The Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO) in a virtual ceremony on September 24, which was webcast live around the world, launched GOPIO – Manhattan Chapter.
Consul General of India in New York, Randhir Kumar Jaiswal, inaugurated the new chapter, and several community and business leaders from around the New York region attended it.
Industrialist Shivender Sofat will take on as the president of the new chapter, a press release from the organization said.
Consul General Jaiswal, who was the chief guest at the inauguration, said, “It is a privilege to be able to join you all in inaugurating the GOPIO-Chapter, which will strengthen GOPIO, the NRI community and the Consulate in New York.”
Thomas Abraham, PhD, Chairman GOPIO International, in his introductory remarks said, “GOPIO was born in 1989 and today, it has over 100 chapters across the world, contributing to the larger community.” He also highlighted the contributions of GOPIO during the Covid pandemic to help frontline workers and those affected by the virus.
Padma Shri Dr. Sudhir Parikh, chairman of Parikh Worldwide Media and ITV Gold, congratulated GOPIO and Abraham “for his vision” and wished the best to the new Chapter team. Dr.Parikh has been associated with GOPIO since its inception, an described GOPIO to be “a home away from home.” Padma Bhushan Arvind Panagariya, professor at Columbia University and formerly India’s Niti Ayog program vice chairman lauded Abraham and called him “a Pillar of the Indian Community globally.”
Prof. P. Somasundaran, a Padma Shri recipient and faculty at Columbia University, in his address, said, “We need the comfort and support of each other. (The) current pandemic has shown how important and critical it is to stay united and for all of us to work together.”
GOPIO Co-Secretary Dr. Lisa George and member Bhavaya Gupta hosted the ceremony. Members sang the American national anthem and the Indian national anthem followed by Mahatma Gandhi’s favorite bhajan on his 150th birth anniversary.
“GOPIO was started in NYC and now we are back,” incoming president Shivender Sofat, is quoted saying in the press release. “This chapter will motivate our community to participate and help in local charitable and social service activities including soup kitchens and walkathons. We will also organize seminars on subjects of interest to the Indian community; and host a networking reception and dinner for all new students from India in New York City.”
Padma Shri H.R. Shah, chairman of TV Asia, called upon the 5.7 million strong Indian diaspora to play an active role in the local communities and in politics. He called upon GOPIO to “encourage the new generation and motivate them to join politics and serve the community.”
Other speakers included Neeta Jain, a Democratic leader from Queens and national delegate for Biden, who is running as a City Council member, shared her experiences of 30 years fighting for “equality and cultural recognition, which is ongoing.”
Others who attended the online meeting included India’s Deputy Consul General Shatrughna Sinha, Consul for Community Affairs A.K. Vijayakrishnan, GOPIO Vice President Ram Gadhavi, South Asian Council for Social Services Executive Director Sudha Acharya, GOPIO-New York President Beena Kothari, GOPIO-CT President Ashok Nichani, and GOPIO Central New York President Patsy Leopald.
Philanthropist Sreedhar Menon committed $10,000 for the next two years to GOPIO-Manhattan, the press release said.