Chicago IL: Mahatma Gandhiji 73rd death anniversary was observed by singing of Gandhiji’s favorite hymns, Release of a book, Swearing in of New Gandhi Memorial Board , Powerful Tributes by Community Leaders and Floral tributes to the Mahatma Gandhi Statue in the National Heritage Park on McCormick Boulevard in Skokie, Illinois.
The homage ceremonies opened with garlanding of Gandhi’s Statute followed by singing of the American national Anthem followed by the Indian national Anthem sung by Mrs Bharti Desai, renowned Gujarati singer. Suresh Bodiwala, Chairman of Gandhi Memorial Foundation, Chicago welcomed the guests and announced the new officers of the Board of Directors: Chandrakant Modi MD, Founder, Suresh Bodiwala, Chairman, Dr. Mrs. Santosh Kumar, President, Dr. Sriram Sonty & Dr. Vijay G Prabhakar Vice Presidents and Mrs. Bharti Desai, Treasurer. Chairman Suresh Bodiwala applauded the Founder of the Gandhi Memorial, Chandrakant Modi MD who personally donated over $150,000 dollars in 2005 to facilitate this Gandhi Statue in Skokie. Chairman Suresh Bodiwala hoped that the new Board will expand the organization’s activities to be more global in outlook and involve all other communities in cherishing Gandhi’s vision.
India’s Consul General at Chicago Amit Kumar administered the Oath of Office to the new Board of Directors of Gandhi Memorial Foundation, Chicago headed by Dr. Mrs. Santosh Kumar.
Dr. Mrs. Santosh Kumar in her presidential remarks said, “I am honored to be part of this noble institution, the Gandhi Memorial Foundation, Chicago. With all humility, I accept this great responsibility as your President. Mahatma Gandhi inspired me as a teenager to choose Law as my career rather than being a physician for what I studied for. GandhiJi ‘s freedom struggle and the injustice done to our motherland emboldened me to become an Attorney to fight for the oppressed. Gandhiji’s words: “Be the Change” is the words of reckoning that still guide me every step of the way and are relevant even today in this digital age.
Consul General Amit Kumar and his wife Mrs. Surabhi Kumar are very God Fearing and Simple people called to serve with a smile. We look forward to seeking his guidance as our new Board builds on the legacies of our past presidents and boards in realizing GandhiJi vision in our daily lives. I am fortunate to have three very creative, energetic and dedicated leaders: Dr. Sriram Sonty, Dr. Vijay Prabhakar, Mrs. Bharathi Desai to join me on the new Board with our Chairman Bodiwala. Today we seek Mahatma Gandhi blessings in all our endeavors as we strive to incorporate Gandhiji ideals into our everyday lives by embarking on life transforming projects that can make a difference in our lives and in the lives of our communities., She added”.
Dr. Vijay G. Prabhakar, the Master of Ceremonies introduced India’s Consul General Amit Kumar and his wife, Mrs. Surabhi Kumar as an action couple who has endeared themselves to the community. Dr. Prabhakar recalled the key assignments held by Consul General Amit Kumar which included Deputy Chief of Mission at Washington D.C., Chief of Human Resources Management at Ministry of External Affairs, Delhi, Deputy Chief of Mission at Tokyo, who also had previously served in PMI, UN, New York, Beijing, China, Berlin, Germany, and Ankara, Turkey. Career Diplomat Amit Kumar is an alumnus of IIT Kanpur, India and had worked with the Spiritual Guru Dalai Lama, when he as Director of Protocol, External Affairs Ministry, Delhi. Dr. Prabhakar commended the work of the Consul General Amit Kumar along with his Consuls P.K. Misra, Ranjith Singh and L.P. Gupta during this pandemic time for their effective response to the Midwest Community needs.
Speaking on the occasion, Consul General Amit Kumar traced the different significant initiatives of Gandhiji during India’s freedom struggle and extolled Gandhiji’s services to the Nation. Consul General Amit Kumar congratulated the new board of the Gandhi Memorial Foundation and was pleased to note that Mrs. Santosh Kumar and Dr. Vijay Prabhakar was involved in several Gandhi initiatives in Delhi and Chicago. He also commended Dr. Sriram Sonty’s efforts for a U.S. Gandhi Stamp. Consul General Amit Kumar exhorted the Indian diaspora to translate Gandhi’s vision into action by undertaking meaningful and purposeful projects here in Chicago. Consul General Amit Kumar honored Dr. C.M. Modi and his wife Mrs. Dina Modi with a silk shawl. Mrs. Surabhi Kumar presented the MAFS Gandhi Global Icon Medallion to Dr. C.M. Modi, Founder Gandhi Memorial, Chicago for all his efforts in nurturing the Gandhi Memorial Foundation, Chicago.
Consul General Amit Kumar released a Book: “Lasting Legacy of Gandhiji -Ma Santosh Kumar” and Dr. Sriram Sonty received the first Copy of the book. Dr. Sriram Sonty said that 7 June, 1893, the day young Gandhi was thrown out of the Durban to Pretoria train at the Pietermaritzburg Railway station was the turning point in Gandhi’s life. From that date, Gandhi took up the fight against racial oppression and Gandhiji’s nonviolence movement was born, he added. Dr. Sonty said that when he personally visited that Railway station in 1983, it led him to become a staunch Gandhi follower.
Ms. Nisha Modi daughter of the Gandhi Memorial Founder Dr. C.M. Modi acknowledged the honor bestowed on her parents at the event. Dr. Sreenivas Reddy, President, American Association of Multi Ethnic Physicians, Chicago read the message U.S. Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi sent for the occasion. U.S. Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi in his message reminded us of a Gandhi quote,” It is not just words. Action expresses priorities.” That defined Gandhi’s own life, as well as your work to honor him and his legacy. Americans for generations to come can learn from Gandhi’s example as we strive to create a more perfect Union. A Union that shuns violence and promotes civil rights, equality and liberty for all its people, Congressman Krishnamoorthi added.
Community leaders Sohan Joshi, Trustee FIA-Chicago, Dr. Suresh Reddy, AAPI Past President, Chandini Divvuri, Chairperson, Nari Global Foundation, Palatine, and Smitesh Shah, UMAS Coordinator, Chicago paid glowing tributes to Mahatma Gandhi on the occasion. Gandhi’s favorite songs were sung by the MAFS Senior Chorale Group led by Anthony Rathor, Urvashi Bhatt, Himali Bharucha, Promila Mehta and Pankaj Patel while floral tributes were placed at the Gandhi Statue.
Ms. Bharti Desai, Treasurer of Gandhi Memorial Foundation, Chicago proposing a vote of thanks appreciated the presence of all the guests who attended this event despite the chilling cold weather. Ms. Desai said ” We the people are eternally indebted to Dr C.M. Modi and his family for a generous gesture that is remembered in posterity. The presence of our Honorable Consul General Amit Kumar with us on this cold morning is a testament of Government of India’s support for propagating Gandhi’s ideals throughout the world. Sir Amit Kumar Ji, Thank you for being with us and we look forward to your continued support to our new board with all the exciting plans ahead. Your presence here is a great source of inspiration to our new board and we count on your continued support.”