At a high-profile reception for India’s newly-arrived diplomats, Dr. Sudhir Parikh, publisher and philanthropist, launched a think-tank that would advocate for India’s development policies.
Dr. Sudhir Parikh, publisher of Desi Talk and recipient of India’s Padma Shri award, held a reception in Watchung, New Jersey Aug. 25, to welcome the new Consul General of India in New York Sandeep Chakravorty and Deputy Chief Mission in the Indian Embassy in Washington, D.C., Ambassador Santosh Jha.
On the occasion, he also announced the launch of a think tank, Parikh Foundation for India’s Global Development, that will advocate for India’s policies and initiatives as an emerging global player. He urged policymakers, elected officials and Indian-Americans to step-up efforts on this front, and to educate American counterparts and the public.
Among the invited guests were members of the New Jersey state Senate and Assembly, Indian diplomats, as well as Indian-American politicos, entrepreneurs and specialists in different fields of endeavor.
“Welcome to my home, it’s a very good feeling to have all of you today to meet and greet our ambassadors (from India) … and also our elected officers of the New Jersey government,” said Dr. Parikh. “As you all know the bilateral relations between the United States and India are very vibrant and strong, business between the countries is booming. It is a key aspect of the growing friendship acknowledged by both Prime Minister Modi and President Trump. Today, I am confident that despite of change of elections in the future, may it be in New Delhi or Washington, close ties between India and the U.S. will be a defining relationship in the 21st century,” he added.
Despite India being a “natural and dependable ally,” Dr. Parikh said, “It has not been easy to reach where we are today. We have worked hard towards this goal,” he said thanking all the elected officials in the room without whom it would have been impossible to achieve such a goal, he said.
“I have personally been striving to achieve closer bilateral ties for the last four decades; from the time we managed to help launch India Caucus on Capitol Hill in 1990, the formation of the Washington Leadership Council and then the passage of the India-U.S. nuclear deal, it’s all gone a long way to ensure that the U.S. and India see eye to eye on the issues that matter the most,” he continued.
Dr. Parikh said Indian-Americans cannot sit on their laurels and must do more to enable the rest of America to understand India better.
“The question also arises as to what else can the Indian diaspora do here to put a spotlight on India and its initiatives,” he said.
Over the years many Indian and Indian American organizations have done their bit to push the image of India in America, and many Americans today recognize the contributions of the Indian Americans, Parikh noted.
“But more needs to be done on their perceptions of the Indian government’s initiatives, and its efforts to expand bilateral ties,” Parikh noted. “Perhaps, the first thing would be to start a dialogue, to ensure the initiatives of the Indian government, its efforts to expand bilateral ties, is put in perspective,” he said. “The only way perhaps to achieve this would be with firm commitment on a regular basis; To have top experts – policymakers, politicians, intellectuals, to participate in this endeavor,” he stressed.
“So, I am announcing today my keen interest in launching a think tank focused on the issues, challenges and opportunities of the Indian polity,” he said, urging the Indian diaspora to contribute in helping with this initiative so India can be understood better by all.
Sheila Oliver, former Speaker of the New Jersey Assembly, who is in the running for the next Lieutenant Governor of New Jersey with Democratic gubernatorial candidate Phil Murphy, said she was astonished by the work of Indian-Americans adding that she has been a fan of Deepak Chopra ever since she was a teenager.
“For many years on my night table I had a book that a friend gave me and it was called ‘The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success’ and as I watched this video I thought; that is why the Indian community is successful, it is why it is philanthropic and it is why it has a global view of the world,” Oliver said. “I believe that one of the strongest characteristics of Indian-Americans and of people in India is their connection to spirituality and accepting the fact that there is something greater than themselves,” she said.
Assemblyman Jon Bramnick thanked Dr. Parikh for the services that he has provided for the State and the community. At the event, Bramnick presented a Joint Legislative Resolution welcoming and honoring Consul General Chakravorty. and Deputy Chief of Mission Jha, praising their contributions to the U.S.-India bilateral relationship and global diplomacy, and lauding the Indian-American community’s contributions to the diversity of the state.
Assemblywoman Nancy Pinkin, thanked Dr. Parikh for his hospitality and said there was a need to bridge the deep political divide in the country. “A lot of people think that what is missing today is that ability of everybody to work together. We have serious problems on both sides and we really need to be able to do that,” Pinkin said. “We have so many healthcare issues and I thank you doctor for your leadership and I agree with speaker Oliver that the focus on … human values is what we need now to address these issues. So, we are here to help in any way we can and so appreciate your hospitality,” she added.
Assemblyman Jamel Holley said he wanted to continue working with Indian-Americans and praised Indian culture. “You are very good rich people with great culture and great diversity” and that was an important aspect of diversity in New Jersey.
Assemblyman Raj Mukherji, the only Indian-American in the New Jersey legislature, said he feels proud to be an Indian-American and that it was an honor to be a representative of the Indian American community.
“I usually leave Indian events with pride. It is a privilege to follow (former Assemblyman) Upendra Chivukula’s footsteps in the legislature and I am hopeful and optimistic that my dear friend Vin Gopal will double the Indian American presence in the New Jersey legislature in this election,” he said. Gopal, a Democrat, is running for the New Jersey state Senate from Monmouth County.
“I really with great pride want to welcome Ambassador Jha and Consul General Chakravorty because among other things the New York consulate is the busiest in the country, it is the representative of the world’s largest democracy in the cultural, commercial and economic capital of the world and one of the most densely populated states in the country,” Mukherji added.
Consul General Chakravorty joked about how the Indian Consulate should be in New Jersey instead of New York because in his three-week appointment, all of the events he has attended had been held in New Jersey.
Chakravorty thanked Dr. Parikh for inviting him to his home and welcoming him to the U.S. and New York.
“Dr. Parikh is an allergy specialist but I think you have developed a unique ability of not being allergic to anybody, you are so friendly and so welcoming and that is the root cause of being so generous and philanthropic,” he told Dr. Parikh at the gathering.
The Consul General also provided many statistics on the win-win relationship between India and the U.S. and emphasized the fact that Indians visiting the U.S., spend about $5 billion annually.
Deputy Chief Mission Jha also said he was extremely honored to be at Dr. Parikh’s home, praising him for his work for the community.
The invited guests also included New Jersey State Senator Sam Thompson, Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker, Dr. Maya Sanghavi, an OBGYN; Paul Mehta, a businessman; Sunil Gupta, Dr. Parikh’s partner in Zifiti.com; H. K. Shah, a financier; Dr. Manoj and Saroj Desai, trustee of the Share and Care Foundation; Dr. Paul Ehrlich, a renowned allergist and Dr. Parikh’s senior partner; entrepreneur Bob Carroll; well-known businessman Anil Monga; Krishna Jhaveri, a urologist in Long Island; Minal Jhaveri, a pediatrician; Govind Munjal, the president of the Associations of Indians in America; Paramita Tripathi, the deputy consul general in New York; Amit Jani, founder of NJLead, a non-profit to groom South Asian youth for political leadership, and currently appointed as the point-man for outreach to Asian Americans for New Jersey’s Democratic gubernatorial campaign; Binod Sinha, a urologist in New Jersey; former Assemblyman Upendra Chivukula, and Albert Jasani of Royal Albert’s Palace, Fords, N.J.