LOS ANGELES (TIP): The National Federation of Indian American Associations (NFIA), which is the largest umbrella organization in the US, representing over 3.5 million Americans who trace their roots to India, held its 18th biennial convention, March 6-8, 2015, at the Sheraton Cerritos Hotel in Cerritos, California,
The three day event was replete with intellectually stimulating seminars, graced by three members of the US Congress, Mayor of the city, Consul General of India San Francisco, Minister from Indian Embassy and other political leaders. On the nights of both Friday and Saturday were filled with excellent entertainment by local talent.
The convention started with a welcome reception/dinner and inauguration by Indian Consul General Venkatesan Ashok and California State Treasurer John Chiang on Friday, March 6th, followed by a full day of conference on Saturday.
The convention theme was “Indian Americans Making an Impact in America”. After an opening session on the theme chaired by NFIA Founder President Dr. Thomas Abraham, three more sessions followed: Indian Americans Contributing to India, chaired: Inder Singh, Past NFIA Chairman; Indian American Impact in The Area of Technology & Medicine, chaired by Boeing Company Technical Fellow Paul Sikand and Impact in US-India Trade & Business, chaired by Amritt Inc. Managing Director Gunjan Bagla. Various eminent speakers included: Long Beach Vice Mayor Suja Lowenthal, former Anaheim Councilman Harry Sidhu, Stem cell therapy practitioner Dr. Gaurav Goswami, and Attorney Sunny Kalara.
In the election for the new NFIA Board, many of the positions were unopposed. However, the elections were conducted for the other positions, in a very fair and transparent manner by the Election Committee chaired by Dr. Thomas Abraham of Connecticut (Founder of NFIA), Pramod Kamdar of San Diego and Inder Singh of Los Angeles.
At the General Body Meeting (GBM) chaired by President Sohan Joshi of Chicago, various reports were presented including reports from President and Secretary (Satheesan Nair of Chicago). Secretary Nair also presented treasurer’s report. Selfless and lifelong service of the Executive Director, Dr. Joydeb Roy, was acknowledged and applauded.
Coming off from a successful Convention the night before, the mood was upbeat and reinvigorating. A general discussion ensued on the progress and future of NFIA with many former NFIA Presidents making enlightening and spirited statements. Three (Dr. Thomas Abraham, Subash Razdan and Dr. Parthasarthy Pillai) of the former NFIA presidents are also accomplished global NRI leaders and recipients of the Pravasi Samman Award from the Government of India.
As part of the unfinished businesses from the past GBM, the subject of change of the 2 year term of office to a 1 year term was discussed and voted on after former President Subash Razdan (of Georgia) made the motion to change the 2 year term to a 1 year term with some qualifiers. This was seconded by Om Sharma (of Washington DC) and was approved by a voice vote, with a near unanimity.
At the conclusion of the GBM the general elections were declared open along with a sumptuous luncheon. The delegates from across the USA made a beeline for electing the remaining officers of NFIA for the term of 2014-2016 and as follows:
In the election of NFIA officers, Ashok Madan from Southern California was elected as President without opposition. Sudip Gorakshakar from Washington State was elected as Executive Vice President. The three vice presidents elected without opposition were Ajoy Dube from California, Babu K. Patel from Illinois, and Satheesan Nair also from Illinois.
The position of the NFIA secretary went to Dr. Yogendra Gupta from Maryland, VA, and Joint Secretary to Vasu Pawar from Southern California. Makam Subbarao from Southern California was elected as the Treasurer.
The seven Directors-at-Large were Rachel Verghese (Texas), Anjali Sachdev (Washington State), Dr. Satish Misra (Maryland), Madhavan Nair (Illinois), Ramesh Ramnani (Southern California)., Sachin Amin and Ashok Patnaik from California.
The six Regional Vice Presidents (RVP) elected unopposed were: Dr. Om Sharma (National Capital Region), Vandana Jhingan (Illinois), Mihir Patel (New York), Raj Razdan (Georgia), Lavanya Reddy (Washington State), and Kewal Kanda (California)
In closing and customarily, NFIA veteran Dr. Rajen Anand administered the Oath of Allegiance to the NFIA for the newly elected officers, with assurance of contribution of the newly elected leaders of their personal time, money, communication and talent.
The new Board under the presiding officer, Ashok Madan met after the elections and appointed:
- Chandu Patel from Southern California as Chairman of the NFIA Foundation,
- Dr. Hari Har Singh from NCR as Executive Director (Administration)
- Dr. Joydeb Roy from NCR as Executive Director
Angela Anand was appointed by the President to chair the taskforce on Women’s Affairs.
The remaining 6 vacant RVPs positions are yet to be filled, for which the NFIA leadership under the newly elected Board will seek qualified and well-known community leaders from the following regions: Great Lakes (IN, MI, OH); Mid Atlantic (DE, PA, NJ); New England (CT, ME, MA, NH, RI, VT); Mountain (ID, CO, KS, MT, NE, ND, SD, UT, WY); South (AK, AL, KY, MS, LA, TN); South-West (AZ, OK, TX, NM).
After review of their resumes, their commitment of time, talent, money and connections, the NFIA Board will appoint them in the next Board meeting. NFIA has urged its media partners to help promote and help find qualified candidates for the above vacant positions. The main qualifier being the interested RVP has to belong to that region and commit to do a major activity in the region in compliance with NFIA goals, objectives and Bylaws.
The event on Saturday night was very successful with a packed hall for the Gala Awards Banquet. Indian Embassy was represented by Counsel General of India San Francisco, Mr. Venkatesan Ashok and Minister of Personnel and Community Affairs, Mr. N.K. Mishra from Washington DC.
Congresswomen, Judy Chu, Loretta Sanchez, Linda Sanchez, and Mayor of Cerritos, Mark Pulido graced the banquet and enlightened the audience with their thoughts on India and the Indian American community in the USA.
NFIA, with Lal K. Motwani as the chair of awards committee, honored high achiever Indian Americans including, physician Bharat Barai and Aparna Hande for community service, TV Asia chairman H.R. Shah for mass media, musician Rita Sahai and Kathak dancer Amrapali Ambegaokar for performing arts, psych-pharmacologist Rangaesh Gadasalli for medicine and health sciences, and management consultant K.V. Kumar and attorney Navneet S. Chugh in business and finance. The late New York cardiologist B.N. Viswanath was honored posthumously for his lifetime contribution to NRIs through broadcasting and philanthropy. In addition, Heart and Hand for Handicapped, a New York-based organization, received an award for its outstanding services to the handicapped in the U.S. and India.
(Based on a press release)