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Highlighting Program of GOPIO Chapters Around the World

June 25, 2018

A Publication of the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO)

Issue: XVI-5June 24, 2018
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Special Report
This is a special edition since many GOPIO chapters organized several outstanding programs as follows:
Three GOPIO chapters in the US (GOPIO-Central Jersey, GOPIO-CT and GOPIO-Virginia) organized their 2018 Awards Banquetsthis month. Attended by an array of top political leaders including Democratic Vice President candidate in the last election Senator Tim Kaine and Congressman Gerald Connolly of Virginia, Senator Richard Blumenthal and Congressman Jim Himes of Connecticut, Consul General Sandeep Chakravorty and Consul Devi Prasad Misra from New York Indian Consulate, Community Affair Minister Anurag Kumar from the Indian Embassy in Washington, DC, several mayors, state senators and representatives. Here is a special report of the coverage of these Awards Banquets.
GOPIO-Triolet North Mauritius and Muslim Ladies Council organized press conference in context of showing community's disagreement against the injustice being caused by the management of a hotel in Mauritius, interdicting the Hindu women to wear their  Tika and informing them that their Thali, Mangalsutra and Vermillion should not be seen visible on them at their place of work.
GOPIO Auckland Central Chapter sponsored workshop for senior citizens on the topic: "Golden years of Old Age."
GOPIO France Paris Women Council celebrated the Annual Mother's Day in Paris.
GOPIO chapters (Los Angeles, Orange county and Inland Empire) joined hands with American Heritage Foundation to organize 32nd India Heritage Awardsin Cerritos, California.

Due to Dateline requirements, there are two important announcements for Indian Diaspora youth to respond from Ministry of External Affairs, Govt. of India.
We cover these programs in a special bulletin.
Editorial Board

The Global Organization of People of Indian Origin - Central New Jersey Chapter (GOPIO-CJ) honored Indian American achievers and community leaders at its 10th Anniversary Gala & Awards Banquet on Sunday, June 3rd at Ember Banquet, Monmouth Junction, NJ. Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. was honored as Friend of India. Ten Indian Americans were being honored for their achievements in their profession and service to the community.
Ambassador Sandeep Chakravorty, the Consul General of India in New York was the Chief Guest. Other dignitaries include New Jersey State Assemblyman Raj Mukherji and Andrew Zwicker, West Windsor Mayor Hemant Marathe and South Brunswick Mayor Charles Carley and Council Woman Archana Grover. Close to 400 people attended the gala dinner and award ceremony which included entertainment choreographed and presented by Rina Shah, founder of AUM Dance Creations.
Organizers and dignitaries speaking at the GOPIO-Central Jersey Awards Banquet
Photo from top left clockwise: Organizers and speakers at the banquet, Ambassador Sandeep Chakravorty, Assemblyman Raj Mukherji, Dr. Rajeev Mehta, Dinesh Mittal, West Windsor Mayor Hemant Marath, South Brunswick Council Woman Archana Grover, South Brunswick Mayor Charles Carley, Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker, Suresh Reddy and Dr. Thomas Abraham.

Ambassador Chakravorty, in his speech, praised GOPIO for its work, noting that the Government of India looks to this organization when it is engaged in policymaking for the diaspora. He appealed to Indian- Americans to encourage youth to apply for the Know- India program which sends second generation diaspora youth to India.
The program started welcome remarks by Dr. Rajeev Mehta, who founded the chapter in 2008 who is also the Secretary of GOPIO International followed by lighting of the lamp by immediate past president of the chapter Mr. Dinesh Patel, who also serves as Chairman of GOPIO International's Chapter Review Committee and Automation.
During the event, Dr. Tushar Patel took over as president of GOPIO-CJ which was formed 10 years ago, from outgoing president Suresh Reddy. Dr. Patel told Desi Talk his agenda was to increase the membership and take the organization to the next level to help the local community on issues such as health, discrimination, domestic violence, seniors issues, etc.
Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr., D-NJ, representing District 6, was inducted as a 'Friend of India' in absentia. He has served as co-chair of Indian Caucus in the U.S. Congress; The Shri Krishna Nidhi (SKN) Foundation was recognized for its longstanding community service with a mission to improve total well-being; Ashok Luhadia, founder of US Pharma Labs, and Siby Vadakekkara of MarLabs, were recognized as an outstanding entrepreneur; Rina Shah, the director and founder of AUM Dance Creations, was honored for her contributions to the performing arts.

GOPIO CEntral Jersey Awards being presented
Photo above: Clockwise from top left. Ambassador Sandeep Chakravorty presenting GOPIO-Central Jersey Award to Parikh Media Chairman Dr. Sudhir Parekh, TV Asia Chairman H.R. Shah, Entrepreneur Ashok Luhadia, Entrepreneur Siby Vadakekara, performing artist Rina Shah, North American Telugu Association President Rajeswar Gangasani Reddy and Entrepreneur and Community Activist Pinakin Pathak
Two awards were also presented for achievement in media to Dr. Parikh, philanthropist, and chairman and publisher of Parikh Worldwide Media Inc., the largest Indian-American publishing group in the United States, which recently also acquired the television channel ITV Gold. Dr. Parikh has worked to improve U.S.-India relations, and encouraged second generation Indian- Americans to engage with the political process; and H.R. Shah, the chairman and CEO of TV Asia, who supports various social works, cultural, educational and related activities.
A special award was presented to Sparsh Shah (aka Purhythm), a 15-year-old multi-talented singing prodigy who was born with an incurable disease called Osteogenesis Imperfecta, a condition that makes his bones extremely fragile and brittle.
Amit Jani, the president and co-founder of the NJ Leadership Program was recognized for his contribution to the Indian American community's political involvement. He serves in Governor Phil Murphy's Administration.
Pinakin Pathak, was recognized for his contributions to Public Service. He is an entrepreneur and community activist, a member of the Hindu-Jewish coalition, BAPS, and March of Dimes.

North American Telugu Association (NATA) President Rajeswar Gangasani Reddy was recognized for community service.

Amit Jani and Sparsh Shah being  recognized
Photo Above: Amit Jani and Sparsh Shah receiving the award from Ambassador Sandeep Chakravorty

Shri Krishna Nidhi (SKN) Foundation  being honored for its service by GOPIO-CJ
Photo: Shri Krishna Nidhi (SKN) Foundation officials receiving citation Dr. Rajeev Mehta. Ambassador Sandeep Chakravorty is in the left.
In his acceptance speech at the event, Dr. Parikh reminded the audience of the need to do more for the community and for India. He also urged GOPIO to use his newly acquired TV channel to broadcast community events and for the public good.
TV Asia's H.R, Shah told the audience that the community organizations should use TV Asia to convey its message to the Indian Diaspora community.
The event was a "huge success." Only 200 people were expected but some 370, attended, Dr. Mehta noted. "These awardees are role models and recognition of their achievements will motivate our new generations to contribute to our community and society at large," Dr. Mehta said at the event.
"With a fast-growing Indian American population, we had a large number of nominations and we picked the best in the various categories." GOPIO-CJ past-president Dinesh Mittal who is the Chair of GOPIO International's Chapter Validation Committee said.
Dr. Thomas Abraham, founder of the umbrella GOPIO back in 1989, also spoke at the meeting. "I bring greetings from GOPIO-International. Which has a global network of several hundred Life Members and about 100 chapters in 35 countries," he said, and noted the achievements of Indian-Americans on the national stage and in local elections, and in New Jersey in particular this past year, which saw an Attorney General, a Senator, Assemblyman, and Mayor as well as several other offices won by members of the community.
The June 3 gala included a cocktail reception, the awards ceremony, entertainment, dinner and dancing.

GOPIO-CJ Awards Gala - Rina Shah and Aum Dance Group after receiving award
Photo: GOPIO Central Jersey Awards Gala Rina Shah and Aum Dance Group after receiving award from Consul General Sandeep Chakravorty

 Audience at the GOPIO-Central Jersey Awards Gala Banquet
Photo:  Audience at the GOPIO-Central Jersey Awards Gala Banquet

GOPIO-Central Jersey Team 2018
Photo: GOPIO-Central Jersey Team 2018, from l. to r.: Suresh Reddy, Dinesh Mittal, Kunal Gupta, Dr. Tushar Patel, Kunal Mehta, Nishith Mehta, Amit Kucheriya, Dr. Rajeev Mehta, and Vijay Garg

GOPIO-CJ Founder President Dr. Rajeev Mehta who now serves as the Secretary-General of GOPIO International, said, "These awardees are role models and recognition of their achievements will motivate our new generations to contribute to our community and society at large."
Contact: Dr. Tushar Patel, President, GOPIO-Central Jersey, Tel: 848-391-0499,

"The evening is a celebration - a celebration not just of the accomplishments of our awardees, but also a tribute to a strong and vibrant Indian-American community that has excelled in almost all areas of life in this adopted nation of ours," Dr. Thomas Abraham, Founder President and chairman of GOPIO International, who is also a Trustee of GOPIO-CT, chairman of the Awards Committee, said, in his opening remarks, while setting the tone for the 12th annual Gala and Awards Nite.
Organized by The Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO)-Connecticut Chapter in the Ballroom at The Marriott Hotel in Stamford, CT on Saturday, June 9th, 2018, the event honored six distinguished Indian Americans for their achievements and contributions to the greater good of the larger society.
Describing how the Indian America community has grown tremendously, Dr. Abraham, congratulated the elected officials of Indian origin in the US Congress, Senate, several states and towns. Wishing greater success and recognition to the community in the US, Dr. Abraham said, "We will probably see two Indian Americans, Sen. Kamla Harris and Ambassador Nikki Haley competing to be next President of the United States in 2024." 
Dr. Rohit Bhalla, MD, Vice President of Stamford Health, was honored for his contributions to Health Care Administration; Prof. Sarbani Basu, Chair of Department of Astronomy at Yale University was honored for his achievements in Basic Sciences; Hasu Patel was recognized for community Services; Sharad Patney, President and CEO of VLink, Inc. was the awardee this year for his achievements in IT Services; Asha Rangappa, a CNN national security analyst, was recognized for her services as a former Special Agent of the FBI and currently a senior lecturer at Yale University's Jackson Institute for Global Affairs for Service to Govt. and Non-Profit Institutions; and, Dr. K. Sudhir, was honored for his accomplishments in Business Management. He is a Professor of Private Enterprise, Management and Marketing, and founder-director of the China India Insights Program at the Yale School of Management.

GOPIO-CT Awardees honored at 2018 Banquet
Photo - GOPIO-CT Awardees honored at the Banquet on June. 9th, from l. to r.: Hasu Patel, Dr. Rohit Bhalla, Asha Rangappa, Prof. Sarbani Basu, Prof. K. Sudhir and Sharad Patney

In her presidential address, Anita Bhat described the many flagship events the organization organizes every year. "Our mission at GOPIO-CT is to be active participants in the local community through involvement in community events and local politics, and by providing services to the Indian community at large here in Connecticut. This lofty goal of providing services and a political voice to the local Indian population has evolved into an exemplary community service organization thanks to the tremendous support of our local Indian community."
Describing some of the programs GOPIO-CT initiates, Bhat said, GOPIO members serve in local soup kitchens, do walkathons to support cancer patients, and jointly celebrate Diwali and India's Independence Day with the members of multiple Indian groups in our community. "We lack a voice for Indian Americans in the United States. We need a stronger voice. And I want GOPIO-CT to be voice for all Indian Americans in our state and beyond," declared Anita Bhat.
Devi Prasad Mishra, Consul from the Consulate of India, in his address, said, "There is so much potential I saw in the Indian American kids who have displayed their scientific research here today. It's in these students the future of the Indian American community lies." Describing how the Indian American community has excelled in education, income level, economic standing and contributions to the society, Mishra said, "You are the model for all other immigrant communities."
"This country is the greatest nation in the history of the world because of the great contributions of immigrants," Jim Himes, US Congressman from Connecticut, told a packed audience at the 12th annual Describing the GOPIO gala held annually as a Red-Letter Event in the state, who represents Connecticut's 4th District in the United States House of Representatives, praised the contributions of GOPIO.  Lauding the success and contributions of the fast-growing Indian American community, Rep. Himes said, "You are scientists, educators, engineers, entrepreneurs, community activists, philanthropists, who represent the success and contributions of immigrants to the country"
Criticizing the current impasse and uncertainty the nation and its immigrants face today, Rep. Himes called it "ugly" because the immigrants are not looked up by certain sections as contributors to the growth of the nation. "We are experiencing one of the backsliding moments in the history of the where the core strength of this nation, the immigrants, are being threatened," Rep. Himes said.
US Senator Richard Blumenthal complimented the Indian community for its success in various fields. A previous Friend of India awardee, Senator Blumenthal said that US-Indian relations will be strong irrespective which ever party is in power in the US.

GOPIO-CT officials with Senator Richard Blumenthal
Photo - GOPIO Executive Committee Trustees and Board Members with Senator Richard Blumenthal
Prominent among those who had attended and spoke at the annual gala included, Stamford Mayor David Martin, Norwalk Mayor Harry Rilling, Greenwich First Selectman Peter Tesei, Connecticut State Senators Carlo Leone and Toni Boucher and CT State Assemblymen Dr. Prasad Srinivasan and Charles Ferraro. Two Indian Americans running for office in the election were also present, Republican Congressional candidate in the 4th District Harry Arora and Democratic Primary Candidate for Treasurer Dita Bhargava.
Echoing similar sentiments, Connecticut Assemblyman Dr. Prasad Srinivasan, in his eloquent speech highlighted the need for Indian Americans to come together, stand united and work for the greater good of the larger American society. Dr. Srinivasan urged the elite gathering of Indian American leaders to join him as we work together to make Connecticut a prosperous state.
The sold out and much anticipated event was attended by over 300 guests from across the state of Connecticut and New York, including community leaders, elected officials, and honorees and their families. The gala included a cocktail reception, dinner, music, and dances by participants, eloquent speeches, touching life-stories and inspiring narratives on the lives of the six distinguished honorees. The program was compered by Gayatri Mahesh. Earlier, the gala began with a mesmorizing Odissi, an Indian classical dance, by Ananika Nanda.
For the fourth year in a row, GOPIO-CT Scholarship for College Tuitions were given to four young students from Connecticut towards their higher education. The scholarships were presented to: Natalia Mohammed; Vedant Gannu; Meghan Prabhu; and Carolyn David.  Students of Indian origin from Stamford High School's Mission 12 NASA Team, Vedant Gannu, Grihit Manchanda, Lalit Goli and Adarsh Sushant who have won the national contest in Astro Science were also honored for their accomplishments. They were presented with check of $2,150 for funding their travel to the Smithsonian Science Institute in Washington DC and to Florida to see the takeoff of the Space X Falcon 9 Rocket carrying their samples to International Space Agency where experiments will be conducted to analyze the effect of microgravity on the reproduction of the fungus Sordaria fimicola.

GOPIO-CT Scholarship Winners 2018
Photo - GOPIO-CT Scholarship Winners 2018, from l. to r. Terry Nackid, Director of Norwalk Community College (NCC) Foundation accepting scholarship on behalf of NCC student Natalia Mohammed, Scholarship Committee Chair Shelly Nichani, GP{OP Intl. Chair Dr. Thomas Abraham, Carolyn David of Greenwich High School, Treasurer candidate for Democratic Primary Dita Bhargava, Meghan Prabhu of Westhill High School (Stamford),  Vedant Gannu of Stamford High School Republican Congressional Candidate in the 4thdistrict Harry Arora and GOPIO-CT President Anita Bhat

GOPIO-CT officials with Stamford High School Mission 12 NASA Team
Photo - GOPIO-CT officials with Stamford High School's Mission 12 NASA Team. From l. to r. GOPIO-CT Trustee and Awards Committee Chairman Dr. Thomas Abraham, Scholarship Committee Chairman Shelly Nichani, Adarsh Sushanth, Lalith Goli, Grihith Manchanda, Vedant Gannu, First County Bank Vice President Nino Antonelli, Treasurer Viresh Sharma and President Anita Bhat

The executive committee consists of Anita Bhat, President; Pradeep Govil, Exec. Vice President; Bhavna Juneja, Vice President; Prasad Chintalapudi, Secretary; Gayatri Mahesh, Jt. Secretary; Viresh Sharma, Treasurer; and Shelly Nichani, Immediate Past President. Board of Trustees are: Joe Simon - Chair; Dr. Thomas Abraham - Secretary, Comptroller; Neelam Narang, Shailesh Naik, Varghese Ninan, Sanjay Santhanam, and Anita Bhat- Ex-Officio. The Scholarship Committee has Shelly Nichani (Chair), Shobhna Bhatnagar and Priya Easwaran (Exec. Director) as its members. Board Members are:  Meera Banta, Louella D'Silva, Jaya Daptadar, Santosh Gannu, Ritu Johorey, Sangeeta Ahuja, and Srinivas Akarapu. For more details, please visit:

GOPIO-CT Awardees and scholarship recipients with Dignitaries and officials
Photo - GOPIO-CT Awardees and scholarship recipients with Dignitaries and officials
GOPIO-CT Sold-Out Awards Banquet 2018 audience
Photo - GOPIO-CT Sold-Out Awards Banquet 2018 audience

Over the last 12 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.
Contact Anita Bhat, Tel: 203-524-2935, e-mail:

Washington DC. Six Indians received prestigious Award of Excellence for their extra ordinary achievements in different Categories. in Chantilly, Virginia from US Senator Timothy Kaine and Congressman Gerald Connolly. The program was organized by the Virginia Chapter of Global Organization of People of Indian Origin in Chantilly, Virginia at Chinmaya Somnath Auditorium. More than 200 people were present at the Awards Dinner.

Virginia Congressman Gerry Connolly lighting the traditional lamp
Photo - Virginia Congressman Gerry Connolly lighting the traditional lamp along with Dr. Thomas Abraham, Jay Bhandari and Community Affair Minister Anurag Kumar from the Indian Embassy (in the back).

The awardees are selected by selection committee based on merits from 14 nominees. Among them are Ravi Chaudhary who is the Director of Commercial space and Federal Aviation and a former Lt. Colonial in Airforce is awarded in Science and Technology category. Professor Dr. Prashant Bhardwaj was given award in the field of Education, Dr. Rajesh Mehra a 25-year veteran Physician was awarded in Medicine, Dr. Ram Reddy in Entrepreneurship, Jay Mandal in Photo Journalism and Swati Sharma for Arts and Culture.

GOPIO-Virginia Banquet Inauguration
Photo - GOPIO-Virginia Banquet Inauguration - From l. to r.: Emcee Shweta Jain, Congressman Gerry Connolly, VA House Delegate Jennifer Boysko, VA House Delegate Mark Keam, GOPIO-International Chairman Dr. Thomas Abraham, Community Affair Minister Anurag Kumar from the Indian Embassy and GOPIO-Virginia President Jay Bhandari
US Senator Tim Kaine, who was also the former Democratic Vice President candidate, was the Chief guest along with Congressman Gerry Connolly as special Guest and Community Affair Minister Anurag Kumar presided on behalf of Ambassador of India Navtej Sarna as he could not make it due to out of Country. Virginia Legislative House Delegates Mark Keam and Jennifer Boysko were also present along with GOPIO International Chairman Dr. Thomas Abraham and prominent Indian and American community leaders.
The program began with National Anthem of India and USA by Anjali Taneja. Followed by Ganesh Vandana by Mrs. Sumangala Bhandari. President of GOPIO Virginia Jay Bjandari delivered the welcome speech and spoke in GOPIO Vision, mission and work done by GOPIO Virginia as well as GOPIO International work. GOPIO International Chairman Dr. Thomas Abraham, who specially came from New York also spoke on this occasion and talked about GOPIO achievements in last 29 years.
Virginia Governor Ralph Northam issued a proclamation and presented by Dheeraj Agrawal to GOPIO-Virginia President Jaising Bhandari.
Senator Tim Kaine and Congressman Garry Connoly congratulated the awardees and mentioned the contributions of Indians in the economic, educational and technology progress of US. They also mentioned the growing relationship between India and USA especially strategic, Military and Educational. Congressman Gerry Connolly presented the awards to all awardees on behalf of US Congress and their name added in Congressional records.
The emcee was Shweta Jain. There was a very special cultural program which included performances of very famous and talented artists including classical and folk dances and classical songs. The audience liked the classical singing by Swati Sharma accompanied by Nabil Riaz, a well-known National Tabla player and Humayu on Harmonium. Program was emcee by Shweta Jain. Vote of thanks was given by Sumit Kumar. Program ended with delicious Indian Vegetarian food.
Awardees 2018

GOPIO-Virginia 2018 awardees
Photo: GOPIO-Virginia 2018 awardees, From l. to r.: Prof. Prashant Bharadwaj, Dr. Ravi Chaudhary, Jay Mandal, Dr. Rajesh Mehra MD, Dr. Ram Reddy and Swati Sharma
Dr. Ravi Chaudhary is the Director of Advanced Programs and Innovation, Office of Commercial Space Transportation (AST), at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). He is responsible for the execution of advanced development and research programs in support of the FAA's Commercial Space Transportation mission. He also leads all AST Research and Development activities.
Dr. Chaudhary previously served as Executive Director, Regions and Center Operations, at the FAA where he was responsible for providing services in the areas of operations, safety, policy, outreach, and emergency readiness for the National Aerospace System.
Dr. Chaudhary a former Air Force officer has supported space launch operations for the Global Positioning System (GPS) and NASA's International Space Station test activities, to include development of the first orbital debris repair systems to ensure safety of NASA Astronauts.
Dr. Chaudhary holds a Doctorate from the Georgetown University D.L.S. Program, an M.S from St. Mary's University as a NASA graduate fellow, an M.A. from Air University, and a B.S from the Air Force Academy. Dr. Chaudhary also serves as a member of the President's Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
Dr. Ram Reddy is retired marathon runner, entrepreneur, investor, educator and an engineer. He has completed 15 marathons while he enjoys the chairmanship of a billion-dollar organization as an angel investor. Prior to this, he successfully ran his own consulting firm for 20 years.
Dr. Reddy, worked at Dynamics Research Corporation, Wilmington, MASS. He was also a member of the technical staff at Litton Guidance & Control in California and a research Scientist at Teledyne Systems Company in Northridge, also in California.
Dr, Reddy completed Executive Course work at Stanford University School of Business, obtained his Ph.D. from Rutgers University in New Jersey, MTech from Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur and a gold medal B.E.(hons) from Sri Venkateswara University College of Engineering at Tirupati.
Dr.Reddy, comes from Kovur, Nellore District in Andhra Pradesh, India. In India, he worked as a lecturer at Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani, India and as an associate lecturer at SVU College of Engineering. He is also the Chairman of a Conference and Event Center in Chantilly, Virginia.
Dr. Prashanth Bharadwaj is a Dean's Associate, Eberly College of Business and Information Technology and Professor, Department of Management, Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) and has over 25 years of teaching experience in the areas of operations management, supply chain, quality, strategy, entrepreneurship, and learning organizations.
In his role as the Dean's Associate, his responsibilities include strategic planning, international partnerships, curriculum & content development, and corporate relations. He is also the coordinator for the maintenance of AACSB Accreditation. Dr. Bharadwaj served as the Chairperson for the Management Department at IUP for nine years before his tenure as Dean's Associate.
Dr Bhardwaj obtained a Ph.D. & M.B.A. from Rutgers, M.S. from New Jersey institute of Technology and B.S. from Bangalore university. He is the architect and director of IUP's unique MBA program in India, offered in partnership with PES University, Bangalore since 2005 and has been conducting a "Discover India" annual tour for international students for the last ten years. He also coordinates IUP's Executive MBA Program in partnership with the Arab American University as well as IUP's numerous off-shore programs & international partnerships across the globe.
He was also the coordinator of a weekly Bal Vihar class for ten years where he has introduced and trained dozens of kids in Hindu scriptures, Vedic and Gita chanting,
Jay Mandal is a photojournalist with a career spanning 35 years. Born in Bishnupur, West Bengal, he studied Botany (Hons.) from the University of Burdwan and began his proficiency in photography through images of landscape and nature, marvels of architecture, and exquisite craftsmanship of the historic district.
At the age of 21, he began a journey via bicycle that initially took him through South Asia, then overland through Central Asia, down into Africa, and up through Europe. Along the way, he clicked thousands of images and gave slide presentations to fund food and lodging, both at Universities and affiliated with a host of embassies of India in different countries. In 1982, he arrived in the USA and cycled across the country and through the Americas, eventually settling in New York in 1991.
His millions of images of Indians throughout the global diaspora include global industrialists, political leaders, film celebrities, sports events, and Indians around the world with notable achievements in every field. He is an elite member of journalists accredited to cover the UN, the State Dept. the White House, the Govt of India, and many embassies and consulates in many countries. For the past 25 years, Jay has provided unparalleled service to the Indian community, providing media exposure to the projects and causes and events that put the "Diaspora" on the map.
His photos have launched careers and captured some of history's defining moments. Jay combines technical excellence, awareness of subject, with a quiet and unobtrusive style that epitomizes mastery of photojournalism.
Swati Sharma is a visualizer, teacher and a performer and is the founder and president of the Swaranjali School of Music. She started her musical journey at the tender age of 5 and won her first national music competition having been trained for mere 15 days and since then she hasn't looked back. Swati has received her formal music training from Late Pt. Jagdeesh Sharma in Jammu, Pt. B.S Bali in India and Ustaad Hamid based in Baltimore, MD. She is currently a disciple of Dr. Meeta Pandit, an internationally recognized artist and an author who is the scion, flag bearer and sixth generation of pundits of Gwalior Gharana.
Swati received her first diploma in music at the age of seven and is also the recipient of the prestigious and internationally recognized, Vishnu Digambar Paluskar award for Hindustani classical as well as light music. She has won numerous awards in various genres including Hindustani classical, ghazal, folk and Bollywood music.
Swati started the Annual Golden Mic Music Competition in an effort to promote Hindustani classical music as well as other genres of Indian music in the DMV area. With a vision to provide a solid and credible platform for the budding artists of her generation as well as the future generation, the event has been a resounding success and ever growing since its start two years ago. She hopes to take this event to a national level and bring the South Asian community together by the means of music, arts and Indian culture. In order to spread awareness and interest in Hindustani classical music, Swati has also volunteered as a music instructor at Durga Temple located in Fairfax.
Dr. Rajesh N. Mehra is Medical Director and Principal of Global medical Center. Dr. Mehra's tenure with state and federal medical projects span over two decades and have earned him a reputation of being dedicated to and thorough, even in the most complicated cases.
Dr. Mehra is renowned a physician who holds several credentials. He did his residency in Family Practice from Norfolk Central Hospital, his doctorate in Osteopathy from Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine and B.S. from Limestone College, Gaffney, SC.

GOPIO-Virginia 2018 Awardees with Dignitaries and GOPIO Officials
Photo - GOPIO-Virginia 2018 Awardees with Dignitaries and GOPIO Officials at the award ceremony, From l. to r. VA House Delegate Jennifer Boysko, former Air Force Lt. Colonial Ravi Chaudhary, Prof. Prashant Bhardwaj, Congressman Gerry Connolly, Artist Swati Sharma, Entrepreneur Ram Reddy, GOPIO-Virginia President Jay Bhandari, Physician Dr. Rajesh Mehra, Photo Journalist Jay Mandal, US Senator Tim Kaine, GOPIO-International Chairman Dr. Thomas Abraham, VA House Delegate Mark Keam and Community Affair Minister Anurag Kumar from the Indian Embassy

Contact: Jay Bhandari, President, GOPIO-Virginia, Tel: 301-524-4679, E-mail:  

A press conference was held jointly by GOPIO-Triolet North and Muslim Ladies Council in context of showing community's disagreement against the injustice being caused by the management of a hotel in Mauritius, interdicting the Hindu women to wear their tikaand informing them that their thali, mangalsutraand vermillion should not be seen visible on them at their place of work.
GOPIO Triolet North President Mrs Kritilata Ram, who is also GOPIO Women's Co-Chair, highlighted the fact that since Mauritius is a multi-racial country with a population of more than 1.2 million, and inhabited by people whose ancestors came from Madagascar, India, Africa, France, and China, where each community have been practicing their ancestral religions, cultures and languages as well as their custom, traditions, rites and rituals and wearing their dresses with accessories in a very peaceful manner. They have been practicing it by living with a mutual respect highly commendable so far. This harmony has been prevailing for years where several religions, cultures, and languages co-exist and that the general population, the Hindus, the Muslims and the Chinese live side by side though better understanding, tolerance and cooperation.            Mrs. Ram further pointed out that this living in peace and harmony with each other in Mauritius has brought Mauritius on the forefront as a model to the world where harmonious co-existence prevails.
Mrs. Ram questioned issue, "Why now the question of wearing Tika has come from?" Why this big controversy?
"This shouldn't be a big dispute as we are calling us modern and just celebrated our 50th Independence of our Mauritius and where there is a diverse culture prevailing and where peace, justice and liberty is highly functioning." Mrs. Ram added.
Mrs. Ram further explained the importance of Hindu women wearing the Tika, or Tilak, Sindoor, and the Thali, Mangalsutra. These are not accessories only of beauty, but they represent the symbol of her being a married woman. They wear the tika or tilak in the centre of the forehead because the entire body is said to be controlled from this point and gave example just as God Shiva has his third eye in the centre of his forehead.
As for the (vermillion) sindoor in the wife's hair parting signifies the prayers of the wife for the long life of her husband. Hindu religious texts have equated a husband with God and women take pride in being married and the Mangalsutra, the black beads wore around the neck also symbolises a woman being married and the love between the couple and the woman will remove them only after the death of her husband.
Mrs. Ram made an appeal to the institution to look again into the matter with heart and to come with a good and positive decision where Mauritius and its people can continue to live in peace and harmony and not to go against our constitution which guaranteed all Mauritius citizens liberty of expression of religion and the Article 4 of the Employment Rights Acts also protects its employees against all form of discrimination at work.
GOPIO-Triolet North Mauritius Press Conference against injustice to wear tika by Hindu women  Photo: GOPIIO-Triolet North Mauritius press conference against injustice to wear Tika by Hindu women
Contact: Kritilata Ram, Co-Chairperson of Gopio International Women's Council and President Gopio Triolet North,

GOPIO Auckland Central Chapter sponsored workshop for Senior Citizens on Saturday 28 April 2018 at Mt Roskill War Memorial Hall. Approx. 200 people of all the ages attended the event at 11 am followed by lunch. Among the invitees we had members from Auckland Council Local Board Members.
The workshop was professionally presented by Dr Prakash Grover on the topic: "Golden years of Old Age". The open discussion workshop covered how best the senior citizens can utilize the golden years of their life. Those who were present had transformed the atmosphere into simply with pure love in the room. The workshop included Positive living and Positive thinking. Prof Grover added that Death is not a threat, it is going to come one day, why worry about this now and live life fully. Negative thoughts and problems can be solved by talking with their peers and friends. He also asked Seniors to adapt Technology, such as: Whats App and other social media. He also stressed about Exercises if possible. He stressed that with good things comes gloomy things. Live life as it comes.  After darkness, light is always near and comes sooner in the morning. Dr Prakash Grover showed a Video on how Seniors live on positive notes.
Feedback from the seniors was simple and some of them said: We are living positively now, but after listening to Dr Grover, we will try to live life even more positively and avoid negative thinking.

Dr Prakash Grover is a motivated Registered Psychologist with more than 30 years of experience in the field of Psychology. He is well qualified and experienced to deal with a variety of learning and behaviour issues in children, youth and adults. Master's degrees in psychology and Sociology, a Post-graduate qualification in Guidance and Counselling and a degree in Speech Language Prakash with a strong pedagogic framework and an intense desire to make a positive difference to people believes in the power of "simple" and "kindness".

GOPIO Aukland Central Senior Citizens Meet.Speakers and Organizers
Photos above from l. to r.: 1st Photo - Dr Prakash Grover Registered Psychologist who ran the workshop; 2nd photo: Shefali Mehta President GOPIO Auckland Central & Jeet Suchdev Chairperson Bharatiya Samaj Charitable Trust; 3rd Photo: Shefali & Shailen Mehta with Senior Citizens
Contact: Shefali Mehta,

Mother's day is a celebration, honoring the mother of the family as well as motherhood and maternal bonds and the influence of mothers in the society. Some countries celebrate it on the 2nd Sunday or last Sunday of May as in France. GOPIO France Paris Women Council celebrated the Annual Mother's Day on the 27th of May 2018.
On that occasion, the guests were welcomed by Mehen POINOOSAWMY, GOPIO International Coordinator of Europe and President of GOPIO France Paris Chapter, Vikas TALWAR. Padmini AYASSAMY, the Women council coordinator read a very nice message sent by Kriti Lata RAM, Co-Chairperson of GOPIO International Women's Council.
Mother's Day celebration this year had a different flavor. Recently due to the dust storms and bad weather in the region of Agra, the Sunrise School has suffered some damages in the roof. This school was initiated by Helene Khim-Tit with the support of GOPIO France Paris Chapter. The GOPIO Women Council of our chapter did a small fund raising on this occasion of Mother Day for the children of the SUNRISE school in Agra.
Follow this link for the photos of this event:
Vikas Talwar, President GOPIO France Paris thanked all the guests who were present and gave them Rendez Vous to the following event of GOPIO France Paris scheduled on Sunday 03rd of June 2018 at the Marriott Hotel in Paris to celebrate the "Cultural heritage of India".

Mother's Day Celebrations 2018 by GOPIO France Paris
Photo - GOPIO France Paris Women's Council. Right photo: GOPIO France Paris officers at the gathering, 

Organizers of Mothers Day Celebration by GOPIO France Paris
Photo - GOPIO Rance Paris officers from l. to r.: Kevin Ayassamy (Treasurer), Mehen Poinoosawmy (GOPIO International Europe Coordinator), Anwar Hussain (Cultural Coord.), Vikas Talwar (President Gopio France Paris), Leena DOOLLEE (Co-Chairperson GOPIO Intl. Youth Coord.), Vivek Tayal ( VPresident) and Madevi Baumgartner (Vjce President)

Contact: Vikas Talwar, President, GOPIO France Paris,

Twenty two India Heritage award winners displayed plentiful talents with their stage performances and academic excellence at the 32nd India Heritage Awards event held on Sunday, April 1, 2018 at Cerritos Sheraton Hotel, Cerritos. The event was organized by Indian American Heritage Foundation and GOPIO chapters (Los Angeles, Orange county and Inland Empire). Eight of the high and middle school scholarship winners showed their excellence in dance or music by solo performances. The spell-bound audience gave repeated thunderous and sustained applause to encourage the young performers. The very entertaining cultural program was emceed by Vasu Pawar and community leader Dilip Butani.

Indian American Heritage 2018 top awardee Versha Nair
Photo: Organizer Inder Singh, Top Awardee Versha Nair and sponsors Dr. and Mrs M.C Gupta
Versha Nair of Rancho Santa Margarita won the top award of $2500 and revolving trophy in the high school category. The scholarship award has been instituted by Sanjiv & Rajesh Chopra in memory of their parents Sarla & Kishan Gopal Chopra. Ashok Madan and his wife Manju presented the revolving trophy "Profiles in Excellence" instituted in memory of Ashok's parents, Thakar Singh and Shanti Rani Madan. The second-place winner was Titash Biswas while the third-place winner was Bala Thenappan. The next seven winners were Suraj Srivats, Soumya Ravichandran, Sumedha Attanti, Amogha Koka, Sriram Kotta, Siddartha Sen, and Anvitha Soordelu. Interestingly, most of the winners were females.
Rhea Jethvani won the top award in the Middle school category. The award and revolving trophy has been instituted in memory of long time event sponsor Dr. Awtar Singh by his niece, Sonia Batra of Beverly Hills. The second-place winner was Debdeep Bandyopadhyay while the third-place winner was Abheerava Koka. The next five winners were Saachi Pavani, Deeksha Kasula, Komal Kaur, Monica Pal, and Saadhvi Narayanan. Harshini Mohan and Monica Palwon the Visual and Performing Arts awards instituted in honor of "Teachers, parents and family."  

Organizers with Trophy winners and sponsors at the Indian American Heritage Awards 2018  Photo above: Organizers with Trophy winners and sponsors at the Indian American Heritage Awards 2018, Back row from l. to r. Ashok and Manju Madan, Mrs &Mr Bhupesh Parekh, Organizer Inder Singh, Mrs. and Dr M.C. Gupta, Mr and Mrs. Uka Solanki, Harbhajan Samra and Organizer Kewal Kanda
Titash Biswas, second place winner in high school category, also won Outstanding Achievement Award and revolving trophy in Visual & Performing Arts funded by Uka Solanki in memory of his mother Kadviben. Fourth place winner Suraj Srivats shared Outstanding Achievement Award and revolving trophy in sports with Karishma Muthukumar. The award and trophy are funded by Jagdish Khangura in memory of his wife Rajinder Khangura. Fifth place winner Soumya Ravichandran shared Outstanding Achievement Award and revolving trophy in community service with Madhulika Shastry. The award and trophy is funded by Satpal Jandial in memory of his parents, Mani Ram and Gian Dai. Nitya Parthasarathy won Outstanding Achievement Award and revolving trophy in Math, Science and Technology instituted by Dr. Mani Bhaumik in recognition of the "most important numeral ZERO invented in India."
The keynote speech was delivered by Deepi Singh, who, in India, was head, Foods and Nutrition department in Home Science College, Chandigarh, and in USA had held the position of director Food services in Kaiser hospital, Panorama city. In her speech she emphasized that one must have courage and determination to succeed in life. If someone has a handicap, he/she can conquer it with hard work, sincerity and will power. She did not let her handicap stand in her getting higher education or attaining other goals. She advised, "Make your handicap your strength."

The Indian American Heritage Foundation has been recognizing the achievements of Indian Youth, graduating from High and Middle Schools in Southern California for the past 32 years. The Foundation is the leading Indian American organization to publicly recognize, reward and celebrate excellence of the community's best and brightest graduating students in Southern California.
The Foundation started with eight scholarship awards in 1987, now gives twenty-four scholarships annually. The annual event has been made possible with the support of some well-meaning people from the community including Bhupinder Mac, Sanjiv & Renu Chopra, Dr. M.L. Bhaumik, BU Patel, Sonia Batra, Ashok & Manju Madan, Satpal Jandial, Bhupesh Parikh, Bob (Harbans) Bawa, Jagdish Khangura, VJ & Simi Singh, Dr. Satinder and Ranjit Bhatia, Dr. Asmath Noor, Uma-Avadesh Agarwal, Dr. M.C Gupta, Commerca Bank (Sangita Chauhan), Harbhajan Samra and Arun Bhumitra. Some of the sponsors present at the event included, Uka Solanki, V. J Singh, Bhupesh Parikh, Dr. M.C Gupta, Dr. Asmath Noor, and Harbhajan Samra. One by one, the sponsors were called upon to present the award check to the young winners.

Indian American Heritage Awards 2018 High school winners with organizers
Photo above: Indian American Heritage Awards 2018 - All high school winners with organizers and sponsors
Inder Singh, who is also Executive Trustee of GOPIO Foundation, welcomed the attendees and appreciated the support by the sponsors who provided necessary funding for the continuity of the awards program. He also thanked the judges who undertook the grueling task of evaluating the applicants and praised his "working crew" -- team of volunteers -- who worked hard to make the event a success. He said, "An individual, howsoever brilliant, intelligent and smart, would find it difficult, if not impossible to match the collaborative efforts of an effective team and he is blessed with a team which has been providing selfless service for the cause of our youth." His team included Ashok Madan, Kewal Kanda, Aparna Hande, Amrit Bhandari, Dilip Butani, Deepi Singh, Prof Keshav Patel, Manju Madan, Navin Gupta, Rajinder Dhunna, Simi Singh, Vasu Pawer, and V.J Singh.
Read India Journal story about the awards event.  

Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India is organising the 2nd edition of Bharat Ko JaniyeQuiz for the Indian diaspora youth across the world. The online Quiz is open for the Indian diaspora between the age of 15 and 35 years. The Quiz is being held for two distinct categories of NRI and PIO/OCI.
To take part in online Quiz, the participants are required to complete online registration at portal There is no entry fee for participation and the top three winners from each category would be given Gold, Silver and Bronze medals at the Mission level. The top three winners from each category would be participating in 2nd, 3rd and 4th rounds and the final 20 participants would be given 15 days' orientation programme including a visit to Lakshadweep and Agra at Government expenditure. The top three winners of each category would be given Gold, Silver and Bronze medals at the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas Convention to be held in January 2019.
As the first round is held online, and the portal can be accessed from anywhere, participants are required to answer 30 multiple choice questions in 25 minutes. 

1. Know India Programme of the Ministry of External Affairs is a three-week orientation programme for diaspora youth conducted with a view to promote awareness on different facets of life in India and the progress made by the country in various fields e.g. economic, industrial, education, science & technology, communication & Information Technology, culture.

2. Eligibility criteria: Only 3rd and 4th generation Indian origin youth who never visited India are eligible to apply under this program. Soon we will issue fresh press release for others who want to visit India under self - financing KIP.

3. Registration for 47th & 48th KIPs which start from September 2018, for Engagement with Indian Origin youth (ages 18-30) to enhance their awareness about India, its cultural heritage, arts & to familiarize them with various aspects of contemporary India, has started w.e.f. 15th May 2018.

4. Application are to be filled online at While filing the application form, the applicant should indicate preferences for any of the two   KIP i.e. 47th and 48th. Printed and signed application along with passport size photograph and Declaration form (in case of not holding PIO/OCI cards) which may be downloaded from the KIP portal under 'Download' section, should be submitted to the below mentioned address, no later than 15 July, 2018:
Consulate General of India Attn: Consul (Political, Press, Information & Culture), 3 East 64 Street, New York, NY 10065 or to the Consulate/Embassy/High Commission in respective countries.

KIP No. Scheduled Dates Partner States
47 KIP 25 Sep - 19 Oct 2018 Tamil Nadu
48 KIP 25 Oct - 18 Nov 2018 Manipur & Mizoram

5. For additional information, please visit For any clarification please send email:

GOPIO is a non-partisan, non-sectarian global organization with chapters in several countries, actively promoting the interests of people of Indian origin worldwide by monitoring and addressing current critical issues of concern, and by enhancing cooperation and communication between groups of Indians living in various countries.
GOPIO Individual Life membership is open to all who believe in the mission of GOPIO. The one- time fee is $5,000 for Platinum Life Membership, $2,500 for Gold Life Membership and $1,500 Silver Life Membership and 2/3rdthe amount for each category for those from developing countries and India.
GOPIO is looking forward to opening chapters in all major cities of the world, so as to network with people of Indian origin all over the world. If you do not have a chapter in your city, please visit the GOPIO website ( and get details of chapter initiation (visit This process involves sending a letter of intent to start a chapter by a committee of five people or more. For more information, contact:
GOPIO Chairman - Dr. Thomas Abraham, Stamford, Connecticut, USA, Tel: +1-203-329-8010, E-mail:
GOPIO President - Sunny Kulathakal, Bahrain, +973-39441956, India +91-9845756692, E-mail:
GOPIO Executive Vice President - Ishwar Ramlutchman, Durban, South Africa, Tel: +27-83-3578747, E-mail:
GOPIO Vice President - Ram Gadhavi, Wayne, New Jersey, USA, Tel: +1-973-699-8582, E-mail:
GOPIO's Global Ambassador - Issac John, Dubai, UAE, +971-50 625 9941, E-mail:
GOPIO Secretary - Dr. Rajeev Mehta, Piscataway, New Jersey, USA, Tel: +1-732-986-2584,
Executive Trustee of GOPIO Foundation - Inder Singh, Tarzana, California, USA, Tel: +1-818-708-3885, E-mail:
GICC Chairman - Niraj Baxi, San Jose, California, USA, Tel: 408-307-9845, E-mail:
To become a Life member of GOPIO, visit, print and fill up the form and send it with a check to:. GOPIO International, PO Box 1413, Stamford, CT 06904, USA


Chief Editor: Dr. Thomas Abraham, Chairman, GOPIO International (Stamford, CT, USA)
Editor: Nami Kaur, GOPIO Media Council Chair (New York, USA)
Associate Editors: Layla Matthew (Bangalore, India) and Harry Walia (Australia), Marlan Padayachee (Durban, South Africa)
Webmasters: Abu Thomas (Ardsley, New York, USA)

Contributors of this issue: Dr. Rajeev Mehta, Secretary, GOPIO International (Piscataway, New Jersey. USA); Anita Bhat, President, GOPIO-CT (Stamford, CT, USA); Jay Bhandari, President, GOPIO-Virginia (USA); Kritilata Ram, Co-Chairperson of Gopio International Women's Council and President Gopio Triolet North (Mauritius); Shefali Mehta, President GOPIO Auckland Central (Aukland, New Zealand); Mehen Poinsawmy. GOPIO International Coordinator of Europe (Paris, France); Indeer Singh, Exec. Trustee, GOPIO Foundation (Tarzana, California, USA)

GOPIO NEWS welcomes NRI/PIO related stories from all over the world. Be a volunteer correspondent or reporter. 
Contact Dr. Thomas Abraham, Tel: 203-329-8010, E-mail:

Visit GOPIO's Official site at or
Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO) Inc., P.O. Box 1413, Stamford, CT 06904-1413
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