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AIA-NY Recognizes 5 Extraordinary Individuals at Annual Gala


July 11 :
An Annual Gala was conducted by the New York Chapter of the Association of Indians in America (AIA) on June 2, 2024, to collect funds for the 37th Deepavali Fest, which is scheduled for October 6, 2024. The chapter is one of the oldest organisations in the country that serves Indian immigrants. The 'AIA-Educational Project,' which aims to assist underprivileged Indian-American students, was another intended beneficiary of the gala's proceeds.

Two hundred community members, including AIA's past presidents and Advisory Board of Trustees members, attended the Gala. Great Neck's Crystal Ballroom, which is part of Leonard's Palazzo Banquet Hall, was the site of the event. Chuck Schumer, the majority leader of the Senate, attended as the chief guest. In his remarks, he emphasised the significance of strong links between India and the United States, spoke highly of Indian leaders, culture, and customs, and acknowledged the community's achievements in healthcare and education. He also mentioned his travel to India. In the context of the Indian Ocean, he highlighted the close relationship between the two nations' naval defence forces. He drew comparisons between the Jewish community and the Indian medical community and praised both groups for their dedication to education. There were several rounds of applause for his speech, culminating in a standing ovation.

An esteemed guest was David Weprin, a state assemblyman from District 24 in New York. According to an AIA news release, he has long been an ardent supporter of the AIA-NY, having worked to have Alternate Day Parking suspended annually on Diwali and to have the festival declared a school holiday in the Big Apple. In promoting a varied and inclusive society, he highlighted the significance of cultural acknowledgment and spoke proudly of his support for the Indian population.

Dr. Rekha Bhandari, Chief Medical Officer for the MedElite Group/Allure Group/Vis-à-vis Health, was presented with the 'Excellence in Healthcare Award' in recognition of her groundbreaking contributions to healthcare, which aligns with the topic of Women's Empowerment. It is with deep humility and profound honour that I accept this accolade from one of the world's longest-running ethnic groups. She expressed her hope that her story will encourage other women to pursue careers in healthcare and serve as an example to others.

The "Entrepreneur Par Excellence Award" was presented to Naveen C. Shah, CEO of Navika Group of Companies and Blue-Sky Hospitality Solutions, in recognition of his achievements in creating a multibillion-dollar conglomerate and his generous support of many nonprofit organisations. During his remarks, Shah expressed his gratitude to the AIA's founders and current and former officers for their unwavering commitment to assisting Indians in the United States. With "our unity and support," he emphasised the importance of Indian ancestry and culture in the United States.

Distinguished S.N. Sridhar, PhD, a professor of linguistics and India studies at Stony Brook University, was honoured for his accomplishments in literature, linguistics, and the establishment of India Studies at Stony Brook University. As a means of fostering cross-cultural understanding, he discussed his findings and its implications.

Also acknowledged were Mount Sinai Health System doctors Vishal Kapur and Raman Sharma. 'Excellence in Cardiology-Vascular & Endovascular Medicine' went to Dr. Kapur, while the 'Special Young Physician Award for Excellence in Endovascular Intervention' went to Dr. Sharma. Dr. Kapur highlighted the significance of innovation in patient care and the progress made in endovascular therapies at Mount Sinai. The relevance of Dr. Sharma's study in rescuing diabetic limbs from ischemia and avoiding strokes in patients with carotid artery blockages was emphasised.

Live performances by Tanmayee Mohapatra and Jagabattula Maheshwari were among the entertainment highlights of the evening, which kicked up with a social networking hour serving cocktails and Indian hors d'oeuvres. The event was graciously hosted by Vice President and Gala Chair, Beena Kothari. Guests were warmly welcomed by Dr. Jagdish Gupta, president of AIA, who delivered a speech honouring the Deepavali celebrations and highlighting the necessity of promoting educational achievement among Indian-Americans.

The AIA Board of Trustees Chairman, Dr. Samin Sharma, paid tribute to the contributions of Indian Americans to the fields of medicine and business. The Indian Consulate, Congressman Tom Suozzi, Bruce Blakeman, the executive of Nassau County, and Kevin Thomas, the senator of New York, were among the dignitaries who presented citations to AIA-NY and the recipients.

In his remarks, Dr. Gupta expressed gratitude to the event's sponsors and partners, who included Fareportal - CheapOair, Northwell Health System, Mount Sinai Hospital, Brooklyn Hospital Centre, Navika Group of Companies, Blue-Sky Hospitality Solutions, Parker Jewish Institute, CenterLight Healthcare, and media partners. There was supper, dancing, and entertainment at the end of the event.