser of the event thanked Consul General Randhir Jaiswal for celebrating Cheti Chand and Sindhi Culture,at Indian  Consulate , first time ever in India’s 75 years of Independence.

Sewhani said that Sindhi  Civilization is more than Ten thousands years old , one of the oldest Civilizations in the world. Though Sindhi constitutes less than one percent of India’s population but there contributions in India’s development is unmatched in every field from business, Industry, education, hospitals , Realestate, Film industry, Sports etc. In every field Sindhis have contributed a lot .

After partition in 1947 Sindhis came to India Empty handed, but with Shear Hard work today they have achieved a lot in various fields .Sindhis believe in Charity, they run many educational institutions and hospitals in India.

Sewhani said that Sindhi language is in decline. Today youngsters don’t speak Sindhi language. In a passionate appeal to Sindhis he urged them to speak with their children in Sindhi . Sindhi is our Ancestral language. It’s very important that if you want Sindhi community to be alive , Sindhi language has to be spoken at home with children.

COVID-19, Overdoses Made 2021 The Deadliest Year In U.S. History

2021 was the deadliest year in U.S. history, and new data and research are offering more insights into how it got that bad.

The main reason for the increase in deaths? COVID-19, said Robert Anderson, who oversees the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s work on death statistics.

The agency this month quietly updated its provisional death tally. It showed there were 3.465 million deaths last year, or about 80,000 more than 2020’s record-setting total.

Early last year, some experts were optimistic that 2021 would not be as bad as the first year of the pandemic — partly because effective COVID-19 vaccines had finally become available. “We were wrong, unfortunately,” said Noreen Goldman, a Princeton University researcher.

COVID-19 deaths rose in 2021 — to more than 415,000, up from 351,000 the year before — as new coronavirus variants emerged and an unexpectedly large numbers of Americans refused to get vaccinated or were hesitant to wear masks, experts said.

The coronavirus is not solely to blame. Preliminary CDC data also shows the crude death rate for cancer rose slightly, and rates continued to increase for diabetes, chronic liver disease, and stroke.

Drug overdose deaths also continued to rise. The CDC does not yet have a tally for 2021 overdose deaths, because it can take weeks of lab work and investigation to identify them. But provisional data through October suggests the nation is on track to see at least 105,000 overdose deaths in 2021 — up from 93,000 the year before.

New research released Tuesday showed a particularly large jump in overdose deaths among 14- to 18-year-olds.

Adolescent overdose death counts were fairly constant for most of the last decade, at around 500 a year, according to the paper published by the Journal of the American Medical Association. They almost doubled in 2020, to 954, and the researchers estimated that the total hit nearly 1,150 last year.

Joseph Friedman, a UCLA researcher who was the paper’s lead author, called the spike “unprecedented.”

Those teen overdose deaths were only around 1% of the U.S. total. But adolescents experienced a greater relative increase than the overall population, even though surveys suggest drug use among teens is down.

‘Experts attributed the spike to fentanyl, a highly lethal drug that has been cut into heroin for several years. More recently it’s also been pressed into counterfeit pills resembling prescription drugs that teens sometimes abuse.

The total number of U.S. deaths often increases year to year as the U.S. population grows. But 2020 and 2021 saw extraordinary jumps in death numbers and rates, due largely to the pandemic.

Those national death trends affect life expectancy — an estimate of the average number of years a baby born in a given year might expect to live.

With rare exceptions, U.S. life expectancy has reliably inched up year after year. But the CDC’s life expectancy estimate for 2020 was about 77 years — more than a year and a half lower than what it was in 2019.

The CDC has not yet reported its calculation for 2021. But Goldman and some other researchers have been making their own estimates, presented in papers that have not yet been published in peer-reviewed journals.

Those researchers think U.S. life expectancy dropped another five or six months in 2021 — putting it back to where it was 20 years ago.

A loss of more than two years of life expectancy over the last two years “is mammoth,” Goldman said.

One study looked at death data in the U.S. and 19 other high-income countries. The U.S. fared the worst.

“What happened in the U.S. is less about the variants than the levels of resistance to vaccination and the public’s rejection of practices, such as masking and mandates, to reduce viral transmission,” one of the study’s authors, Dr. Steven Woolf of Virginia Commonwealth University, said in a statement.

Some experts are skeptical that life expectancy will quickly bounce back. They worry about long-term complications of COVID-19 that may hasten the deaths of people with chronic health problems.

Preliminary — and incomplete — CDC data suggest there were at least 805,000 U.S. deaths in about the first three months of this year. That’s well below the same period last year, but higher than the comparable period in 2020.

“We may end up with a ‘new normal’ that’s a little higher than it was before,” Anderson said.

AAPI, IMA, And Tanvir Foundation Hold HPV Vaccination Camp In Hyderabad To Prevent Cervical Cancer

Hyderabad: April 11th, 2022: American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI), in collaboration with the Indian Medical Association (IMA) Telangana and Tanvir Foundation in mutual collaboration administered free HPV vaccines to the poor and deserving girls and women at the local Tanvir Hospital in Srinagar Colony, Hyderabad in India on Sunday, April 3rd, 2022 with the objective of preventing cervical cancer, a leading cause of cancer deaths among women in India. This is the second stage of the two part vaccine campaign administered as part of AAPI’s efforts to create awareness and provide tangible support on this preventable illness for young women in India.

“We at AAPI, in keeping with our efforts and initiatives to educate, create awareness and provide support on disease prevention, AAPI is happy to be part of the Cervical Cancer Vaccine Awareness Program,”  Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, President said. “The initial camp was organized on January 9th at Tanvir Hospital in Hyderabad as part of APPI’s 15th annual Global Healthcare Summit (GHS) 2022 held Avasa in Hyderabad, India,” and was inaugurated in person by Dr. Gotimukula and several other AAPPI leaders. Nearly 100 women were given the first dose. However, Dr. Gotimukula inaugurated the Free Vaccination Camp virtually from the United States on March 3rd.

The 2nd phase of the free vaccination camp was inaugurated with the lighting of the traditional lamp by IMA’s Telangana President Sampath Rao, IMA North President Raghunandan, Secretary Surendranath, Dr. Meeta Singh, and Dr. Naunihal Singh. AAPI Advisor Dr. Dwarakanatha Reddy inaugurated the vaccination camp. ““If vaccination programs are effectively implemented, approximately 90 percent of invasive cervical cancer cases worldwide could be prevented, in addition to the majority of precancerous lesions,” Dr. Dwarakanatha Reddy said.

“In coordination with the local organizers, AAPI donated the funds for the HPV Vaccination, a total of 200 doses for the vaccine for 100 children from the state of Telangana,” said Dr. Meher Medavaram, an organizer of the program, and the newly elected Secretary of AAPI. “AAPI’s this new initiative through education and awareness programs is aimed at helping save millions of lives in India,” she added.

Usually, cervical cancer develops slowly over time, and another powerful preventive measure is Pap test screening, a procedure during which cells are collected from the surface of the cervix and examined. The Pap test can both detect cancer at an early stage, when treatment outcomes tend to be better, and detect precancerous abnormalities, which can then be treated to prevent them from developing into cancers.

Dr. Ravi Kolli, President-Elect of AAPI, said, “Cervical Cancer is preventable through Vaccination and Early Pap smears and cervical examinations. Justifiably so, one of our preventive campaign goals this year has been to provide education and prevention of Cervical Cancer in India.”

Dr. Anjana Samaddar, current Vice President of AAPI said, “Cervical cancer could be the first cancer EVER in the world to be eliminated, if: 90 % of girls are vaccinated; 70% of women are screened; and, 90% of women with cervical disease receive treatment. This is an important step towards reaching goal,” she pointed out.

While elaborating the objectives of the Summit, Dr. Satheesh Kathula, the newly elected Vice President of AAPI, said, “In addition to Cervical cancer, GHS 2022 has provided education  on: Chronic diseases which can be prevented- notably diabetes, cardiovascular, hypertension, COPD, oncology, maternal and infant mortality, lifestyle changes,  geriatrics, management of neurological emergencies, ENLS, a certification course”.

According to The American Cancer Society, Cervical Cancer was once one of the most common causes of cancer death for American women. The cervical cancer death rate dropped significantly with the increased use of the Pap test for screening. Cervical cancer is among a number of cancers that can be caused by infections with pathogens – bacteria, viruses, and parasites.

“Through Continuing Medical Education and non-CME seminars by experts in their fields, AAPI provides comprehensive and current reviews and guidelines for the diagnosis and treatment of various disease states to reduce morbidity and mortality and achieve cost effective quality care outcomes.”

Once a leading cause of cancer death for women in the United States. Today, screening and prevention have greatly reduced the impact of this form of cancer. Increasing screening and prevention are key components of the effort to eradicate cervical cancer. Since almost all cases of the disease are caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, vaccines that protect against the virus could prevent the vast majority of cases. Moreover, regular Pap tests can catch – and lead to treatment of – the disease at the precancerous stage.

Describing some of the other ongoing initiatives by AAPI for prevention of illness in India, Dr. Sujeeth R. Punnam, Chair of AAPI’s Covid Relief Committee, pointed to the second in a series of Chemoluminescence Immunoanalyzer (CLIA) donated by AAPI, that has been commissioned last month in Stanley Medical College Hospital in Chennai, India.

“Chemoluminescence Immunoanalyzer (CLIA) and Beckman Coulter UniCel Dxl 800 access Immunoassay system has a throughput of 200 tests/hour and will make point of care testing like covid antibody tests, Ferritin, D Dimer, troponin, IL6, procalcitonin, CRP etc. easy. Each of these costs around $80,000. We are grateful to several AAPI members who have generously contributed to AAPI’s Covid Relief efforts, helping us raise over $5 Million.” A CME meeting was organized by the Biochemistry department to the staff as part of the event.

Expressing confidence, Dr. Gotimukula, the 4th ever Woman President in the four decades long history of AAPI, the largest ethnic medical organization in the United States, said, “Together we can all bring the awareness in the community to prevent Cervical Cancer in India which is 2nd leading cause of cancer deaths in women!” For more information, please visit www.aapiusa.org/ https://summit.aapiusa.org

AIA Illinois Chapter Elects Chapter Executive Committee

Chicago IL: The members of the Illinois Chapter of the Association of Indians in America in a recently held election elected the Executive Committee of the chapter for the year 2022-2023 consisting of the following members: President – Hina Trivedi; Vice President – Lucy Pandey & Shaheen Sayeed; Treasurer: Sujata Sharma; Secretary: Nilabh Dubey; Joint Secretary: Shabana Rahman; Members at Large: Ram Bhaskaran, Chandani Duvvuri, Praveen Konduru, Akshay Patel, Malla Reddy, Pandey Sahai, and Nipa Shah.

 

The inaugural function of the chapter was held in Shikara Restaurant in Downers Grove, Illinois on March 20, 2022. The Chair of the Election Committee, Dr. Ghanshyam Pandey introduced the newly elected members of the Executive Committee, as a new committee is elected every other year. He congratulated the members for their commitment to AIA and work for the progress of the association and the chapter.

 

The Association of Indians in America is the oldest Indian organization in the United States. It was established in 1967 with the anticipation that as a change of the immigration law, there will be greater immigration of Indian people to the United States. One of the objectives was to help and facilitate the participation and the assimilation of the incoming Indian immigrants to the United States society in the country of their choice. Ever since, the Association has worked on several important issues, such as granting of minority status for the Indians in the United States, counting of Asian Indians as a separate entity, staring in 1980 US Census, participation in the reform of immigration laws. The Association has several chapters across the United States with individual membership to the Association, and the chapters are involved not only in community activities but also in social, educational and cultural activities of the diaspora. In keeping with these objectives, the Illinois Chapter has been organizing many community and cultural and educational programs in Illinois.

 

The incoming president, Miss Hina Trivedi then took over the proceedings of the chapter and discussed the programs and activities of the Illinois Chapter for the coming year. She said that AIA has been conducting at least three major programs every year which include Youth Talent Show, a youth dance competition program, the Independence Day Celebration at the Daley Plaza, and the Gandhi Jayanti Celebration sometimes with the Annual Banquet. She said that the chapter team will continue with these activities, as these are the signature programs of the AIA, Illinois Chapter.

 

Members of the committee then discussed details of each program and it was decided that the Youth Dance Competition Program, Youth Festival will be held sometimes in July of this year. The Independence Day will be celebrated on August 12, 2022, at the Daley Plaza in Chicago and some dignitaries, including the Consul General of India will be invited. In addition, the Independence Day program, as in the previous years, will also include a cultural program depicting the culture and heritage of India, exposing our heritage to the American people.

 

Gandhi Jayanti is one of the most important programs of the AIA, Illinois chapter, which started in 1985 and the AIA, Illinois Chapter has been conducting this Gandhi program ever since, and many high-level dignitaries have participated in Gandhi Jayanti program as speakers and as guest, including Mrs. Ila Gandhi, the granddaughter of Mahatma Gandhi. Mr. Kamla, the Director of Gandhi Foundation in Washington among other distinguished speakers. The Illinois Chapter celebrated the 150th anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi Jayanti a couple of years back in which the then Consul General of India, Mr. Dalala, as the Chief Guest.

 

Miss Hina Trivedi then also said that in addition to the three signature programs of the chapter this year, the chapter will also conduct a business seminar and festival. Some of the members of the Executive Committee and the Board of Trustees volunteered to help in organizing this business program.

India’s Apex Court Upholds BJP Govt’s Foreign Contribution Regulation Act

The Supreme Court on Friday, April 8th affirmed the validity of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Amendment (FCRA) Act, 2020, which imposes new conditions on the receipt and use of funds by NGOs.

A bench headed by Justice A.M. Khanwilkar upheld the 2020 amendments made to the FCRA Act, 2010. The detailed judgment in the case will be uploaded on the top court website later in the day.

The Centre had told the Supreme Court that there exists no fundamental right to receive unbridled foreign contributions without any regulation, while defending the amendments made in 2020 to the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act.

The MHA emphasized that FCRA aim was to ensure foreign contribution does not adversely impinge upon the functioning of parliamentary institutions, political associations, and academic, and other voluntary organisations as well as individuals in India.

The petitioners had challenged the amendments, which included newly added sections 12 and 17, which state that the foreign contributions must be deposited in the FCRA account created in the specified branch of the scheduled bank, which was later notified as State Bank of India, New Delhi branch.

The petitioners claimed the amendments were arbitrary and stringent, which made the functioning of NGOs extremely difficult.

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in a 355-page affidavit filed in the Supreme Court, said Parliament has enacted the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, laying down a clear legislative policy of strict controls over foreign contributions for certain activities in the country.

The MHA said the “legislation has also prohibited acceptance and utilisation of foreign contribution or foreign hospitality for any activities detrimental to the national interest and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto”. The affidavit was settled by Solicitor General of India Tushar Mehta, who was assisted by advocate Kanu Agrawal.

Petitioners in the matter were — Noel Harper and Nigel Mills of Share and Care Foundation in Andhra Pradesh and Joseph Lizy and Annamma Joachim of National Workers Welfare Trust in Telangana.

Bharti Desai Midwest Garba Queen Rocks Chicagoland Indian Community

Chicago IL: First time in Chicago Aarush Entertainment and Manav Seva Mandir present Chaitra Navratri Garba by Midwest Garba Queen Bharti Desai on Saturday – April 09, 2022 at Manav Seva Mandir, 101 S Church Rd, Bensenville, IL. This auspicious event was celebrated by family, friends, and well-wishers.

 

For Garba, the members were adorned with beautiful and traditional attire, Chaniya-Choli and Kurta-pajama. The whirling dancers, clapping hands, distinct sound of wooden ‘Dandia’ striking together, toe tapping music and people wearing vibrant colorful clothes marked the Navratri celebrations at the Garba & Dandiya Raas,

 

Chaitra Navratri is a nine days festivity which starts on the first day of Hindu Luni-Solar calendar and falls in the month of March or April. Chaitra is the first month of Hindu lunar calendar and because of it this Navratri is known as Chaitra Navratri. Chaitra Navratri is also known as Vasanta Navratri.

 

This year, the Navratri celebration was organized by President of Aarush Entertainment Manoj Rathod. 

 

The Aarti table was beautifully decorated in the center of the hall with flowers, fruits and candle lamps around the pictures of Amba Mata and Modheshwari Mata by Manoj Rathod and his wife Rajkumari Rathod. To begin the Garba celebrations, everyone prayed together.  The atmosphere was filled with warmth and devotion. When asked, Manoj stated, “Our goal was to create a special spiritual bonding experience for all the friends and family celebrating Chaitra Navratri this year.”

 

The lead singer at the event, Garba Queen of Midwest, Bharti Desai is a renowned & award-winning singer in Chicago who enthralled the audience with her charming personality. She started with the Three claps Garba, “Kum Kum Kera Pagale Madi”. She sang the Classical “Raksha Karo Ambe Maa Bhavani”.  She continued amazing Garbas in Two Taali. In Raas everybody enjoyed “Disco Dandia”, “Sanedo”, “Amu Kaka Bapa Na”, “Bhai-Bhai”, “Hitch”. She sang all what the Khelaiys wanted to hear for their dance and continued with Mataji’s Arti, Thaal & Stuti. On stage, Bharti Desai was accompanied by Amit Desai (Side Rhythm), Shivam Thakker (Dhol & Tabla), Mahavrat (Octopad), Vedant (Key Board), Harish Shukla (Sound Engineer).

 

The reason people love Bharati Desai could be “because she sings from her heart and soul”, said Altaf Bukhari, Vice President Federation of Indian Associations (FIA)-Chicago IL.  “The songs that she selects are well known and original folk songs” said Nisha Deshpande who was accompanied by her 3 yrs. an old son dressed up in traditional Gujarati dress, one of the many energetic participants present there. “She gives little variation in notes, but keeps the soul, the ‘atma’ of the song intact,” said Roma Bhagat. This was echoed by another very happy attendee Mrs. Priya Ghayal who described the events as an excellent, enjoyable, exceptional event presented by Bharti Desai.

 

“Many thanks to Mayur Max Ganger Bhai of Sajni Entertainment & Altaf Bukhari of A.B Entertainment for their sponsorship, because without their valuable support it would not be possible to have such a magnificent event. Also, thanks to the wonderful audience of Chicago and well-wishers who attended the event to make it a huge success” said President of Aarush Entertainment, Manoj Rathod. 

“It was a colorful, cherished event as kids, youth and adults of all ages participated and brought the liveliness around us.” said Anita Patel. The Garba program ended with an Arti around 10:30 p.m. followed by Prasad distribution. 

 

The Aarush Entertainment company offers event planning & management services that also includes wedding designing, planning, management & consultancy, adopting a comprehensive approach & professional management information system to plan and produce a world class event experience each & every time all over the world. The highly skilled team of professionals at Aarush Entertainment strives hard to accomplish the highest standard of quality, effectiveness & novelty with due importance to the budgetary considerations.

FIA – Chicago Celebrates Indian Heritage Night

The Indian American community organization Federation of Indian Associations (FIA) of Chicago, celebrated Indian Heritage Night for the 5th consecutive year, at the Now Arena (previously Sears Center) where the Windy City Bulls – the official NBA G League affiliates of the Chicago Bulls, took on the College Park Skyhawks.

 

FIA Chicago is a 501 (c)(3) status, non-profit umbrella organization of other Indian Associations in the Chicago land and Midwest representing in excess of 300,000 culturally diverse but united together Asian-Indians. FIA has been actively engaged in serving the Indian American community for the past 12 years and has been instrumental in promoting Indian culture.

 

The Indian Heritage Night celebrations began, as the Chairman & Founder President of FIA Sunil Shah, along with wife Rita Shah, President Hitesh Gandhi, and Founder & Past President Onkar Singh Sangha, Exe. VP Vinita Gulabani, General Secretary Richa Chand & Cultural Secretary Pika Munshi, representing Team FIA and all Indian diaspora, proudly stood on the court holding the Indian Tricolor and the tricolor was also projected on the huge NOW arena monitors during the beautiful rendition of the Indian National Anthem by Ananya Ghosh. Immediately followed by it, the American National anthem, was sung by Nitya Nair. It was a very special experience for all. The spirited crowd cheered for both India & USA. Longlive India! Longlive USA!!

 

A Certificate of Appreciation was presented Brad Seymore, President, Windy City Bulls, to Team FIA – Chicago for their participation and celebrating five years of Indian Heritage Night. The honor was received by Sunil Shah, Rita Shah, Hitesh Gandhi, Onkar Sangha, Neil Khot, Vinita Gulabani, Altaf Bukhari, Richa Chand on behalf of Team FIA. When asked, Chairman Shah said, “We promote & motivate our youth to participate & perform during the Bulls games.”  President Gandhi added, “ We strive for a culture, rich & diverse, and this is one of the ways we can do it.”

 

Besides a very exciting basketball game between the competing teams, the highlight of the evening was the exquisite dance performances, by Chicago Dance Varsity Group led by Puja Joshi, showcasing the Indian Dance forms, during the pregame and quarter breaks that enthralled the audience.

 

The Pregame Dance performance by Dancing Divas & Little Angels group on Bollywood Instrumental followed by freestyle Bollywood Dance stole everyone’s heart. ( Performers: Anyraa Singh, Alak Shukla, Aamukta Chilukuri, Avika Patni, Sahasrika Moganti, Sataakshi Joshi, Shreeja Sonavane, Aaliya Khanum Mohammed, Hiral Shah, Pooja Giroh, Ruchi Sharma).

 

During the quarter breaks, there was a sensational Garbha folk dance by Magic Feet group ( Performers: Mahi Jain, Agalya Saminathan, Suriya Soni, Ridhima Singh, Apurva Vinodkumar, Riva Rithesh, Ahana Charanpahari ) There was also a beautiful Indian fusion dance performance by the Dancing Diamonds group. (Performers: Anika Sharma,  Samiksha Joshi, Saanvi Gubba, Niyati Parashar, Urvi Chirapu, Charisma ) Team FIA presented a Certificate of Appreciation to all the performers. The program coordinators were Richa Chand (FIA -Chicago) & Logan Robben (Windy City Bulls). Other FIA members who attended and supported the event were Abir Maru, Neelam Jai, Harry Sidhu, Pratik Deshpande, Vibha Rajput, Dr Afroz Hafeez, Subbu Iyyer, Julie Thakkar, Hemendra Shah, Peenal Shah, Chandni Kalra, Kavita Rawla, Aparna Khot, Chandini Duvuri, Deepa Sharma, Dr Ramesh Nair, Manoj Rathod and Suresh Bodiwala and their friends and families.

 

Also enjoyable was a fun zone with Windy City Bulls obstacle course and basketball hoops, one of the main attractions in the arena. Gus T, Live mascot of Bulls entertained the cheering crowds. The “Catch the T-shirt” act further energized the attendees.

 

Last but not the least, FIA greatly appreciates its sponsors and supporters. FIA Media coverage by: Suresh Bodiwala & Subhash Mantri, Asian Media.

US Govt. Website Helps Locate COVID-19 Tests, Treatments, Vaccines, and Masks

Two years into the pandemic, the Biden Administration has launched a virtual hub to help Americans find COVID-19 prevention and treatment resources—including masks, tests, and vaccines—in their communities.

The website, COVID.gov, consolidates several existing initiatives into what President Joe Biden described during a press briefing on March 30 as a “one-stop shop.” The site includes links for ordering free at-home rapid tests; locating free, high-quality N95 masks; finding vaccines and treatments; and assessing current COVID-19 risk levels in specific counties, based on U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention metrics.

“The bottom line: no longer will Americans need to scour the internet to find vaccines, treatments, tests, or masks,” Biden said during the briefing. “It’s all there.”

One of the website’s central features is its promotion of Biden’s “test-to-treat” program, which is designed to improve access to antiviral drugs that can reduce the severity of disease for high-risk people. In theory—though not always in practice—the program enables someone who tests positive at a pharmacy or health center to receive treatment on the spot, for free. COVID.gov includes a site locator for facilities taking part in the test-to-treat program, including retail pharmacies, community health centers, and clinics affiliated with Veterans Affairs and the Indian Health Service.

COVID.gov is available in English, Spanish, and Simplified Chinese. The same resources are also available in additional languages through the Administration’s telephone hotline at 1-800-232-0233.

While announcing the website’s launch, Biden again implored Congress to authorize extra pandemic funding. A Congressional spending bill passed in March did not include additional money for COVID-19 relief, and the shortfall has forced the Biden Administration to cut back on treatment and vaccine purchases, Biden said. The government has also had to curtail a program that reimburses providers who test or treat people without insurance, meaning some uninsured people now have to pay out-of-pocket for COVID-19 tests. Barring extra funding, the same will soon be true of some fees associated with getting COVID-19 vaccines.

Biden warned during the press briefing that supplies of COVID-19 drugs, vaccines, and tests may run out in the coming months without more money. “We’re already seeing the consequences of Congressional inaction,” he said. “This isn’t partisan; it’s medicine.”

After his remarks, Biden received a fourth COVID-19 vaccine, just a day after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized second mRNA boosters for adults ages 50 and older and certain immunocompromised individuals. “It didn’t hurt a bit,” he said.

11th Outstanding Women’s Achievements Awards Gala Held On Long Island, NY

Honorable Jennifer Desena, Supervisor Town of North Hempstead, Town Clerk Ragini Srivastava, Senior Council woman Dorothy Goosby, Town of Hempstead, Nassau County Legislator Rose Walker, Glen cove Mayor Pam Panzenback  and  several elected officials, Bobby Kumar Kalotee, Founding Member of IAF, and Community Leaders, joined in the Metropolitan in Glen cove  for Eleventh Outstanding Womens Achievements Awards Gala on a cool Sunday  Evening, March 27, 2022.

Everyone present at the auditorium felt the pride and achievements regarding the theme of the program. The attendance of Honorees and members of Indian American Community filled up the Ballroom, with extremely accomplished and elite members, who is who of the society gathered for one singular purpose, to be the part of and to celebrate 11th Outstanding Women’s Achievements Gala, part of Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day Celebrations

IAF (Indian American Forum) led by Indu Jaiswal, known for her strong commitment and dedication to the community cause was the organizing force behind the gala.  This year well known Community Leader Shammi Singh was the Chairperson of the Gala. Shammi Singh was represented by Rohini Singh in her remarks welcomed all the guests congratulated all the honorees and praised their efforts in achieving such success. American National Anthem and Indian National Anthems started the program. Mistress of Ceremonies Aashmeeta Yogiraj Sandhu from JUS PUNJABI. Made the evening enjoyable.

Program started with Ganesh Vandana sung by Vandana Jauhar, Dance performances presented by students of Nartan Rang Dance Academy, well-known Choreographers Swati Vaishnav and Mukthambar Fine Arts Inc., Tribute paid to Late Lata Mangeshkar Jee by Sunita Sadhnani. Chanbir Kaur Sethi, Roopam Maini, Inesha Singh, Rohini Singh and Dr Prachi Dua, Dr Pallavi Manvar Singh and Mrs Ratna Bhalla, coordinated a brief Q&A session with the honorees discussing and emphasizing their accomplishments.

Several Elected officials present congratulated the honorees on their achievements and success, also presented them with citations. congratulated all honorees and acknowledged the efforts of IAF Team. Seven distinguished women who had excelled in their profession and community services were presented with Outstanding Women’s achievements Awards

NISHA KUMAR BEHRINGER is strategic, and shareholder focused Chief Financial Officer, independent Director, and merger acquisitions executive with over two decades track record. She is formerly a Managing Director and the Chief Financial and Chief Compliance Officer of Greenbriar Equity Group L.P. a private equity firm for investments.

KALPANA BHANDARKAR currently residing in Nassau County has nearly twenty years of experience in Health Care and civic engagement.  Kalpana has dedicated her professional career in improving access to Quality health care for people living in low resource setting. Over past several years Kalpana has focused her work with Long Island based organizations, serving as co-chair of the Board of ERASE Racism, an advocacy organization focused on fair housing and equitable education for all residents statewide

NEETA BHASIN is the President of ASB Communications, the power of multicultural marketing company. ASB Communications is celebrating its 25th Anniversary this Year. Neeta Bhasin has served the Community through her TV shows, NEETA BHASIN SHOW on social media since last two Years. She started Event Guru Worldwide, the company that created history in 2013 by conceptualizing and producing the 2nd biggest event after New Tear’s eyeball drop-in Times square> DIWALI at Times Square

BEENA KOTHARI having lived in Long Island for over 30 years. Her association, interactions contributions with Indian and American communities has been very extensive, valuable, and memorable and inclusive of all. She has several accomplishments within various social and cultural nonprofit leadership capacities. She firmly believes sin VASUDHAIVA KUTUMBAKAM meaning the world in ONE Family.

DR PREETI MEHTA is the founder of Digestive Disease Care, one of the Largest Gastroenterology [ practices expanding from Queens to Nassau and Suffolk, she is well renowned in the field of Gastroenterology and Hepatology. Charitable work and giving back to the communities’ top priorities of Dr Mehta., She supports Charities dedicated for children and women education

RAGINI SRIVASTAV Town Clerk. Town of North Hempstead. Is serving her first term as Town Clerk of Town of North Hempstead, a time honored and historic function for the township since its founding in 1784.Town Clerk Srivastava is proud of The Town of North Hempstead and the unique characteristics of our villages and services

MALINI RUDRA is a junior at Williams College. She is 21 Years old, graduated from Syosset High School, she is Co-Captain of the Williams College Golf Team, which is ranked no 1 in NCAA Div. 111 Athletics. Malini has tremendous success in Golf. She won or placed top 5 in numerous tournaments locally as well a nationally Since 7th grade Malini was selected as part of the Syosset Girls Varsity Team, she is winner of Several Golf Championships. Malini also serves as a Board member of the Children’s Hope Teen Chapter and helped raise funds for under privileged in Long Island. Malini acknowledged the award with a video message. She was playing in a Golf Tournament in California.

Senior Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby from Town of Hempstead was all in praises for the efforts of Indian American Forum and Indian American Community. She congratulated all honorees and stressed the importance of role women are playing in this world.  Citations of behalf of Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman, Nassau County Legislator Ms. Rose Walker, Town of Hempstead Supervisor Don Clavin and Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor Joseph Saladino and Suffolk County Executive Steve Vallone. Were presented to all Honorees

Among those present during the event were Bobby Kumar Kalotee Founder of IAF and Chair of Nassau County Human right Commissioner, Board of Trustees, Dr Azad Anand,  Dr Urmilesh Arya, Dr Bhupendra Patel, Mr Mohinder Singh Taneja, Board members Beena Kothari, Bina Sabapathy, Jyoti Gupta ,Indu Gajwani  Anu Gulati,, Roopam Maini, Chanbir Kaur Sethi, Rohini Singh, Anuj Rihal, Inesha Singh, Dr Prachi Dua, Dr Pallavi Manvar Singh, Ratna Bhalla, Anju Sharma, Sanju Sharma Mr Sunny Thakkar , Jasbir Jay Singh, Indu Gajwani, Bina Sabapathy and  Gala Chairperson Shammi Singh, Volunteers, sponsors , Media Partners  and Many others helped in making the event a grand success.

It was indeed a highly successful evening, showcasing and honoring outstanding women achievers, who are successful in business, cultural, professional, education, medical. Community and social services.

Honoring Victims of 1971 Bangladesh Genocide, HinduPact Demands Recognition and Punishment for Pakistani Perpetrators

HinduPACT has launched a campaign to officially recognize the planned massacre of millions of people in Bangladesh, mostly Hindus, in 1971 as a genocide and to prosecute the Pakistani perpetrators who were involved with the planning and execution of “Operation Searchlight.”

“There are more than 195 officially recognized Pakistani military officers who were never prosecuted for their crimes against humanity,” said HinduPACT Executive Director Utsav Chakrabarti. “Many of these officials now hold positions of power and influence in Pakistan today including in the Armed Forces of Pakistan. It is time to hold them responsible and apply Magnitsky sanctions and prosecute them to the highest degree.”

“HinduPACT has been reaching out to the lawmakers over the course of many months to inform them of this atrocity and push for a formal recognition of this genocide,” said Ajay Shah, President of World Hindu Council of America (VHPA) and the Convenor of HinduPACT.  He added, “this is the largest genocide to take place in recent times. It is incomprehensible why the perpetrators of this  monstrosity have not been held accountable. Are political considerations more important than justice for the victims?”

“History repeats itself because people forget it,” said Adelle Nazarian, Director of Communications and Legislative Outreach for HinduPACT. “It is critical that the 1971 genocide be formally recognized for what it is so that future generations can look back in the coffers of history and never repeat the same mistakes again.” She added, “I encourage the White House and the State Department to promote peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region as a whole, and the rights of all people living in the region, regardless of race, ethnicity, nationality or religion so they may all equally enjoy the benefits of democracy and economic opportunity.”

HinduPACT has been advocating global human rights and civil liberties issues under the initiative HAHRI – Hindus Advancing Human Rights Internationally – and has met with several lawmakers to discuss the issue and has many more meetings planned and urges everyone interested in seeing the 1971 genocide formally recognized to sign the following petitionhttps://hindupact.org/2022/03/23/condemn1971genocide_2022/

India’s Supreme Court Rejects Plea Monitor Christian Missionaries

A Jesuit rights champion in India has hailed the Supreme Court for dismissing a petition filed by a Hindu group seeking to monitor the activities of Christian missionaries.

While declining to entertain the plea by Hindu Dharma Parishad on March 25, the apex court warned the organization it would face a fine if it came up with such a petition again, as reported by legal news portal Live Law.

The petition was earlier dismissed by Madras High Court in 2021, following which the Hindu group moved the Supreme Court, said media reports.

“It is a step in the right direction. The legitimate constitutional rights and freedoms of all citizens — particularly minorities — must be upheld and protected by the government and the judiciary,” Father Cedric Prakash, a Jesuit priest from Gujarat, told UCA News.

Father Prakash said the petition was frivolous on two major counts.

“Firstly, it is a direct violation of Article 25 of the Constitution, which guarantees every single citizen of India the fundamental right of freedom of conscience, the freedom to profess, practice and propagate one’s religion,” he said.

“Secondly, there are enough provisions in official legislation and in the Code Of Criminal Procedure, to ensure checks and balances and to address any misuse or abuse by any individual or group — irrelevant of one’s faith.”

He said that minorities, particularly Christians and Muslims, are demonized and denigrated as never before and this must stop immediately.

Father Prakash said that groups “like the Hindu Dharma Parishad indulge in divisiveness and vilification campaigns against minorities with the sole intention of destroying the country’s secular fabric and must be reined in without further delay.”

Madras High Court in its order had held that laws prohibiting forceful religious conversion were already in place. The Hindu group challenged it in the Supreme Court alleging that “anti-social and anti-national elements were forcibly converting people from Hinduism to other religions, notably Christianity.”

Its petition further appealed the apex court “to strengthen India’s unity and sovereignty and stability” for which it sought that the incomes and activities of the Christian missionaries be “checked” and “monitored.”

The group alleged that due to non-surveillance of the income earned by Christian religious properties, hundreds of new minority trusts disguised as non-governmental organizations (NGOs) were being created.

“And these NGOs are getting large sums of money through foreign aid, which is being utilized for financing anti-social activities and provoking innocent people to indulge [in] disturbing the peace in the country,” it was alleged in the dismissed petition.

Sikhs Urge April To Be Declared As Sikh Awareness and Appreciation Month

With April around the corner, now is the time to request Sikh Awareness and Appreciation Month (SAAM) resolutions or proclamations from school boards, city councils, and state governments.

Sangats across the country have been able to use SAAM to raise awareness about the Sikh community at the local level. Since many state, county, and local governments have embraced virtual meetings, requesting and obtaining a Sikh awareness resolution or proclamation is easier than ever before. The following step-by-step guide can help sangat members to reach their local governments to help proclaim April as SAAM:

Step 1: Decide which government official you want to request a resolution from and look up their contact information at https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials. You can request a proclamation from your governor, state legislature, city or county council, and/or school board. Please note that some government websites have a proclamation or resolution request form where you can ask for a SAAM proclamation or resolution using the draft language in this toolkit. If you are unsure of how to submit a request, it is best to contact that office directly via phone or email.

Step 2: Introduce yourself and share a little more information about the local Sikh community with the government official’s office (e.g. when the first gurdwara was established in the area, notable news or seva in the sangat, etc.). Ask them to introduce a SAAM resolution or proclamation to ensure that the broader community is aware of who Sikhs are and our positive contributions to the United States. Click here for an additional easy-to-use messaging resource on how to talk to an elected official about SAAM, and share the included draft language with them.

Step 3: Regularly follow-up with the office and keep the Sikh Coalition updated about the status of your resolution request. You can email Sikh Coalition staff at community@sikhcoalition.org with questions or concerns.

Even if your city, state or school district has recognized SAAM before, it does not necessarily mean that it will automatically happen again. In most cases, proclamations and resolutions must be renewed every year, which means that government offices have to hear from the sangat. Many offices require that requests be submitted well in advance, so we recommend submitting as soon as possible.

Navy Pier, Delhi committee of Chicago Sister Cities Jointly Celebrate Holi

First time a large metropolitan city in the United States, Chicago, celebrated the Indian festival of Holi, with over 2000 people in attendance which included live cultural programming, music and dancing, food and drink, and color throwing.

“The Delhi Committee of Chicago Sister Cities is thrilled to partner with Navy Pier for this event so that Chicagoans and visitors can participate in the celebration of Holi, a holiday that marks new life and energy,” said Smita N. Shah, Chairman of the Delhi Committee of Chicago Sister Cities International, Director on the Navy Pier Board of Directors, and CEO of SPAAN Tech, Inc.

“How fitting that we can celebrate this one-of-a-kind event on our beautiful lakefront, with Mayor Lightfoot, in the city blessed by Swami Vivekananda.”  Also in attendance were Consul General Amit Kumar, Indian Community Leader Niranjan S. Shah, Pratima Shah, and ABC 7 News Reporter, Ravi Baichwal.

Ravi Baichwal of ABC7 News, provided a welcome for attendees and served as the master of ceremonies. The celebration was the last of three events in the Global Connections series at Navy Pier presented by ComEd, which previously hosted events celebrating the Chinese New Year and International Carnivale.

“Chicago is a global city, and this partnership is a perfect example of that,” noted Mayor Lightfoot.  She also thanked Smita N. Shah for her commitment to the citizens of Chicago, leadership of the Delhi Committee, and for her appointment by President Biden to the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders

Delhi’s position as a sister city to Chicago demonstrates the strong relationship between India and the city as well as the cultural importance of the established Indian American community to the Chicagoland community. Under Smita 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 also helped secure the designation of October 2nd as Mahatma Gandhi Day in Chicago.

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

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

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

Chief guest and honored distinguished guests speakers of the event:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Talented Performers of the event:

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

After Two Long Years, COVID-19 Is No Longer #1 Concern For Americans

For what is likely the first time in two years, COVID-19 is no longer the primary concern among Americans, as the economy, inflation, and jobs (90%) and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine (87%) are a higher concern than the virus (68%). Here what they are thinking:

Today, Americans find many daily activities not too, or not at all, risky anymore, such as eating or drinking inside a restaurant/bar (48%), working in-person without a mask (43%), shopping indoors with a mask (41%), and exercising maskless in a gym or a sports team (38%).

Replacing COVID in the news: (87%) of Americans consider Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as the biggest news story in America right now, surpassing the COVID-19 news coverage of the past two years (v. COVID-19 being the biggest story: 13%).Replacing COVID in the news: (87%) of Americans consider Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as the biggest news story in America right now, surpassing the COVID-19 news coverage of the past two years (v. COVID-19 being the biggest story: 13%).

Taking a mental break from COVID because, well, there could be another pandemic before we die: (69%) of Americans think it is likely that they will live through another pandemic in their lifetime (Gen Z: 56%, Millennial: 73%, Gen X: 78%, Boomer: 62%) and (27%) believe that COVID-19 news will dominate the news cycle again and (58%) could see it occur if something major happens such as a new, deadly variant arises.

Takeaway: After a roller-coaster of emotion, Americans have reached similar levels of pre-Delta optimism that the worst of COVID-19 is behind us (64%), however, diminishing news coverage and COVID-19 fatigue may prove concerning as European COVID-19 cases have begun rising again–such as in the UK two weeks after dropping mitigation measures.

In The Harris Poll Tracker (Week 107) fielded March 11th to 13th, 2022 among 2,000 U.S. adults, look at how Americans’ concerns have shifted away from COVID-19 and from Week 106 how younger consumers are engaging with international brands regularly. In addition, we cover other Harris Poll data detailing how Americans are packing their bags for summer vacations, how men are more interested in the future of the metaverse, and an industry snapshot of the health and personal care sector.

BJP Victories In India Polls Celebrated By NRIs

The umbrella organization Indian-American Community, along with numerous supporters of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, celebrated the victory of the Bharatiya Janata Party in four out of the five states where elections were held. The event was held Sunday March 13, 2022, at Royal Albert’s Palace in Fords, N.J.

Addressing a large gathering chanting Bharat Mata ji Jai and Jai Shri Ram in New York Jagdish Sewhani President of The American India Public Affairs Committee and the Organizer of the BJP Victory Celebrations in New York thanked the voters of UP and other states for bringing back BJP in power in four states .This shows that today’s voter is smart , intelligent. They have totally rejected the politics of Dynasty and policy of appeasement corruption and voted for development, better Law and order.

It is a historical win for BJP in UP, where after 37 years voters have re-elected the same party back to Power, this shows peoples trust in Yogi ji and Modiji. This is an endorsement of Prime Minister Modiji’s pro poor, Pro Farmer and pro Development policy, the organizers said.

“We have won the Semifinals with Landslide because people have faith in Modi and I’m confident that Voters in Bharat will re-elect Narendra Modi in 2024 with much bigger margin,”  asserted Mr Sewhani.

The Prime Minister Modi since 2014 has been working relentlessly for making Bharat as Vishwaguru , because of Modiji today Bharat is moving in direction of Atmanirbhar Bharat in defense, High tech and other fields.

More than 100 million Farmers have benefited from PM Kisan yojana , , 89 million housewives benefited from PM Ujwala yojana and received free gas cylinders, millions of families got free Rashan  under PM Garib Kalyan Yojana  and more than 1.8 billion Vaccines shots were given said Sewhani. He thanked Prime Minister Modi for safely bringing back thousand of students from Ukraine. Narendra Modi is the world’s most popular leader. Today world is looking at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for solution and end war between Russia and Ukraine, said Mr Sewhani .

Dr Bhupi Patel  , Harry Brar , Animesh Goenka and others also spoke at Victory celebrations Padma Shri recipient Dr. Sudhir Parikh, chairman of PWWM and ITV Gold, and several other speakers including Pramod Bhagat, Albert Jasani, as well as Dhiren Amin, Raj Pandya and Chandrakant Patel, to name just a few, expressed their joy about the election results calling it an endorsement of Prime Minister Modi’s policies and governance.

India Ranks High In Cumulative Excess Covid-Deaths: Lancet Report

A Global Report Looking At Excess Deaths During The Pandemic Period Put India In A Harsh Light

India recorded the highest estimated number of cumulative excess Covid-19 deaths beating the USA, Russia, Mexico, Brazil, Indonesia and Pakistan, reported a Lancet report on March 10, 2022. The paper that looked at deaths due to Covid-19 between January 1, 2020, and December 31, 2021 also estimated that nearly 18.2 million people died globally as opposed to the official figure of 5.94 million.

With a goal to estimate excess mortality during the pandemic period, the Lancet published a paper wherein researchers searched various government websites, the World Mortality Database compendia, the Human Mortality Database, etc. and identified 74 countries and an additional 266 subnational locations where either weekly or monthly all-cause mortality data were reported for the required period. Further the paper used empirical assessments of excess mortality for 12 states of India.

The study found that the number of excess Covid-related deaths was largest in regions of South Asia, North Africa, the Middle East and Eastern Europe. However, in all this, India estimated the highest cumulative excess deaths at 4.07 million deaths, way ahead of the US, where the estimate stood at 1.13 million deaths. In Russia, estimates stood at 1.07 million deaths, Mexico suffered around 7,98,000 deaths. An estimated 7,92,000 deaths took place in Brazil while the estimated figure for Indonesia was 7,36,000 deaths and for Pakistan it was  6,64,000 deaths.

It may be noted that of these countries, Russia had the highest excess mortality rate at 374.6 deaths per 1,00,000 followed by Mexico (325.1 deaths per 1,00,000), Brazil (186.9 deaths per 1,00,000) and the USA (179.3 deaths per 1,00,000). The global all-age rate of excess mortality due to the Covid-19 pandemic was 120·3 deaths per 1,00,000 of the population. It exceeded 300 deaths per 1,00,000 of the population in 21 countries.

Estimated deaths much higher than reported in India

As per the report, excess mortality rates due to Covid-19 in some Indian states were similar to those of some high-income countries in the northern hemisphere. The report also computed the ratio of excess mortality rate to reported Covid-19 mortality rate to measure the undercounting of the true mortality impact of the pandemic. Accordingly, it found that the national-level ratios in south Asia ranged from 8·33 in India to 36·06 in Bhutan. The most extreme ratios in the region were found in the states and provinces of India and Pakistan, ranging from 0·96 in Goa, India to 49·64 in Balochistan, Pakistan.

Using data from the civil registration system data for 12 states, and the mean reported deaths during the relevant periods in 2018 and 2019, the report obtained excess mortality estimates for select periods during the first and second waves. It also calculated a country-level residual using the residual from the 12 states.

Specifically, the report found that at the national level, India had an estimated 152·5 excess deaths (95 percent UI 138·6–163·3) per 1,00,000 of the population. This number is much higher than the data that was reported during the two Covid-waves. Covid-19 mortality rate was 18·3 deaths per 1,00,000 over the same period.

Further, heterogeneity in excess mortality among the 30 states of India was extremely high. From January 1, 2020, to December 31, 2021, as many as 8 Indian states had excess mortality rates higher than 200 per 1,00,000 population, a level only exceeded by 50 other countries in the world. These states were: Uttarakhand, Manipur, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, and Karnataka.

Meanwhile, Arunachal Pradesh, Telangana, Sikkim, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, West Bengal, and Goa had excess mortality rates that were lower than the global average of 120.6 deaths per 1,00,000 population (although 95% UIs overlap). Similarly, sub-national heterogeneity was evident in the excess death counts. Seven states had excess deaths higher than 2,00,000 as of December 31, 2021, namely: West Bengal (2,20,000 deaths), Madhya Pradesh (2,23,000 deaths), Tamil Nadu (2,60,000 deaths), Karnataka (2,84,000 deaths) Bihar (3,23,000 deaths), Uttar Pradesh (5,17,000 deaths) and Maharashtra (6,16,000 deaths).

“Although the excess mortality rates due to the Covid-19 pandemic among Indian states are not the highest in the world, because of India’s large population, the country accounted for 22.3 percent of global excess deaths as of December 31, 2021. Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, and Maharashtra had excess deaths higher than South Africa (3,02,000 deaths), with South Africa ranking tenth among all countries,” said the Lancet report.

States with ambiguous mortality data

Earlier, Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) and The Wire published data about Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh that showed huge data discrepancies in death-related data during the Covid-19 pandemic. As per the 2019 Sample Registration System (SRS) bulletin, the actual crude death rate (CDR) for the state as a whole was to be 6.5 percent. Based on the rural-urban make-up of the surveyed population, the study expected the CDR in the surveyed areas to be around 6.7. However by 2019, the recorded CDR of 6.4 percent in this population was close to state-level expectations. There was not much room for further improvement in reporting to push the numbers up.

But in 2020 the CDR rose to 15-20 percent higher than expected either from 2019 data or from the state-wide CDR estimates from the annual SRS. In fact, the death rate during January-August 2021 was, over double the expectation. Even assuming the SRS significantly underestimated pre-pandemic yearly deaths but improved record-keeping to perfection during the pandemic, the deaths during the pandemic period were greatly above expectations.

The surveyed area had 55-60 percent more deaths during the 20 months from January 2020 to August 2021 than expected during that time. Across UP, this surge would amount to around 14 lakh excess deaths.

As per SRS and civil registration data, the state expects around 15 lakh deaths in a normal year. Further 14 lakh people also account for 0.6 percent of the state’s estimated 2021 population of around 23 cr people. Thus, the study claimed that the pandemic excess death toll amounted to almost a full year’s deaths.

Similarly, the report talked about Gujarat as a state with lower excess mortality rate than the global average. Yet, in May 2021, CJP reported data that estimated great under-reporting during the pandemic. On April 27, of the same year local newspaper Sandesh set aside five pages for obituaries in the Rajkot edition alone, while the state’s Covid-19 dashboard recorded only 14 deaths in the previous 24 hours. On the same day, the newspaper stated that 87 bodies were cremated following Covid protocol over the last two days while the government only recorded two Covid deaths.

This showed that despite Lancet report’s efforts to get official data, even the comparatively better surviving states in India were under great duress. Newspaper obituaries made for better indicators of death count in the area rather than official data, said CJP.

The Lancet report concluded that the full magnitude of COVID-19 was much greater in 2020 and 2021 than was indicated by reported deaths. It still called for further research and increased availability of ‘cause of death’ data for distinguishing the proportion of excess mortality directly caused by Covid-19. However, the study, coupled with previous reports of CJP show that there was great discrepancy especially in areas with a considerable Hindutva influence.

To verify this to certainty, the study stresses for ways to strengthen death reporting systems and mitigate political barriers to accurately track and monitor the continuation of the Covid-19 and future pandemics.

TAGC Women’s Day Includes A Variety Of Activities And Fashion Competition

Telugu Association of Greater Chicago (TAGC) the first Telugu organization in the USA, celebrated Women’s Day on March 6th,2022 at Monty’s Elegant banquets in Bensenville, IL. TAGC is devoted to the awareness and promotion of Telugu Heritage and Culture in the Midwest region headquartered in Chicago, The association was originally founded in 1971 and it  recently completed its golden jubilee celebration and entered into its 51st year.

Over 350 women of Indian origin participated in this women’s day event. Program started with a devotional song by Singer Ramya and lighting the lamp by Uma Avadhuta, President of TAGC 2022, Women’s Day Chairs Sirisha Madduri, Archana Podduturi and Co chairs Ramya Nagulavancha, Ramya Kapila and Deepa Gudipally. All the other women’s Bod’s Vinitha Podduturi, Manasa Lattupalli, Neelima Cheikicharla, Prasanna Kandukuri and Madhavi Konakalla were also present. This year’s theme was Retro Style where all the ladies came out in their best retro looks. All the ladies were excited to show off their beautiful outfits and style. Anchor Sahithya Vinjamuri was an addition to enthusiasm in ladies.

Speaker Deepthi Suri provided very valuable information and great insight on the benefits of Ayurveda in our daily lives. Several fun filled activities were meticulously planned and executed to create a joyful atmosphere in the event that were thoroughly enjoyed by all the ladies after 2 years of pandemic situation. Special games like selfie Lele, Bomma blockbuster and Naari Shakthi by co-chairs engaged and entertained everyone.

Continuing with the core values and traditions of TAGC, this year also the members raised money for a non-profit organization named Suguna Foundation with operations in west Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh, India which supports care and living for needy seniors.  There was an overwhelming response and contribution this year which is among one of the top fundraising amounts. Regal Jewelers sponsored gold and silver coins for raffle tickets. Special gifts from India to attended TAGC members was an additional attraction of the event.

First time in the last 50 years TAGC conducted Mrs. TAGC competition which received a huge response from everyone. Judges Prachi Jaitly, Vasavi Chakka and Neelam Saboo coordinated talent and question rounds to finalize on winners. Swetha Chinnari was the title winner and Poonam Patil and Archana Ramakrishna were the first and second runners ups respectively.

All members enjoyed the sumptuous snacks and dinner sponsored by Hyderabad House in Schaumburg, IL. Food Chair Srinivas Adepu and Co.chair Rama Kanth Jonnala coordinated very well and organized the food. Membership chair Madhavi Konakalla with the help of Manasa Lattupalli helped at the front desk in registrations and took it very smoothly. Treasurer Santosh Konduri, Jt treasurer Sridhar Alavala and Secretary Pandu Ranga Reddy were also present to help in checking in all the ladies. Decoration team chair Neelima Cheikicharla did an excellent job in coordinating with the decoration team. Retro style photo booth was the highlight of the event. Event ended with cake cutting and DJ by Pranav Sai with technical help by Srikanth Bethi.

TAGC president Uma Avadhuta thanked Past President Venkat Gunuganti and President elect Parameshwar Yarasani and also involved Board members and Volunteers to make the event grand success and congratulated all the beauty contest winners. She also thanked all the sponsors for the event and donors who gave the donations for a great cause.

Consul General Randhir K. Jaiswsal Meets Norwalk Mayor Along With GOPIO-CT Delegation

 Indian Consul General Randhir Kumar Jaiswal and Deputy Consul General Dr. Varun Jeph came to Norwalk City on March 4th for a meeting with Mayor Harry Rilling. He was joined by officials of the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin-Connecticut Chapter (GOPIO-CT).

Indian Americans have been settling in the lower Fairfield County which includes Norwalk for the last 3 decades and the flow is still continuing. Most of the community members moving in are in IT industry or healthcare.

Mayor Rilling told Consul General Jaiswal about the City and it is friendly environment for business including availability of office space to attract new businesses from India. Indian companies, especially in the IT sector, have been starting outfits in the USA and hoping that some of them could consider Norwalk as a destination. Consul General Jaiswal also suggested that companies from Norwalk could also consider India as a destination.

The delegation from GOPIO-CT consisted of GOPIO Intl. Chairman Dr. Thomas Abraham, GOPIO-CT President and serial investor Ashok Nichani, GOPIO-CT Exec. VP Prasad Chintalapudi who is also Vice President of IT Company Panzer Solutions, Laser Systems President Viresh Sharma, GOPIO-CT Secretary Prachi Narayan, GOPIO-CT Treasurer and IT Consultant Srinivas Akarapu, IT Consultant Mahesh Jhangiani along with his wife Yashasvi Jhangiani and Fr. Sudhir D’Souza who us the pastor of St. Philip Catholic Church in Norwalk.

 The delegation also emphasized the need for having a Cricket game ground for the new immigrant groups from South Asian nations, Caribbean, South Africa, Australia, England, Australia, New Zealand and East African countries. Such an initiative will make the city a more welcoming place for immigrant professionals from those countries.

GOPIO-CT has assigned a four-member committee to brainstorm the idea of reaching out Indian companies with the Norwalk City officials and India’s commercial attache in New York. Those assigned with this task are Norwalk residents Srinivas Akarapu, Mahesh Jhangiani, Prachi Narayan and Fr. Sudhir D’Souza.

There was also a suggestion that the Norwalk Community College should be connected to an Indian institution with similar programs. This will be explored further.

Over the last 16 years, GOPIO-CT, a chapter of GOPIO International has become an active and dynamic organization hosting interactive sessions with policy makers and academicians, community events, youth mentoring and networking workshops, and working with other area organizations to help create a better future. GOPIO-CT – Global Organization of People of Indian Origin – serves as a non-partisan, secular, civic and community service organization – promoting awareness of Indian culture, customs and contributions of the Indian Diaspora through community programs, forums, events and youth activities. It seeks to strengthen partnerships and create an ongoing dialogue with local communities.

Rural Hospitals In U.S. Face Wipeout With 800 At Risk Of Shutdown

Pummeled by the pandemic, at least 40% of rural U.S. hospitals are in danger of shutting down and leaving millions of people in smaller and less affluent communities without a nearby emergency and critical care facility.

That’s the conclusion of the Center for Healthcare Quality and Payment Reform, whose recent study sees 500 hospitals at immediate risk for closing within two years and more than 300 others at high risk within five years. The grim assessment by the policy center found the problems spread across the country, and that the threats will persist even if the pandemic ends because rising costs are outrunning revenue.

All told, there are about 38 million Americans in the at-risk areas; they’d have to drive at least 20 minutes farther if their local hospitals close, with half adding at least 30 minutes, said Harold Miller, the center’s chief executive and author of the report. Many of the facilities are in sparsely populated but important farming, mining or ranching communities.

Hospital Emergency

Negative margins are putting smaller hospitals at high risk of failure

“The myth is that these are hospitals that should no longer exist in communities that should no longer exist,” Miller said in an interview. Keeping those facilities open would cost $3.4 billion, or less than 1% of total annual spending on hospitals, said Miller, an adjunct public policy and management professor and former associate dean at Carnegie Mellon University.

Fifteen states have more than half of their rural hospitals at risk of closing because of persistent losses, including Texas and a large swath of the South and Midwest such as Kansas and Mississippi, the study shows. But rural hospitals in New York, Connecticut and Washington State are also in trouble.

More than 130 rural hospitals have closed in the last decade, according to the University of North Carolina’s Sheps Center, and they’re often the only option for health care in their communities.

Higher costs for labor and supplies and lower revenue have trounced hospitals as they shut down elective procedures to care for critically ill Covid-19 patients. Even with billions in federal money, operating margins at U.S. hospitals were negative 3.3% in January, health-care consultancy Kaufman Hall said, and that’s including the strongest operators. Meanwhile, they’re facing pending cuts in Medicare payments along with repayments of funds advanced earlier in the pandemic.

Sick and Struggling: States with highest percentage of hospitals at high risk of closing

What’s really hurting the smaller providers, Miller said, is a longstanding inability to negotiate the same rates as their larger counterparts for the roughly half of their patients who have private insurance. Bigger facilities rely on higher payments from private insurers to offset lower reimbursements from Medicare and Medicaid. On top of that, the sparser populations mean costs per patient are higher so the hospitals can’t always count on a flow of patients to finance essential services like emergency care.

“The problem is, they don’t get paid if you don’t go,” Miller said. This means that state and local governments — and their taxpayers — pick up more of the tab, he said. His research shows margins declining with hospital size.

A representative for health-insurance trade group AHIP didn’t provide an immediate comment.

Emergency Rooms

Some rural hospitals do get federal reimbursements that cover their costs, and a new program that takes effect next year will increase payments to qualifying facilities that eliminate in-patient beds, which often sit empty. But Miller said most of the hospitals aren’t losing money on in-patient services, but rather on their emergency rooms and clinics.

Increasing payments can help, but the system also needs more coordinated planning to ensure all communities have care, said Kenneth Kaufman, Kaufman Hall’s chair. “We have a reimbursement problem of course, but we also have a structural problem,” he said in an interview. “There’s just not enough patients to sustain a lot of these hospitals.”

A handful of states like California are experimenting with different methods of financing struggling hospitals, Kaufman said. “There’s nothing likely to get done at the federal level.”

The hospital study examined finances over a three-year period using publicly available data and didn’t rely on commercial funding, according to Miller.  Miller suggests that insurers fund rural hospitals through monthly payments in addition to reimbursement for services in a manner similar to other public services. “We don’t pay the fire department based on the fire,” he said.

12th Annual Conference of Global Association of Physicians of Indian Origin Held

Leading experts and delegates from 53 countries took part in the recent 12th Annual Conference of physicians of Indian origin, GAPIO (Global Association of Physicians of Indian Origin).

The GAPIO Conference took place virtually Feb. 26-27, and fielded well-known speakers from United States, Canada, Australia, United Arab Emirates and India who covered different aspects during the sessions on Cardiac Sciences, Endocrinology, Gastroenterology, Neurology, Nephrology, Omicron (COVID-19)- Global Perspective, Interventional Radiology, Transplant, Orthopedics & Rheumatology, Integrative Medicine, Oncology, Paediatrics, Leadership Mantras, Capacity Building in Healthcare in India, Patient safety and Quality/Accreditation and Role of Allied Healthcare Professionals in Healthcare.

India’s Minister for Health & Family Welfare and Chemicals and Fertilizers, Mansukh Mandaviya, was the Chief Guest during the awards function which was held on Feb. 26. The awards were presented to young clinicians and presided over by Minister Mandaviya.

Dr. Prathap C. Reddy, founder and president of GAPIO, and chairman of Apollo Hospitals Group was the Guest of Honor. A non-profit organization, GAPIO is a leading association for the Indian medical diaspora and the annual conference has become an important event in the medical calendar for physicians and other medical personnel around the globe.

Dr. Reddy noted how COVID-19 had again shown the potential of Indian-origin physicians during a global health crisis. He also informed the gathering that during the pandemic, GAPIO held 23 sessions dealing with the pandemic during which “valuable lessons” were learned from leaders around the world facing the challenge of the coronavirus.

“The need for innovation and cross-systemic learning is more important than ever before.  Apart from the COVID-19 pandemic, India and the world at large are facing an epidemic of non-communicable diseases – NCDs like diabetes, heart disease and cancer. We seek involvement of everyone to overcome this biggest challenge to mankind posed by COVID-19 and NCDs,” Dr. Reddy said.

“The Indian diaspora has a wealth of talent. Experts based in more than 50 countries can contribute to enhancing the healthcare delivery in India as no matter where they work, they want to give back to their motherland. We hope to evolve a consensus on the contemporary health challenges through this conference,” said Dr. Anupam Sibal, president of GAPIO and Group Medical Director at Apollo Hospitals, Senior Consultant Pediatric Gastroenterologist and Hepatologist.

Highlighting the Congress’ relevance for Indian healthcare, Dr. Nandakumar Jairam, vice president of GAPIO said, “Research and innovation can improve the delivery of quality healthcare in India to the last mile. As the country braces to overcome its myriad health challenges, this conference will help identify methodologies most suitable to skill and scale the healthcare workforce in the country.”

Dr. Sudhir Parikh, secretary general of GAPIO and Chairman and Publisher of Parikh World Wide Media and ITV Gold 24×7 TV Channel in USA, said “Global health challenges need global solutions, and we believe through GAPIO we will evolve constructive and tangible ways of ensuring that healthcare becomes more accessible to all citizens.”

GAPIO was founded in 2011 by Padma Vibhushan recipient Dr. Prathap C Reddy, along with Dr. Sanku Rao, past-president of the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin, and Ramesh Mehta, president of  the British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin, BAPIO, UK. The goal of the organization is to bring together 1.4 million physicians of Indian origin in the world on one professional platform.

GOPIO Delegation Meets NY Mayor Eric Adams, Sharing Concerns Of NRI Community

GOPIO officials along with other Indian community organizations were invited to New York city Hall on March 1st to discuss issues of the Indian community and perspectives on how the community can be involved in the city. It all started with GOPIO’s condemnation of the defacing of Mahatma Gandhi statue at the Union Square Park in February and GOPIO requesting Mayor Eric Adams to increase police presence in the park area as well as to apprehend and punish culprit.

 City Hall was represented by Mayor Adam’s Chief Advisor Ingrid Lewis-Martin and Deputy Mayor Meera Joshi. The Indian community delegation was headed by GOPIO Chairman Dr. Thomas Abraham along with GOPIO-Manhattan Executive VP Prof. Rajasekhar Vangapaty, VP Dr. Vimal Goyle and Treasurer Braj Aggarwal as well as GOPIO-New York Chapter Hon. Chair Lal Motwani and President Beena Kothari. Other community representatives were Association of Indians in America (AIA) President Gobind Munjal, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan Executive Director Sudhir Vaishnav, Bhakti Center Program Coordinator Kartikeya Parashar, Society of Indian American Engineers and Architects (SIAEA) President Ketan Shah, BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir National Coordinator for Public Affairs Girish Patel and Mukund Mehta, President of India Home and Indo-American Senior Citizen Center of New York.

At the beginning of the meeting, GOPIO Chairman Dr. Abraham thanked Mayor Adams for appointing many Indian Americans in high position of the city administration. In addition to the issue of defacing of Mahatma Gandhi statue, many other issues were discussed at this power meeting of the City officials with the community. The community representatives urged the mayor to keep status que on gifted and talented classes for elementary classes. The delegation told the city officials that the gifted should always be given the opportunity to advance further in pursuit of knowledge and to achieve their full academic potential. Other issues brought out include discrimination, civil rights violations and violence against religious institutions in New York city. Chief Advisor Lewis Martin suggested to set up a committee from the community to work closely with NYPD on some of these issues. The following have been nominated to work on these issues with Girish Patel coordinating this effort along with Braj Aggarwal, Lal Motwani, and Beena Kothari. This committee will reach out to the larger Indian community on these issues.

Once major part of the discussion was on how to bring businesses to New York City, vis-à-vis New York businesses setting up business in India. The delegation told city officials that many Indian companies are setting business outfit in the US and that Indian Americans in New York city could serve as conduit to reach out to businesses in India. It was suggested that whenever trade and business delegations come to New York, City’s International Affairs Department must reach them out and hold meetings with them. Another Business Promotion Committee headed by Dr. Abraham was nominated along with Prof. Rajasekhar Vangapaty, Sudhir Vaishnav, Mukund Mehta, Ketan Shah and Karthikeya Parashar.

The delegation also suggested the city officials to continue with Diwali celebration and to hold a special celebration from the City for the 75th Anniversary of India’s Independence to honor the largest democracy of the world.

After the meeting with city officials, the delegation met Mayor Eric Adams and interacted with him. Mayor Adams gave high marks for the community’s contribution to make New York an exciting city to live.

.India Is Deeply Disturbed And Anguished Over The Deteriorating Situation And Humanitarian Crisis In Ukraine: Consul General Dr. Swati Kulkarni

With Russia intensifying its offensive in its war against Ukraine, evacuation efforts by Indian authorities are underway to help Indian students and other Indian citizens stranded in Ukraine and nearby countries. On March 1, the Consul General of India in Atlanta, Dr. Swati Kulkarni, on a virtual briefing with Indian-American community leaders, said that “India is deeply disturbed and anguished over the deteriorating situation and humanitarian crisis in Ukraine.”

While informing community leaders about India’s efforts in Ukraine and in its neighboring countries, Dr. Kulkarni stressed that India wants its citizens to escape the conflict zone.  She appealed to Indian citizens to move to the Western border of Ukraine, stay put in shelters, and contact India’s local team to provide location details and coordinate on an evacuation plan. She expressed her deep condolences to the family of a 21-year old Indian Medical student, Naveen Shekharappa Gyanagoudar, who was killed in Ukraine.

Community leaders during the meeting appreciated India’s efforts, but also raised questions and concerns including why India has yet to take a firm position on the Ukraine issue. They raised questions around India’s decision to abstain from voting at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), lack of initiating a mandatory evacuation of its citizens prior to the start of the war, discrimination and harassment faced by Indian students at Ukraine’s borders citing media reports and social media posts, role of community leaders in assisting India respond to the crisis, India’s role in de-escalating tensions between Russia and Ukraine, and how to respond to members of US Congress and local US officials about India’s stand on the issue of Ukraine. Community leaders have also requested Dr. Kulkarni to convey their concerns to the Indian Government to ensure the protection of Indian citizens.

Responding to their reactions, Dr. Kulkarni maintained that it is an evolving situation and that the Indian Government is currently undertaking various efforts to safeguard Indian citizens on the ground. According to Dr. Kulkarni, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been frequently chairing high-level meetings with Cabinet Ministers, and has already deputed four senior Ministers as his Special Envoys to various nations to oversee and escalate evacuations efforts. They include Union Minister of Civil Aviation, Jyotiraditya Scindia, to Romania and Moldova, Minister of State for Road Transport & Highways, and Civil Aviation, Gen. V K Singh, to Poland, Union Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas, Hardeep Singh Puri, to Hungary, and Minister of Law and Justice, Kiren Rijiju, to The Czech Republic.

When asked about India’s stand at the United Nations, Dr. Kulkarni told News India Times, “India has taken a stand at the UN, when the UNSC moved resolution on the situation in Ukraine, and decided to abstain. Currently, humanitarian necessity for us is really paramount. The Government of India under ‘Operation Ganga’ is working relentlessly to ensure safety of every Indian national. Indian teams are working on the ground round-the-clock to oversee the evacuation efforts of Indian citizens in coordination with local authorities. India supports diplomacy and dialogue as the way out. India is ready to contribute to de-escalation efforts.”

During the call, she mentioned that Operation Ganga is being monitored closely by PM Modi, and External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar. The Ministry of External Affairs, which is consistently closely monitoring the situation on the ground, and through helplines and social media platforms, has so far handled over 8,000 calls and 6,000 emails. So far, the Indian Government has sent nine evacuation flights and has evacuated around 8,500 Indian citizens, mostly students. The evacuation efforts are still underway, it is expected that India will evacuate about 12,000 additional Indian citizens who are stranded.

She further informed that PM Modi has spoken with PM of Slovak Republic, PM of Romania, PM of Poland, President of Ukraine, and President of Russia in the last few days. He has also been in discussions with the President of the European Council, and President of the French Republic. During his calls, PM Modi thanked these countries for their assistance in permitting special evacuation flights from India, in addition to allowing Indian citizens to enter these countries without visas. The Indian Embassy in Ukraine, and neighboring Indian Missions in Poland, Romania, Czech Republic, and Hungary, have also been instructed to work round the clock to safely bring Indian citizens home.

Meanwhile, a representative of Sewa International, which is helping citizens on the ground, requested community members and organizations to join hands with them to raise funds, and help spread the word through social media platforms. He said that SEWA International has already helped 500 people return to India, and as many as 120 volunteers are flying into the zone to help out with relief and humanitarian efforts.

Rajeshwar Prasad At 90, Continuing To Dedicate His Life For Larger Humanity

Born on March 1,1932 in a small village, Chhainsa, in Haryana Province (formerly Punjab), I completed my primary education, I moved to Delhi in 1941 for higher education. I  stayed with my uncle, aunt and their two children, in Old Delhi. Went to Hira Lal Jain Higher Secondary School. My expenses of education and living etc. were borne by my father as my uncle, the only bread winner, was a mill laborer and he could not afford extra expenses. After high school in 1948. I moved to another place in Delhi where I was joined by my elder brother Brahameshwar Dayal (BD) who had just completed his high school and was not interested in higher education.

He had lost two years because of an accident and stayed home. We lived in one room, next to Hindu College, with no facilities. We used public rest rooms, public hydrant, basically, using that room (12×15 square feet) as kitchen, living room, bedroom and everything. After one year, we pleaded to our parents that we would like to move to a better place. We moved to an independent 2-bedroom section in a house on the same street where I had lived with my uncle during my high school. My mother joined us in that house.

I completed my Honors and Master’s in Economics from Delhi University. Our eldest brother, Rameshwar Dayal, (RD) completed his B.Com. from Uttar Pradesh and joined us. To cut it short, my eldest brother got married, my mother moved back to the village. BD got a job in Defense Ministry and move, to Uttar Pradesh and then to Chandigarh and permanently settled there. I also got married and decided to move to another place. All these movements were for convenience and out of necessity. We were a very cohesive family.

I got a part time job at the Delhi School of Economics which was doing a social-economic survey of Greater Delhi. It gave me an opportunity of contacting about 500 families. The questionnaire was very detailed and had about 100 questions and sub-questions. It normally took an hour to fill it out. Many a time I had to make two trips to fill out the questionnaire. I came across all kinds of people, people living in huts, government quarters, and gazetted officers (such as IAS) . It gave me an opportunity to see almost all different parts of Delhi. I did it for about two years till 1956. I was paid on the number of successful contacts I made half a dollar per questionnaire (one dollar was equal to five rupees).

Then Delhi School of Economics, Delhi University, got in contact with a Social Welfare Agency called Bharat Sewak Samaj (BSS) of Delhi province to conduct a survey of slums of Old Delhi. I was hired to take responsibility of the field work. Eighteen field workers were hired, and I was given the supervisory responsibility. The survey was financially supported by Prime Minister’s Relief Fund. We hired 18 field investigators to conduct the survey. After the survey was completed, it was published in a book: SLUMS OF OLD DELHI, published by Atma Ram a& Sons.

In 1955. the Ford Foundation provided financial support to start a pilot project in Urban Community Development (UCD).  It was headed by Mr. Chatterjee, as Director, who had been in touch with Ford Foundation Consultant, Dr. Marshall Clinard. UCD worked in collaboration with BSS, Mr. Chatterjee asked Mr. Brij Krishan Chandiwala, BSS Convener, that he would like to hire me as a Research Associate. And he asked his opinion also about my work ethics etc.  The offices of UCD and BSS were just a block apart in New Delhi.

I joined UCD in 1956. My first task was to prepare profile of various communities in Delhi. By virtue of my experience with Delhi School of Economics and Bharat Sewak Samaj this was not new to me. I went back to some of the same communities and prepared profiles. The profile included the physical location, demographics, social, economic status of people living there, transportation etc. Mr. Chatterjee and Marshal Clinard selected six sites out of about 30 profiles.

Each selected area was different and that provided a very diversified group for the pilot project. UCD hired 12 professional staff persons for these six places (6 men and 6 women). Minimum education of each one was to be Master or equivalent in Social Work. The second UCD pilot project was started in Ahmedabad, Gujarat. I was asked to spend about a week there to get the staff oriented to the UCD concept.

Since the UCD office was in Connaught Place, almost all those who worked for the survey of slums of Delhi remained in touch with one another. During evening they all (about ten) used to meet in Cannaught Place and sit on the lawn as we had no office. I was always there and led the group. We always thought of doing something productive as all of us were fully employed.

One day, a person, named Major Ramchandran asked me to see him. I did not know him at all, but he was a key person in the Central (National) Bharat Sewak Samaj, located in the same barracks.  He lived a very simple life. Later on, I learnt that he had played a pivotal role during the partition of India and settlement of refugees. Next Day I met him in July,1968. He told me that he would like to send me to Paris, France.

That was the most surprising news I had ever heard. He explained that there is an International Institute in Paris which gets people from developing and underdeveloped countries, and that he sends one professional from India every year to that Institute. Name of the Institute is IRFED. I did not know how to respond. He further said that he had seen me many times sitting on the grass with large group and noticed that I had always been playing a leading role in that group. He gave me about a week to respond. I did not know where to start.

I had a good job in Delhi and how can I leave my wife and two children behind.  Youngest one, Mini, was not born at that time; she was born in January 1969.). I talked to my family and one or two friends, and they all encouraged me not to miss this opportunity. My parents-in-law were also encouraging, and they told me not to worry about the family. Finally, I told Major Ramchandran that I was ready. I arranged two year  leave from my office. Later on I extended my leave without pay for one more year

For four months I learnt French which was not helpful at all when I landed in Paris. The French school was also located in the same barracks. By virtue of my contacts with BSS it was easy for me to go through passport, Visa   process without any problem. as one of the volunteers who used to come to BSS regularly, was Principal Secretary to one Union Minister (names not identified). He helped me to complete all these formalities without me even going to French Embassy. After I left for Paris, almost for one year my office paid my salary to my wife.

I left for France on October 15, 1968, with 40 francs in my pocket. I called the Institute from the Paris airport and was advised to take a taxi. The taxi cost me 37 francs, and I entered the Institute with 3 francs in my pocket. The Secretary there said. “You are 15 days late, but I will give you full month scholarship of 500 francs.” She also helped me to settle down. I met one person (French) in the Institute who had gone on the same program to India under which I came from India. We became instant friends and he helped me a lot.

My French was no good and I realized I have to learn French conversation classes. Within two weeks I enrolled myself to learn French conversation at night for five days a week. It helped me but still I was unable to understand lectures. Besides the class I had to undertake an individual project as well as a group (5 students) project. In both, I did exceedingly well (almost A+). My individual project was Development of Chandigarh in India; and my group project was Impact of migration on Sending and Receiving Countries.

From Paris, encouraged by some Americans with whom I used to meet almost every day at the breakfast time, I decided to come to USA. I got admission in a school and got F1 visa. Prem Nagpal, a close family friend at that time was already in USA studying at Columbia University. She managed for my stay in a neighborhood settlement house on 70th Street, in Manhattan. She had talked to the President that I would be coming and if she could help in some way.

I met the President next day and she offered me a job: “You have to stay in your room over the weekend and if there is a telephone call, you receive it. There was only one telephone located just outside my room. For that your board and lodge would be free. This job gave me an opportunity to study also.

With the help of a professor who had come to India and visited me and Prem at Urban Community Development Office, I got admission in Columbia University and then in Hunter College I did my Master in Urban Planning with specialization in health planning. He helped me to have my tuition waived (though he never told me), The college placed me as an Intern at the New York State Health Planning Commission in Manhattan which paid me enough to stay comfortably and support my family in India. In October 1971 I got a job in Long Island and moved from Manhattan to Suffolk County where I had been hired by Regional Medical Program (RMP) in Centereach as a Planning Associate.

I commuted from Manhattan for about three months (October 71 to January 72) to Centereach. Lucky coincidence, the Administrative Assistant at RMP, used to drive every day to RMP from Manhattan. She was kind to help me commute with her. Then I rented a house in Centereach, and my family joined me on January 15, 1972. The RMP helped me and my family to get green card, with the help of an attorney. In 1974, I was selected as Executive Director of RMP when the former executive director (Dr. Glen Hastings) and the Associate Director (Harrison Owen) moved to Florida Medical School, and the Veterans Administration in Washington DC respectively.

There were 70 candidates for the position of Executive Director from all over the country.  Dr. Lawrence Sherr, Chief of Medicine at North Shore University Hospital, was the chairman of the Search Committee. He was also the Chair of the Board of Directors of Regional Medical Program. There were 53 RMPs in the United States all funded by the Federal Government through HEW.(Heath, Education and Welfare Department)..

With the political changes in Washington, the RMPs discontinued all over the Country. With the closure of the RMP I tool sometime to explore various options. I knew very well that I will have no difficulty in finding a job. However, I also felt that being head of an agency funded by Federal Government there are so many strings attached. Finally, I changed my career 180 degrees and bought an Indian Retail Store in Port Jefferson, NY on the harbor of Long Island Sound. its name was ADCO, but I changed it to ADCO Fashion Boutique and besides imports of Indian clothes I added from Indonesia and other countries.

Then I took it to a higher level and got high fashion dresses from a prestigious wholesaler in California, those dresses were sold for about $600.00 each whereas Indian dresses sold for $50.00 or so. After running the international boutique for about 15 years, I decided to retire. I closed the business; and I donated all my merchandise to Charity organizations, including Theatre Three in Port Jefferson. During my working period I was very much involved with The United Way of Long Island for about fifteen years as well as with the Suffolk County Human Rights Commission also for about 15 years (both voluntary positions). My work was commended very much by both these organizations. In March,1975 my wife passed away of leukemia and that was the toughest time as my youngest daughter was only six years. Luckily, our neighbors were so kind, particularly one family across our house.

Their older daughter was the same age as Mini’s and they became good friends. It was still tough, and my mother-in-law wrote to Prem Nagpal if she can get married to me. It was not easy for her as she had led an independent life for about 47 years. All my children knew her very well; and she used to visit us in Long Island most of the weekends, as she lived in Manhattan and worked also there ai the Harlem Medical Center as Social Work Supervisor, Finally, we got married in late 1975. She got into poetry and paintings as her hobby. Her one poem was selected by World Poetry Society in California and requested her to come and read it in CA. we both went there and m it was some event we had never seen. There were film stars and many distinguished people.

Around 2004-05, my wife was suspected to have Alzheimer’s which was later ruled out.  However, she started signs of weakness, forgetfulness and it was not possible to leave her home alone. With the help from various agencies in home care and other areas we were able to carry on for about five years or so. My wife and I knew about Shantiniketan (SN) in Tavares, Florida. Around the same time My oldest daughter Monica and her husband, Madan Gupta, were in Orlando related to their business. On my request they visited SN.

They advised us to move to SN. It was not an easy decision after living in Long Island for about 50 years. We visited SN three times before we moved in 2014 permanently. I was indirectly involved with the concept of SN by virtue of my voluntary work with the National Indio-American Association for Senior Citizens Inc. (NIAASC) initiated in 1998.This new organization was set up as a nonprofit 501C3 entity with a limited objective to help Indian American Seniors through information, referral and advocacy. Its office is at the Indian American Kerala Cultural and Civic Center in Elmont, New York. NIAASC has been able to expand considerably.

I was the founder president and currently Chairman of NIAASC. NIAASC is headed by Ms. Gunjan Rastogi, a very energetic, talented and committed community leader. She has been its President since January 2021. NIAASC operates through a Board pf Directors and its mission is limited to serve Indian American seniors through information, referral and advocacy services.

AAPI’s Covid Relief Efforts In India Continue

The deadly Corona virus has claimed millions of lives and it has placed the entire healthcare sector both in India and the United States under tremendous stress. While the Indian American medical fraternity has been at the front lines of the fight against the pandemic, the American Association of Physicians of Indian origin (AAPI), the largest ethnic medical organization in the USA representing the interest of more than 100,000 physicians in the USA, has been in the forefront to help India, their motherland deal with the crisis of India.

Under the able leadership of Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, President of AAPI, and Dr. Sujeeth R. Punnam, Chair, COVID Relief Committee, AAPI has carried out several initiatives to help India cope with the unprecedented impact of the deadly virus. Other members of this important committee include: Dr. Ravi Kolli, President-Elect, AAPI;  Dr. Satheesh Kathula, Secretary, AAPI; Dr. Tarak Vasavada, MD, Member, AAPI BOT: and, Dr.  Himansh Pandya.

“The generosity of the members of AAPI has been unprecedented,” says Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, President of AAPI. “I want to thank the AAPI fraternity, for not only contributing $5.5 Million towards Covid Relief Funds for India, but has spent hundreds of hours in coordinating and disbursing the vital medical supplies to the most needed hospitals across India.”

“Thanks to the overwhelming support of its members that AAPI has raised almost $5 million in the past few months,” said Dr. Ravi Kolli, President-Elect of AAPI said.  “We have been working very hard in sending oxygen concentrators and ventilators to India, to deal with the calamity in India and are in the process of helping to set up oxygen generator plants in different hospitals in India,” added, Dr. Ravi Kolli.

Dr. Sujeeth Punnam, AAPI’s Regionals Director and Chair of the Covid Relief Committee, said, “Thus far, AAPI has provided 3,200 Concentrators, 100 Ventilators and 100 High Flow Nasal Canula Machines To 45 Hospitals In India as part of the Covid Pandemic Relief Efforts.”

Even as the pandemic is waning in many parts of the world, AAPI has been collaborating with several agencies and the government of India to help reach the much needed care and supplies to the remotest places in India.  Dr. Satheesh Kathula, Secretary of AAPI said, “AAPI has been coordinating several efforts, including the provision of oxygen plants and necessary lab equipment. Thanks to the overwhelming support of its members that AAPI has raised over $5.5 million.” “The outbreak of Covid 19 has caused significant health-related social, political and economic consequences worldwide. AAPI executive committee, board of trustees and members have been working very hard in sending medical equipment to India,” Dr. Kathula pointed out.

“We continue to coordinate efforts to make available the much needed vaccines in the Slum areas in major cities where compliance is very low and apart from life-saving equipment for severe Covid patients management in ICUs,” said Dr. Tarak Vasavada, who has been in the forefront leading AAPI’s efforts to help India during the Covid.

“As AAPI cannot direct its resources to specific areas and relies on the government of India to distribute its supplies, AAPI has been working outside of the umbrella of AAPI for direct transfer of the essential material, focusing mainly on the peripheral hospitals who do not get aid readily” , added. Dr. Himanshu Pandya.

In continuation of its efforts, during the recently concluded Global Healthcare Summit in Hyderabad, on January 7th this year, AAPI donated immunoanalyzer at AIIMS, Bibinagar, Telangana, which does hundreds of tests every day. This is part of Covid relief efforts AAPI has taken over during the second wave of pandemic.

Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, president of AAPI along with Dr. Satheesh Kathula, AAPI secretary, and Dr. Sujeeth Punnam, Chair, Covid relief committee participated in the inauguration of biochemistry lab/Immunoanalyzer at AIIMS, Bibinagar, Hyderabad. Later on they planted trees in AIIMS Vatika, Bibinagar and named one of them “AAPI”.

AAPI has been collaborating with Sai Sanjeevani Hospitals, while the cost of the oxygen plants were shared equally by AAPI and Rotary International. Chemiluminescence Immunoanalyzers (CLIA), Beckman Coulter UniCel Dxl 800 access Immunoassay system. This equipment has a throughput of 200 tests/hour and will make point of care testing like covid antibody tests, Ferritin, D Dimer, troponin, IL6, procalcitonin, CRP etc. easy. Each of these costs around $80,000.

Some of the other major institutes that benefitted from AAPI’s contributions included:  Stanley Medical College Hospital, Chennai, Tamilnadu, where the inauguration was done virtually by the AAPI team and in person by Health Minister of Tamilnadu; Sadbhavana Trust Hospital, a non-profit organization in South Gujarat and treats completely rural population; and Shrimad Rajchandra Hospital, a non profit organization serving rural Gujarat area of Dharampur is building a 250 bed hospital and AAPI is contributing $100,000 towards central monitoring equipment for the ICU.

“AAPI has sent more than 2300 oxygen concentrators, 100 ventilators, 200 high flow oxygen devices since 2021 to various parts of India. We are working to help AIIMS across the country which have been opened recently that haven’t secured the full funding yet from the government. After our initial donation to AIIMS, Bibinagar, Telangana AAPI is planning to donate immunoanlysers to all AIIMS across the country. As you may remember, AAPI had donated ventilators and high flow oxygen equipment to AIIMS in the past,” Dr. Satheesh Kathula, Clinical Professor of Medicine and AAPI Secretary said.

“As you may know, with a wonderful support by members and non-members, AAPI has raised $5,500,000 in the year 2021 for covid relief activity. Since that time the Covid Relief Committee has been working relentlessly to help the motherland. The committee has a strict criteria to send the equipment only to non profit or charity hospitals after careful reviewing. AAPI has donated oxygen plants, immunoassay analyzers to numerous hospitals. The work is still on going,” added Dr. Punnam.

“The past year, while posing major challenges have also provided opportunities for AAPI to continue to work together in helping realize the mission of AAPI,” said Dr. Gotimukula. “We are proud that several Indian American physicians are recognized globally for their contributions to combat the deadly pandemic. AAPI will continue our efforts and give our best to our Motherland in the fight against the deadly pandemic.” For more information on AAPI, please visit: www.aapiusa.org

TiE Boston Kicks Off Silver Jubilee Celebrations With Fireside Chats With 13 Founders

TiE Boston celebrates its 25th Anniversary in 2022, traversing the prosperous path of generating and nurturing entrepreneurs, in an ever-changing landscape of technology and finance, and mentoring entrepreneurs through unprecedented pandemic times.

What started as TiE Atlantic in February 1997 as the dream of 13 Founding Members and only the second TiE Chapter, has now grown into an unparalleled network of successful, serial entrepreneurs who are deeply engaged and committed to giving back to the community by providing mentorship, tactical advice, and expertise to rising entrepreneurs.

In 2022, TiE Boston offers a full slate of programming to cover the entire cycle of entrepreneurship, from mentoring young entrepreneurs and student entrepreneurs, to taking business to scale through its ScaleUp program that was recognized as the most innovative TiE program worldwide in 2021, investing in companies through its Angels program, and encouraging diversity through Women’s Initiatives.

The 13 founders of TiE Atlantic (TiE Boston), in 1997, were:

Sushil Bhatia, Ashok Boghani, Ash Dahod, Samir Desai, Desh Deshpande, Radha Jalan, Ashok Kalelkar, Ramesh Kapur, Ranganath Nayak, Mahendra Patel, Dinesh Patel, Jit Saxena and Rahul Singh. The founders covered a broad spectrum of professions including technology, medicine, consulting and manufacturing.

Desh Deshpande

Mr. Deshpande, one of the founders and the first President of TiE Boston said, “TiE started 25 years ago in Boston when Entrepreneurship was in a nascent stage. Twenty- five years later it is amazing to see its impact. It has nurtured many entrepreneurs who contribute billions of dollars to the Massachusetts economy and hire thousands of people. TiE is even more relevant today to keep the economy growing and create opportunities for every resident of the state that has been innovative for the last 400 years.”

Samir Desai

The second President and a founding member of TiE Boston, Mr. Desai adds, “I remember the early days and am very proud of everything that we have jointly accomplished in the last 25 years! The impact of TiE Boston is tremendous and continues to grow.”

Founding member, Ms. Jalan, says, “As a woman entrepreneur in the 90s, TiE gave me an incredible sense of networking and community. I am proud to have started some Women’s Initiatives for TiE Boston and feel a great sense of pride on seeing how well they have integrated women entrepreneurs into the ecosystem.”

Radha Jalan

Besides establishing a network of successful entrepreneurs, corporate executives, and senior professionals, TiE Boston members also boast of creating several successful companies. TiE companies globally have created over $250B in wealth with TiE Boston being a major contributor.

TiECon East, successfully held annually as New England’s largest conference for entrepreneurs, is TiE Boston’s marquee event open to the public and hosts key speakers from the ecosystem of successful entrepreneurs.

Anu Chitrapu

Presently, the TiE Boston Board comprises of President Anu Chitrapu, and 11 Board members: Thomas Arul, Asha Dixit, Anupendra Sharma, Emily Ladd-Kravitz, Venkat Maroju, Zenobia Moochhala, Sangeeta Moorjani, Shirish Nimgaonkar, Kiran Uppuluri, Geetha Sreedhar, and Darshana Zaveri.

On the occasion, TiE Boston President Ms. Chitrapu says, “The 25th Anniversary is a rallying point for our Chapter, and we’re planning to use this momentum for tremendous growth across all our programs in the years ahead.”

To commemorate the 25th Year, TiE Boston has planned several events to acknowledge the founders, sponsors, members and program participants. The first is a series of fireside chats with each of our founders. This ‘Entrepreneurial Pioneers’ series of fireside chats will kick off with its inaugural event on Thursday, February 17th. Register here for the Fireside Chat with Dr Radha Jalan, moderated by Geeta Aiyer. A grand Gala for members will be held in the summer of 2022. Over the course of the next few months, TiE Boston will bring together its Founders and current Charter Members to explore the history of TiE Boston, the road ahead, and unchartered paths decidedly taken by entrepreneurial change makers and trailblazers.

TiE Boston connects tomorrow’s founders with today’s entrepreneurs, executives and venture capitalists. Founded in 1997 by entrepreneurs who immigrated from the Indus region, TiE Boston champions inclusion in innovation by blending the fundamentals of entrepreneurship with traditional Indian values that place importance on community, mentorship, and long-term relationships. TiE Boston is one of the region’s largest and oldest organizations supporting the Massachusetts entrepreneurial ecosystem, focused on supporting entrepreneurs throughout their lifecycle — from ideation to creation, through growth, wealth creation and ultimately, support of future founders. The TiE Boston community encompasses students, founders, experienced entrepreneurs, angel investors, and venture capitalists. Its programs foster trusted, long-term relationships between its participants — span education, mentoring, networking, and funding.

Reach TiE Boston by email at info@boston.tie.org with questions. TiE Boston’s Interim Executive Director, Rowena Kay Mascarenhas, oversees the strategic planning, operations and programs, while Archish Mittal manages memberships and partnerships, Dean Walsh manages the TiE ScaleUp program, and Vivek Soni manages the TiE Angels program. For more information about TiE Boston, visit https://www.tieboston.org/.

Madhavan B Nair Elected Chairman Of World Hindu Parliament

Madhavan B Nair has been elected as the chairman of the World Hindu Parliament which opens at the Kerala Hindus of North America (KHNA) Convention in 2023. The organizers said that Jagadguru Swami Satyananda Saraswati’s dream of creating a world Hindu Parliament was being realized by its starting out at the KHNA convention. Madhavan B Nair was unanimously elected to the chairmanship of the World Hindu Parliament by the governing council headed by G K Pillai.

Swami Satyananda Saraswati’s desire to create a World Hindu Parliament aimed at unifying Hindu societies across the globe and to give them a new sense of direction was being realized at the convention, said the organizers.

Madhavan B Nair is well known in the Malayalee diaspora as a leading social, cultural, charity activist and entrepreneur. Madhavan B Nair, also popularly known as MBN is an entrepreneur who is always on the move and actively engaged especially when it comes to serving the community. He is a Chartered Financial Consultant by profession based in New Jersey, USA. He is the founder and President of MBN Insurance and Financial Services Inc.

Madhavan B Nair was born and raised in Neyyattinkara, located to the south of capital city Trivandrum of Kerala State. He is from Thalakulam Kunnakode family and born to Rajyasree Bhaskara Pillai and Rugmini Amma. His father Rajyasree Bhaskara Pillai was a freedom fighter, Editor and Publisher of Rajyasree Newspaper during that period. He completed his Primary, Middle and Higher Secondary schooling from Government School, Neyyattinkara; St. Mary’s School, Pattom and Government High School, Kattathurai respectively.

From his childhood, Madhavan B Nair has been creative, curious and adventurous. Growing up, he found a way to turn these virtues into a thriving career. He started his career in late teens joining  the Indian Air Force as a Combatant when he was a college sophomore. Besides serving Air Force, he completed his graduation both in Law and Management from the University of Poona. He left Air Force to begin his career as a lawyer. He was a Resource person for the Department of Commerce & Management, Kerala University for almost a decade until he moved to USA. He moved up in the ladder through furthering his education and developed his personality holistically.

He was fortunate to experience wide variety of life situations and challenges. He earned Cochin Stock Exchange professional membership and started Share Broking and Portfolio management in the name of Grand Jury Invest and Finance Ltd. It was doing wonderful. In fact, the Harshad Mehta Scam has compelled him to change the profession to education. The stock market was not modernized then.  This has directed him to go to the USA for business exploration. Here again with his full exposure in the financial market he was compelled to accept a beautiful offer from MetLife to explore the Asian Indian Market. He earned ChFC designation from American College of Insurance and Financial Services, Bryn Mawr,  Pennsylvania. As a chartered financial consultant, he performed well and excelled to top 1% of the industry.

Madhavan B Nair is known for his skill on financial optimization using insurance to recover loss opportunity cost. He uses financial models  to reduce the risk and maximizing the returns in a predictable and measurable way using insurance concepts.. He and his team successfully served the community as on date along with active participation in the community activities.

He is actively involved in socio-cultural activities locally, nationally and  internationally. His services has been acknowledged and appreciated by various entities. He was the President of FOKANA during the period 2018-2020. FOKANA is a premier umbrella association, formed in 1984,  consist of  more than 60 Kerala Associations from the whole of USA  and Canada. FOKANA touches  almost half a million  Malayalee families. During the period of 2018-2020 Kerala faced Hurricane and flood catastrophe. Under his presidentship FOKANA did a commendable service during and after the catastrophe. He was instrumental for rebuild Kerala  and life mission initiatives like Bhavanam project along with Bhavanam foundation of Kerala representing FOKANA. During this time his service was greatly recognized by national and international entities.

He founded NAMAM in 2010. It is one of the vibrant associations in North America. He also formed MBN Foundation in the year 2017 as a philanthropic organization with the objective of promoting skills to bring the best within students and also promote early awareness to prevent breast cancer. It is committed to the benefit of the community at large. He actively  contributed and contributing  his service in various capacities in various organizations. He can be reached madhavanbnair@yahoo.com or  732 333 3952.

SWERA Team Holds Historic Event Celebrating Lohri

SWERA, an organization changing the lives of socio-economically disadvantaged women, hosted its annual Lohri festival celebrations on Feb 12th,2022 at Atlantis Banquets, in Arlington Heights, IL. The highlights of the event were the beautiful cultural extravaganza put together by the SWERA team led by Jasbir Kaur Mann. Jasbir Kaur, who was one of the anchors at the event as well explained the significance of the Lohri festival and how the new concept of gender equality needs to be promoted and followed all over the world.

The festival of Lohri holds great significance as it marks the harvest of the rabi crops and the end of winter days. In Northern India, Lohri is usually celebrated with a bonfire. The lighting of a bonfire during this festival is an old tradition. Ancient people lit the bonfire to welcome the return of longer days.

The event was very well anchored by Jasbir kaur mann, nikki Sekhon, Gurmukh Singh Bhullar, Jasbir S Sanghera and Paramvir Kaur. The event started with Shabad Kirtan by the kids of Gurmat School followed by singing and dancing by many artists from all over the Midwest.

The event was graced by Mr. Ranjit Singh from Indian Consulate in Chicago, who addressed the audience and explained the significance of the Lohri festivities and importance of preserving our cultural heritage. Other speakers at the event were Satnam S Aulukh and Hemant Bhalla.

The event also featured the internationally acclaimed artist Anita Lerche, who is a Billboard Top-5 Charting award-winning singer and songwriter. She originates from Denmark and currently lives in Indianapolis.  Known as ‘Heer from Denmark’ she was the first non-Asian woman from the West to release an album in Punjabi in 2006.

After more than a decade on the South Asian music scene she was honored to receive the ‘Special Contribution Award’ at the UK Bhangra Awards, 2019. She also won her Global Music Award ,2021 for Best Female Vocalist for her latest solo album “Love is my Religion”.

SWERA provides a variety of services to the community that includes group mentoring through seminars and workshops on awareness of character development, mental wellness and civil rights and providing basic needs like books, clothes and other necessary supplies for vocational education through support groups. It also facilitates training in women empowerment and collaboration with other nonprofit organizations to enhance skills for entrepreneurship and employment.

Senior Friendship Group Celebrates Valentine’s Day With Fun And Devotion

Senior Friendship Group Chicago celebrated Valentine’s Day on Feb 13th at Honest Restaurant in Niles, IL. The program started with President Harshad Parekh welcoming everybody.

Group President Harshad Parekh gave inaugural remarks and briefed everyone about the group’s past and future activities. He introduces Pinky Thakkar Chairwoman and founder of Senior Friendship Group Chicago. Group member Smita Parekh sang some melodious chants and created a beautiful devotional atmosphere. Everyone looked beautiful dressed ok the colors of love pink and red.

Members celebrating their birthday in January and February were congratulated on their special days.  Some members were also presented with awards for their excellent community service and leadership qualities. Award winning members included Ashwin Majumdar, Suresh Amin, Haribhai Lilabem Thakkar, Pinky Thakkar, Aruna Patel and Dilip Patel. Awards were presented by Arvind Patel.

“On this Valentine’s Day, I want to express my love and affection for my caring family and friends. I want to tell my husband Dinesh Thakkar how fortunate I am to have him in my life as my best friend and a wonderful life partner. I want to thank him for the love and support, and I look forward to celebrating our bond together for years and years to come. Happy Valentine’s Day”! Said by Pinky Thakkar

Thousands Join The Campaign Against Anti-Conversion Laws In India

Many prominent citizens in India demanded for a Repeal of All Anti-Conversion Laws in India, in the context of the Anti-Conversion Bill scheduled to be tabled in Karnataka Upper House on February 14, 2022. The initial signatories for the Petition to the President of India included nationally well known citizens like:

Admiral L Ramdas (Former Chief of Naval Staff of the Indian Navy), Mallika Sarabhai (Accomplished dancer & choreographer),  Medha Patkar (NAPM), Anand Patwardhan (Film Maker),  Mani Shankar Aiyar (Former Minister), Prof. Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd (Writer, Academician), Rev. Peter Machado (Archbishop of Bangalore), Margaret Alva, Former Governor of Goa, Gujarat and Uttarakhand), Teesta Setalvad (Advocate, Civil Rights Activist), K. Satchidanandan (Writer, Poet, Former Secretary of Sahitya Akademi),  Annie Raja (National Federation of Indian Women), Prof. Ram Puniyani,  Harsh Mander (Author, Social Activist), Kavita Krishnan (AIPWA), Dr. John Dayal (Senior Journalist, Human Rights Activist), Sandeep Pandy (General Secretary, Socialist Party of India), Tehmina Arora (Human Rights Activist), Brinelle D’Souza (Centre for Health and Mental Health, TISS), Susmit Bose (Musician), Irfan Engineer (Centre for Study of Society and Secularism ), Vidya Dinkar (Human Rights Activist), A C Michael (Former Member of Delhi Minorities Commission), and others.

While articulating that that a new Anti-Conversion Law is not necessary since the Indian Constitution has enough provisions for the same, the signatories also stated: `Wherever the Anti-Conversion law, ironically officially called Freedom of Religion Act, was passed, it became a justification for the persecution of the minorities and other marginalized identities.  The attacks on the minorities grew sharply in recent years since this law was used as a weapon targeting the dignity of Christians and Muslims particularly belonging to Adivais, Dalits and women.’ The petition called for joining hands to defend the values enshrined in the Indian Constitution and protection of human rights of the minorities and other marginalized sections in India. The petition was initiated by the National Solidarity Forum, a network of groups and individuals who started acting in response to the Kandhamal Genocide on the Adivasi Christians and Dalit Christians in 2007-2008.

In India, from the last few years there have been scattered and sporadic sub-radar attacks on Christian communities. Pretext made is that Christian Missionaries are converting by force, fraud, coercion or allurement. Population census shows a small decline in the percentage of Christians from 2.6 percent in 1971 to 2.3 percent in 2011. These Anti- Conversion Laws, generally called freedom of religion laws, are attempts to intimidate the Christian Community and the planned law in Karnataka is on the same lines,’ said Prof. Ram Punyani, the Convenor, National Solidarity Forum (NSF).

Ajay Kumar Singh, a Co-Convenor of NSF stated: `A Dalit converted to Christianity or Islam loses the reservation and protection from the State. The Dalit does not lose any reservation and protection if he or she converts to Sikhism, Jainism or Buddhism. It is a reality that the discriminatory dalit identity does not change no matter which religion one belongs to.  .  There are stringent penal for restricting the dalit and adivasi to convert to Christianity or Islam.  This law itself acts as an inducement to remain in Hinduism and violates the individual’s right to choose one’s own religion. It treats them as objects, who cannot decide for themselves.’

`The law disrespects women, and places restrictions for a woman to choose her partner. It is conceived with a notion that women in India are not in a position to think on their own and act on their own. This law is highly patriarchal. It is not acceptable,’ said Vidya Dinkar, human rights activist and a core team member of NSF.

Dr. John Dayal, senior journalist, human rights activist and a founder member of the National Solidarity Forum stated: `The Anti-Conversion Laws are not just affecting the Christians alone, they are meant for further persecution on the Muslims, Dalits, Adivasis and women also in this country. They violate the basic tenets of the Indian Constitution and India’s secular heritage.’

`This law discriminates against certain religions. It is a violation of the principle enshrined in the Indian Constitution that all religions are equal. It is meant to strengthen religious conflicts and majoritarian nationalism in India. Moreover, it infantilizes the poor and gives the State power over matters that are deeply personal.’ Said Brinnele D’Souza, Centre for Health and Mental Health, School of Social Work, Tata Institute of Social Sciences.

Thousands of people have already responded to the petition immediately by endorsing it and thousands of endorsements  are pouring in. The petition is available  on https://chng.it/gBYcGCPZyV

Supporting the petition, Margaret Alva, the former Governor of Goa, Gujarat and Uttarakhand, appealed: `the National Solidarity Forum is trying to collect signatures of people from all religions and backgrounds to dissuade the Government from passing this Bill. I request you to sign this appeal to withdraw the anti-Christian bill and such laws in other states of the country.’

Many political parties like Congress, Janata Dal, Aam Aadmi Party, Welfare Party, Socialist Party (India) and other political organisations have already come forward strongly against the Anti-Conversion Bill and the need to protect the Indian Constitution and the secular tradition in India.

FIA Leadership For 2022-23 Inaugurated

India’s Consul General in New York Randhir Jaiswal, in a private ceremony Feb. 9, 2022, administered the oath of office to the newly-elected executive team of the Federation of Indian Associations. The FIA President for 2022 Kenny Desai was sworn in to commit and fulfill his community organizational duties along with his 2022 Executive team, a press release from FIA said.

The new team consists of Himanshu Bhatia as the executive vice president along with Saurin Parikh and Haresh Shah, the two vice presidents; Parveen Bansal as the general secretary; Smita Miki Patel as the joint secretary; Amit Ringasia as the treasurer with Mahesh Dubbal as the joint treasurer.

Outgoing President Anil Bansal will remain a part of the Executive committee 2022 assisting the new President. Desai, a seasoned veteran community leader expressed his gratitude to the community and board for trusting him with leading the organizational efforts.  He assured he would deliver on the expectation of enhancing the community’s image and its selfless service and engagements.

On celebrating 75 years of Independence of India, Desai said he is committed to “a jamboree of blockbuster mega events” that will start with International Women’s Day celebration and carry on into October of this year.

The planned events include FIA’s cultural event of children’s Dance Competition on May 7th;  a historical inaugural launch of the festivities from Capitol Hill in DC on May 12th; Press events in India; International Yoga day in NYC; and the flagship event of flag-hoisting at Times Square, followed by the world’s largest India Day Parade on Aug. 21st on Madison Ave in New York City.

Bansal thanked his executive team and the FIA fraternity for the trust and confidence placed in him when leading the organization for two years thru some very unprecedented and challenging times.  He expressed confidence in his friend and colleague Kenny Desai saying, “Kenny bhai is (the) right candidate to carry the FIA flag and shine the pride and glory of our motherland and make our community and our brothers and sisters proud.”

The FIA Vice President Saurin Parikh, introduced Consul General Jaiswal who welcomed Desai’s presidency and expressed his best wishes. “This is the home of the Indian community and we welcome our community members here to work with us together for the betterment of the motherland and the diaspora” CG Jaiswal said.

Chairman of FIA Ankur Vaidya, who was joined by Jt. Secretary Srujal Parikh, Board of Trustees, and Alok Kumar, FIA Media Chair, congratulated Bansal and complemented his sincere dedication and contribution to the organization and to the community with his service.

Vaidya welcomed Desai and expressed his full support to him and the new executive team.  He expressed his gratitude to the Consulate for serving the Indian diaspora “selflessly to the best of their ability and capacity,” and urged the diaspora to extend the respect and credit to the Consulate for its efforts .

He also appealed the diaspora to give the due respect and credit to the consulate and its staff for their efforts to assist the community without interruption throughout the pandemic.

The event concluded at Saar Indian Cuisine & Bar, NYC, where Kenny Desai held a private reception for the FIA team.

ASEI To Honor Engineers, Scientists And Community Leaders At Its 34th National Convention Finale Awards Event

American Society of Engineers of Indian Origin (ASEI) is hosting the awards event for its 34th Annual National Convention focusing on Sustainable Technology Innovations (STI-2022). This virtual convention was held successfully on January 15th and 16th, 2022 and an award event was announced to be held on Feb 27th,2022 with honorable guests Indian Ambassador to US Mr Taranjit Singh Sandhu and Indian Consul General San Francisco Dr. TV Nagendra Prasad. The keynote speaker at the virtual program is Dr. Gururaj “Desh” Deshpande, Founder and Chairman, Sparta Group and Sycamore Networks, who will also be honored with ASEI Lifetime Achievement Award.

This convention comprising Aerospace Symposium, CXO Summit and Youth Technology Exposition (YTE) was put together by ASEI President and Convention Chair Piyush Malik along with Aerospace Symposium Co-chairs Dr. Shreekant Agrawal and Dr. Ajay Kothari, CXO Summit Co-Chair Surbhi Kaul and YTE Co -Chair Dr. Preetha Ram supported by tens of volunteers and over 35 accomplished speakers

The award ceremony for this convention will end with a finale awards ceremony session on Feb27 at 10 am (PST). where 10 outstanding achievers and those who contributed to ASEI growth and the society at large will be honored in addition to student winners of the YTE competition. This year’s outstanding achievement awards go to the following:

ASEI Intrapreneur of the Year – Shalini Govil-Pai, VP & GM, Google TV

Engineer of the Year Award in Technology /Cybersecurity- Bhawana Singh, Senior Vice President, Octa

Engineer of the Year Award in AerospaceTechnology /Robotics- Dr Sreeja Nag, Head of Software Systems Engineering at Nuro and Research Leader at NASA

ASEI will also honor others for their dedicated service to ASEI and Society as follows: Hari B. Bindal ASEI Founders Award – Dr. Thomas Abraham, Chairman of Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO International) & an ASEI life member having served on various ASEI committees over the past 8 years including Public Relations, Election and Awards

ASEI Service Excellence Award – Amrish Chopra, Cloud R&D manager, VMWare and ASEI Board Director who has been dedicated volunteer for many years and helped resurrect the ASEI monthly Newsletter.

COVID had brought our lives to a standstill in 2020 however there were numerous efforts that are helping us get back to normalcy. In the darkest moments, there were bright spots and ASEI will also honor four engineers for their service to society during those trying times with a Special “Engineer with a Heart” Award. Those are: Sanjiv Goyal, Entrepreneur and Angel Investor from Las Vegas for leading efforts of IIT Alumni through “United Against Covid” initiative; Yudhvir Mor, Vice President at Zuora in Noida who mobilized volunteers and efforts to help over 9000 women to find employment following traumatic loss of partner or parent due to Covid; Tarun Kappala, Technical Project Manager at SpringML in Hyderabad who took leave of absence to become an emergency ambulance driver to help victims and families during peak of Covid and provided exemplary service; Divya Ashok, ASEI Board Director from Silicon Valley who led the efforts from her organization Salesforce to organize executive support for two Plane loads of relief materials including Oxygen concentrators

ASEI President Piyush Malik said, “ASEI is a great organization providing a broad platform for the Indian origin engineers, technologists and young scientists providing wide networking and learning opportunities for all engineering professionals as well as to make them engaged in new technologies. ASEI is very pleased to recognize all awardees for their dedication, hard work, and exemplary contribution in their respective fields. We plan to continue with our tradition of acknowledging those who have made outstanding contributions in Science, Technology and Engineering and those who have done extraordinary work to support ASE and society”

Registration to the Award Ceremony is FREE. Pre-register at https://events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/eventReg?oeidk=a07ej17j6pddbe7b23f&oseq=&c=&ch=

The American Society of Engineers of Indian Origin (ASEI) is a not-for-profit organization that provides a platform for networking, career advancement, community service, mentoring and technology exchange for professionals, students and businesses in the United States and abroad. Members are guided by several objectives, including the creation of an open, inclusive, and transparent organization; providing positive role models, awarding scholarships, and remaining socially responsible. ASEI was founded in 1983 in Detroit, Michigan. Today, the organization also has chapters in Southern California, Silicon Valley, Seattle, and Washington, DC. For more information, visit: https://aseiusa.org

A Nightmare 2021: The Year of Targeted Hate, Violence, Coercion, and Fear

Soon after midnight on 25 December in the old military town of Ambala Cantonment in Haryana, two miscreants entered the Holy Redeemer Catholic Church, a landmark first built in 1848 and rebuilt in 1905. They shattered a statue of Jesus Christ at the entrance gate, throwing the head on the lawns, and damaged the lights they could reach. In a final act of hate and contempt, they urinated at the doors of the historic building that has stood through wars and the partition of India.

This terrible act of vandalism and desecration was one of sixteen acts of violence against the Christian church and community in India on Christmas day. By the time the year 2021 ended six days later, the Religious Liberty Commission of the Evangelical Fellowship of India had recorded 505 individual incidents of violence including three murders, across India. Some other agencies that document violence totaled a larger figure.

No denomination whether organized or a lonely independent worshipping family or neighborhood group, none has been spared targeted violence and intense, chilling hate, the worst seen since the general election campaign of 2014. The year 2021 saw calls for genocide and threats of mass violence made from public platforms, and important political and religious figures on the stage.

Uttar Pradesh, which was to go to the polls to elect a legislative assembly, topped the 2021 list with a record 129 cases, with Chhattisgarh at 74, neighboring Madhya Pradesh with 66 and Karnataka in South India at 48. West Bengal, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir, now a Union Territory, documented one case each. The North-eastern states as well as Kerala and Goa on the west coast did not record any case. All of them have sizable populations of Christians.

This was perhaps the third most violent Christmas the community has faced in India. On Christmas eve of 1998, 36 rural log churches were burnt and destroyed in the Dangs forested district of the state of Gujarat. The incidents were dubbed a “laboratory for right wing religious and nationalist fanatics.” On Christmas eve of 2007, another forest district, this time Kandhamal in the state of Orissa [now called Odisha] became the laboratory. Villages, houses, small prayer halls, large churches, and institutions were burnt, and people forced to flee for their lives into the forest. The violence was repeated a few months later. More than 100 were killed, many women, including a Catholic Nun raped, and close to 400 Churches and institutions destroyed. The Orissa government had identified the attackers as belonging to an arm of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh which had launched a massive hate campaign targeting the Christian community.

An analysis of the aggregated data shows that Christians were most vulnerable to attacks in the second half of the year, particularly in the months from August to December, the Christmas season. While October topped the list with 74 incidents followed by December with 64 incidents, August and September saw 52 and 50 cases respectively. The hot summer months of May and June were the most pacific (13 and 26 cases).

While three persons were murdered, in terms of other crimes enunciated in the Indian Penal Code, Coercion, Intimidation, Threats of violence and harassment of Christians was the most “common” crime with 137 cases, with arrest by police on fabricated cases close behind sat 81 cases. Of these, 17 persons were jailed by the police. Physical violence took place in 84 cases, while in 7 cases attacks on women were seen. Worship in churches of various sizes was interrupted or forced to stop in 65 incidents and 5 churches were destroyed. Critically for the communities in tribal and ~ 2 ~ other rural areas, there were recorded 36 cases of social boycott and ostracization, and 7 cases of forced conversion to Hinduism.

ICCR Scholarship Applicants For 2022-23 Announced

The Indian Council For Cultural Relations (ICCR) has announced 100 Scholarship slots globally under the “ICCR Scholarship for Indian Culture” for pursuing study of Indian Culture such as dance, music, theater, performing art, sculpture, Indian languages, Indian cuisine, etc. for the academic year 2022-23.

Applicants are requested to log onto “Admissions to Alumni” (A2A), the Scholarship Portal developed by ICCR at http://a2ascholarships.iccr.gov.in/. This portal contains all the relevant information for the applicants including details of all State Universities, Central Universities and Institutes, colleges affiliated with them, courses available, availability of hostels, applications guidelines, eligibility criteria and other relevant information for helping the applicants in decision-making while applying for the academic courses of their preference.

Please carefully note the following:

1)   Application submission process will begin on February 10, 2022 and last date of submission is April 30, 2022.

2)  Applicants must be between the age of 18-30 years. Applicants have the option to apply to 5 Universities / institutes in the order of their preference of study. The admission, as far as possible,shall be given as per applicant’s preference.

3)  For academic year 2022-23, a 500-word essay in English has been introduced to ascertain English proficiency (While filling the application, the applicant has to write a 500 word essay in English language, on one of the topics / subject mentioned in the Portal). Besides, students can also submit their TOFEL / IELTS etc. Standardized Test scores, if available.

4)  Interested students are advised to visit university/ institute website and do thorough research of courses offered, eligibility criteria and general information about the university/ institute before applying for admission Students are also advised to refer to the University Handbook/University Grants Commission’s website etc

5)  ICCR will offer return economy class airfare to the nearest airport and train fare to the place of study, if so required.

6)   It is compulsory for all ICCR scholarship students to procure Medical Insurance policy with minimum sum assured for Indian Rupees Five Lakhs per annum.  Students can purchase medical insurance from any of the insurance companies of their choice. However to facilitate students, A2A Portal has two insurance companies for referral purpose.

Detailed guidelines on the process of applying for ICCR Scholarships are available on the A2A Portal http://a2ascholarships.iccr.gov.in/

For any further queries, interested students should contact the Education or Culture Section of the Consulate General of India, New York by email. Please send your queries to education.newyork@mea.gov.in or culture.newyork@mea.gov.in.

Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam: How to Reunite India

Unity in diversity is a phrase we all picked up in our school years. Enjoying the Ramlila festivities for the ten days to Vijayadashami ran parallel to watching the Tazia processions or the Jaina processions with slogans of Vande Viram (Hail Lord Mahavira), the celebrations of Dalits on the day Babasaheb Ambedkar embraced Buddhism, and the celebration of Christmas. These diversity experiences were deeply rooted in how Indians marked various festivals—it was experiential, not just in the realm of theory.

In Indian society, diversity goes as far back as the imagination can. Christianity is older in India than many countries with far larger Christian populations. Right in the seventh century, Islam became a part of this land. The Shaka, Kushana, Hunas, and Greeks added their flavours to our culture. How did diversity become so deep-rooted in our culture? While there was ethnic strife, the social conditions settled into coexistence and harmony between religious streams.

The Ashokan edicts ask for mutual respect between members of different religions (which included Buddhism, Brahmanism, Jainism, and the Ajivikas). Much later, the Mughal ruler Akbar promoted Deen-e-Ilahi and Sulh-e-Kul. In his book Majma Ul Baharayn, Dara Shukoh described India as a vast ocean made of two seas, Hinduism and Islam.

The Bhakti saints such as Kabir, Ramdeo Baba peer, Tukaram, Namdeo and Narsi Mehta drew followers from Hindus and Muslims. Sufi saints such as Nizamuddin Auliya, Muin al-Din Chishti, and Haji Malang became part of the Indian ethos. These saints embraced all the people irrespective of their religion and caste. They melded with the local culture fully.

 During the colonial period, divisive tendencies in the name of religion reared their head due to the British policy of divide and rule. The elite sections of society initiated and encouraged these tendencies. However, they were overshadowed by the integrative and all-inclusive freedom movement. It is here that the magical interpretation of Hinduism by Gandhi succeeded in mobilising people of all religions within the single thread of Indian nationalism. The charisma of Gandhi’s movements left a deep impression on people of all faiths. People recited shlokas from the Gita and verses from the Koran and the Bible in his prayer meetings.

During this period, we saw Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Shaukatullah Shah Ansari, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, Allah Bakhsh, and many others rubbed shoulders with Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Patel and other leaders of the freedom movement. Diversity added richness and strength to the composite notion of Indian nationalism.

Cultural values drew heavily from interactions in subtle and profound ways, influencing all aspects of our life from food habits, literature, art, music, architecture and what have you. For the last few decades, events in India appear to be moving in the reverse direction, detrimental to peace and harmony. On the positive side, we witness the bubbling up of integrative efforts within and beyond religion. We had eminent social workers such as Swami Agnivesh and Asghar Ali Engineer, who promoted interfaith dialogue and sought to remove misunderstandings between members of different faiths. Many crusaders are silently working in society—Martin McWan, John Dayal and Cedric Prakash come to mind—who dedicated their lives to promote harmony. Such movements of interfaith dialogue went a long way in reducing theological and social misunderstanding among Hindus and Muslims and members of other faiths. Their initiative contributed in profound ways to maintaining amity between diverse groups. Each in their own way has come to imprint harmony on all of society.

Faisal Khan revived Khudai Khidmatgar, the organisation Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan founded. This grassroots organisation promotes amity and the spirit of mutual respect between Hindus and Muslims. They launched an open house—Apna Ghar—a system wherein members from all communities can live together and share their practices with others in a respectful way. Noted film maker Anand Patwardhan wrote, “…the Khudais have touched people’s hearts across the country and membership has swelled to 50,000. Today it has many Hindus, including a few who had once been in the RSS.”

India has been the site of many ghastly lynchings. The families of the victims have no social support and are desperately helpless. To empathise with them, social activist Harsh Mander started the Karwan-e-Mohabbat—Caravan of Love—that reaches out to the families of the victims of lynching to extend moral and social support. It has come as significant assistance to families and communities.

Many cities have communal harmony groups today and charity groups that help all, even though we may not hear about them much. These groups are working silently, unnoticed, while the violence of groups that promote divisiveness always hog the limelight. Even the farmer movement, the most significant post-independence mass movement, has promoted communal amity in a big way. Similarly, the Shaheen Bagh protests strengthened intercommunity amity.

The deeper problem is the global rise of those who believe in the “clash of civilisations” thesis and promote divisive tendencies. India is no exception. A United Nations-sponsored high-level committee when Kofi Annan was Secretary-General put forward the notion of an ‘Alliance of Civilisations’. This is the guiding principle of many groups who wish to revive India’s syncretic traditions. In the current troubling scenario, these rays of hope are lesser-known but critical for a peaceful future.

ASEI’s 34th National Convention On Sustainable Technology Innovations Held

Fremont, California: The American Society of Engineers of Indian Origin (ASEI) hosted its 34th National Convention focusing on Sustainable Technology Innovations (STI-2022) on Jan 15 &16th. The convention consisted of 3 mini-conferences with over 35 speakers spread across two days. The Aerospace Symposium and Youth Technology Exposition were held on the first day while the last day consisted of a power-packed CXO Summit with a number of C-Suite executives sharing their wisdom with over 500 participants from many countries spread across 3 continents. The program details and a souvenir for the convention are available here: http://aseiusa.org/NC.

Kicking off the 34th National Convention, the ASEI President and Convention Chair Piyush Malik along with Dr. Shreekant Agrawal welcomed the delegates on Jan 15th morning at the Aerospace Symposium. Buoyed by the current euphoria of billionaires venturing in spacecrafts and plenty of investments pouring into the sector, the ASEI Aerospace Symposium had a Star Trek like feeling – exploring trends and technologies around four key areas viz. Space Tourism, Living on the Moon, Future of High-Speed Travel and Air Taxis. Former NASA Administrator Dr. Michael D. Griffin gave a heartfelt keynote address sharing his personal stories including those involving Indian food!

At the first panel focusing on High-Speed air travel moderated by Dr. Bala Bharadwaj, the participants learned how as a result of six decades of research on supersonic commercial aircraft design have paved the way for a new era in high-speed travel that is not too far from becoming a reality.  Dr. Vik Kachoria, Dr. Kevin Bowcutt and NASA’s Mary Di Joseph each presented their point of views before engaging in a panel discussion

Living on the moon panel explored getting most efficiently and cheaply to the Moon not only for tourism, but to establish settlements on the Moon, to live and work there. This time, it will be mining for the most important, life sustaining water-ice on the Moon, as well as exploring the lava tubes for habitats. Moderated by Dr. David Livingston, the knowledgeable expert panelists Dr. Bhavya Lal, Prof. Haym Benoroya and Dr. Ajay Kothari shared their vision

During the Space Access & Tourism session, the panelists Dr. Kelley Weinershith, Mr. Richard French and Dr. David Livingston were engaged in a lively discussion by Dr. Kavya Manyapu. They spoke how cheaper and more frequent space access as offered by startups like Rocket Lab and Astra have shown a path to help humanity benefit from Space by their launches of smaller satellites to near Earth orbits, thus helping improve life on Earth. All these developments of late are what dreams can be made of now. With the advent and successful deployment of reusable rockets, these dreams will be in the grasp of many in the coming decade.

Flying cars have been in many dreams for a long time. The business potential for air taxis is expected to grow to $1.5 trillion by 2040.  All of this is possible now because of new and emerging technologies, including new batteries, autonomous operations, and advanced manufacturing.

Co-chairs Dr Shreekant Agrawal and Dr Ajay Kothari helped put the Symposium together with the help of speakers and volunteers. We hope to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers through this and our other programmes.

Youth Technology Exposition

ASEI has always supported STEM and youth empowerment initiatives. Our University Connect and STEM programs intersect at the YTE event.  The YTE is intended to provide a forum for young engineers and scientists to showcase their work in the areas of engineering and emerging technologies. Adapting to Covid times where we can.t meet in person to see science fair projects and interact with students and to recognize deserving students, we invited young scientists and engineering students to participate in our flagship YTE during this virtual ASEI 34th National Convention.

The afternoon of Jan 15th was reserved for the finals of Youth Technology Exposition. The YTE is a flagship STEM programme at ASEI where students participate with their science fair, engineering or innovation projects. The preliminary rounds conducted early in a calendar year by each ASEI chapter select a handful of winners from Grade 9 thru 12. As the year progresses and the National Convention nears, the competition heats up as well. The YTE finalists are selected from the preliminary rounds and asked to showcase their projects as well as face live Q&A form the YTE judges. This time, we had multiple entries from only our traditionally strong chapters of Silicon Valley and Michigan, but also from Florida and India. Dr. Preetha Ram aided by Mythli Srinivasan and Geetha Arun judged the finals. The top 3 prize winning entries were:

3rd Place

Creating a Haptic 4D model along with machine learning analysis by developing a Non-invasive pressure mapping method to screen Genital Skin Cancer by Sidharth Jain and Aasimm Khan from Mumbai, India

2nd Place

A Multistep, ML-Based Predictor of Parkinson’s Disease Progression Using GWAS, Patient Symptoms, and Gene Expression Data by Isha Jagadish from Saratoga, California

1st Place

A Physical Device to Help the Visually Impaired Read Money Using AI/Machine Learning in Third World Countries by Nidhi Mathihali from Saratoga, California

CXO Summit

The final day of the convention (Jan 16th) featured a CXO Summit where the invited speakers gave talks on latest emerging trends, as well as the audience engaged with them during CTO and CEO fireside chats and CIO panel.

ASEI president Piyush Malik welcomed the CXO summit delegates with a recap of the Aerospace Summit as well as a “State of the union” address about the ASEI’s growth and expansion of free programs and outreach for members and students during the Covid lockdowns in 2020/2021. He also talked about how Innovation and sustainable technologies are the imperatives for survival in the next decade.  From adaptive sustainable supply chains to becoming carbon neutral to adopting mandates emerging from United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, leaders across industries and organizations are forced to be prepared for the unexpected and he hoped that this Convention would encourage dialogue as well as solutions in this matter.

Opening keynote by City of Fremont Mayor Lily Mei highlighted how much infusion of advanced technology, AI, IOT etc.  have made Fremont grow with safety, sustainability and Innovation into a Smart City.

Veteran philanthropist and venture capitalist MR Rangaswami captivated the audience with his whirlwind tour of 40 years’ journey of Indian engineers from the trenches to the corner office in the US. Citing numerous success stories from his chapter in the book “Kamala Harris and the rise of Indian Americans”, he engaged with audience questions as well.

CXO Symposium Co-chair Surbhi Kaul engaged Juniper networks CTO Dr Raj Yavatkar in an interesting chat answering questions like “How leadership fosters Innovation in large organizations? And how does one go from being an individual contributor to a technology leader and ultimately a C-Suite executive? “

There was an innovation and sustainability panel moderated by Kunal Sood with three women speakers from across 3 continents that generated a lot of interesting discussions. What are public and corporate leaders doing in this realm of sustainability and innovation and how are they supporting the commercial entities within their jurisdiction. This panel of CXOs, academics and influential leaders explored these and more.

In a fireside chat with Piyush Malik, the founder and CEO of Automotive disruptor Techion, Jay Vijayan shared his nuggets of wisdom from his journey as Tesla’s first CIO to the founder of a 3x Unicorn.  “Stay customer obsessed, focus on what value you bring and don’t compromise on your values!”

Sandy Carter, an industry category creator as well as a marketing powerhouse lived upto her reputation as the “Energizer Bunny” while sharing her journey from engineering school to MBA and Senior Executive ranks across her career from IBM to Amazon to now a Web3 pioneer Unstoppable. Her talk “Going down the Web 3 Rabbit hole” was an overview to those interested in web3, NFTs, Crypto and Metaverse and generated a lot of audience enthusiasmNext, four CIOs led by Raman Mehta from Johnson Electric, Dr. Soma Venkat from Cooper Standard, JP Saini from Sunbelt Rentals and Karuna Annavajjala from Silicon Labs shared their view of post pandemic enterprise IT and the role CIOs play in the innovation agenda. This was followed by Award announcements and an informal networking session where all participants were able to come on camera and interact with the speakers and organizers.

The objective of this convention has been to provide a forum to promote and share advancements related to latest cutting-edge innovations and technologies across various engineering disciplines. The convention achieved the highest registration of any event in ASEI history and was attended by over 500 professionals each day including scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, and corporate leaders across the USA. This two-day event featured keynotes and multiple interactive sessions with prominent business and technology leaders, scientists, media personalities, educators, policy makers, and venture capitalists

In accordance with ASEI tradition of recognizing exceptional engineers and scientists as well as ASEI volunteers, the ASEI awards will be given out for following categories: ASEI Lifetime Achievement, Hari B. Bindal ASEI Founder’s Award, ASEI Entrepreneur/Intrapreneur of the Year, ASEI Engineer/Scientist of the Year, ASEI Service Excellence and ASEI Special Awards

The awards ceremony will take place on Feb 27th,2022 where the honorable guests include Indian Ambassador Taranjit Singh Sandhu from Washington, DC and Indian Consul General in San Francisco Dr. TV Nagendra Prasad. All award winners will be felicitated along with speakers and volunteers. This event is open for all but pre-registration is required at www.aseiusa.org

The American Society of Engineers of Indian Origin (ASEI) is a not-for-profit organization that provides a platform for networking, career advancement, community service, mentoring and technology exchange for professionals, students and businesses in the United States and abroad. Members are guided by several objectives, including the creation of an open, inclusive, and transparent organization, providing positive role models, awarding scholarships, and remaining socially responsible. ASEI was founded in 1983 in Detroit, Michigan. Today, the organization also has chapters in Detroit, Southern California, Silicon Valley, Seattle, and Washington, DC. For more information, visit: https://aseiusa.org/

Long Island, NY Celebrates 73rd Annual India Republic Day

Town of Hempstead Celebrates 73rd. Annual India Republic Day with Flag Raising Celebration at Town Hall. Hempstead Town Supervisor and Town Board recognize holiday to celebrate freedom in the world’s most populous democracy and honor the Indian American community’s Legacy in Hempstead Town.

Hempstead Town Supervisor Don Clavin, along with members of the Hempstead Town Board and leaders of the Indian American Forum, India Association of Long Island, IIDPUSA and several Community Leaders and members joined together to celebratethe73rd Annual India Republic Day. The event was held on the front steps of Hempstead Town Hall last Wednesday, January 26,2022to highlight the transition of the highest populated democracy in the world to a republic. The National Flag of India was publicly raised to commemorate Indian American residents and culture.

Indians American culture and tradition are vastly important in the Hempstead Town Community, “Clavin Said. “America’s largest township is thankful y obo home to thriving community of Indian Americans contribute to shaping the dynamic identity of our home. It is vital and right that we communally recognize and celebrate the fundamental parts of our neighbor’s ‘history’. Welcome remarks given by Indu Jaiswal Chair IAF and Bobby Kumar Kalotee, Chairman Human Rights Commission, Nassau County, also present were Bina Sabapathy, President IALI, Deepak Bansal President IDPUSA, Jasbir Jay Singh, Zahid Syed, Human Rights Commissioner Nassau County, Jagdish Sewahni. Bina Kothari, President NY GOPIO, Roopam Maini, Vijay Goswamy Executive Members of IAF

Due to the persistence of the COVID -19 pandemic. The event was held completely outdoors. The Flag raising proceedings included a cultural music selection, singing of the United States National Anthem by Dr Bhavani Srinivasan, and Indian National Anthem by Jyoti Gupta, Blessings from the Priest  Samiran Chakraborty from NY Kali Mandir, Patriotic Medley By Budh Prakash Singh Jasuja, Nanki Jasuja, Dr Jag Kalra, Koolbhushan Sharma and Jyoti Gupta, and Keynote speaker Dr Azad  Anand, Trustee IAF, explaining the history and significance of the Indian American Community to the town and country.

The importance of India Republic Day extends far beyond the Town of Hempstead. Said Hempstead town Clerk Kate Murray, who began the tradition during her tenure as Supervisor. “Indian Culture has had a profound influence on American culture the course of many years and I am always glad to honor and Celebrate the Indian American neighbors in our Town. We encourage all residents to join us in celebrating our Indian American community’ Clavin Said ‘Happy India Republic Day “

Vandalization Of Gandhi Statue In New York Condemned

On Saturday, February 5th, a life-sized bronze statue of the late Mahatma Gandhi, located in New York City’s popular Union Square was vandalized. The Hindu Policy Research and Advocacy Collective (HinduPACT) sees this hate crime against Hindus and Indian Americans – which took place during Black History Month, nonetheless – as an affront to both Gandhi and the late Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.; two public figures and leaders who sought to eradicate hate on the basis of race, religion and creed.

Balabhadra Bhattacarya Dāsa (Benny Tillman), President, Vedic Friends Association said, “Some years ago I had the great fortune of attending the annual Gandhi/ King celebration in Atlanta, and the keynote speaker that year was MLK’s wife Coretta Scott King.” Dāsa recalls her saying “My husband MLK, was a disciple of Gandhi.” Dāsa added: “As an African American practitioner of the Hindu Dharma, I am deeply offended that anyone would disrespect Mahatma Gandhi, who inspired MLK to take up the mission of non-violence, which inspired major changes in society that are still positively impacting our lives today.”

Utsav Chakrabarti, Executive Director of HinduPACT said, “This is not the first time that statues of Mahatma Gandhi have been vandalized in the US. In the past few years, statues of Mahatma Gandhi had been vandalized by groups aligned with radical Islamists and their sympathizers in South Asian communities.”

Ajay Shah, President of the World Hindu Council of America (VHPA) and Convenor of HinduPACT and American Hindus Against Defamation (AHAD) said, “Mahatma Gandhi and the freedom movement he spearheaded served as the inspiration for Dr. Martin Luther King and the American Civil Rights movement.  The MLK Memorial in Atlanta, GA has an area dedicated to Mahatma Gandhi. It is no coincidence that Mahatma Gandhi’s statue was desecrated during the Black History Month. The perpetrators of this act and their sponsors are sending the message that they have not accepted peace, human rights, freedom and equality of all human beings.”

This is not the first statue of Gandhi to be desecrated. In Washington, DC, his statue at Gandhi Memorial Plaza was vandalized amidst George Floyd riots on June 4, 2020and it “was defaced by Khalistani elements” on December 12, 2020.

In California, Gandhi’s statue in the Northern California City of Davis’s Central Park was vandalized on January 26, 2021; half of Gandhi’s face was severed and missing and was sawed off at the ankles then toppled over. Statues of Gandhi are a symbol of equality. Those who attempted to desecrate his image are indicating their aversion to seeing a society where equality reigns supreme among all people.

Cricket Legend Sunil Gavaskar To Address AAPI’s 40th AAPI Convention In San Antonio, TX

San Antonio, TX: February 7th, 2022: “Legendary Cricket Star Sunil Gavaskar, well known around the world as an inspirational speaker, philanthropist, and the chairman of H2H Foundation will be a keynote speaker during the 40th Annual Convention of AAPI to be held in San Antonio, TX from June 23rd to 26th, 2022,” Dr. Anupama Gotimukula announced here.

Confirming his presence at the Convention, “The Little Master” Sunil Gavaskar told AAPI members who are part of the “greatest profession in the world,” and said, “It’s a unique honor to be part of the important AAPI convention in Texas. I am looking forward to meeting you all in Texas.” Mr. Gavaskar referred to his association with the “Heart to Heart Foundation” and how the Foundation is touching many hearts around the world.

According to Dr. Jayesh Shah, Chair of the Convention 2022, “While the theme for the historic convention is ‘Physician, heal thyself,’ especially when there are growing signs of burnout among physicians, by offering positive remedial resources as part of a first-ever Wellness Program being offered to participants, the special and unique once in a lifetime interactive session with the Cricket legend will allow the AAPI delegates to listen firsthand to the stories of his glorious cricket days, and the stories that tug at the hearts of the audience.”

“During A Meet & Greet Luncheon event with Sunil Gavaskar, recipient of Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan awards for his contributions to Indian cricket will inspire the hearts and souls of AAPI delegates by telling us how India remains the world capital for Congenital Heart Disease (CHD), with 300,000 children born each year,” Dr. Ravi Kolli, President-Elect of AAPI said.

Without medical/surgical care, over 25% of children die before their 1st birthday, contributing to over 10% of the Infant Mortality Rate and resulting in 250+ children dying every day; many more die in infancy or the preschool ages. Only a small fraction of children with CHD can afford the cardiac surgery, which can cost over $100,000 in the United States.

With frugal innovations in CHD care H2H Foundation has reduced the average cost of an open-heart surgery to only $2000$  per patient, which would otherwise be $75,000 to $125,000 in the United States and $5,000 to $9,000 in India. Gavaskar has personally sponsored 34 surgeries to match his 34 test centuries. The legendary cricket master is touring the United States to raise awareness and funds to support the cause.

Heart to Heart (H2H) Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to saving the lives of children born with CHD, by providing FREE pediatric cardiac surgeries in collaboration with the group of Sai Sanjeevini Hospitals in India. Since February 2014, these hospitals have also been providing primary, secondary, and tertiary healthcare exclusively to children with CHD and over 10,000 surgeries have been performed free of cost. 10,000 is also the number of innings played by Gavaskar. Additionally, for every test century, he has scored he has personally funded the same number of surgeries.

Dr. Kusum Punjaabi, Chair of AAPI BOT said, “At AAPI, the largest ethnic medical association in the nation, we are proud, we have been able to serve every 7th patient in the country. We serve in large cities, smaller towns and rural areas, sharing our skills, knowledge, compassion and expertise and caring for millions of people.”

“A huge thank you to all of the doctors, physicians, and other healthcare professionals for your dedication and commitment to service during this uncertain time,” Dr. Anjana Samadder, Vice President of AAPI said. “This is a unique opportunity for All of us, the front-line physicians who are putting our lives at risk to save the lives of others,” Dr. Satheesh Kathula, Secretary of AAPI said. “Thank you for fighting selflessly against this virus and helping keep everyone healthy and safe,” Dr. Krishan Kumar, Treasurer of AAPI added

Organized by the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI), the largest ethnic medical organization in the country, representing the interests of over 100,000 physicians of Indian origin, the historic 40th Annual Convention will offer a valuable platform for physicians and healthcare thought leaders from across the country and globally to convene and participate in the scholarly exchange of ideas on medical advances, and will help develop health policy agendas and recommend legislative priorities in the coming years.

The convention will be held at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio, TX located on the RiverWalk. This world-class facility will afford an intimate setting that will facilitate our ability to convey cutting-edge research and CME, promote business relationships, and display ethnic items. Vendor satisfaction and comfort are our top priorities, added Dr. Shah.

A dedicated Convention Committee Team led by Dr. Jayesh Shah including Mr. Venky Adivi, Chief Executive Officer of the Convention; Dr. Aruna Venkatesh, Convention Treasurer; Dr. Vijay Koli, Past President of AAPI & Convention Advisor; Dr. Rajam Ramamurthy, Convention Advisor; Dr. Rajeev Suri, President of TIPS & Co-Chair of the Convention, Dr. Shankar Sanka, Co-Chair of the Convention; Dr. Hetal Nayak, Co-Chair of the Convention; Kiran Cheruku, Co-Chair of the Convention; and Chief Operating Officers, Mr.  Reddy Yeluru and Me. Ram Joolukuntla, are working hard for the past several months to make the Convention truly historic.

Some of the major themes at the convention include: Yoga and Meditation practices, Welcome kit with books & self-care supplies, A Personal Reflexology Session, Take home wellness routine, Ailment based yoga therapy sessions, Workshop on Spiritual well-being, Book talk with Yoga Gurus, including on the science of Yoga & Lifestyle medicine, as well as an unique opportunity to visit first of its kind in San Antonio, Aum Ashram as part of the Wellness session.

Esteemed yoga gurus and experts, who are planned to share their wisdom and leading the Wellness Sessions include: Paramguru Sharatha Jois, Sadhvi Bhagawati, Saraswati Eddie Stern, Dr. Sat Bir Khalsa, Dr. Dilip Sarkar, Dr. Pankaj Vij, and Dr. Param Dedhia.

Besides Lifestyle medicine and wellness, There is an outstanding lineup of CME speakers to provide AAPI members education in all areas of medicine.

While encouraging AAPI members to register for the Convention, Dr. Gotimukula urged them to “Come, engage in a freewheeling conversation with the cricket legend where he will share interesting anecdotes and inspiring experiences. Interact with Sunil Gavaskar and tap into his wealth of wisdom on leadership, career, and life and take away insights on how to learn, lead, and live. Each delegate can get to take away cricket bats and other memorabilia signed by Gavaskar as souvenirs of a memorable event if you sponsor a child for congenital heart surgery!  For more information, please visit: www.aapiconvention.org  and www.aapiusa.org

Indian American Communities In North America Celebrate India’s 73rd Republic Day

Thousands of miles away from India, their motherland, India remains close to the hearts of millions. Reflecting their love and appreciation for their motherland, Indian Americans across the country celebrated India’s 73rd Republic Day in style in separate functions. Nearly 400 people attended the Jan. 26, 2022 Republic Day of India event organized by the Indian American Community of North America, IACONA.

Some of the leaders present included IACONA Chairman Albert Jasani, Padma Shri recipient Dr. Sudhir Parikh of Parikh Worldwide Media, Person of the Year 2021 Award winner Dr. Sunil H. Parikh, Chandra Jhaveri, Dev Karlekar, in addition to the community dignitaries, retired Colonels and Generals from the Indian Army, according to organizers of the celebration in New Jersey.

The attendees also included Commissioner Sue Kylie who is running for Congress, and Township office holders, elected officials, representatives from the Police Department and the Department of Defense. Among other guests were heads of several community organizations, sponsors of the event and donors.

The event began with the hoisting of the Indian flag and singing of the Indian National Anthem, followed by a cultural program of Kathak and Bharatnatyam Dances, and a dinner.

Dr. Sudhir Parikh, chairman of Parikh Wordwide Media and ITV Gold, right, with Albert Jasani, founder of Indian American Community of North America, IACONA, on stage at the Jan. 26, 2022 celebrations of India’s 73rd Republic Day held in Royal Albert’s Palace, Fords, N.J. Photo: ITV Gold

Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Sudhir Parikh wished everyone a happy Republic Day.
“This is the day when India really became a democracy 73 years ago,” he said. “And we are happy and lucky that we are here and we are celebrating the Republic Day of India,” he said.

“Let us work for Mother India and do something for Mother India because that is our responsibility to help Mother India,” he added. “I would like to congratulate the Indian American Community of North America and chairman Albert Jasani and other members,” he said.

Following its practice, IACONA awards a community member for their outstanding contribution to the community through the year. This year, the award was given to Dr. Sunil H. Parikh.

IACONA also paid tribute this year to the participants in India’s freedom struggle, with special tributes to Shaheed Bhagat Singh and Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. This year, a special tribute was also paid to the India’s General Bipin Rawat who died in a recent plane crash along with several others. The event also had a memorial presentation for those of the community who were lost during the pandemic.

Speaking to those gathered, Dr. Sunil Parikh said he was very proud to see IACONA take a big step towards creating more awareness about India by celebrating India’s Republic Day. He said the SSAI had been working in New Jersey and in India for the past 21 months, providing meals, masks, plasma, navigation help for COVID testing and for vaccination. The organization was planning a new Health Center in partnership with St. Peters Hospital, he said.

Chandra Jhaveri, dressed to represent Prime Minister Narendra Modi, said he wanted to show his respect to the Prime Minister by doing that and called for hailing India in one voice.

Council member Juned Qazi said, “I wish all the Indians in America and globally a Happy Republic Day,” he said. Introducing Commissioner Kylie of Monmouth County as a candidate for Congress, he said, “I want all Indians to vote for her.”

Commissioner Kylie said, “I am very excited to have met a lot of the Indian community at this wonderful celebration. … A great great group of people that I immediately fell in love with.”

Kylie went on to say, “There’s a lot of things we have to change in our country. But we’re going to stick together we’re going to count on our faith. And we’re going to count on doing things that makes common sense. So hopefully I see you again soon.”

Dev Karlekar, founder and CEO of GuruSchools, acknowledged all the dignitaries gathered. “Today we are celebrating India’s Republic Day at the  Royal Albert Palace, New Jersey, along with some of our prominent leaders such as Councilman Juned Quazi who has brought some other political leaders to this event to spread awareness about India and Indians,” he said. “Needless to say, Albert (Jasani) graciously opened his doors so that we could have the event. All precautions about the pandemic and protocols were followed. Thank you ITV for covering us, Bharat Mata Ki Jai, Vande Mataram,” he concluded.

One of the attendees recounted his experience decades ago when he participated in the ceremonial parade on Rajpath in New Delhi. “I walked and saluted our ‘tiranga’ on Rajpath. That has become my lifelong memory till today after 63 years,” he said.

Indian Embassy celebrates 73rd Republic Day of India

The Indian Embassy in Washington, D.C. celebrated India’s 73rd Republic Day observing Covid-protocols, by having an in-person and online broadcast of the event. Attended by community members and watched by others as it was webcast, the event highlighted the achievements of India in various fields including during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Today, India is better placed to face the increasing challenges and complexities that the world encounter. We have a massive vaccination drive against COVID-19 ongoing, administering more than 1.6 billion doses so far, and taking vaccines to the remotest corners of the country. The initiative of the government aimed at boosting jobs, consumer demand, manufacturing, infrastructure, agriculture and exports are accelerating economic recovery,” said Ambassador of India to the United States, Taranjit Sandhu, during the 73rd Republic Day of India celebrations, at the India House, Jan. 26, 2022.

He also noted that this was the year that the world’s largest democracy was celebrating its 75th Anniversary. To mark the 75th anniversary of Indian independence, the Government of India launched a special initiative, Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav, which was inaugurated by the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, last year. The official start of the initiative was March 12, 2021, a 75-week countdown, which will end Aug. 15, 2023.

New York Consulate, community organizations salute India

The 73rd Republic Day of India was celebrated in the Consulate General of India, New York with a flag-hoisting ceremony on Tuesday, January 26, 2022. Due to the pandemic, the number of participants attending the event was restricted. However, the event was telecast LIVE through the Consulate’s social media platforms, so that a larger audience could participate.

Consul General Randhir Jaiswal unfurled the national flag after which the national anthem was sung.

As is the tradition, the Consul General then read out the address of the President of India. A video congratulatory message received from Governor of New York Kathy Hochul was played at the event.

A short cultural program was presented by Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, which included singing of patriotic songs and poetry recitation.

Around the United States, various Indian Consulates and local community and cultural organizations also celebrated the Republic Day with much fanfare in virtual mode.

FIA-New England celebrates 73rd Republic Day in Worcester, MA

The Federation of Indian Associations (FIA) New England held a colorful virtual celebration supported by the Consulate General of India in New York on January 25, at the iconic Worcester Union Station in Worcester, Massachusetts. Dignitaries including State Senator (Massachusetts) Michael Moore, former U.S. Congressman Joe Kennedy III, and former Rhode Island Assemblyman Robert Lancia participated in the event.

The Federation of Indian Associations Ohio held a Flag Hoisting ceremony at the Ohio State House in Columbus, Ohio, on January 26. Ohio State Senator Niraj Antani and prominent members of the Indian community were present at the event. The program was live-streamed.

The Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO) held a virtual Republic Day event on January 26, in association with the Consulate General of India. Several dignitaries including State Senators Kevin Thomas (New York), Vin Gopal (New Jersey), Kesha Ram (Vermont), Neeraj Antani (Ohio); and members of State Assemblies Raj Mukherjee (New Jersey), Latha Mangipudi (New Hampshire), Harry Arora (Connecticut) and Jennifer Rajkumar (New York) participated in the event.

Because of Covid restrictions, the event was a combination of Zoom/YouTube/Facebook live in front of the 75 invited guests, and more than 1,000 online guests, according to a press release from the organization.

Worcester Union Station was decorated in the hues of saffron, white, and green as the Indian tricolor was unfurled by dignitaries belonging to different castes, creeds, religions, and colors, reflecting the joy of unity amidst diversity and to mark the 73rd anniversary of Republic Day of India, organizers noted.

Among those who participated in unfurling the flag were Massachusetts State Senator Michael O. Moore, State Representative Robert Lancia, U.S. Congressman Jim McGovern, State Representative Hannah Kane, Ex-congressman Joe Kennedy, Interim Chair of the  Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences Terrick Andey. This was followed by the singing of the Indian national anthem.

Other community and cultural organizations such as the International Center for Cultural Integration (ICCI), Long Island; the Tri City India Association, Albany; the Indian Association of Buffalo (IAB); the Indian Cultural Heritage & Arts Awareness Club, New York; the Indian Association of Greater Boston (IAGB); the Indian American Community in Northern America, New Jersey; The Council of Indian Organizations (CIO) in Pennsylvania; and the Hindu Temple of North America, Queens NY are scheduled to hold their respective events in the coming days.

Indian-American Candidates Gain Support For 2022 US Mid Term Elections

Ahead of this year’s elections, AAPI Victory Fund, and Indian American Impact Fund jointly endorsed Indian-American congressional candidates, Nida Allam of North Carolina and Kesha Ram Hinsdale of Vermont.

Allam is currently the Durham County Commissioner and is running for U.S. House of Representatives in North Carolina’s 6th Congressional District.

Ram Hinsdale is a Vermont State Senator and the first woman in the state to run for the U.S. House of Representatives.

Shekar Narasimhan, founder and chairman of AAPI Victory Fund said the organization was pleased to announce its support for Allam and Hinsdale.

“As elected leaders and champions for the progressive movement in their respective states, Nida and Kesha have made strides for not only the AAPI community but for all of their constituents. They continue to dedicate themselves to ensuring that progress leaves no one behind,” Narasimhan is quoted saying in the press release.

“We are honored to endorse these two exemplary candidates who will make history when elected to Congress as they strive to make a positive impact on our country. We look forward to supporting them both on their path to Congress,” he added.

Neil Makhija, executive director of Indian American Impact Fund, a political action committee which has funded scores of election campaigns around the country, echoed similar sentiments.

“Our team is extremely honored to endorse Nida Allam and Kesha Ram Hinsdale for Congress. Both Nida and Kesha uphold the progressive and justice-oriented values that we at IMPACT are thrilled to support in tandem,” Makhija said.

“As Indian-Americans, Nida and Kesha’s bids for public office serve as a reminder that Indian-Americans are deeply underrepresented in American government. The historic strides that they’ve made in their respective states are just the beginning for Indian-American and AAPI communities to have a seat at the political table, and we’re excited to see how they continue to prioritize marginalized communities come midterms, and beyond,” Makhija added.

Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, D-Washington, also expressed her support and is quoted in the press release saying, “It’s wonderful to see so many South Asians and South Asian women running for Congress this cycle.  They certainly bring a strong set of assets to the table, and will energize a whole new community of voters.  I may be the first, but I certainly won’t be the last,” Jayapal is quoted saying in the press release.

Allam said she was honored to be endorsed by the two organizations. “The Indian-American community needs more representation at the highest levels, and I’m proud to be supported by these champions for our community. As a Member of Congress, I’ll fight for the progressive policies that working families across North Carolina need,” Allam said.

Ram Hinsdale said, “If elected as Vermont’s first Congresswoman, I look forward to working with AAPI Victory Fund, Indian American Impact and Representative Pramila Jayapal to build a bigger coalition for racial, economic, and social justice.  They have challenged politics as usual, amplifying the voices of underrepresented communities and fighting for the issues that working Vermonters care about. I am honored to have earned this endorsement.”

Allam is the daughter of Indian and Pakistani immigrants. She attended North Carolina public schools and then NC State University, where she led a campaign to partner with local healthcare workers to provide free healthcare to low-income community members.

Her life took a turn in 2015 when her friends Deah Barakat, Yusor Abu-Salha, and Razan Abu-Salha were murdered in their Chapel Hill home in an anti-Muslim hate crime, according to her bio on her website nidaallam.com.

“Deeply affected by the deaths of her friends and determined to carry on their legacy, Nida threw herself into organizing to amplify underheard voices and increase community safety through solidarity, the website profile says.

Allam served as a political director for the Bernie Sanders campaign and then was elected Third Vice Chair of the North Carolina Democratic Party, the first Muslim elected to the party’s Executive Council. She currently serves on the board of directors for Planned Parenthood South Atlantic.

In 2020, Allam ran for Durham County Commission and was the highest vote-getter in the general election, becoming the first Muslim woman elected to public office in North Carolina.

Ram Hinsdale was born in Los Angeles and has bachelors degrees in Natural Resource Planning and Political Science from the University of Vermont.

She also has a Master degree in Public Administration from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

She represented Burlington-Chittenden District in the Vermont House of Representatives on from 2008 to 2016, where she sat on the House General, Housing & Military Affairs and Ways & Means Committees, and as Vice Chair of the House Natural Resources & Energy Committee.

Ram Hinsdale has also served as Co-Chair of the Vermont Attorney General’s Immigration Task Force, and as a member of the boards of Emerge Vermont, the Main Street Alliance of Vermont, Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, the Regenerative Food Network, and the Vermont Natural Resources Council.

Gandhi Memorial Foundation Observes Gandhiji’s 74th Punyatithi, Shaheed Diwas

Chicago IL: Mahatma Gandhi’s 74th death anniversary was observed on January 30, 2022 at 11:00 am at Mahatma Gandhi Statue in the National Heritage Park on McCormick Boulevard in Skokie, Illinois. Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi was remembered by singing of “Gandhi’s favorite Bhajans” and Powerful Tributes by Gandhi Memorial Foundation Board Members and Floral tributes by Consulate General of Chicago Mr Amit Kumar and his wife Mrs Surabhi Kumar.

The contribution of Mahatma Gandhi towards the nation and its independence is well known in Indian History. He was a great freedom fighter who taught the lesson of non-violence to the whole world and worked on building the unity of the nation which was broken by the British. After India got Independence in 1947, Bapu stayed away from politics and started working on harmony, peace, and brotherhood among the people. On Friday – January 30, 1948 at 5:17 PM the Father of the Nation was assassinated by Nathuram Godse in the year 1948 at Gandhi Smriti in the Birla House during the evening prayers. January 30 is the day when Mahatma Gandhi was martyred, and the Government of India announced the day as Shaheed Diwas or Martyrs’ Day (Sarvodaya Day).

The event starts by Shree Gurusamy welcoming remarks. Prayer songs “Vaishnav Janto and Raghupati Raghav Rajaram” led by Bhartiben Desai were very inspiring. Consul General Amit Kumar’s remembrance of Gandhiji’s talisman quotation was very timely. Dr Sriram Sonty remembered the Last few minutes of Mahatma Gandhiji’ Life. The White and Red color beautiful Garland was donated by Srinivas and Kavitha. Tea and snacks provided and brought by Consul Ranjit Singhji’s team. Diptiji put lots of efforts to call snow removal service because of over 10-inch snow by Mahatma Gandhi Statue in the National Heritage Park. Due to very cold weather (16 Degree Fahrenheit) the event was only for 15 minutes.

CDC Urged To Provide Clear Path To Endemic Status

Experts say that Covid will likely lose its “pandemic” status sometime in 2022, due largely to rising global vaccination rates and developments of antiviral Covid pills that could become more widespread next year.

Instead, the virus will likely become “endemic,” eventually fading in severity and folding into the backdrop of regular, everyday life. Various strains of influenza have followed a similar pattern over the past century or more, from the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918 to the swine flu pandemic in 2009.

Covid will probably remain dangerous once the pandemic ends — much like the flu, which killed as many as 62,000 people in the U.S. between October 2019 and April 2020, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) has urged the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to provide clear guidance that will allow states to transition out of the COVID-19 pandemic and into endemic status.

“We need the CDC to help us to have the right standards to end this pandemic and move to more endemic status,” Hutchinson said during a meeting with President Biden, Vice President Harris and other governors as part of a meeting of the National Governors Association.

“And so that’s an important element that we as governors, in a bipartisan way, hope that the CDC can be helpful to define that more clearly,” added Hutchinson, who chairs the association. “We want to go from today to more normal.”

The governors had met earlier with Jeff Zients, the head of the White House COVID-19 response team. “We got a way to go on that, in my view, but we’re moving,” Biden said of the pandemic. “I think it’s all about making sure we have the same standards we’re applying across the board.”

Biden said the administration would “try like the devil to keep schools open,” something Hutchinson had thanked the president for supporting so clearly.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters at a Monday briefing that the current state of the pandemic and accompanying restrictions are not “the new normal,” noting that the country is still seeing high levels of infections and hospitalizations.

Hutchinson’s call for a clear set of guidelines to help Americans ease back into normal life comes as recent polls have shown much of the public is fatigued and frustrated by the pandemic two years after the first cases were detected in the United States.

The Arkansas governor has been a consistent partner for the White House on pandemic messaging, as he has urged vaccinations in a conservative state and praised Biden for his efforts to depoliticize the pandemic.

Dr. Amit Iyengar – Led Study Finds, Patients In Disadvantaged Communities Experience More Complications

Patients with mitral valve disease who live in disadvantaged communities are more likely to experience complications and are at higher risk for death after surgery than those with higher socioeconomic status (SES), according to research presented at the 58th Annual Meeting of The Society of Thoracic Surgeons.

“We collaboratively undertook this work with The Society of Thoracic Surgeons to better understand the impact of socioeconomic status on mitral valve surgery in the US,” said Amit Iyengar, MD, MSE, from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. “The STS Adult Cardiac Surgery Database was linked with a very robust composite metric that evaluates average SES based on census block tract groups, and showed it relates to mortality and rate of achieving a successful repair, independent of all other demographic or hospital and surgeon-level characteristics we had available.”

Using data from the STS Adult Cardiac Surgery Database, Dr. Iyengar and colleagues identified 46,831 adult patients who underwent—for the first time—isolated mitral valve repair or replacement for degenerative mitral disease from 2012 to 2018. Socioeconomic status was calculated using the 2018 Area Deprivation Index (ADI), a geographically-derived measure used to assess average income, education, employment, and housing quality for a given region. For this research, the group queried the ADI at a single city block level or rural equivalent.

“We confirmed the effect of ADI by looking at it more closely in smaller bootstrapped subsets,” said Dr. Iyengar. “We did this thoughtfully, trying to shed some light on the mechanisms by which socioeconomic status would affect outcomes.”

The researchers determined that low SES patients—who more commonly received health care under government payor programs such as Medicare and Medicaid (63% vs. 49%)—had more urgent/emergent surgery (21% vs. 13%), with minimally-invasive approaches used less often (24% vs. 39%).

“Neighborhood SES is associated with differing valve pathologies and presentations,” said Dr. Iyengar. “Clinically, the extremes of SES represent two differing patient populations—elective degenerative pathology (high SES) and more urgent, non-degenerative pathology (low SES).”

In addition, and importantly, low SES was associated with a lower repair rate (65.3% vs. 82.8%). Mitral valve repair has been widely regarded as the optimal surgical procedure to treat mitral valve disease and may help minimize complications that can occur with replacement, including the risk of blood clots with mechanical valves. In fact, low SES patients not only had a higher complication rate (48% vs. 40%), but also a higher 30-day mortality rate (2.9% vs. 1.3%).

“The data are very revealing and show several important findings such as lower SES patients have bigger incisions, fewer repairs, and worse outcomes in terms of complications and mortality,” said T. Sloane Guy, MD, MBA, from Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, who was not directly involved in this research. “There have been many papers out recently suggesting that certain groups of patients based on sex, race, or socioeconomic status have poorer outcomes. The usual conclusion drawn is that such patients are getting worse medical care. But the issue is more complicated, and I think most of us live by the tenant that we treat all patients the same regardless of any patient characteristics.”

This research also showed that high SES patients tend to travel farther for surgery (33 vs. 17 miles) and receive operations from higher volume surgeons (62±69 vs. 31±46 cases/year).

Dr. Guy explained that access to care and the ability to travel to a high-volume mitral valve specialist were “clearly revealed as a discriminator” that negatively impacts those living in socioeconomically deprived neighborhoods. “Presumably, they have limited resources and options compared to those living in other neighborhoods,” he said.

The researchers acknowledge that—moving forward—more work is required to determine how to best address these types of treatment disparities. Dr. Guy shared that efforts should focus on improving patient access to quality health insurance, care, and information.

For more information, contact Jennifer Bagley, Senior Manager, Media Relations and Communications, at 312-202-5865 or jbagley@sts.org.

Founded in 1964, The Society of Thoracic Surgeons is a not-for-profit organization representing more than 7,700 cardiothoracic surgeons, researchers, and allied health care professionals worldwide who are dedicated to ensuring the best possible outcomes for surgeries of the heart, lung, and esophagus, as well as other surgical procedures within the chest. The Society’s mission is to advance cardiothoracic surgeons’ delivery of the highest quality patient care through collaboration, education, research, and advocacy.

GOPIO Chapters Of North Eastern States In US Organize India’s 73rd Republic Day Celebrations

Hundreds of Indian Americans representing GOPIO New York, GOPIO Manhattan, GOPIO-CT and GOPIO-Central Jersey came together to celebrate India’s 73rd Republic day virtually on Wednesday, January 26th, 2022, paying rich tributes to their motherland, India as she stands tall among nations of the world, proclaiming freedom, democratic values, economic and technological advancements, and the rich cultural traditions.

In his inaugural address, Indian Consul General Randhir Kumar Jaiswal, a career diplomat with over two decades of diplomatic career serving in Portugal, Cuba, South Africa and at the Permanent Mission of India in New York, greeted the Diaspora in the United States and around the world on the occasion of India’s 73rd Republic Day celebrations.

Stating that celebrating India’s Republic Day is special each year, but this year it’s more so because it is the 75th anniversary of India’s Independence, Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, Ambassador Jaiswal pointed to the several events that are being organized across the United States to commemorate the event, where a large number of people joined virtually and in person, including Greetings and Proclamations from the Governors of the state of New York And Ohio and from the mayor of New York City as well as from the NY state Senate.

Referring to fact that the “Indian Diaspora in the United States is very strong, and has contributed immensely to the India-US relations and to Mother India,” Ambassador Jaiswal said, “The Indian Diaspora is playing a very important role in the cooperation between India and the United States in all areas, especially in the healthcare sector. “Covid is one area where scientists from India and the United States are collaborating in developing vaccines and medicines. We are grateful to the Diaspora for all of your contributions.”

Referring to the several elected Indian American leaders who attended the event, Ambassador Jaiswal said, “Your presence and greetings mean a lot to us and to the Indian Diaspora and to the Indo-US relationship.” Announcing that India has provided 1.6 Billion does of Covid vaccination in the past 1 year, the senior diplomat representing India told the participants, how India’s economy is doing remarkably well and that there are 60,000 StartUP Companies established in the past year. He praised India’s efforts towards women’s empowerment as India continues to contribute towards world peace and prosperity.

Neil Makhija, Executive President of Indian American Impact spoke about how they work towards helping NRIs get elected to state and national offices. “Our goal is to increasing the representation of NRIs in all states,” he said. “Across the country, a record number of Indian-Americans have been elected to the state and national offices. I am thrilled to be where we are today.” He went onto introducing each of the elected officials who had joined the celebrations today.

Vipin Gopal, State Senator from New Jersey recalled his recent visit with New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy traveling to several states in India meeting with several Chief Ministers and building relationships collaborating in several areas between India and New Jersey, which now has the fastest growing Indian American community in the United States. He proudly stated about how New Jersey has passed the legislation including Asian American history in the school curriculum teaching Indian history to all school children in the state. Referring to his frequent trips to India to meet with his grandparents, the young Senator said, “I am inspired by the values taught by family, which we carry them in our lives.”

Kesha Ram, Burlington, Vermont, VT State Senator, shared of the reasons for her entering politics. “I got engaged with the community for long, where we care for each other.” One of the youngest ever to be elected to State Assembly at the age of 21, she said, “I am the first ever woman of color top be elected to the state Assembly in Vermont. Continuing to break through the barriers, we can work together to elect more NRIs. “It’s incredible to be of public service, following in the footsteps of my great grandfathers, ” she said, referring to her ancestry back in India, who had fought for the freedom for India. “We have carried with us that spirit of community service.”

Ohio State Senator Niraj Antani, said, he is the 2nd Indian American ever elected to a statewide office and he is one of the only Republicans of Indian Origin to be elected. “Freedom is rare and needs to be upheld and protected. I work hard to reach across the aisle, and cooperate with people in both the Parties to legislate.” Sharing his early days and inspiration to enter politics, he said, “My parents worked hard to live the American dream. There is a need for us to be at the decision making table. Everyone is able to realize the dream. We stand on your shoulders, to carry on the Indian values.”

State Rep. Raj Mukerji from the state of New Jersey said, “We are celebrating the world’s largest democracy today and India’s contributions to building a better world for all.” He pointed to how the Indian American Cacuses are growing across the nation and in several states. In the state of New Jersey, the Indian American representation in state offices has grown from 1 to 7 this year. “That’s the way it should be. I am proud of all that GOPIO has contributed socially and financially to make this happen. I am proud of the contributions of the Indian Diaspora, who are in the front lines of global healthcare. NRIs are helping the nation and the world, come out of the Covid. And it’s the time to celebrate.”

NY State Representative Jenifer Rajkumar from the 28th District thanked GOPIO and the Indian American community for the inspiration she has had in her life, “Indian identity is central to my election to the state assembly in New York. I stand on your shoulders as GOPIO has played a great role in helping me get elected to the State Assembly.” Referring to the record three Indian Americans elected to the state, she said, “We made history and I want to thank the community leaders who have made this possible.”  Rajkumar shared with the audience as to how growing up in a family that emphasized the teachings of Gandhian principles has helped her to appreciate diversity, justice and equality for all. She referred to the Bills she has introduced in the Assembly to celebrate Punjabi culture and declaring and October as Hindu heritage month as well as to celebrate India’s Independence Day.

New Hampshire State Rep. Latha Mangipudi, who has been elected to the NH House of Representatives, shared with the audience about her own life, challenges in becoming a female, non-White elected official from a state which is majority White. “It was a very slow and gradual journey after I had come to the US to pursue higher studies in the 1980s.” Inspired by Gandhiji’s message of non-violence, which Martin Luther and late Rep. John Lewis had imbibed in their public life, the 1st generation Indian American said,  “I am a woman, Brown colored, 1st generation Indian and very vocal in expressing my views.” Stating that she has introduced traditional health systems of India including Ayurveda in New Hampshire,  she thanked the Indian Consulate which has “worked with us to enhance awareness on India and its diverse culture and democratic values.”

GOPIO Chairman, Dr. Thomas Abraham in his introductory remarks highlighted how India, after a long non-violent struggle, India got its independence from the British Colonial Rule and declared itself a Republic in 1950 with one of the longest written constitutions. “Although we started with almost nothing, in 75 years, India made progress under democratic rule and is now moving forward to become the Third Largest economy in the world. As we celebrate 73rd Republic Day of India, let us rededicate ourselves to the cause of democracy, freedom, justice, and peace not only in India but all over the world,” he said.

Dr. Abraham, a veteran Non-Resident Indian community leader pointed out that India has sent a large number of its brightest to America, who have made substantial contributions in building up the economy of America. “Our contributions are noted very well in the Health Care especially our doctors and nurses are frontline workers against Covid. We have also made outstanding contributions in hospitality, science and technology and education. We are also not behind in the political process. The biggest achievement came when one of us, an African/Indian American woman Senator Kamala Harris was sworn in as the Vice President of the USA.  The last General Election also saw a larger number of Indian Americans being elected to state legislatures. Eight of them from the Northeast have joined us this evening. Thank you to all for joining us,” Dr. Abraham said.

GOPIO members have been in the forefront, contributing to the larger community here in the United States and towards supporting various initiatives back home in India, especially during the Covid pandemic. “We had sent Oxygen concentrators to India last year when the Pandemic was at its peak. Many GOPIO chapters continue to serve the local communities in different countries by donating and serving food to the homeless and needy and replenishing and providing cash to the food pantries which serve the homeless and needy families.” He urged the larger Indian Diaspora members to become GOPIO members, either at the International level or the chapter level.”

Dr. Jaya Daptardar eloquently emceed the event. American  National Anthem was sung by: Mathy Pillai, while the Indian National Anthem was by Jyothi Gupta and team from Long Island. Popular artists from around the world, including Pallavi Belwariar , Kedar Godbole , Srinivas Gunupuru, and Trupti Shah presented popular evergreen patriotic songs such as Vande Mataram and Jai Ho with their beautiful voices. Media Sponsor and Live Streaming was provided by Indus TV (New Jersey). Shivender Sofat, President of GOPIO Manhattan, proposed vote of thanks.

Prominent among those who had joined the Republic Day celebrations included, VP Ram Gadhavi, chair of Gujarat Literary Academy of North America; Lal Motwani, GOPIO Foundation Chairman and President of Sindhi Circle; Dr. Asha Samant, GOPIO International Coordinator-at-Large; and several GOPIO Chapter Presidents, including, GOPIO New York President Beena Kothari; GOPIO Manhattan President Shivender Sofat; GOPIO-CT President Ashok Nichani; GOPIO-Central Jersey Kunal Mehta; and, Rockland County Legislature Anney Paul.

Co-Sponsoring Organizations and the leaders who had attended the event included: President of the National Federation of Indian American Association Lavanya Reddy from Seattle and Secretary Ashok Patnaik from Los Angeles, VP for New York Region Gunja Rastogi, who is the President of National Indian American Association for Senior Citizens; Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan Executive Director Sudhir Vaishnav; Indo-American Senior Citizen Center of New York President Mukund Mehta; Jiwan Jyoti Chairman Suresh Arya from Rockland County; Jhilmil President Anoop Bhargava from New Jersey; Milan Cultural Association President Suresh Sharma from Hartford, CT; and, Kerala Center President Alex Esthappan from Elmont, New York.

Ambassador Taranjit Singh Sandhu Meets With NYC Mayor Eri Adams

His Excellency Mr. Taranjit Singh Sandhu, Ambassador of India to the United States of America met New York City Mayor, Mr. Eric Adams on Sunday, January 30, 2022, at the City Hall.  Ambassador Sandhu was accompanied by Mr. Randhir Jaiswal, India’s Consul General in New York, and Dr. Varun Jeph, Deputy Consul General while Mayor Adams was joined by New York State Assemblywoman Ms. Jenifer Rajkumar, Deputy Mayor Ms. Meera Joshi and other senior aides.

Ambassador Sandhu congratulated Mayor Adams on his historic election as the New York City’s Mayor and conveyed best wishes. He thanked the Mayor for his support to India-US partnership and to the Indian diaspora in New York.

They held discussion on further bolstering the strong partnership between India and the City of New York with special emphasis on key areas including affordable healthcare, renewable energy, new and emerging technology, education and knowledge partnership, IT and fintech.

Ambassador Sandhu sought the support and participation of Mayor Adams and his team in the Consulate’s programmes to commemorate 75 years of India’s independence, Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, celebrating rich cultural heritage of India in the city of New York, and further strengthening people to people ties.

After the delegation level meeting, the two sides were joined by around thirty prominent members of the City’s Indian American diaspora. Indian community in New York and USA is the living bridge between the two countries. Its contribution was acknowledged by Mayor Adams and he assured that New York-India partnership will grow even stronger under his leadership.

Wife Swapping Progressing!

Years back, while in North India, I heard about a young couple’s secret group enjoying ‘bhang’ (a potent herbal intoxicant). While the lights are off, they enjoy sexual relationships with strange partners in the group inside closed rooms. I could not digest the concept then.

Even there was a TV series called Wife Swap which takes on hot-button issues like politics, class, race, and gender. This show finds out what happens when two very different families exchange spouses for two weeks.

The topic of discussion is more sensitive as it happens live around us, nowadays.

Recently, there have been reports of people enjoying sex by cheating on their wives. The news was about a group in which a man who cheated on his wife and exchanged his wife to another guy for sexual gratification. The wife of one of them complained to the police when she could not bear it. That’s how it turned out. What is the state of mind of those who commit such acts? Has the sense of the Malayalees changed to such a state? ” There are some factors behind the transition of Malayalees to a state of mind where partners are shared” says  Dr. S.S. Arun B Nair, Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry, Govt. Medical College, Thiruvananthapuram. ( courtesy: Mathrubhumi).

As a result of the influence of the Internet, there are many opportunities today to see and learn firsthand what is happening in many parts of the world. In it you get a chance to see live scenes of sexual experimentation and sexual perversions. Sex videos, including dating, are widely available on the Internet. With this, Malayalees have come to the attitude that it is a very natural thing to do in many parts of the world, and there is nothing wrong with doing it.

In the lockdown following the epidemic, the Internet became the most important pastime for the Malayalees who could not get out of their homes. Naturally, there was a rush among people to watch sex scenes and series on the Internet and try many of them. It is often the case that such groups are created using chat groups and social media groups on the Internet. Those groups get together somewhere and move into such activities

The second important factor is the changes in family relationships over time. Often, family members do not spend enough time together at home. Inside the house, the husband, wife and children live in their own world. Their lives are immersed in the internet. With this, the family members are not able to talk and interact with each other with an open mind. This not only increases the psychological estrangement of each other, but also increases the tendency to seek out other relationships.

The third thing that leads to this is the impatience and temptation that has permeated human nature in modern society. Modern life gives man an opportunity to make all his desires happen immediately. All we need to do is watch a movie or buy some food. All this will motivate us to do new experiments. It motivates man to seek new things, to seek new relationships and to go through new experiences. This journey of innovation will surely lead man to this kind of state.

It is important to note that sometimes people who go into a mental state such as certain sexual dysfunctions i.e. sexual paraphilia lead such activities. Some individuals experience a state of sexual pleasure when they see their spouse having sex with another person in private. The onset of guilty feelings about having the affair, in the first place, further zaps whatever energy the partner having the affair might still have left. Today we have the opportunity to see firsthand the realities and adventures of the world that were known only through stories or pamphlets told over thirty years ago. Then it becomes a very important factor as well as a tendency to experiment in one’s own life

Another important factor is the use of intoxicants, Marijuana or liquor in such groups. Many people who are often overly interested in these sexual experiments may use a variety of intoxicants. Many of the substances in the category of other intoxicants, including cannabis, are substances that aid in sexual stimulation. It is more likely to get lyrical stimulation in the first stage of using it. But it is also true that gradually, with constant use, the lymphatic capacity will be eliminated. As a result of the effects of these drugs, people are becoming more and more interested in such sexual experiments.

Now it is not a legal offense for a couple to have sexual relations between two persons by mutual consent. But it becomes a legal issue where a person is forced into a kind of sexual relationship that he or she is not interested in. It becomes a moral and legal issue where one tries to seduce, intimidate, influence or sometimes intimidate those who are not interested.

“However, in this mate swapping, women often fall in love with the man in that situation, which can be a problem and can lead to mental health problems” said Dr. C.G.John, Ernakulam Medical Trust Hospital. The husband or wife may find more attractive features in the newly shared partners, which will end up to  break the original married relationship. OMG, what a deterioration of cultural and moral values, much ashamed I am!

FIA Hosts India’s 73rd Republic Day 2022 Celebration, Launches New Scholarship Program

Chicago IL: Federation of Indian Associations [FIA] Chicago, status 501(c)(3), a premier community umbrella organization — hosted its first signature event of the year 2022, Celebrating India’s 73rd Republic Day with great fervor and enthusiasm, at Chicago Marriott Northwest, at Hoffman Estates, IL on Jan 29th, 2022. This limited seating event was broadcasted virtually via zoom and Facebook live, in adherence to the latest covid 19 guidelines per State of IL regulations.

The event was promptly started at 7PM (CT) by the emcees Richa Chand & Vinita Gulabani, starting with the beautiful rendition of the American National Anthem by Nitya Rao and the Indian National Anthem by Ananya Ghosh. Sunil Shah Chairman and Founder of the FIA welcomed the people at the event and outlined the yeoman services provided by the FIA in the recent past during and after the pandemic. He briefly welcomed and introduced the new team under the new president Hitesh Gandhi. He spoke of the plans for the new year and mentioned that to commemorate Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav FIA Chicago has intent to start their own community center to facilitate better ongoing services to community people. Shah in his closing remarks, spoke,” Freedom in our Heart, Pride in our Soul, Purity in our Blood, Let us Salute our Motherland India!!”

Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi in his inimitable style addressed the cheering audience and expressed great joy and best wishes to Team FIA and the entire Indian community for the outstanding contributions, over more than a decade now.

Immediate past president Dr. Kamal Patel was welcomed on the stage. He outlined the achievements of the FIA during his tenure last year as the outgoing president of the FIA and welcomed the new team led by Hitesh Gandhi. Onkar Sanga in his brief address congratulated the FIA for their achievements in the last year and wished that the new team would take the FIA to greater heights.

Hitesh Gandhi the new president for the year 2022 outlined his plan for the new year. He listed out the activities and events that would take place during the year and thanked the FIA board for the trust that was shown in his ability to lead the FIA to greater heights in the new year.

The FIA Board was introduced and immediately followed by the traditional lamp lighting ceremony. The patriotic song “Ae Mere Watan Ke Logo” by Jitendra Balsara reminded everyone of the beautiful motherland India. The audience cheered as they watched an energetic dance performance by the students of SR Dance Academy, choreographed by Elizar Rodriguez.

The Chief Guest Consul General Amit Kumar in his address, wished everyone a Happy Republic Day and spoke about the enormous progress India has made in the last several years and mentioned that India is now positioned to succeed even more as we approach 75 years of India’s Independence, and getting ready for Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, an initiative by Govt, of India. He spoke about the covid pandemic, and despite its challenges how India successfully carried on its vaccination drives and the role of technology and innovation.

Other leaders who spoke at the event were: Mayor Oakbrook Dr Gopal Lalmalani, Mayor Hoffman Estates, William D Mcleod, Mayor Schaumburg Tom Dailly (via zoom), Village President Hanover Park Rodney Craig, Illinois Gen Assembly Rep Michelle Mussman, Secretary of State candidate – Alexi Giannoulias (via zoom), Senator Laura Murphy.

Mayor William D Mcleod and Mayor Tom Dailly presented commemorative plaques to FIA on behalf of Village of Hoffman Estates and Village of Schaumburg respectively.

On a somber note, the FIA paid tributes to Mir Ali who passed away recently by facilitating his wife with a honorary plaque for his dedicated service to FIA and a Scholarship grant of $1000 to his daughter Nida Ali.

In total 3 Grant Scholarships were provided to students. These were announced by FIA Chairman Sunil Shah and given away by Consul General of India, Amit Kumar, Deepak Kant Vyas CEO Redberri, Anil Loomba (virtual) Hitesh and Kim Bhatt, the Bhatt Foundation, Deepak Kant Vyas CEO Redberri. The other two students who were the recipient of scholarship names are Ria Sharma from Stevenson Highschool & Jaisnav Rajesh from Waubonsie Valley High School.

Hitesh Bhatt, Founder & Kim Bhatt, President of the Bhatt Foundation were honored with a Plaque and were acknowledged for their sponsorship support to FIA. In their speech, the Bhatt’s, shared their message of “Improving Global HealthCare and Education through Innovation”. They touched upon their philanthropic work in USA / India / Honduras / Africa and expressed their interest in supporting FIA’s initiatives as well.

Other prominent speakers present were Dr Vijay Prabhakar, Mr Zakaria & Dr Anil Oroskar. Brij Sharma, Manny Lingaiah, Harish Kolasani, Ajeet Singh, Vandana Jhingan, Pradeep B Shukla, Gladson Verghese, Yogi Bhardwaj, Harry Siddhu and many others were present.

Aparna Chakravarty and Mukhtar Shah provided musical entertainment. Mukhtar Shah (Voice of Mukesh) gave a beautiful tribute to Late Mr Mir Ali FIA Director through his songs.

The highlight of the event was a very exciting live zoom session with the legendary Bollywood actress Poonam Dhillon from India. She was introduced by Asha Oraskar & welcomed by FIA General Secretary Richa Chand. Followed up by questions and appreciation remarks by Hitesh & Kim Bhatt, Pinky Thakkar, Hitesh Gandhi, Neil Khot, Ajeet Singh, Sunil Shah, Vinita Gulabani, Anu Malhotra, Altaf Bukhari, Kaashif Khan, Pratik Deshpande.

The event ended with a vote of thanks by the Cultural Secretary Pika Munshi. Music provided by DJ Sanjay. Technical Director Phani Krishna, and Photography & Video coverage by Asian Media. Program assistance by Neil Khot, Neelam Jai, Jitendra Balsara & Anu Malhotra.

The event was well attended with Covid-19 guidelines being in place by the Consul General of India, Amit Kumar, Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi, Mayor Tom Dailly, Deepak Kant Vyas CEO Redberri, Hitesh and Kim Bhatt of the Bhatt Foundation, Mayors and Senators.  The technical support of the event was provided by AANA (Artists Association of North America) Phani Krishna, Naveen Karna and Prachi Jaitly and Asian Media USA.

FIA thanks and greatly appreciates all its attendees, esteemed guests, sponsors, supporters & media partners for their unwavering support & trust in FIA. Sponsors: Anil Loomba HMSI, Chicago Marriott Northwest, Redberri, Bhatt Foundation, Orochem, MAFS, New York Life, Pinky & Dinesh Thakkar, Powervolt, Rely Services, World’s Money Exchange, Vinakom, ShowFest, Crossroads, Mall of India, Standard Homecare, The Global Eye, SR Dance Academy, Ashima Washington, AB Entertainment, Kwikinsureu Tushar Mehta, RGL,

Sex Ratio Improves To 1,020 Females Per 1,000 Males In India

The number of females per 1,000 males in the country has risen from 991 in 2015-16 to 1,020 in 2019-21, as per the Economic Survey tabled in the Parliament on Monday.

The sex ratio at birth, i.e., female children per 1,000 male children born in the last five years, has also grown from 919 in 2015-16 to 929 in 2019-21, the Survey noted.

To prevent gender biased sex selective elimination and survival and protection of the girl child, the government has made specific interventions through the ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ (BBBP) scheme.

Sex ratio at birth for children born in the last five years has improved in 2019-21 from 2015-16 in all states except for Himachal Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Meghalaya, Goa and Nagaland, the Survey said.

The total fertility rate (TFR), which is an average number of children per women, has also come down to 2 in 2019-21 from 2.2 in 2015-16, as per the Survey.

The total fertility rate has even come down below the replacement level of fertility (2.1 children per woman) in the country, the Survey said.

In all the states and UTs except for Manipur, Meghalaya, Bihar, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh, the replacement level of fertility has been achieved.

Increasing the use of contraceptives, especially the modern methods, better family planning, and girl education have possibly contributed to the decline in the fertility rate, the Survey noted.

It also outlined that the family planning method has increased from 53.5 per cent in 2015-16 to 66.7 per cent in 2019-21. Significant improvement has also been observed in the infrastructure and services reaching to the public, such as institutional delivery, among others.

As per the report, institutional delivery has increased to 88.6 per cent in 2019-21 compared to 78.9 per cent in 2015-16. (IANS)

India Showcases Rich Cultural Heritage At 73rd Republic Day Parade

During the 73rd anniversary of India’s Republic, India showcased depicting the rich cultural heritage and diversity of India by several states and Union Territories and nine of Union Ministries and Armed Forces and the Defense Research and Development Organization as dozens of tableaux rolled down Rajpath on Wednesday, January 26th.

At a time when several Opposition-ruled states complained that their tableaux were not selected for the Republic Day parade, even as the government insisted that the decision was taken by an expert committee and there is no political intervention, the tableaux of four of the five poll-bound states made it to Rajpath on Republic Day.
Tableaux, from as many as 12 states and Union Territories, highlighted dances, spirit of sportsmanship, biodiversity, the freedom struggle, religious destinations and development.
A total of 24 tableaux were a part of the Republic Day parade, which included a dozen from the states and UTs, nine from departments of the Union Government and three from the Armed Forces and the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).
The Navy’s tableau was the first to come down on Rajpath on a frigid Wednesday morning and depicted two main themes. First, the 1946 naval uprising, which was a part of the freedom struggle, and against the terrible conditions of the Indian sailors who were a part of the British Indian Navy and the second on the “atmanirbharta” of the Navy, with a model of the country’s first indigenous aircraft carrier, which will be commissioned later this year and named INS Vikrant.
The Air Force tableau paid homage to the victory over Pakistan in the 1971 War, with models of MiG 21, Gnat — both of which were used in the war — and the Light Combat Helicopters. DRDO showcased major weapon platforms developed by it, including the Light Combat Aircraft Tejas and an Air Independent Propulsion system it is working on for the submarines.
From the states and UT, Meghalaya came out with its tableau first, showing the importance of women-led cooperative societies and self-help groups, with bamboo and cane handicrafts, as it celebrated its 50th year of statehood. Karnataka too, highlighted the traditional handicrafts from the state, calling itself the “cradle of traditional handicrafts” with 16 artefacts on inlay carving, lacquerware toys and bronze statues possessing the Global Indicator tag.
Gujarat, like many others, highlighted the freedom movement, but through the role of the tribal population. It showcased the incident of the military killing around 1,200 people in March 1922 as Bhil tribes from Paal and Dadhvav villages had gathered to protest against the land revenue system under the leadership of Motilal Tejawat. Punjab also brought out the state’s “immense contribution” during the freedom movement with Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru leading from the front.
Meanwhile, Goa showed symbols of its heritage and Haryana had a simplistic tableau with several sportsmen from the state on a “victory chariot” carrying the national flag. The idea was to highlight that although it occupies only 1.3 per cent of the country’s landmass and 2.09 per cent of the population, sportsmen from the state have brought maximum medals for the country in various international sporting events, including the Olympics.
Uttarakhand tried to portray the development in the state, highlighting the increasing connectivity between the various religious sites and Jammu and Kashmir showed the rapid pace of development in the UT, with the new IIT, IIM, AIIMS and an airport that are coming up there.
Arunachal Pradesh depicted the four Anglo-Abor Wars between 1858 and 1912 during which the indigenous tribal people of the state, particularly the Adis from the Siang area, fought against the colonial expansion of the British.
Chhattisgarh portrayed the state’s Godhan Nyay Yojana for better use of rural resources, while Uttar Pradesh’ tableau showcased the One District One Product scheme of the government for the micro, small and medium enterprise industries and also the development of the Kashi Vishwanath Dham in Varanasi, which is Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Lok Sabha constituency.
Maharashtra showed the rich biodiversity of the state, with 15 animals and 22 plants as a part of the tableau, including large models of the Blue Mormon Butterfly and more.
From the Central government, the Education and Skill Development ministries highlighted the National Education Policy, the Civil Aviation Ministry showed the UDAN scheme, Department of Posts, showed Indian post at 75 years of Indian Independence, Home Affairs highlighted the valour and sacrifice of the CRPF, Central Public Works Department under Housing and Development Ministry showed Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, Department of Justice highlighted the Lok Adalat and inclusive legal system, Department Drinking Water and Sanitation showcased the Har Ghar Nal under Jal Jeevan Mission, and the Culture Ministry highlighted 150 years of Aurobindo Ghosh.

Expert CEO Forum at 15th AAPI Global Healthcare Summit 2022 in Hyderabad Urges Modi Govt. to Appoint an Indian Preventive Task Force (IPTF) and Conduct Annual Preventive Healthcare Screenings Nationwide.

Hyderabad: January 18th, 2022: The Healthcare industry in India and worldwide is rapidly changing, leading to many describing the healthcare environment as dynamic, complex, and highly uncertain. How the health care environment is perceived and characterized is vital for several reasons.  In this context, continuing with the traditions on the successful experiences of the past Global Health Summits, the largest ethnic medical organization in the United States, The American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) organized the next edition of the influential Healthcare CEOs Forum on January 7th in Hyderabad during the 15th annual Global Healthcare Summit 2022.
During the much anticipated CEOs Forum, a panel of healthcare experts, health industry leaders, opinion makers, and community organizers discussed the significance of promoting Preventive healthcare in India.
The CEO Forum Unanimously approved “An Appeal by AAPI to the Government of India to initiate efforts for creating an Indian Preventive Task Force (IPTF) and conduct annual preventive healthcare screenings nationwide,” benefitting the 1.4 billion people in India.
“We are excited to welcome you to the 15th Global Healthcare Summit and this elite panel of experts and physicians and healthcare industry leaders from India and the United States, offering an excellent platform to brainstorm and explore ways to focus on the theme, “Transformation of Healthcare through Telehealth and Technology usage during this post-Covid Era,” and to have an opportunity to recommend possible ways to plan and implement preventive medicine that will save resources and precious human lives,” said Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, President of AAPI.
Prof. Joseph Chalil, Chair of AAPI’s CEO Form, who organized such an elite panel of healthcare leaders, said, “AAPI, under the guidance of President Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, would like to collaborate with the Healthcare leaders in proposing the creation of an Indian Preventive Task Force (IPTF). IPTF guidelines should be promoted and implemented as part of the annual physical exam or telemedicine visit at government hospitals and primary care centers. We envision a great future for our country with the direct result of complex interactions at this forum with your assistance, guidance, and experience.”
Analyzing and assimilating the diverse and expert views expressed by the renowned speakers at the CEO Forum regarding the current state of healthcare in India, the CEO Forum provided a great stage to interact with a varied and distinct group of individuals and corporations, and comprehend the complex dynamics of the commerce of health care enterprise.
“At the CEO forum, AAPI is excited to perceive, debate, and walk towards a common goal of “Preventive medicine is better than Cure.”  We intend to promote preventive care guidelines in India by collaborating with Indian Physicians, Pharmaceutical companies, modern diagnostic labs, medical device companies, robust hospital chains, and public health experts,” Prof (Dr) Joseph M. Chalil, Chair of the Complex Health Systems advisory board at Nova Southeastern University’s School of Business; Chairman of the Indo-American Press Club and The Universal News Network publisher, added.
In her eloquent keynote address, Dr. Sangita Reddy, a Global Healthcare Leader, Indian Entrepreneur, and Humanitarian, is the Joint Managing Director of Apollo Hospitals Enterprise Limited – Asia’s largest and most trusted healthcare group, shared her passion for the care of the masses, using technology to reach out. Her conviction in using the Internet for patient management was substantiated by an MOU signed between Apollo Hospitals and AAPI for Telemedicine for Second Opinions. “Healthcare is in the center stage as never been before. Let us work together to bring about the transformation in healthcare. Technology is the great growling engine of change and transformation. It transforms quietly and silently,” she said.
Attended by a record 17 senior leaders from the healthcare industry, several challenges were addressed by multiple renowned speakers from the healthcare field, deliberating on the healthcare delivery system in India. Expert panelists who were part of the CEO Forum included: Prof. MD Nalapat, Vice-Chair of Manipal Advanced Research Group; Prof. (Dr.), Joseph M Chalil Global Healthcare Strategist & Best Selling Autor; Dr. Sangita Reddy, Joint Managing Director of Apollo Hospitals Enterprise Limited; Dr. Juby A Jacob-Nara, Vice President, Head of Global Medical- Respiratory Allergy & Gastroenterology (Sanofi-Genzyme); Dr. Anuj Maheshwari, the current Governor of the American College of Physicians India Chapter and the Vice President of Research Society for Study of Diabetes in India (RSSDI);
Dr. Gurava Reddy, Founder & Chairman, Sunshine Hospitals; Dr. Karthik Anantharaman Chief Operating Officer, Karnataka cluster of Roche India; Dr. Vikas Bhatia, Director of All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Hyderabad, and the founder, Dean of AIIMS Bhubaneshwar; Gaurav Agarwal, Managing Director of IITPL and co-founder of Involution Healthcare Pvt. Ltd; Shekhar Sattiraju, Senior Director – Takeda Pharmaceuticals, USA; Dr. Aarti Shah, Trustee, SRLC-USA; former senior VP of Eli Lilly; Dr. Neyas Mohammed, Chairman, AEC GROUP; Dr. Murthy Gokula, CEO & Founder, Global Tele Clinics; Dr. Venkat Ramana Sudigali, Founder-Director Excell Multispeciality Hospital, Hyderabad; Mr. Narayana Rao Sripada, Founder/CTO, Salcit Technologies Pvt. Ltd; and Ravi Gopalan, President & CEO of Argusoft India Ltd.
The CEO Forum unanimously approved “An Appeal by AAPI to the Government of India to initiate efforts for creating an Indian Preventive Task Force and conduct annual preventive healthcare screenings nationwide.” And an appeal was signed by the panelists to be submitted to the Honorable Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi, and India’s Ministry of Health.
“We urge the Government of India to appoint an expert panel of nationally recognized experts in the disciplines of preventive medicine and primary care,  including Internal medicine, Family medicine, Geriatrics, Pediatrics, Preventive medicine, Behavioural, Critical Care medicine, public health, mental health, obstetrics and gynecology, and nursing to create an Indian Preventive Task Force (IPTF),” the Panelists on the CEO Forum wrote to the Government of India.
Urging the Government of India to encourage private hospitals and insurance companies to provide Annual Physical exams, or Telehealth visits at an affordable cost to patients, the CEO Forum members stated, “many routine lab tests, vaccinations, blood pressure checks, and some cancer screenings like self-breast examination can be done remotely and even at patients’ homes with the help of Asha workers.”
“ We believe, the largest democracy in the world needs urgent investment in the preventive health of all its citizens and grassroots level reforms of the public healthcare system,” the letter to the Government of India, pointed out. “AAPI will be happy to collaborate with the appropriate authority of the Government of India to support India in its efforts to provide one of the best healthcare systems in the world.”
With the changing trends and statistics in healthcare, both in India and US, we are refocusing our mission and vision, AAPI would like to make a positive and  meaningful impact on the healthcare delivery system both in the US and in India,” said Dr. Gotimukula.
American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI), the largest ethnic physician organization in the United States, representing over 100,000 Indian American Physicians, has initiated preventive healthcare screenings in 75 Indian villages to diagnose any silent diseases, which are causing premature deaths from Diabetes, Hypertension, Renal disease,  Coronary heart disease and cancers like Breast cancer, cervical cancer, which are preventable if diagnosed early through these annual screenings.
For more information on Global Health Summit, please visit: https://summit.aapiusa.org/ceo-forum/  CEO Forum Video: https://youtu.be/t1cw1toalAQ

Biden Admn. Announces Free At-Home COVID Test Kits To Every American

The Biden Administration announced that it is buying 1 billion COVID-19 rapid tests to give to Americans for free. The online ordering begins on Wednesday, Jan. 19, but is limited to four rapid tests per household.

Beginning Wednesday, Jan. 19, Americans will be able to order tests online at COVIDTests.gov, and tests will typically ship within 7-12 days of ordering, according to a press release from the White House.

Public health experts and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that Americans use at-home tests if they begin to have symptoms, at least five days after coming in close contact with someone who has COVID-19, or are gathering indoors with a group of people who are at risk of severe disease or unvaccinated.

The tests will be mailed directly to American households.

There will be free tests available for every household, and to promote broad access, the initial program will allow 4 free tests to be requested per residential address.

Biden free COVID tests plan

The Biden administration will launch a website where Americans can order free COVID-19 tests Wednesday, Jan. 19.

The tests, part of the administration’s purchase of 500 million tests last month to help tackle a record surge in infections, will be mailed to homes within seven to 12 days, according to an official who briefed reporters.

Biden announced earlier this week the administration would double its order with the purchase of an additional 500 million at-home COVID-19 tests amid a shortage of tests nationwide that’s led to long lines at testing locations and overburdened hospitals.

Insurance now covers at-home COVID testing kits. How to get free tests or reimbursement

Americans with health insurance can get up to eight at-home COVID-19 tests for free thanks to a new requirement. Starting Saturday, private health plans are required to cover the over-the-counter tests at up to $12 per test. Consumers can either purchase the testing kits at no cost or submit receipts for reimbursement from the insurance company.

A family of five could be reimbursed for up to 40 tests per month under the plan. PCR tests and rapid tests ordered or administered by a health provider will continue to be fully covered by insurance with no limit.

President Joe Biden announced the federal requirement for insurance companies in December and officials said Monday that it would begin Jan. 15.

“This is all part of our overall strategy to ramp up access to easy-to-use, at-home tests at no cost,” Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement Monday. “By requiring private health plans to cover people’s at-home tests, we are further expanding Americans’ ability to get tests for free when they need them.”

The administration is trying to incentivize private insurers to cover the tests up-front and without a cumbersome reimbursement process.

Health insurance industry groups have said insurers would carry out the administration’s order, but cautioned consumers that it won’t be as easy as flipping a switch.

Health Care Service Corporation or HCSC, an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, told USA TODAY that if a member uses a pharmacy in its pharmacy benefit manager’s network, Prime, “they do not need to submit a separate claim for reimbursement.”

Aetna updated its website Friday with new frequently asked questions about the new requirement. The site said more information on how members can submit claims will soon be available.

How do I get a free at-home COVID-19 test with insurance?

According to the government’s frequently asked questions, starting Jan. 15, “most people with a health plan can go online, or to a pharmacy or store to purchase an at-home over-the-counter COVID-19 diagnostic test authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) at no cost, either through reimbursement or free of charge through their insurance.”

How much is the COVID home test reimbursement?

Insurance companies are required to reimburse up to $12 per individual test or the cost of the test if it is less than $12. If the price of the test is more than $12 each, the consumer will have to pay the difference.

Can I get reimbursed for past COVID test purchases?

Most likely, no. This will vary by insurance but plans and issuers are not required by federal law to “provide such coverage for at-home over-the-counter COVID-19 tests purchased before January 15,” the government FAQ said, suggesting consumers contact their health plans to ask about reimbursement for previous test purchases. Some states also already require coverage of the at-home tests.

What about COVID tests at testing sites? Will they stay open?

Insurers are required to pay for coronavirus tests administered at testing sites and medical offices, which can cost $100 or more, based on previous legislation passed by Congress to address the pandemic. Home tests, which consumers can buy without a prescription at retail stores or online, are less expensive.

How long will it take to receive test reimbursements?

“Health plans are encouraged to provide prompt reimbursement for claims for at-home tests, and consumers can find out directly from their plan how their claims process works and ask questions about reimbursement timing,” the government FAQ said.

Will Medicare pay for home COVID tests?

Americans on Medicare won’t be able to get at-home tests reimbursed through the federal insurance plan, but some Medicare Advantage Plans may cover and pay for over-the-counter COVID-19 tests. The Medicare website says to check with your Advantage Plan to see if it will cover and pay for the tests.

Will Medicaid and other government plans cover the tests?

As part of the American Rescue Plan, state Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) programs are required to cover FDA-authorized at-home COVID-19 tests. Coverage rules may vary by state, the federal government said.

Can the uninsured get free tests?

Those who are not on a covered insurance plan can receive free tests through the forthcoming federal website or from some local community centers and pharmacies.

How can I order free COVID tests from the government?

“Every home in the U.S. can soon order 4 free at-⁠home COVID-⁠19 tests. The tests will be completely free – there are no shipping costs and you don’t need to enter a credit card number,” according to a message on the government website.

What is the website to order free COVID tests?

The website for ordering free COVID tests is Covidtests.gov

CAPI Donates Blankets To Homeless Shelters Across Connecticut

Inspired by the national AAPI’s  “Share a Blanket” project, the Connecticut Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (CAPI) took on a Winter Blanket Drive and donated hundreds of blanket kits to the poor and the needy in several Homeless Shelters across the state of Connecticut, said Dr.

Jaya Daptardar, Executive Healthcare Business Consultant, CEO and Founder and a leader of the local CAPI Chapter. The kits included blankets, hats, and socks. The AAPI team raised 2200$ within ten days and accomplished this feat.

The noble Drive, in fulfilling yet another mission of national AAPI to help the needy during the cold winter season, providing the warmth of a blanket reached several towns in the state of Connecticut, including, Malta House Norwalk, CT; Gillespie Center Westport, CT; New Haven Homeless Shelter; Bridgeport Homeless Shelter; and, Waterbury Homeless Shelter.

Dr. Sushil Gupta, President of CAPI with all CT CAPI members have been participating in the Drive since last year. As was done in the past, this year, funds were donated collectively by the members of CAPI during the holiday season, and boxes of blankets were distributed to local homeless shelter facilities. The whole purpose has been that during this pandemic and tough financial situation, no one has to suffer and each and every effort and assistance matters.

“This was a one of a kind experience for the whole team of physicians and young volunteers alike. Our younger generation of aspirant physicians helped distribute and volunteered their time,” said Dr. Sushil Gupta. “The beneficiaries included children, pregnant women, new moms, and older population.”

Some of the physicians who were part of the Share A Blannket Drive and organized the events across the state included, Drs. Sushil Gupta, Sujata Prasad, Viji Kurup, Prasad Surredi, Nicole Sookhan, Jaya Daptardar, Alok Bhargava, and Ramamurthy Chriranamula.

Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, President of Aapi and the local organizer of the Share a Blanket Program in her hometown, San Antonio, TX while expressing gratitude and appreciation to CAPI and numerous other AAPI Chapters across the nation for organizing the Drives around the nation, said, “Realizing how this initiative benefits several needy in the community gives us the motivation to organize more such events and give back to the local community. We strongly feel that we can make more suchaccomplishments with support and participation from all our generous AAPI physicians.”

AAPI launched “Share a blanket” project during the holiday season recently to give some warmth to the needy. The project was initially conceptualized by Dr. Binod Sinha, an AAPI member from New Jersey. This project was successful and received very well by the local chapters and communities. For more details and to join the Share A Blanket Drive in your state, please visit: www.aapiusa.org

Women Who Win Organization Donates Over 300 Pairs Of Shoes To Refugees

As Boston gets colder by the day and the snow falls all around, many of us strap on our favorite winter boots, keeping our feet warm and protected. However, in our very own greater Boston community, there are hundreds of people (women, men, children) without a good quality pair of shoes in their closets, unknowingly exposing themselves to foot conditions like frostbite and other dangerous infections. An often overlooked problem, our Boston-based nonprofit women empowerment organization, Women Who Win, wanted to help solve this issue through launching an exciting philanthropic initiative, The Shoe Project.

This Holiday Season, the Women Who Win team spearheaded shoe donations and also provided foot health educational materials  to Boston populations in dire need, including Haitian refugees, women’s shelter residents, and adult day health centers. They partnered with renowned companies and organizations including Hoka Apparel to ensure we are providing high-quality, podiatrist approved shoes.

Haitain refugees have faced a significant plight, and there are hundreds of them across Massachusetts, struggling to find basic essentials. A major humanitarian crisis around the world and in our neck of the woods, the Women Who Win team excitedly joined the Gift of Gratitude project on December 19th, an event where they provided vaccine clinics, and other basic essentials like blankets etc. to Haitians in need. We led a shoe donation drive at the event with the Indian Medical Association of New England (IMANE), and were able to donate over 150 shoes to these refugees. The First Haitian-American City Councilor of Boston Ruthzee Louijeane stated, “It was really wonderful to see communities coming together to support our immigrants. We are in a difficult season right now that really asks us to look out for each other. Few things demonstrate that more than welcoming the stranger in our midst.”

Women’s shelters also expressed a strong need for new shoes for their residents. We organized donations with the St Patricks Shelter in Somerville Massachusetts, and at the Forever Young Adult Day Care in Hyde Park. Residents at the shelter often work 2 jobs a day to make ends meet, in worn-out shoes putting their feet at risk and discomfort. The women were elated to receive a new pair of shoes for the new year, and felt empowered and equipped in their new footwear. The thrill of a new pair of shoes is one we can all relate too, and we were excited to provide this feeling to over 150 women across these shelters.

The Shoe Project is a philanthropic initiative under Women Who Win, a nonprofit organization founded by three Boston residents, Dr. Manju Sheth, Dr. Deepa Jhaveri, and Shaleen Sheth. Dr Manju Sheth is a physician at Beth Israel Lahey health with a passion for media. She is president and Co- founder of INE multimedia and Women Who Win. Dr. Deepa Jhaveri is a podiatrist and the President-Elect of the Indian Medical Association of New England. Shaleen Sheth is a co-founder of Women Who Win with a passion for technology and nonprofit leadership. The Shoe Project was born with the mission to empower communities one step at a time.

The Shoe Project has worked with and been supported by IMANE, Boston Medical Center, the APMA (American Podiatric Medical Association), Deckers X Lab, Hoka Apparel, Lion’s Club, and Rotary Club.  Our co-founder, Dr. Deepa Jhaveri, a podiatrist states, “this project is very close to my heart as it ties in my profession and my Indian roots to create an immense impact in the daily lives of hundreds of people by preventing limb threatening foot infections. This project has also created a buzz in the podiatry community, particularly with Indian-American podiatrists as well as major footwear companies who have offered tremendous support for this initiative.”

To support The Shoe Project and Donate Shoes to a Local Community in Need with Women Who Win, visit them here

Indian-American Republican Elected President Of NJ Town City Council

Indian American Juned Qazi made history when he was elected to the Marlboro Township Council, N.J., last November. And he made it again when he was voted in as President of the Council Jan. 6, 2022.

He now oversees the proceedings of a Republican majority town council after nearly two decades of Democratic government.

“The key point is this  – I am the first Indian-American elected on a Republican ticket. The Republican Party has given tickets to many Indians, but this was the first victory in New Jersey,” Qazi contended.

Founder and president of a construction company since 2004, Qazi is one of three Republicans who displaced incumbent Democrats and now will be in the Council for a four-year term ending 2025.

Originally from Madhya Pradesh, Qazi went to St. Francis High School, Bhopal, he told Desi Talk. Always keen to be in politics, Qazi served as president of Indian National Overseas Congress (I) in 2014, and even dabbled in Indian politics back in the homeland, throwing his hat in for a seat during elections.

In the U.S., where he became a citizen two years ago, Qazi has been engaged with the diaspora community for decades, during which, he says he has helped bring people together. Today, he estimates 12 percent of population in Marlboro Township is of Asian origin.

“I am thankful to the people who have faith in our leadership and voted for us,” Qazi told Desi Talk. The other two Republicans who won along with Qazi are Antoinette DiNuzzo and Michael Milman. But it was not an easy race to defeat the long time Democratic incumbents Jeff Cantor, Scott Metzger and Carol Mazzola last November.

“It was very hard to break the hold of the incumbents because they had been in power for 17 years,” Qazi said. “I walked door-to-door, even during Covid, to bring people to our side. People wanted to see change and they voted for that. We plan to make the changes,” Qazi said.

He also credited the Chairman of the Marlboro Republican Party John Gibardi, for leading a “great campaign.”

Centraljersey.com reported the swearing in took place during the  Marlboro’s government’s 2022 reorganization meeting Jan. 6, in the municipal building.

Newly sworn in Marlboro Township Council member in New Jersey Juned Qazi, seen here with his family Jan. 6, 2022. during the swearing in ceremony in the municipal building Photo: Prashant Desai courtesy Councilman Qazi

The ceremony included invocations by Muhammad Asif of Baytul Iman Academy, Rabbi Moshe Gerwirtz of Monmouth Torah Links, and Rev. Eugene Roberts of St. Gabriel Roman Catholic Church, the news report said.

After the swearing in ceremony, the five council members, three Republicans and two Democrats, chose Qazi to lead them as President for 2022, in a unanimous vote.

Democratic Mayor Jon Hornik is quoted saying in Centraljersey.com, “We welcome the three new council members. I wish you nothing but the best of luck. This is the hardest time ever to become a public official … there is a lot going on that is beyond our control.”

Qazi told Desi Talk, “We form a great team and we will work for the Township regardless of party affiliation.”

FIA Chicago Team Elects Sunil Shah As Chairman

Embarking on a new chapter, Federation of Indian Associations [FIA] Chicago, status 501(c)(3), a premier community umbrella organization — held its very first meeting of the year 2022 on Jan 05, 2022 (7PM to 8:30PM CT). The meeting was hosted virtually via zoom keeping in mind the growing number of covid cases, practically all over the news channels lately!

The meeting was called to order by Gen Secretary, Richa Chand, and presided over by Founder President Sunil Shah and President 2022 Hitesh Gandhi, and well attended by Team FIA Board Members: Executive Board members:  Rita Singh, Mukesh Shah, Dhitu Bhagwakar, Neil Khot, Gurmeet Singh Dhalwaan, Vinita Gulabani, Pratibha Jairath, Ashawani  Mahajan, Abir Maru, Anu Malhotra, Pika Munshi Neelam Jai, Directors: Mukesh Mike Shah, Bharat Malhotra, Jitendra Balsara, Mir Ali, Vidya Joshi, Chandni Kalra, Pratik Deshpande, Hemendra Shah, Kashif Khan and Advisory Board members: Keerthi Reevori & Suresh Bodiwala.

The meeting was focused on the New Year and the New Beginnings under the leadership of President Hitesh Gandhi. Opening speeches were delivered by Sunil Shah, Hitesh Gandhi and Founding Members Mukesh Shah, Rita Singh, Neil Khot, Dhitu Bhagwakar, followed by other members present. There were exciting new updates shared about the upcoming FIA event for celebrating India’s 73rd Republic Day. Date, Venue and other details were discussed. Due to the exponential spread of Covid-19, Team FIA decided that FIA will host a virtual event on Jan 29th, 2022. More to come on that!!

There was another Big Achievement accomplished during this session. Looking at the contributions and dedicated service provided to Team FIA over the past several years, spanning more than a decade, by Founder President Sunil Shah, many team members, supporters and friends of FIA had several times earlier suggested a title in the Team, that would be more befitting and suitable to match his selfless service, hard work & toil, and his of course his caliber, FIA Chairman!  Therefore, taking the opportunity Founding Member Mukesh Shah, introduced to the group, all the contributions made by Sunil Shah for FIA family and went on to propose that he be conferred the Title of Chairman of the Board. The motion was immediately seconded by Rita Singh, Neil Khot, Hitesh Gandhi and then strongly supported by Gurmeet Dhalwaan, Keerthi Reevori, Suresh Bodiwala, Vinita Gulabani, Pratibha Jairath, Ashwani Mahajan, Mir Ali, Abir Maru, Richa Chand, Pika Munshi, Neelam Jai and the entire team and the motion was passed unanimously by majority vote!! Everyone immediately started congratulating Sunil Shah ji and it was a moment of elation and great celebration within Team FIA!!

This meeting was a significant one, not just because it was the first meeting under the leadership of President Hitesh Gandhi, but it also marked a new beginning for the entire Team FIA, as it passed a long pending motion, and unanimously appointed Sunil Shah as FIA Chairman.

With this, the first meeting was adjourned with new hopes and visions of new horizons and taking FIA to greater heights!  And FIA thanks and greatly appreciates all sponsors, supporters & media partners for their unwavering support & trust in FIA.

FIA Chicago IL Pays Glowing Tribute to FIA Director Mir Ali

Federation of Indian Associations [FIA] Chicago IL, paid glowing tributes to its team member Mir Ali to honor his life and his contributions and hosted a virtual event, ‘FIA Tribute to Director Mir Ali’ via zoom, on Jan 08, 2022 at 2:00 PM (CT) from Schaumburg IL. Mr Mir Ali had suffered a massive and fatal heart attack, on Jan 07, 2022 at 6:30am at his residence where he passed away.

This condolences ceremony was presided by FIA Chairman Sunil Shah and President Hitesh Gandhi, Founding Member Neil Khot and anchored & moderated by Gen Secretary Richa Chand. This event was also supported by the entire Team FIA, Advisory Board Members, Friends & Supporters of FIA:

AAEIO, Mall of India, Outland-media and Asian Media USA. The event was very well attended by Team FIA members, several leaders, thinkers, artists and friends and family. And originally scheduled to be just one hour long, but it took 3 hrs to complete, since all present at the event wanted to share their grief and sorrow….and such is the greatness of this noble human being.

 The event started with the Shanti Mantras and Prayers offered by Anu Malhotra and opening condolences speeches by Sunil Shah and Hitesh Gandhi. A tribute video was played, capturing the precious moments in Mir Ali ji’s life (Video Credit: Harry Siddhu, CEO Outland group of Companies). Prominent leaders who also spoke were Neil Khot, Rita Shah, Mukesh Shah, Dhitu Bhgwakar, Smita Shah, Keerthi Reevori, Suresh Bodiwala, Ajeet Singh, Harry Siddhu, Mujeeb Ahmed, Gurmeet Singh Dhalwaan, Vinita Gulabani, Abir Maru, Richa Chand, Ila Chaudhari, Pika Munshi, Jitendra Balsara, Dr Fawaad Ahmad, Malti Pandhi, Monalisha Borghain, Manmeet Kaur, Vidya Joshi, Vikas Kalwani, Chandni Kalra, Dr Afroz Hafeez and many more friends who gave their heartfelt condolences to the cherished friend and colleague that they lost all too sudden. Song video clips of Mir were played several times in between the speeches, that made everyone feel teary eyed, at the same time reminded them of what a fine artist and human being he was.

Mir Ali (Apr 20, 1962 – Jan 07, 2022), hailed from Hyderabad India, and migrated to the USA, and lived with his family, in Carol stream IL. His old mother also lived with them. Mr Mir Ali, fondly known as Mir Bhai, by his friends and contacts was a very well-known name in our community here in Chicagoland.

By profession, he was a Banker, but by heart he was a passionate musician. He loved singing and was very famous as the ‘Voice of Mukesh’, and was a huge fan of Late legendary Bollywood singer, Mukesh. He was also trained in playing classical instruments, Tabla and Harmonium. He hosted several successful musical events with his team, ‘Mir Ali and Group’ and provided opportunity and platform to many new and upcoming artists.

He was always on the lookout for the new talent and promoted them wholeheartedly and also helped many of the existing artists to showcase their singing, dancing and event management skills. He supported a lot of needy people financially by taking care of their education and wedding expenses, just like his own family. He also encouraged many of his friends to start their own musical companies and helped them get established.

He was also serving as Director in Team FIA and his contributions to Team FIA will be forever remembered. With his charismatic personality, he always made FIA events more special, and FIA expresses deep sorrow and despair at the untimely demise of Mir Bhai. In February, he was going to receive an award from another prominent community organization, MEATF and he was scheduled to travel to Saudi Arabia for an invitational musical tour, but his journey of life ended too soon. Now even though he is no longer with us, he will continue to live on in our memories and hearts forever. He is survived by his wife, Farkhunda Jabeen Ali, son Nazar Ali & daughter Nida Ali.

Whilst our hearts cannot let go of the memories that we cherish dearly for our dear friend Mir Ali Bhai, we bid a tearful sad farewell  to him …..We are still in a state of shock and cannot believe that Mir Bhai has already left us for heaven, aur yeh bhi kitna sach saabit hua hai ki Allah apne nek aur pyaare bando ko sabse pehale bula lete hain….We will miss you Mir Bhai… and there will be no other “Voice of Mukesh” like yourself….Pure & soulful … you will never be forgotten…

FIA thanked all the participants who were able to attend this Tribute zoom event and we hope wherever Mir Bhai is, he is listening to our prayers and watching us all from up there.

AAPI Inaugurates Biochemistry Lab/Immunoanalyzer At AIIMS, Bibinagar, Telangana

American Association of Physicians of Indian origin (AAPI) has been in the forefront, especially during the Covid pandemic with its numerous initiatives to address and help communities  in the United States and in India to overcome the impact of the deadly pandemic. The deadly pandemic, COVID-19 that has been instrumental in the lockdown of almost all major programs and activities around the world, could not lockdown the creative minds of AAPI leadership and its thousands of dedicated members.

In continuation of its efforts, during the recently concluded Global Healthcare Summit in Hyderabad, AAPI donated immunoanalyzer at AIIMS, Bibinagar, Telangana, which does hundreds of tests every day. This is part of Covid relief efforts AAPI has taken over during the second wave of pandemic.

“The generosity of the members of AAPI and Indian community has been unprecedented,” says Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, President of AAPI. “I want to thank the AAPI fraternity, for not only contributing $5 Million towards Covid Relief Funds, but has spent hundreds of hours in coordinating and disbursing the vital medical supplies to the most needed hospitals across India. Thanks to the overwhelming support of its members that AAPI has raised almost $5 million in the past few months and has sent much needed medical supplies to India during the peak of the pandemic in India.”

Taking the lockdown and the social isolation as a challenge, AAPI leadership has creatively worked with the members to plan programs in educating and sharing knowledge on various timely issues affecting the healthcare sector and the people at large. In its efforts to help patients and medical professionals across the nation to receive the required support, training and supplies to protect and heal those infected with the deadly COVID-19 virus that continues to impact the entire nation, AAPI created a Help Line and had physicians participate and run COVID helpline.

AAPI coordinated with dozens of physicians including primary care physicians, ER, critical care and ID physicians, who see these patients on a constant basis, to help during this crisis. Questions are being sent by email and physicians answer them at the earliest convenience.

“AAPI has also collaborated with other national international and government organizations such as, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Indian Embassy in Washington, DC, National Council of Asian Indian Americans (NCAIA), GAPIO, BAPIO and Australian Indian Medical Graduates Association, in its efforts to educate and inform physicians and the public about the virus, to prevent and treat people with the affected by corona virus,” said Dr. Ravi Kolli, President-Elect of AAPI.

“As always, AAPI has been in the forefront, rising to the need of the hour. After our initial donation to AIIMS, Bibinagar, Telangana AAPI is planning to donate immunoanlysers to all AIIMS across the country. As you may remember, AAPI had donated ventilators and high flow oxygen equipment to AIIMS in the past,” Dr. Satheesh Kathula, Clinical Professor of Medicine and AAPI Secretary said.

Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, president of AAPI along with Dr. Satheesh Kathula, AAPI secretary, and Dr. Sujeeth Punnam, Chair, Chair, Covid relief committee participated in the inauguration of biochemistry lab/Immunoanalyzer at AIIMS, Bibinagar, Hyderabad. Later on they planted trees in AIIMS Vatika, Bibinagar and named one of them “AAPI”.  For more details, please visit: www.aapiusa.org

AAPI’s Historic 15th Annual Global Healthcare Summit In Hyderabad Concludes With A Commitment To Continue Efforts For Preventive Healthcare In India

AAPI Urges Government Of India To Appoint An Expert Panel Of Nationally Recognized Experts In The Disciplines Of Preventive Medicine And Primary Care

(Hyderabad: January 7, 2022) The 15th edition of the annual Global Healthcare Summit organized by the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) USA concluded here today with a commitment to continue efforts to preventive care in India and to collaborate with the federal, state and local governments, healthcare and technological industries, as well as with several not for profit organizations to help India make health delivery accessible, affordable and efficient.

“During the 15th annual Global Healthcare Summit, organized in Hyderabad, India from January 5th to 7th, 2022, physician leaders from the United States and India had an opportunity to brainstorm and explore ways to focus on the theme, “Transformation of Healthcare through Telehealth and Technology usage during this post-Covid Era,” and have recommended possible ways to plan and implement preventive medicine that will save resources and precious human lives,” said Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, President of AAPI.

Towards this end, while offering to collaborate with the Government Authorities, “AAPI is urging the Government of India  to appoint an expert panel of nationally recognized experts in the disciplines of preventive medicine and primary care,” she added.

The GHS 2022 was inaugurated by Shri Venkaiah Naidu, Vice President of India, who addressed virtually the hundreds of participants from the United States and India at Avasa Hotel in Hyderabad on January 5th.

“With numerous initiatives, AAPI has come a long way since its inception and has proved to be beneficial not only to Indian-origin American Physicians, but to Indian healthcare as well,” Mr. Naidu observed. He urged the medical fraternity and told them, “as you seek excellence in human health and well-being, do not forget the power of a kind human touch when treating your patients.”

Expressing regrets for not being able to be present in person due to the ongoing pandemic, Mr. Naidu told the hundreds of delegates in a recorded inaugural message stated that the Indian origin physicians in the United States have gained a formidable reputation and that several of them occupy the top administrative positions in the country. “They are among the most successful ambassadors of India’s value systems.” he said.

The Vice President complimented AAPI for its services in India – for raising $5 million during the second wave of the pandemic, for its ‘Adopt a Village’ program among its other initiatives.

The groundbreaking Global Healthcare Summit (GHS) organized by AAPI in collaboration with the Government of India, BAPIO & GAPIO, as well as Host Alumni Chapters, including OGKTMA, ATMGUSA, KAMCOSA, and GMCGA, was packed with programs that were treat to the hearts and souls of every participant.

In her opening remarks, Dr. Udaya Shivangi, Chair of AAPI GHS 2022, said, “This GHS held in amid the fears of Covid pandemic, and following strict Covid restrictions, has promised to be one with the greatest impact and significant contributions towards harnessing the power of international Indian diaspora to bring the most innovative, efficient, cost effective healthcare solutions to India.”

“We thank all the AAPI Members who are sparing their valuable time to come over to Hyderabad in order to attend this event, despite the ongoing situation of the existence of Omicron and travel restrictions. We really appreciate this gesture of courage and confidence displayed by you on behalf of Local Organizing Committee, for braving odds and attending the 15th Annual AAPI GHS, Hyderabad. This is highly admirable,” said Dr. D. Dwarakanatha Reddy, India Chair, AAPI GHS 2022.

Dr. Ravi Kolli, President-Elect f AAPI said, “We have made great strides in helping people to live longer, however, people are spending too many years in poor health, and these gains in health not felt equally across society. We need to focus on the rising levels of obesity, mental illness, addictions, age-related conditions like dementia, and a growing, ageing, and diverse populations, We also need to be aware of cyberbullying, pervasive misinformation and other harmful social media influences affecting our youth.”

“AAPI is collaborating with Global Teleclinics (GTC) to carry out this project in 5 states including Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Telangana,” said Dr. Satheesh Kathula, Secretary of AAPI. “It will be expanded to other states in India eventually. The tests will include CBC, HbA1C, lipid profile, creatinine, pulse oximetry, measurement of blood pressure, height and weight. 150-200 people are screened in each village in one day. There is an opportunity to screen a total of up to 15,000 people in 75 villages across 5 states,” he added.

Dr. Krishan Kumar, Treasurer of AAPI, pointed out, “India, thus needs to redouble and continue its efforts and dedicate resources to tackle these perennial challenges. Many of these projects and programs need regular funding, and management of resources. We are grateful to dozens of AAPI members who have committed to serve India with an ongoing commitment.”

“AAPI is here 365 days a year with the launch of the AAPI India Foundation. With the goal that every Medical student in India should have a Post Graduate seat and that every family in India  is under the care of a Post Graduate Family Medicine Physician,” Dr. Lokesh Edara, Chair, AAPI Global Education Committee and AAPI Board of Trustee said.

Dr. Sujeeth Punnam, US Coordinator of the GHS said, “An excellent 3 hour CME sessions with renowned speakers from around the world, Poster/Research contest and Med Quiz that was attended by a record 1,500 Medical students from several states in India, breath taking cultural events, interactive roundtables, clinical practice workshops, and meet-the-expert sessions, Women’s Forum by internally acclaimed successful women from India and the US, were only some of the major highlights of the Healthcare Summit.”

The topics for CMEs broadly covered the recent advances in Medicine. Workshops on Medical Education and Reforms in India, Psychiatry, Palliative Care and Diabetes as well the seminar on Lifestyle Medicine led by world renowned leader and founder of Life Style Medicine, Dr. Neil Bernard were educative and offered new awareness on trends in medicine and healthier living. The Tuberclosis Awareness Seminar focused on recent advances in the TB epidemic.

Dr. Seema Arora, the Chair of AAPI National Women’s Committee, along with Dr. Meher Medavaram, Dr. Malati Mehta and Dr. Uma Jonnalagadda organized the Women’s Forum with a panel of “Women Who Inspire” from all walks of life who have achieved extraordinary feats in each of their phenomenal lives.

Dr. Tejaswini Manogna, Miss India-Earth 2019 and the title of Divine Miss Earth India 2019, who was the keynote speaker and part of the much popular Women’s Forum said, “Woman is defined by her courage and self-confidence.” She told her fellow women to “Speak up. Do not suffer in silence. Be bold and brave to voice your opinion. If a woman can lead at home, she can lead the world.”

The CEO Forum, chaired by Dr. Joseph Chalil had a galaxy of CEOs from India and the United States, who shared their insights into the challenges and opportunities for making healthcare affordable, using modern technology and scientific research, Sangita Reddy, Joint MD of Apollo group of hospitals and incoming Chairman of FICCI shared her passion for the care of the masses, using technology to reach out. She praised AAPI’s efforts to help India through its Healthcare Summits in making policies in healthcare delivery more effective.

“AAPI, under the guidance of President Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, would like to collaborate with the Healthcare leaders in proposing the creation of an Indian Preventive Task Force (IPTF). We envision a great future for our country with the direct result of complex interactions at this forum with your assistance, guidance, and experience,” said Dr. Joseph Chalil.

“January is #CervicalCancer Awareness Month! In coordination with the local organizers of the GHS, AAPI is donating funds for the HPV Vaccination, a total of 200 doses of the vaccine for 100 children from the state of Telangana on January 9th,” said Dr. Meher Medavaram, an organizer of the program. “AAPI’s this new initiative through education and awareness programs, is aimed at help save millions of lives in India,” she added.

Indian Idol Keshav Kumar entertained the audience on Jan 5thnight during the gala.

The grand finale was the colorful rendition of the classical Indian dance forms, representing several states in India brilliantly choreographed by Mona Lisa, an internationally acclaimed Indian Dance Maestro. Dr.  Amit Chakrabarty, past Secretary of AAPI delighted the audience with his impromptu live music extravaganza.

The Pre-Tour of the GHS 2019 took the delegates to the serene Kanha Shanti Vanam, located in the suburbs of Hyderabad. Magnificent in its conception and design, tranquil in its atmosphere, Kanha, blending the beauty of nature with sprawling facilities gave an inspiring experience to AAPI members an opportunity to learn to relax and meditate, through the Heartfulness movement.

AAPI delegates and local GHS organizers had a unique and once in a lifetime experience, when they were treated to a royal reception at the fabulous Falanama Palace of the Nizam of Hyderabad.

The guided tour of the royal palace built in 1897, live Qawali by local artists at the palace for AAPI delegates and a memorable sit down royal dinner at the world’s largest Dining Table  with 101 Guests were some of the most amazing moments in life for the participants.

During his address to the AAPI delegates on Jan 6th, DAAJI inspired the audience with his enriching address focusing on modern day life, the stressors and the challenges, while offering insights into how stress relaxation, meditation and cleansing would help human beings lead a peaceful life.

“The next edition of the Global Healthcare Summit 2023 will be held in Vishakapatnam in Andhra Pradesh in the first week of January in 2023,” Dr. Ravi Kolli, President-Elect of AAPI announced.

“With the changing trends and statistics in healthcare, both in India and US, we are refocusing our mission and vision, AAPI will continue to make a positive meaningful impact on the healthcare delivery system both in the US and in India,” Dr. Gotimukula said.  “AAPI has made significant contributions towards addressing several issues affecting the healthcare system in India,” she added. “AAPI is pleased to announce that the National NMC of India has communicated to the World Federation of Medical Education (WFME) of its intent to be the national agency for accreditation of all the medical colleges in India,” Dr. Gotimukula said.

Appealing to the Government of India to appoint a panel of nationally recognized experts in the disciplines of preventive medicine and primary care; Adopt A Village Program in 75 villages, Cervical Cancer Vaccine Camp for 100 girls in Hyderabad, Establishing AAPI India Foundation; Efforts by AAPI Global Education Committee Advocacy of National Medical Commission (NMC) on WFME accreditation for ECFMG eligibility for Indian Medical graduates and successfully mobilizing NMC leadership and engaging and motivating Medical students in India through research contest and Med Quiz as well as the CMEs by highly acclaimed international speakers are only some of the tangible outcomes from the GHS 2022,  Dr. Gotimukula stated with pride. For more details, please visit:  www.aapiusa.org

India’s Vice President Naidu Lauds Indian American Physicians For Being ‘Ambassadors Of Indian Value Systems’

“With numerous initiatives, AAPI has proved to be beneficial not only to Indian-origin American Physicians, but to Indian healthcare as well,” Mr. Naidu tells AAPI Delegates at 15th annual Global Health Care Summit in Hyderabad

(Hyderabad, India: January 5th, 2022) The Vice President, Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu praised Indian origin medical professionals for “making their mark in every corner of the world” and being the “personification of our nation’s civilizational value of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam.”

Mr. Naidu was addressing the international delegates from the United States and India during the 15th Annual Global Healthcare Summit 2022 being organized by American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) at the AVASA Hotel in the historic city of Hyderabad on January 5, 2022.

“With numerous initiatives, AAPI has come a long way since its inception and has proved to be beneficial not only to Indian-origin American Physicians, but to Indian healthcare as well,” Mr. Naidu observed. He urged the medical fraternity and told them, “as you seek excellence in human health and well-being, do not forget the power of a kind human touch when treating your patients.”

Expressing regrets for not being able to be present in person due to the ongoing pandemic, Mr. Naidu told the hundreds of delegates in a recorded inaugural message stated that the Indian origin physicians in the United States have gained a formidable reputation and that several of them occupy the top administrative positions in the country. “They are among the most successful ambassadors of India’s value systems.” he said.

The Vice President complimented AAPI for its services in India – for raising $5 million during the second wave of the pandemic, for its ‘Adopt a Village’ program among its other initiatives.

The Vice President of India noted that “AAPI, founded in 1982, is one of the largest groups that represent the interests of more than 80,000 practicing Indian-origin physicians in the United States and 40,000 medical students, residents and fellows of Indian origin.”

In her welcome address, Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, President of AAPI, said, “This year’s Summit is focused on the theme: “Prevention is better than cure” through Technology, Telemedicine, and Transformation from the current disease-care system to a preventive healthcare system.” Dr. Gotimukula, who has chosen to focus on the “Adopt a Village” Rural Preventive Healthcare screening initiative, stated that “AAPI has brought to the attention of the Government of India the need for preventive health care screening to help detect diseases at an early stage and our purpose of the Global health summit is to interact and collaborate with Government of India and emphasize the need of annual preventive healthcare screening and have the healthcare accessible and affordable.”

She thanked Dr. Udaya Shivangi, Chair GHS, Dr. Dwarakanatha Reddy, Convener India, Dr. Sujeeth Punnam, US Coordinator, Dr. Lokesh Edara, Chair Global Medical Education, Ms. Vijaya Kodali, AAPI Office Manager, and my entire planning committees for dedicating their personal time and spending countless hours in shaping the conference well.” The official GHS Souvenir was presented to the leadership by Dr. Anupama Gotimukula.

In her introductory remarks, Dr. Udaya Shivangi said, “This annual tradition is a way of sharing, caring and giving back our medical expertise to our motherland. The theme of this year’s summit is “Prevention is Better than Cure”. Using Technology and Telemedicine as a platform we can make healthcare more accessible, Transforming the healthcare approach from Disease Care to Preventive Care.”

“We thank all the AAPI Members who are sparing their valuable time to come over to Hyderabad in order to attend this event, despite the ongoing situation of the existence of Omicron and travel restrictions. We really appreciate this gesture of courage and confidence displayed by you on behalf of Local Org. Committee, for braving odds and attending the 15th Annual AAPI GHS, Hyderabad. This is highly admirable,” said Dr. D. Dwarakanatha Reddy, India Chair, AAPI GHS 2022.

Dr. Ravi Kolli, President-Elect f AAPI said, “We have made great strides in helping people to live longer, however, people are spending too many years in poor health, and these gains in health not felt equally across society. We need to focus on the rising levels of obesity, mental illness, addictions, age-related conditions like dementia, and a growing, ageing, and diverse populations, often living with multiple and chronic conditions such as diabetes, asthma, and arthritis. We also need to be aware of cyberbullying, pervasive misinformation and other harmful social media influences affecting our youth.”

“Continuing with our magnificent efforts to help our motherland, members of AAPI, the premier medical organization in the United States has initiated Adopt-A-Village, a Rural Health Initiative in India, with plans to adopt 75 villages to commemorate 75 years of India’s independence,” said  Dr. Satheesh Kathula, the Secretary of AAPI and the Chair of AAPI’s Adopt A Village Program.

Dr. Krishan Kumar, Treasurer of AAPI, pointed out, “India, thus needs to redouble and continue its efforts and dedicate resources to tackle these perennial challenges. Many of these projects and programs need regular funding, and management of resources. We are grateful to dozens of AAPI members who have committed to serve India with an ongoing commitment.”

Mr. Naidu lauded the contributions of API, stating, “I am happy to know that  during the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, AAPI members had raised $5 million in a short time to support relief activities including sending life-saving equipment such as oxygen concentrators and ventilators” and that “AAPI team is working on installing oxygen plants in hospitals serving rural India, with some of these units having been commissioned already.”

He commended “this initiative because improving the infrastructure for rural healthcare is the pressing need of the hour in our country.” He expressed appreciation as “AAPI has started an ‘Adopt a Village’ pilot program to provide free health screening camps in villages across five states—Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Karnataka and Telangana. I am told they are planning vaccination camps in India with the help of local doctors, to address the issue of vaccine hesitancy. These are commendable initiatives indeed.”

Calling it an important initiative, he praised AAPI for its “awareness program for CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation). At a time of increasing share of Non-Communicable Diseases, especially those related to the heart, we need greater awareness among people to apply CPR as a lifesaving first-aid technique and save lives during heart attacks or near drowning. I believe school children, at least at higher secondary level, and in fact, every citizen, must be taught CPR along with other basic aspects of first-aid,” her added.

“Apart from being the ‘pharmacy to the world’ with path-breaking innovations in the pharmaceuticals industry, India has over the years, become a much sought after ‘medical tourism destination of the world’. Data reveals that nearly 7 lakh foreign tourists came for medical treatment in India in the year 2019 alone,” Mr. Naidu pointed out.

Mr. Naidu stated that “Indian medical professionals—doctors, nurses and technicians have been making their mark in every corner of the world and have been offering invaluable services for many decades now. It is estimated that there are 1.4 million physicians of Indian origin all over the world.”  Several of them occupy the top administrative positions in the medical field in the country, including Dr Vivek Murthy, the present Surgeon-General of the United States, among others.

These Indian-origin physicians are a personification of our nation’s cherished civilisational value of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’. They are among the most successful ambassadors of India’s value systems and propagators of our mission to ‘Share and Care’ for all the people of the world, irrespective of their nationalities. We are indeed proud of them and their services.

Noting that Indian firms have collaborated with US-based organizations to produce the recently approved vaccines — Corbevax and Covovax, the Vice President said “this experience clearly shows India-US collaboration in healthcare can reap great benefits not only for our countries, but for the entire world”.

In the midst of a possible 3rd wave of Covid infections, Naidu called for a sense of urgency in dealing with the new surge in COVID cases and to apply the lessons of the past waves of the pandemic. “We must consider it our ‘Dharma’ and ‘Kartavya’ to follow the COVID protocol at all times – wearing a mask, maintaining physical distancing and getting vaccinated, and secure ourselves and our community.”

He called upon public-minded individuals, social advocacy groups, medical professionals and the government to reach out to as many people as possible and get rid of any vaccine hesitancy that may be stopping India in its collective fight against the pandemic.

To bridge the gap between urban and rural communities, the Vice President suggested seriously exploring the use of telehealth and other technological solutions in reaching out better to rural and remote areas. “This will expand the utilization of our limited manpower and health infrastructure to reach the last mile,” he said.

Pointing to the many health-tech start-ups in India, Mr. Naidu suggested scaling up their healthcare services for rural areas, so that the geographical barriers may be overcome and out-of-pocket expenditures are rationalized. He observed that Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission, with a digitized record of the patient’s medical history, will boost these efforts.

The historic Global Healthcare Summit, especially during the challenging C ovid situation around the world, organized by AAPI in collaboration with the Government of India, BAPIO & GAPIO, as well as Host Alumni Chapters, including OGKTMA, ATMGUSA, KAMCOSA, and GMCGA, will have participation from some of the world’s most well-known physicians, and industry leaders.

Offering education to First Responders, a CEO Forum by a galaxy of CEOs from around the world, inauguration of AAPI-sponsored clinic, CMEs, Research contests, Med Quiz, cultural events, interactive roundtables, clinical practice workshops, scientific poster/research session and meet-the-expert sessions, Women’s Forum by internally acclaimed successful worm from India, a session on Public-Private Partnership featuring AAPI Healthcare Charitable showcase & innovation, are only some of the major highlights of the Healthcare Summit.

“With the changing trends and statistics in healthcare, both in India and US, we are refocusing our mission and vision, AAPI would like to make a positive meaningful impact on the healthcare delivery system both in the US and in India,” Dr. Gotimukula said. For more information on Global Health Summit, please visit www.aapiusa.org

Aftab Pureval, First Asian American, All Set To Be Mayor of Cincinnati

Aftab Pureval, Indian-American Mayor-elect of Cincinnati, Ohio, is all set to become the first ever Asian American to lead one of the largest cities in the United States. He won Cincinnati’s race for mayor in November this year, according to unofficial results, making the 39-year-old lawyer the first Asian American elected to lead the city.

Pureval defeated David Mann, a city councilor and fellow Democrat who previously served as mayor and in Congress, 66 percent to 34 percent with all precincts counted, according to unofficial results from the Hamilton County Board of Elections. Pureval will succeed term-limited Mayor John Cranley, who is seeking Ohio’s Democratic nomination for governor in 2022.

“Words can’t express how honored and excited I am to be the next Mayor of Cincinnati,” Pureval said in a tweet late Tuesday. “Tonight, we made history! Let’s get to work!” A son of immigrants, the half-Indian, half-Tibetan Pureval is viewed as a rising political star in the state. He was elected clerk of courts in 2016 after running ads with a stuffed duck quacking his name — “Aftab!” — in a campaign reminiscent of the old Aflac insurance commercials.

Pureval is to be sworn in as Mayor of the City of Cincinnati on January 4, 2022. “We are so grateful for the many reforms and the leadership Aftab Pureval has brought to the Clerk of Court’s office since he was elected in 2016 and re-elected in 2020,” said Gwen McFarlin, Chair of the Hamilton County Democratic Party.

As per reports, Aftab Pureval has announced his resignation as Hamilton County Clerk of Courts December 20, 2021, to allow the appointment process for his replacement to begin. “It has been a privilege to serve as Hamilton County’s Clerk of Courts, which has allowed me to serve alongside our public servants in the Courthouse,” Pureval is quoted saying in a press release. “I am proud of the progress that has been made over the past five years to bring modern and professional reforms to the Clerk’s office.”

Pureval took credit was policies that “have invested in the people who serve us” by paying a living wage to all employees and becoming the first county officeholder in Ohio to offer comprehensive paid family leave.

He also said during his term he had made access to justice a priority by launching a Help Center to assist people who are representing themselves with legal resources. He also said that by cutting waste and by making the office more professional, taxpayers had been saved millions of dollars.

After a failed bid for Congress in 2020, Pureval will now succeed Mayor John Cranley, who is retiring from the office due to term limits and vying for Ohio’s Democratic nomination for governor next year.

Typically, Asian American and Pacific Islander mayors win in cities that have large AAPI populations. And while Asian Americans are the nation’s fastest-growing voting bloc, this group makes up less than 1 percent of elected officials.

For Pureval, the current Hamilton County (Ohio) Clerk of Courts, his mayoral win was especially dramatic. Only about 3 percent of Cincinnati’s population identify as Asian, yet he won by roughly a 2-to-1 margin over his opponent David Mann, a veteran Democrat.

In a recent interview he had stated: “I’m half Tibetan and half Indian, and you’ll have to check me on this, but I’m not sure there are any other Tibetan mayors, let alone elected officials in the country.  And what it says about Cincinnati as a city … is [it’s] a welcoming place where everyone has an incredible opportunity to achieve their dream.”

Pureval is to be sworn in as Mayor of the City of Cincinnati on January 4, 2022. “We are so grateful for the many reforms and the leadership Aftab Pureval has brought to the Clerk of Court’s office since he was elected in 2016 and re-elected in 2020,” said Gwen McFarlin, Chair of the Hamilton County Democratic Party

AAPI-QLI Celebrates Silver Jubilee Gala

Nearly 500 people from across the country came together to celebrate the contributions, achievements and growth of the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin of QUEENS and LONG ISLAND (AAPI-QLI) during the 25th annual convention here at the Hilton Huntington, Long Island, NY on Saturday, December 4th, 2021.

Entertainment, CME lectures, Exhibition, Business Forums, Networking, Recognition of five distinguished physicians for their achievements and contributions, Gala and Dinner were some of those made the convention historic on this colorful and eventful day.

The United States Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, chief guest at the event, in his address, praised the contributions of Indian Americans to the larger American society. He lauded the great contributions of the largest AAPI Chapter with over 850 Member Physicians, who serve the state of New York in various capacities. “For 25 years, members of AAPI QLI has worked tirelessly to support Indian American physicians excel in patient care , teaching and research,” he said.

Kathy Hochul, the Governor of New York, lauded the great contributions of Indian American physicians, especially during the pandemic, putting your lives at the forefront, making New York stronger and vibrant. She praised the dedication, hard work and their contributions to the state of New York with their strong membership of over 3,000 member physicians of Indian Origin in the Queens Long Island region. “Our entire state of New York befits from the great contributions of Indian American physicians, who work in all areas of healthcare, and we appreciate their commitment to ensuring quality care for our people,” she said.

In his welcome address, Dr. Rajendra Bhayani, who was the President of AAPI-QLI, during the Jubilee year and as the Chair of Jubilee Committee, describing of AAPIQLI as “One of most prestigious organizations in the country today,” gave an overview of how the organization, and its trajectory of growth over the past 25 years and how it has become today to be one of the most powerful ethnic Physician organizations in the country.

“I am grateful  anmd stand here with adeep sense of gratitude and appreciation. You all esteemed members of AAPI QLI have given me tremendous opportunity to be your president during the very special year a silver jubilee year of AAPIQLI and to serve as the Chair of the Jubilee Celebrations. It has been  my pleasure and very special privilege to serve as your president during silver jubilee year of AAPIQLI.”

Dr. Abhay Malhotra, President of AAPI QLI in his address, enumerated some of the major achievements of the Chapter. He said, “AAPI-QLI has been providing a forum for monthly meetings for Continuing Medical Educations on Sunday, monthly sessions with discussions on current trends and changes on a range of topics in healthcare, wealth management, and practice management issues on Wednesday. AAPI-QLI is also engaged in charitable activities for the benefit of our community at large in the form of donations to several charitable organizations every year.

Dr. Jagdish K Gupta, past President of AAPI QLI, called upon the AAPI members to “stand united, in order to be able to fight for our rights,” while pointing to the fact that Indian American Physicians service every 7th patient in the nation and contribute immensely to the healthcare industry in the nation.”

Dr. Rakesh Dua, Chair of AAPI QLI BOT lauded the many achievements of the Indian Americans. “Tonight, as proud members of the AAPI-QLI, the largest and most active Chapter of national AAPI, we are celebrating the achievements of our community and our many contributions to the diverse society in New York and Long Island area.”

AAPIQLI, one of the largest chapters of national AAPI, has been serving 800 member physicians since 1995, providing continuing medical education, charity, and discussing the state of the art topics in healthcare, wealth management and practice management.

AAPI QLI has grown rapidly in membership and has been well accepted and appreciated by all local and national professional organizations. From the very beginning the leadership put heavy emphasis on transparency and the democratic process, which is the main ingredient for its enormous success.

The Mission of AAPI Queens and Long Island has been to represent the interests of all physicians of Indian Origin in the area including providing Continuous Medical Education (CME) and engaging in charitable activities for the benefit of the larger community in the New York region. For information, please visit: http://aapiqli.org/about-aapiqli/

Living The American Dream While Holding On To The Traditional Indian Family Values: Kothari Family

For Most people, the Immigrant American Dreams mean, better opportunities to find work, Better living conditions, to be with their American spouses/families and to get the best education.

Recent census data shows that the Diverse and Growing Asian Population in the United States nearly tripled in the past three decades, and Asians are now the fastest-growing ethnic minority of the United State of America. Incredible success of the Indian American diaspora can be attributed to the fact that we are one of the best educated groups with over 80% having college degrees, in addition to the uptick, the Asian population has become geographically diverse with the wide distinctions in income, citizenship and political preference.

It is extremely difficult to achieve both the American Dream and holding on to the Traditional Indian Family Values. The Kothari family led by Hasmukh Kothari is a living example of how a blend of traditional values with modern and progressive thinking can help create a harmonious family life.

Born in the historical year of India’s Independence, 1947, to Shri Govind Lal Kothari and Smt. Sharda Kothari, in a small town of Gujarat called Kadi, Hasmukh finished his education with a degree in Civil Engineering, after which he procured a job as an assistant lecturer in Mumbai. In 1968, Hasmukh married Usha to start a blissful family life.

In 1980, Hasmukh Kothari, armed with a degree in Civil engineering, landed on the US soil with an empty wallet but a heart full of dreams. He was the first one from his family to make this transition. He worked very hard to reach the goals that he had set for himself and his family.

He started his career here as a Life Insurance sales person, progressively transitioning into real estate income tax, mortgage and insurance industry. In the past, he has played an active part in Gujarati Samaj of Chicago and is a prominent community leader. He truly believes in giving back to the community and uplifting the society as a whole, keeping alive our culture and heritage.

After working with a variety of companies, Hasmukh started his new venture KMS Realty in 2004 which is very well known in the industry now.  Today he has a thriving business and a wonderful family, complete with his two sons, older one, Bobby, his wife Shobhana, younger son, Bunty, his wife Ranna and one daughter Pinki, her husband, Pranav and the grandkids- which he considers, is his real wealth. In addition to the United States of America, he has an Extended family of more than 50 members back home in India as well, who respect him for the accomplished man he is now.

Almost every weekend, members of the Kothari family gather. And recently on December 17th, 2021, the family gathered again to celebrate older son Bobby’s 50th birthday. Bobby is also a successful businessman running his Construction & Remodeling Company, while his wife Shobhana Kothari is a professional licensed cosmetologist. Along with the entire family, Shobhana wishes her husband a very happy, healthy and prosperous life.

Mostly we hear about the two regrets the dying people express the most: 1) I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected out of me. 2) I wish I had spent more time with my family. When asked, Hasmukh Kothari, said, “100% I have no such regrets, because for me, I have always made my family my first priority and always made sure to spend substantial and quality time with my loved ones.”

Hasmukh’s message to the immigrants today is that the United States of America is the land of opportunities, but everyone needs to work hard, work smart with ethics endowed at every step, not to forget the big part education plays in one’s life! He added,” We are all Stars, but we must learn how to Shine!”. Today, living a content and happy life with his family, Hasmukh Kothari is an inspiration to the young immigrants who have same dreams and passions.

“Heart Health Awareness And Community Bystander CPR” Program Organized By Indian Consulate in Chicago

During the Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav (AKAM) week, the Chicago Indian Consulate organized a Heart Health Awareness and Community ‘Saving Lives’ Bystander Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) program at the Indian Consulate in Chicago on December 15,2021.

The Indian American community-focused program was jointly developed by Dr. Vemuri S Murthy, Chairman of the Board of  Chicago Medical Society and Founder of the Chicago Medical Society Community Bystander CPR project “SMILE” (Saving More Illinois Lives through Education) in association with Dr. Srinivas Ramaka, an eminent Cardiologist from Telangana, India. The program was attended by several members of the Indian diaspora, leaders of Medical Organizations, and Diplomats of the Indian Consulate, staff, and families.

Inaugurating the program, Honorable Consul General Amit Kumar spoke on the importance of Indo-US healthcare partnerships to reduce morbidity and mortality due to heart disease and the major role of the Indian diaspora in strengthening these affiliations through jointly developed innovative projects. As an example, he referred to the Heart Rescue India (HRI) project, recently implemented successfully with Indo-US collaboration, involving the University of Illinois College of Medicine and UI Health, Chicago, and Ramaiah Medical College in Bengaluru with a grant from Medtronic. He congratulated the Indian Physician community for their ongoing contributions to the Indian and US Healthcare sector.

In his address, Hon’ble Member of Congress Danny K. Davis stressed the importance of taking care of one’s health. He commended the significant role of the Indian American doctors in contributing to the general health and well-being of US communities. In a virtual message, Honorable Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi congratulated the Indian Consulate and Dr. Vemuri Murthy for organizing the program and their efforts to enhance outcomes after cardiac arrests among the communities.

Consul General Amit Kumar, Congressman Danny K Davis, PBSA Dr. Bharat Barai and Dr. Vemuri Murthy released the community bystander CPR Informational brochure in three languages – English, Gujarati, and Spanish for the Indian and US communities. Brochures in other Indian languages will be available soon.

Dr.Murthy gave a presentation on Global Heart Disease, Heart Attacks and Sudden Cardiac Arrests with a special focus on Indians and Indian diaspora in the USA. He spoke of the  programs needed to improve the survival and outcomes during cardiac emergencies via. community awareness, prevention, early recognition, and timely intervention. He also brought to the attention of audience the need to seriously address “Women’s Heart Health” issues. A Hands-only CPR demonstration and training of the participants followed.

Efforts to raise awareness of heart disease and promote “Healthy Heart” lifestyles is essential. Heart disease is the number one Global Public Health problem. South Asians are at a four-times greater risk of heart disease than their western counterparts and have a greater chance of having a heart attack before 50 years of age. Heart attacks strike South Asian Men and Women at younger ages, and as a result, both morbidity and mortality are higher among them compared to any other ethnic group. They tend to develop heart disease ten years earlier than other groups.

Dr. Vemuri S. Murthy, an Adjunct Faculty in the Department of Emergency Medicine @ The University of Illinois College of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois, USA and Visiting Professor in India, is an Advocate of Resuscitation education, training and research in USA and India.His current work involves Cardiac Arrest Registries and Cardiac Health-promoting Projects with Indo-US collaborations.

Dr. Akash Patel Assumes Office As IMANE’s New President, Deepa Jhaveri Is The President-Elect

The Indian Medical Association of New England, known as IMANE, installed Dr. Akash Patel, MD as its new president for the year 2022 and selected Dr. Deepa Jhaveri, DPM as its president-elect. Dr. Patel replaces Dhrumil Shah, MD, whose term expired this year.

Dr. Patel earned his medical school degree from Pramukhswami Medical College at Sardar Patel University in Gujarat, India. He completed his Family Medicine Residency at University of Medicine & Dentistry of New Jersey/Hoboken University Medical Center in Hoboken, NJ. Dr. Patel is Board Certified in Family Medicine. His clinical interests include hypertension, cardiovascular health and preventive medicine.

Dr. Jhaveri is a board certified surgical podiatrist. She earned her undergraduate degree at University of Maryland and podiatric medical degree at Temple University. She is credentialed and works at Beth-Israel Lahey Hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital and Boston Medical Center.

Dr. Pramod Shah, MD, Chair of the Board of Trustees of IMANE, said that 2020 and part of 2021 were dead years because of the COVID19 pandemic.

“Board of Trustees congratulate Dr. Dhrumil Shah for his leadership during these trying times. He kept the communication going and activities going using zoom meetings, emails and telephone calls. His continued efforts and constant prodding and reminders kept the organization functioning well and achieving a lot,” said Dr. Pramod Shah.

“Life of a healthcare professional in today’s environment is full of challenges and uncertainties we have never faced in the past. While we are not going back to yesterday, we have to embrace our past irrespective of our desires and work together to build a better future for generations to come,” outgoing IMANE President Dr. Dhrumil Shah said. “I am really thankful for members and our community partners who showed us in 2021 despite all uncertainties, how we can all do our part in making the difference.”

He said that IMANE closely collaborated and worked with network of its alliance partners in 2021 to facilitate fundraisers and campaigns geared towards helping underserved communities in India.

“Empowering our community through new partnerships and facilitating activities with common objectives has been at the center of our new normal in 2021,” added Dr. Shah. “Please join me in welcoming the 2022 IMANE Leadership team as we continue our journey together to further IMANE mission and goals.”

Dr. George M. Abraham, MD, MPH, FACP, FIDSA, Chief of Medicine at Saint Vincent Hospital, Worcester, Massachusetts, a Professor of Medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, and Adjunct Professor at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (MCPHS), served as the Chief Guest during the IMANE annual gala.

Three members of IMANE were also honored by IMANE President’s awards. D.. Sapna Agarwal was recognized for her contributions towards IMANE Leadership & Excellence. Dr Manju Sheth was honored  for her work in making a global impact, and Dr Paul Mathew was honored for leading IMANE’s CME efforts.

The 43rd general body meeting of IMANE also elected new members to its executive committee and it Board of Trustees. Here is the complete list of all IMANE officers:

President: Akash Patel, MD

Past-President: Dhrumil Shah, MD

President-elect: Deepa Jhaveri, DPM

Secretary: Sonali Khond, MD

Treasurer: Shikha Merchia, MD

Members at Large:

Paul Mathew, MD

Monnie Malhotra, MD

Gita Trivedi, MD

Sanjay Aurora, MD

Smita Patel, MD

Board of Trustees:

Pramod Shah, MD

Rajendra Trivedi, MD

Sapna Agarwal, MD

Vikas Desai, MD

Kishore Mehta, MD

Chairman of Nominating Committee: Devila Shah, MD

ByLaws Chair: Pramod Shah, MD

YPS Representative: Tej Shah, DMD.

U.S. Life Expectancy Dropped Nearly 2 Years in 2020

It’s clear that 2020 was a terrible year for health in the U.S., but just how terrible is now coming into focus. New mortality data from the National Center for Health Statistics finds that life expectancy dropped by 1.8 years in 2020 compared to 2019, and more than 528,800 more U.S. residents died in 2020 than in 2019. It is the largest single-year increase in annual mortality since 1933, when data for the entire country first became available.

COVID-19 is the primary reason for this shift. The virus was the cause of 10.4% of all deaths last year and became the third-most common cause of death in the country. However, the report also reflects the shock waves the pandemic sent through the U.S. healthcare system. “The report card for the year was an F,” says Samuel Preston, professor of sociology at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Arts and Sciences (who was not involved with the study). “It’s a very dismal portrait of what happened in the United States. And what happened in the United States is worse than what happened in other developed countries.”

Death rates rose from various causes, including heart disease (up 4.1%), strokes (up 4.9%) and Alzheimer’s disease (up 8.7%) as COVID-19 stretched the entire health care system to its limit. Mark Hayward, a demographer and a professor of sociology at the University of Texas at Austin, says that increases in these particular diseases is striking. “They’re the kinds of deaths that are likely to occur because you can’t access hospitals or you can’t access care,” he says. “The overall consequence of COVID is broader than just COVID-related deaths. It’s because we can’t provide care to people with other conditions.”

Access issues during the pandemic were reported across the health care system: ambulances bounced from one overwhelmed emergency room to another; short-staffed nursing homes struggled to contain the deadly infection; and hospitals were forced to postpone non-emergency surgeries to cope with the influx of COVID-19 patients. Check-ups, during which doctors might have prescribed cholesterol-lowering drugs, were canceled, and those unprescribed drugs did not prevent heart attacks. Many care providers also left the profession because of burnout and exhaustion.

Even these high numbers are likely an underestimate. About 17% to 20% more deaths should have been attributed to COVID-19, says Preston, who is studying COVID-19 and 2020 mortality rates as part of a collaboration between the University of Pennsylvania and Boston University. “We have concluded, as others have, that COVID itself was under-reported as a cause of death,” says Preston. “There are areas of the country where, compared to the changes in death rates overall, there are clearly insufficient numbers of deaths being assigned to COVID.” While undercounting was likely a bigger issue early in the pandemic, problems persisted, Preston says. For instance, areas with coroners (who are typically elected) instead of medical examiners (who are generally appointed medical officials) are more likely to assign COVID-19 deaths to other causes.

The pandemic also contributed to increased deaths caused by another type of illness: drug-use disorders. Recent government data found that between April 2020 and 2021, more than 100,000 people died from drug overdoses, the highest number ever recorded in a 12-month period. This record high was at least partially the result of the pandemic, as the virus not only disrupted treatment programs and affected patients’ mental health, but likely accelerated the spread of the dangerous synthetic opioid fentanyl. In the new NCHS report, overdoses are included in the category of unintentional injuries, which rose 16.8% year over year.

What’s also clear from the report is that while no part of American society was untouched by the pandemic, some groups experienced worse effects. Death rates rose among all age groups over the age of 15, and among white, Black and Hispanic people alike. The increase was particularly steep for Hispanic and non-Hispanic Black people: death rates rose by 42.7% for Hispanic men, 32.4% for Hispanic women, 28% for Black men, and 24.9% for Black women in 2020 compared to 2019. The gap between men and women’s life expectancy also widened. Men’s life expectancy fell by 2.1 years, to age 74.2, and dropped 1.5 years to age 79.9 for women.

The racial disparities are likely due to the fact that more people of color are frontline workers who aren’t able to avoid being exposed to the virus, says Hayward, who studies mortality and inequality. As more data become available, he anticipates seeing inequalities across educational lines. “The college educated could work at home and avoid exposure,” says Hayward. “​​You’re going to see a very dramatic widening of educational differences in life expectancies…driven in part because of absolute decline in life expectancy among the most socially disadvantaged groups in this country.”

U.S. Population Growth Has Nearly Flatlined, New Census Data Shows

America’s population size is standing still, according to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Population growth over the 12-month period from July 1, 2020 through July 1, 2021 stood at unprecedented low of just 0.12%. This is the lowest annual growth since the Bureau began collecting such statistics in 1900, and reflects how all components of population change—deaths, births, and immigration levels—were impacted during a period when the COVID-19 pandemic became most prevalent.

The new estimates show that during this period, population growth declined from the previous year in 31 of 50 states as well as Washington, D.C., with 18 states sustaining absolute population losses. In some states, especially California and New York, population losses were exacerbated by inflated out-migration during the pandemic, just as other states such as Florida and Texas benefitted from greater population in-flows.

While COVID-19 clearly played a role in this near-zero population growth, that growth had begun to plummet even before the pandemic. The 2020 census showed that from 2010 to 2020, the U.S. registered the second-lowest decade growth in its history—a consequence, in large part, of the aging of its population, which led to more deaths and fewer births. Nonetheless, the new data shows that pandemic-related demographic forces have left an indelible mark on the nation.

Historic dips and spikes in population growth follow pandemics and economic trends

The unprecedented near cessation of U.S. population growth is depicted in Figure 1, which charts annual growth rates in the 121-year period from 1900 to 2021. Over this time, the nation experienced wide variations in growth, resulting from wars, economic booms and busts, as well as changing fertility and immigration patterns.

Noteworthy are the sharp dips in growth: in 1918-19, due largely to the Spanish Flu pandemic, and in the late 1920s and early 1930s as a result of the Great Depression. Growth rose to levels approaching 2% during the prosperous post-World War II “baby boom” years of the 1950s and 1960s. And after a lull in the 1970s and 1980s, population growth rose again in the 1990s due to rising immigration and millennial generation births.

The 21st century ushered in another population growth downturn, exacerbated by the 2007-09 Great Recession. This spilled into a 2010s decade-wide growth slowdown that provided a backdrop for the nearly flat growth of 0.12% in 2020-21. This most recent statistic reflects more deaths and fewer births associated with an aging population along with greater restrictions in immigration near the end of the decade, even before the pandemic hit.

The factors that led to today’s unprecedented flat growth rate

The demographic components of reduced population growth in 2020-21 are depicted in Figure 2, which contrasts year-by-year changes since 2000 in what demographers call “natural increase”—the excess of births over deaths as well as net international migration.

As indicted above, declines in the nation’s natural increase levels during the 2010s reflected more deaths associated with an aging population as well as the after-effects of the Great Recession in the postponement of childbearing for young adult women. Immigration trends were more uneven due to changing economic circumstances, including the recession and immediate post-recession downturn, as well as immigration policies that became more restrictive during the Trump administration.

Both natural increase and immigration contributions to population growth became markedly reduced in 2020-21, in large part due to the pandemic. (Pandemic impacts were partially evident already in 2019-20 data.) Population gains attributable to natural increase rose as high as 1.1 million in 2016-17, but dropped to 677,000 in 2019-20 and then again to 148,000 in 2020-21. Over the past two years, the number of deaths in the U.S. rose by 363,000 (from 3.07 million to 3.43 million) and the number of births declined by 166,000 (from 3.74 million to 3.58 million)—reflecting, in part, pandemic-related decisions to postpone having children.

Immigration levels plummeted as well, exacerbating the impacts of earlier policy restrictions. The new estimates showed a net international migration of just 256,000 in 2020-21—down from an already low 477,000 in 2019-20 and from over 1 million per year in the middle of the 2010s decade.

Despite this decline in immigration, it was the dip in natural increase—propelled by deaths during the pandemic—that drove much of the nation’s dramatic growth slowdown.  In contrast to earlier years, the contribution of natural increase to the nation’s growth was even less than that of immigration.

Eighteen states lost population in the past year

The national growth slowdown exerted a broad impact across the nation’s states. Among the nation’s 50 states and Washington, D.C., 31 showed lower growth (or greater losses) in 2020-21 than in 2019-20 (see downloadable Table B).

The states that led in growth rates were mostly in the Mountain West, including Idaho, Utah, Montana, and Arizona, which had annual rates exceeding 1.4%. In terms of numeric growth, the biggest gainers in 2020-21 were Texas (310,000 people), Florida (211,000), Arizona (98,000), and North Carolina (93,000). Still, these gains were smaller than what these states saw in 2019-20 or 2018-19.

Table 1. States with population declines, 2018-19, 2019-20, 2020-21

2018-2019 2019-2020 2020-2021
New York -80,967 New York -126,355 New York -319,020
Illinois -57,668 Illinois -79,487 California -261,902
West Virginia -10,690 California -69,532 Illinois -113,776
Pennsylvania -10,224 Michigan -18,240 Massachusetts -37,497
Connecticut -8,539 Pennsylvania -15,629 Louisiana -27,156
Hawaii -7,487 Louisiana -12,967 Pennsylvania -25,569
Louisiana -6,165 Mississippi -11,441 District of Columbia -20,043
Mississippi -4,652 West Virginia -10,476 Michigan -16,853
Alaska -3,021 Connecticut -9,016 New Jersey -12,613
Michigan -2,491 New Jersey -8,887 Ohio -10,570
Rhode Island -1,180 Hawaii -8,609 Hawaii -10,358
Vermont -756 Ohio -3,290 Maryland -7,550
New Jersey -472 Alaska -2,445 Mississippi -6,905
Kansas -113 Massachusetts -1,309 West Virginia -6,839
Rhode Island -1,033 North Dakota -4,014
Vermont -699 New Mexico -1,689
Kansas -1,298
Rhode Island -619

Source: William H. Frey analysis of US Census Bureau estimates, released December 21, 2021

Perhaps most noteworthy is the fact that 18 states (including Washington, D.C.) lost population in 2020-21. This is up from 16 population-losing states 2019-20; 14 in 2018-19; and just 10 in the two prior years.

New York and California registered the biggest numeric losses. Both states showed substantially greater losses in 2020-21 than in the prior two years, as was the case for most states that sustained recent population losses.

Twenty-five states registered more deaths than births

The poor growth performance of most states in 2020-21 reflects a combination of lower natural increase and smaller immigration from abroad—components which led to reduced national growth and reduced domestic migration across states (see downloadable Table C).

All 50 states and Washington, D.C. displayed lower natural increase in 2020-21 than in the previous year. Moreover, 25 states showed what demographers call “natural decrease”—an excess of deaths over births. Led by Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and West Virginia, most of these states are in the nation’s Northeast, Midwest, and Southeast. Just eight of these states registered natural decreases in 2019-20; in 2018-19, this was the case for only four (West Virginia, Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont).

Similarly, immigration from abroad was lower across all 50 states and Washington, D.C. in 2020-21 than in the previous year. This is especially the case for those with greatest immigrant gains: Florida, Texas, New York, and California.

Domestic migration sharpened state gains and losses

Domestic migration (movement within the U.S.) is the one demographic component which can either worsen or improve state population growth in a slow growth environment. This was especially the case during the past year, when pandemic-related economic, social, and safety factors prompted selective movement flows.

The new census estimates show how domestic migration impacted states which both lost and gained population. For example, the three states with the greatest overall population losses—New York, California, and Illinois—were the three leaders in net out-migration.    These states contain major cities and metropolitan areas, which have been associated with out-migration during the pandemic, and registered greater out-migration in 2020-21 than in each of the previous two years. It is also noteworthy that Washington, D.C. lost 23,000 domestic migrants—a huge outlier from earlier years, when the city experienced far smaller migration losses or gains (see downloadable Table C).

Similarly, states with the greatest overall population gains—Texas, Florida, and Arizona—were leaders in 2020-21 domestic in-migration. Just as most migrant-losing states shed greater numbers of migrants during the pandemic than earlier, it is the case that most migrant-gaining states (Arizona and Nevada were among the exceptions) gained more migrants than before.

A historic demographic low point

Among the many consequences the COVID-19 pandemic has inflicted on the nation, its impact on the nation’s demographic stagnation is likely to be consequential. The new census estimates make plain that as a result of more deaths, fewer births, and a recent low in immigration, America has achieved something close to zero growth in the 2020-21 period. This trend has affected most states, and will lead to sharp changes in how many Americans make decisions about childbearing as well as where and how they live.

While it is true that the rise in pandemic-period deaths—especially among the older population—contributed much to this slow growth, declines in fertility and immigration also added a great deal. Because the latter demographic components contribute most to any future rise in the nation’s youth and labor-force-age population, it is vital that we examine public policies that can overcome barriers to the bearing and raising of children and, probably most important, stimulate immigration in ways that will reinvigorate the nation’s population growth.

Even before the onset of the pandemic, Census Bureau projections foresaw the onset of slower growth, increased aging, and continued stagnation of our labor force. Among the many ways that are needed to recover from the pandemic, a focus on reactivating the nation’s population growth should be given high priority.

GOPIO-CT Holds Annual Holiday Event Raising Funds For Local Charity

GOPIO-CT organized its General Body Meeting (GBM) and elected a new team on December 5th held at the Hampton Inn suite in Stamford. In its report to the GBM, President Ashok Nichani said, “In spite of the Corona Virus pandemic, GOPIO-CT did several virtual programs in the beginning of the year on Zoom including a New Year Party which served as a fundraiser in support of soup kitchens, a Holi Celebration, interactive meetings with CT lawmakers and raising funds for sending Oxygen Concentrators to India.”

 “As the pandemic was coming down in the year, the chapter organized several programs with physical presence participating with other ethnic communities celebrating Stamford’s founding, and organizing Indian and American flag hoisting at Govt. Center in Stamford to celebrate India’s 75th Independence Day which was followed by an India Festival at the Mill River Park, hosting UConn Indian students for a Networking Welcome Dinner, an interactive session with India’s Minister of State for External Affairs V. Muraleedharan, Hosting a Conversation with Indra Nooyi and a Diwali fundraiser for local charities,” added President Nichani.

Secretary Prachi Narayan listed all major activities for the year which included major initiatives for serving the local community and institutions during the pandemic and lockdown. These included donating cash and replenishing food items for the homeless and needy at the New Covenant House in Stamford and Food Bank of Lower Fairfield.

Two other service organizations were supported by GOPIO-CT in 2021, Future 5 which helps and counsel needy students at Stamford High Schools and Building One Community which serves new immigrant communities. The chapter also held a virtual interactive meeting with Connecticut Attorney General William Tong.

The GBM also conducted its annual election for 2021. Mr. Ashok Nichani was re-elected as the President for one more term. Other elected officials are Mr. Prasad Chintalapudi as Executive Vice President, Dr. Jaya Daptardar as Vice President, Ms. Prachi Narayan as Secretary, Ms. Mahesh Jhangiai as Joint Secretary and Mr. Srinivas  Akarapu as Treasurer. GBM also reelected two trustees, Mr. Joseph Simon and Mr. Shailesh Naik.

Following the GBM, Annual Holiday Party was held which served as a fundraiser for a service organization.

The fundraiser netted $5,500 to give to the local service organization Grassroots Tennis and Education, a youth development non-profit organization that uses sports of tennis to engage youth in out-of-school time programming in Norwalk and Stamford. The group’s volunteers teach tennis and helps students in education. Grassroots’ representative Ms. Samantha Hayes spoke about the organization and thanked GOPIO-CT for its generosity in raising funds for Grassroots. Another organization IT Serve Alliance also presented a check of $2,000 to Grassroots.

A musical evening followed and was organized by GOPIO-CT Vice President Dr. Jaya Daptardar. Singers at the evening were Srinivas Gunupuru, Kashyap Jani, Shilpa Kulkarni, Trupti Shah, Mike Patel and Dhilan shah. GOPIO-CT Executive Vice President Prasad Chintalapudi concluded the program and thanked everyone for making the program a success.

Dr. Thomas Abraham, Chairman of GOPIO International said that GOPIO-CT is the most active chapter among over one hundred GOPIO chapters worldwide.

Over the last 14 years, GOPIO-CT, a chapter of GOPIO International has become an active and dynamic organization hosting interactive sessions with policy makers and academicians, community events, youth mentoring and networking workshops, and working with other area organizations to help create a better future. GOPIO-CT – Global Organization of People of Indian Origin – serves as a non-partisan, secular, civic and community service organization – promoting awareness of Indian culture, customs and contributions of PIOs through community programs, forums, events and youth activities. It seeks to strengthen partnerships and create an ongoing dialogue with local communities.

Community Initiative Highlighted At Aimtron Foundation Ribbon Cutting

Aimtron Foundation welcomed more than 100 supporters, elected officials and members of the community to celebrate their ribbon cutting and tour the new and expanded location of their shared space with American Pinball, part of Aimtron Group of Companies on Thursday, December 16, 2021.  Palatine Mayor Jim Schwantz, Congressman Sean Casten and Congressman Tom Morrison were in attendance as were board members of the Palatine Chamber of Commerce.

At the celebration, guests learned about Aimtron Foundation’s mission to bridge the educational gap for young people and their plan to provide manufacturing and technological training in an ever-changing world. They will do this by partnering with other manufacturing industry leaders who will give tours of their facilities, share knowledge and training and ultimately, offer employment opportunities to develop the workforce of the future. Guests were also able to tour the new 35,000 square foot American Pinball facility and learn more about the technology and building of pinball gaming machines.

During the program, Palatine Mayor Jim Schwantz remarked, “Mukesh Vasani has invested in the Palatine community through his business and two manufacturing facilities, and now in turning his passion towards motivating young people. Adding, “I’m really looking forward to seeing what great work the Aimtron Foundation does in the community”.  Established in 2017 in India as part of Aimtron Group of Companies providing technical training to countless people there, they are hopeful to bring this initiative to the U.S. to give hundreds of youth clear paths to viable careers and help to raise their community awareness at the same time.

Mukesh Vasani, CEO of Aimtron has committed to investing $1million towards the Foundation over the next 3 years. Says Mukesh Vasani, “Investing in young people with hands-on experience and technology will better prepare them for their future stability and the U.S. for the next wave of manufacturing.”

Mukesh Vasani, a devout family man with two married children who hold leadership positions at the company, founded Aimtron Corporation (now Aimtron Group) in 2008, at the height of the worst economic downturn since the great depression. His vision of starting Aimtron Foundation to kindle the entrepreneurial spark within the next generation is the realization of a dream born from his family, who were farmers back in India.

While they were never able to complete their schooling, at a young age they instilled in him the importance of education, a keen sense of gratefulness to his culture, and in giving back to the community. It is as a legacy to them, that the Vasani Family uphold these values and make it their purpose to share these goals and aspirations with other young people through the Aimtron Foundation. For additional information on the Aimtron Foundation, please visit www.aimtronfoundation.org.

“Muslims Around The World” Hosted By Naperville’s (ICN) Al-Falah Academy

The Fifth annual “Muslims around the World” event, hosted by Islamic Center of Naperville’s (ICN) weekend school, Al-Falah Academy, was held at the ICN’s Ogden Ave facility on Saturday, December 18, 2021. It was an academy and a community event which was attended by over 350 individuals.

Students from Al-Falah academy represented several countries, showcasing the unique cultures within the religion, Islam. The trifolds at each booth reflected student research and artifacts, ethnic outfits along with culinary samples which were contributions from community families. Guests were encouraged to attend and immerse themselves into an exploration of the diverse cultures in countries where Muslims reside.  India, Pakistan Afghanistan, China, Egypt, Somalia, Bosnia, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, Bangladesh, Uzbekistan, Iraq and the United States were represented at the booths.

Congressman Bill Foster, Congressman Sean Casten, State Senator Laura Ellman, State Representative Janet Yang Rohr, District 204 Board Members Laurie Donahue, Sapna Jain and Natasha Grover, Naperville Council members Ian Holzhauer, Jennifer Taylor, Pat Kelly, Paul Leong and DuPage County Board member Sadia Covert and Dawn DeSart and other officials also attended the event.

Alzena Saleem, Principal of Al-Falah Academy said, “Five years ago, this started off as an event for the students, mainly to showcase for the students the differences between their peers. We are all Muslims, but it was an opportunity for them to see that we have diversity amongst ourselves. Now it is an opportunity, not just for our students and the Al-Falah community but also for the Naperville community as a whole.”

Al-Falah Academy serves Naperville and its surrounding suburbs with a focus on religious education, character building & community service. 375 students currently attend this weekend academy from Pre-k to 9th grade levels.

Many students and staff members were dressed in unique and colorful traditional attire, representing their respective countries. The mood in the venue was that of excitement and joy, as students and families proudly represented a blend of cultures across the globe, and within their local community.

“Diversity, as we know it, provides an advantage and has its benefits. The global Muslim community is blessed to be extremely diverse, and the purpose of the event is to highlight our diversity and celebrate it,” said Naeem Hussaini, the Vice Principal of the Academy.

Attendees enjoyed interactions with the students and learning about interesting and intricate details of each culture. The event was well organized and memorable.  The school hopes to continue this annual tradition next year.

Life Is Better With Friends: Hedge Social Club Organizes Grand Christmas Gala

Nearly 250 people the New York Tri-State region came together to celebrate and share the joys of the Christmas Season at the Cottllion Restaurant & Party Hall on Long Island, New York on Saturday, December 11th, 2021. Organized by the recently formed Hedge Social Club, through an initiative of Jacob (SAJI) Abraham, Founder & Chairman of Hedge Events of New York, the colorful event, symbolizing the joy and fellowship of Christmas was shared by the participants.

“Life is better with friends,” Jacob Abraham told the participants in his welcome address, providing insight into the objectives of creating the Hedge Social Club. “Friends are the ones who know you and are always there when you need them most. During the pandemic times, a sense of community is more important now than ever before. People near you are looking to form connections and find support.”

Prominent among those who attended the event and felicitated Jacob Abraham whose dynamic leadership has given birth to the Hedge Brokerage, Hedge Events and now the Hedge Social Club included: Ginsmom Zachariah, Founding Chairman of Indo-American Press Club; Ajay Ghosh, Chief Editor of The Universal News Network and IAPC BOD Secretary; Paul Karukapallil, FOKANA BOD Chairman; Ajeeth Abraham Nassau University Hospital BOD member; Thomas Ommen Shibu, R &T Production; Jiju and Reenu Kulankara from Houston; Kunju Maliyil, FOMMA Regional Vice President; and Rajan (Mithras Festival).

Senator Kevin Thomas of the New York State greeted the audience. Guest of Honor was Dr. Freemu Varghese, Founder and CEO of Freedia Media.  Minos Abraham served eloquently as the Emcee for the program. Biju Chacko, a BOD member of IAPC introduced Jacob Abraham to the audience.

In addition to a delicious spread of authentic Indian cuisine and drinks, the Gala was packed with music, dance and felicitations by reputed local artists. Funds raised through a raffle with attractive gifts was sent to a young child in Kerala for the much needed surgery.

The Ganamela for the evening was filled with the melodious voices of Jemson Kuriakose, Sujeeth Moolayil, Aparna Shibu and Archana Moolalyil. The beautifully choreographed cinematic dance was by Jithu & Team of the Tri-state Dance Company.  Tozin supported the event with his Digital Skills, while Saji managed Sound, and Sunny George provided IT support. Julia Digital Videos & EVENTS CATZ VIJI coordinated the event.

Stating that Hedge Club is a forum to “Meet new people at the Hedge Club, which is the ultimate group” Jacob Abraham said, “HEDGE CLUB is the one you always wanted to be part of. A group that you feel you belong to, and you believe it to be an integral part of who you are.” The Club members meet every month and celebrate and enhance their fellowship and joy. To join the Group and expand one’s friends circle and spend quality time with people, please call Saji Abraham at: 516. 606.3268.

New Jersey Physicians Donate $300,000 To Food Bank, Indian Cultural Center

The Monmouth Ocean County Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (MOCAAPI) in the state of New Jersey announced that it has donated $300,000 of which $150,000 to the Fulfil Food Bank, and another $150,000 to the Indian Cultural & Community Center in Toms River, making good on its pledge to help the community.

According to a Dec. 11, 2021 press release, MOCAPPI, a non-profit, 501(c)(3) charitable organization, was established in 2003, and has raised more than $500,000 over the years through annual charitable galas, popular golf outings, and other events, will continue to work for the betterment of society through its impactful donations.

“It was a long-time dream of MOCAAPI members to make an impactful donation which is being fulfilled today by making a $150,000 donation to Fulfill Food Bank of Monmouth Ocean Counties and $150,000 to the Indian Cultural & Community Center to build a much-needed Community Hall in Toms River,” MOCAAPI President Dr. Avinash Gupta is quoted saying in the press release.

“With everyone’s participation, generosity, and thanks to our past presidents’ efforts, we have been able to raise over $500,000 over the years,” Gupta added.

The physicians’ organization has also partnered with OCHD (Ocean County Health Department) to vaccinate thousands of its residents during the peak of COVID-19, distributed hot meals to health care workers in local hospitals and vaccination centers, and distributed blankets to the homeless.

For their volunteer work with OCHD, the physicians of MOCAAPI were presented with a proclamation from the New Jersey state senate and general assembly. It was awarded Healthcare Hero Award by the CMC Board of Trustees.

Fulfill’s new CEO and President Triada Stampas, along with Fulfill’s Director of Development Linda Kellner, attended the event where the donations were made.

Stampas said this donation will provide 450,000 meals. Currently, Fulfill provides meals to 215,000 residents of Monmouth Ocean counties out of which 70,000 are children. They even pack meals in the backpacks of 1,000 children to go, and last the weekend.

Ocean County Sheriff Michael Mastronardy and Commissioner Virginia Haines praised the MOCAAPI doctors for their outstanding service to the community during the pandemic.

 Dr. Bankim Shah, co-chairman of Shri Siddhivinayak Temple USA, (SSVT), and Pravin Parekh among several others from ICCC expressed their appreciation and said it will fulfill the need of the growing Indian community in the area. According to information provided by MOCAAPI, Dr. Shah “announced another matching contribution of $150,000 from SSVT.”

The leadership and generosity of Drs. Avinash and Geeta Gupta were praised, for a personal matching donation of $150,000 to the ICCC to build the community hall where children can learn about the culture and heritage, senior citizens can meet, carry out yoga, health care camps, motivational & life-skills classes, fundraising events and celebrate festivals together.

Dr. Avinash Gupta thanked his team of Officers, Executive Members, the Board of Trustees, and especially the past Presidents because of whom this was made possible, a press release from the organization said.

Child hunger is projected to increase by approximately 75% in New Jersey due to the impact of the pandemic, MOCAAPI said. Fulfill, a tax-deductible organization, has a four-star rating from Charity Navigator, with 95 cents out of every dollar donated going directly towards feeding hungry individuals.

The Indian Cultural & Community Center was incorporated in 2016 as a non-religious non-profit charitable organization(https://www.indianculturalcommunitycenter.org) in Toms River, N.J.

Club of Indian Women Hosts Annual Holiday Gala

Club of Indian Women (CIW) hosted its rollicking annual holiday gala on Wednesday, December 8th at Ashyana Banquets in Downers Grove, IL. The gala was attended by several women achievers who have done great work in their respective fields and have also been a part of CIW for many years.

Dressed in their holiday best, everyone had come ready to get together with friends and have a good time. There were games, fun and furious, including a Bollywood themed word search, a saree tying contest as well as dancing to musical chairs without the chairs! The entertainment included beautiful singing by Raja Nadampalli and Tara Swaminathan as well as DJ Saif, an appearance by ‘Pammi Aunty’ aka Mridula Bansal, shayari by Jasbir Singh, Punjabi tappey by Vimal Handa and a dazzling dance performance by Falguni Rana.

The program was beautifully planned by Sarita Sood, Tara Swaminathan and Vinita Gulabani under the leadership of CIW vice president Preeti Chawla and superbly anchored by Vinita Gulabani. During breaks for delicious appetizers and a sumptuous lunch, attendees had a chance to catch up with old friends and make new ones.

Urmil Chawla made sure that audience saw the raffle prizes and enthusiastically purchased the raffle tickets. Madhu Uppal announced that, with the generosity and support of its members, in 2020, CIW was able to donate nearly $9,000 to area food banks and food pantries and social service agencies. Impressed by the scale of its humanitarian work, some additional donations were received by CIW right after this announcement.

Club of Indian Women is a not-profit group whose vision is that ‘All Women should have the opportunity to achieve their full potential’. And its mission is to empower Indian American Women through support groups and financial resources / help. It was founded in 1983 to meet the social and cultural needs of the fast-growing Indian community, and, for many years, in addition to organizing cultural celebrations, Meena Bazars, holidays parties etc., ran a much-needed Crisis Hotline which was a forerunner to Apna Ghar.

Today, CIW organizes literary slams, book and movie discussions, seminars on social and cultural issues, outings to area theaters and parks and awards funds to local agencies that are working to support families in need. ‘We are so happy to see a younger generation take on leadership role in CIW and today’s event is a testament to their skill and dedication to this organization,” remarked Prem Sharma, one of the founders of CIW. “We missed CIW president, Vandana Bankapur, who is away visiting family in India.” Prem added. Media was represented by Prachi Jaitly of Asian Media Broadcasting

America Growing More Secular By The Year

Christmas is just 10 days away, and most Americans will celebrate the birth of Jesus. But a new poll from Pew shows the share of U.S. adults who consider themselves Christian is falling. Only 63% of Americans self-identify as Christian this year, a marked drop from 75% 10 years ago.

The declining number of Americans who say they are Christian is offset by a growing number of people who call themselves atheist, agnostic or people of no particular faith. These unaffiliated Americans make up a full 29% of the U.S. population, up from 19% in 2011.

“The secularizing shifts evident in American society so far in the 21st century show no signs of slowing,” the Pew researchers concluded. “The religiously unaffiliated share of the public is 6 percentage points higher than it was five years ago and 10 points higher than a decade ago.” “In U.S., roughly three-in-ten adults now religiously unaffiliated” Graphic courtesy of Pew Research Center

Though Christians are still a healthy majority, their decline is perhaps best reflected in two questions from the poll: how often people pray and how important religion is in their lives. Only 45% of U.S. adults said they pray on a daily basis (down from 58% in a similar 2007 survey). And the number of Americans who say religion is “very important” in their lives is also falling: 41% of Americans consider religion “very important” in their lives, down from 56% in 2007.

Protestants account for most of the decline — down 4 percentage points from five years ago and 10 percentage points since a decade ago, with both evangelical and nonevangelical Protestants declining overall to 40% of U.S. adults. Catholics held relatively steady at 21%.

“This is at least in part a reaction to the political environment,” said David Campbell, professor of American democracy at the University of Notre Dame who has written about American secularization. “Many people turning away from religion do so because they think of religion as an expression of political conservatism, or as a wing of the Republican Party. That’s especially true of white Americans. The more religion is wrapped up in a political view, the more people who don’t share that political view say, ‘That’s not for me.’”

There was no corresponding rise in the number of Americans adhering to other faiths. A total of 6% of Americans identify with non-Christian faiths, including 1% who describe themselves as Jewish, 1% Muslim, 1% Buddhist, 1% who are Hindu and 2% who identify with a wide variety of other faiths.

But notably, the number of atheists and agnostics in the survey roughly doubled in the past decade to 4% and 5% respectively, up from 2% and 3% in 2011.  Some scholars said this doubling may not be as big a shift numerically as it is culturally.

“There’s less stigma attached to being an atheist,” said Ryan Burge, assistant professor of political science at Eastern Illinois University and the author of a book about the “nones,” or the religiously unaffiliated. “It’s revealing of what’s been there for a long time, rather than a big shift. People may not have answered honestly 20, 30 years ago.”

But Burge said the decline of Protestant Christianity from 52% in 2007 to 40% today is very significant.“It’s more evidence that America is going to be much different,” Burge said. “Think of American history. For a plurality of Americans to say religion is not important, that’s a big shift in how we think about ourselves.”

A survey released by PRRI during the summer found that the religiously unaffiliated had lost ground, making up just 23% of the country. But the Pew poll found little to support that conclusion. The number of people with no religion grew steadily from 16% in 2007 to 29% in 2021, Pew indicated.

Despite the growth of secular Americans, shifts in American culture and politics have not caught up, said Hemant Mehta, a popular atheist blogger who has reported on issues important to the atheist community.

“All these numbers are meaningless unless we convert them into political power,” he said, speaking of the 29% of people with no religious affiliation. “Conservative Christians do that really well. They still have all the power. We’re growing in numbers but we have no political power. Unless we can figure out how to get politicians to care about issues that matter to most of us, what’s the point?”

The poll was part of the National Public Opinion Reference Survey conducted by Pew online and by mail between May and August. The survey was conducted among 3,937 respondents, who took the poll on their own . It has a margin of error of 2.1 percentage points.

Consulate @ Your Doorstep

As part of the “Consulate @ Your Doorstep” initiative, The Consulate General of India, New York conducted its maiden Consular Camp at Vermont on 11 December, 2021. The camp was organized in association with Vermont Mandir & Cultural Centre (VMCC).

Members of the diaspora appreciated the initiative of CGI, New York to come to Vermont. They availed OCI and other Consular Services at the Consular Camp. They also expressed their gratitude to the Camp which gave them an opportunity to interact directly with the Consulate officers and get answers to their queries. They also said that the Consular camp saved 12 hours of road journey they would have to undertake otherwise to avail these services.

Earlier in the week, Consul General undertook a successful visit of State of Vermont from 8-10 December 2021. During the visit, he engaged with senior officials from the Government, start-up ecosystem in the State and the University of Vermont.

Consul General briefed Mr. Anson Tebbets, Secretary of Agriculture, Food and Markets; Ms. Lindsey Kurrle, Secretary of the Agency of Commerce and Community Development, (ACCD); and Mr. Tim Tierney, Director of International Trade and Business Recruitment for the State of Vermont on the potential for growth in ties between the two countries in field of trade, commerce and economy.

As part of outreach to the start-up sector in Vermont, Consul General visited the Vermont Center for Emerging Technology (VCET) and met Director David Bradbury. Consul General commended VCET for the handholding that VCET is providing to  start-ups in Vermont. He briefed Director Bradbury on the dynamism of Indian start-up sector and invited him to engage with Startup India and other important stakeholders on the Indian side.

Consul General met Dr. Christopher Koliba, Director, Office of Engagement and other senior members of the faculty and management. He explained the opportunities created by India’s New Education Policy 2020 and the ways in which foreign universities can collaborate with their Indian counterparts. Consul General discussed the India-US relationship and how higher education forms a vital core of the engagement between the two countries.