New president of Federation of Indian Associations wants focus on women’s empowerment, diversity

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Srujal Parikh

The Federation of Indian Associations NY/NJ/CT, unanimously elected a new leader Nov. 30, who plans to take the organization to new heights, starting with an executive committee where women form half the membership.

Srujal Parikh, 50, an IT manager in the New York Police Department, and trustee of the NYPD Indian Police Officers Society, told Desi Talk he is committed to the spirit of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam World is one family. For him, women’s empowerment is a major goal within the tri-state non-profit where he will officially take over Dec. 30.

“FIA, in its journey to preserving India’s culture, wants to take on meaningful and sustainable women empowerment initiatives, thus making a difference in the lives of girls and women,” Parikh said in a statement sent to Desi Talk. “At FIA, we believe that gender equality and women empowerment isn’t something of a privilege, it’s their birth right,” said the incoming president. “We, as a community, must strive to foster an environment so there is no gender discrimination,” … Then only the Vedic verse –  यत्र नार्यस्तु पूज्यन्ते रमन्ते तत्र देवता Wherever Women are respected, God resides there, would come true,” Parikh said.

Among the activities Parikh will work on during the one-year term with his four executive committee members, will be a women’s empowerment seminar on International Women’s Day, March 8, organized jointly with the Indian Consulate in New York.

Some other plans include ‘College Camps’ for kids where various higher education institutions would be invited to meet students planning their future studies; at least 2 or 3 camps on Overseas Citizenship of India and People of Indian Origin cards; Republic Day of India which is on Jan. 26, but which will be held on Jan. 27, at the State Theater in New Jersey, where the highlight has always been Dance Pe Chance, a Bollywood dance competition among various tri-state dance schools and groups; and the signature India Day Parade celebrating India’s independence, which will be held Aug. 19, 2018. Preparations are already ongoing for that high profile event that takes place on Madison Avenue and attracts close to 150,000 New Yorkers and people from other states, according to FIA estimates. The FIA is already approaching Bollywood personalities, famous cricketers, and other dignitaries to headline the India Day Parade, Parikh said. To make it more diverse, Parikh says he is encouraging South Asians from other countries in the Indian Subcontinent, to showcase their cultures at the parade if they wish.

Parikh has been in FIA for the last 10 years, graduating from a volunteer to committee member, holding five positions in 6 years, to now finally take the helm of the organization.

The FIA was founded on the premise of promoting ethnic solidarity through various programs, events, community service and cultural activities and over the past forty years, it has organized hundreds of events celebrating India’s culture and supporting community initiatives, notes Parikh. As such, he wants to foster diversity.

“As individuals from all walks of life, we each bring unique customs, traditions, and values from our respective backgrounds to form a distinct collage known as FIA,” says Parikh.