“India is not for money but for humanity. We are known to be connected with humanity,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the keynote speaker, told members of American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) and Florida Association of Physicians of Indian origin (FAPI) during a virtual India’s 74th Independence Day celebration and day-long Medical Symposium on August 15, 2020.
“During this critical time when humanity has been impacted by the Corona pandemic, India has been leading the efforts to alleviate people’s sufferings by exporting necessary medicine and medical equipment to 150 countries including to the U.S.,” Modi is quoted saying in a press release from AAPI. “In addition, India is working with 16 nations around the world, helping developing human resources, training them and equipping them to meet the challenges posed by the Covid virus,” Modi said, adding, “In addition, with other nations, we are working collaboratively towards developing vaccine.”
The Prime Minister extolled the virtues of ancient Indian medical systems and practices, and their benefits to this day, for example, Ayurveda. “People are looking up to India for leadership in Medicine and holistic living. Ayurveda has become popular around the world in preventing and curing people of illnesses,” he said. In his address, he pointed “immune promoters and natural healers,” stating that import of Turmeric by the U.S. and Europe has significantly increased in recent years.
He urged more collaboration by physicians of Indian origin in India’s medical field. “We want you to participate more actively in the mission of India in research, manufacture, pharma sector and telehealth, reaching health and well-being to rural India,” Modi said describing Indian-American physicians as integral to India’s progress.
“I want to express my sincere gratitude for being the warriors who are committed to save the lives of so many during the pandemic. Stay safe and continue to work hard and contribute to humanity and make India shine,” Modi said.
India’s Ambassador Taranjit Singh Sandhu also spoke congratulating AAPI and FAPI for their work. “You are the real heroes who have risked your lives and have been out to assist others,” praising Indian-American physicians for bringing a global perspective to defeating the virus and treating patients, and said India was proud of the achievements of 4 million people of Indian origin living in the U.S..
“Your support to the Indian Embassy, helping Indian students and others stranded here due to the pandemic, your online Health Desk has helped many Indians in the U.S. affected by the pandemic,” Ambassador Sandhu said.
Praising AAPI for the several charitable works in India, he added, “India and the US are strategic partners” and pointed to collaboration between the two nations on cutting edge medical research in healthcare sector and science, and the work being done to develop vaccines.
Dr. Amit Chakrabarty, secretary of AAPI described Ambassador Sandhu as “one of the most experienced Indian diplomats on U.S. affairs.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, reiterated the need to get fatality numbers down and predicted a difficult Fall season as other viruses get active. He also provided a brief historical overview of the different viruses, their origin in the recent past.
“Covid is the worst the world has seen since 1918,” the AAPI press release quoted him saying.
Dr. Sudhakar Jonnalagadda, president of AAPI, remembered the sacrifices made by the freedom fighters, political leaders and citizens in order to free India from colonial rule. Though COVID has “eliminated the ability for spectators and celebrations,” he said, “The virtual world allows celebrations to proceed in a different manner, but this is also an opportunity to be re-inspired by the legacy of the Father of Nation. After all, isn’t service of mankind the best way to celebrate India’s Independence?”
Dr. Rakesh K. Sharma, President, Florida Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (FAPI) welcomed the participants and coordinated the day-long event which included speakers and singers from around the world, and 8.5 hours of Continuing Medical Education seminars.
Dr. Sajani Shah, Chair of AAPI’s board of trustees, noted, “AAPI members are putting their best efforts to help our patients, especially those impacted by COVID.” She also said the day-long workshop was a way to educate physicians on the current pandemic and best practices.
Several other officeholders of the physicians organizations also spoke.
The participants were treated to an entrainment segment by Bollywood singers, including Anoop Sankar dedicated his music to the Doctors who work to save lives.