U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy and U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Manhattan Preet Bharara were keynote speakers at a gala during the AAPI Convention held in Orlando, Florida June 17 to 21.
Speaking before close to 2,000 attendees, Murthy reflected on the gunning down of 9 parishioners at a church in Charleston, South Carolina, as a “terrorist attack” perpetrated because of “something deeper in our culture,” a lack of respect for each person’s life, values, opinions and dignity, India Abroad reported.
Murthy also dwelt on existing domestic violence within the South Asian community and exhorted AAPI members to lead the community in rallying against violence both within and against other groups such as Sikhs, Muslims, Jews and other religious groups, and stand up in support of gays, lesbians and transgenders fighting for their rights. He also urged the organization that claims to represent some 100,000 Indian-American physicians, residents and medical students, to take up these challenging issues as well as the stigma attached to mental illness, the causes of diabetes and heart disease, etc. asserting that it was challenges that showed the measure of an organization.
Those attending the gala including Dr. Sudhir Parikh, publisher of News India Times and recipient of India’s Padma Shri award, said there was pin-drop silence as the audience sat riveted by the speeches given by Murthy, Bharara and 2014 Peace Prize winner Kailash Satyarthi.
Bharara, in his speech, said drug overdose had become a legal issue apart from a national problem and one of the foremost ones he is confronted with in his job as U.S. Attorney. He indicated that the tens of thousands of Indian-American physicians around the country could be the bulwark against over prescription of opioids, the deaths from which number in the thousands annually and were a national tragedy.
He said the Indian-American community, particularly the physicians group, was ‘overflowing’ with talent to help deal with challenges facing the country in different fields. In fact, he said, it was an obligation to pay back the debt for what coming to America had reaped in benefits for the members of this community. No matter which country one comes from or what religion one follows, when immigrants come to America, they are bound by the principles of liberty, equality and the rule of law, he added. He related his own experience as the son of an immigrant who left India when it was still ruled by the British, with barely pennies in his pocket and a wife and son, to make his home in America. Today, he stood as a product of that journey, Bharara noted, naming several other Indian-Americans who have reached high positions in U.S. administrations.