Virginia State officials emphasize the importance of diversity at GOPIO event

Board members of the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO) releasing a souvenir on its 14th anniversary celebrations, on April 30, 2023, in Virginia. PHOTO: T. Vishnudatta Jayaraman, News India Times

Vienna, Virginia: At its 14th anniversary celebrations, on April 30, 2023, the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO) celebrated the achievements of Indian-Americans with GOPIO Awards of Excellence. Virginia State officials congratulated the awardees, praised the work done by Indian-Americans, and underscored the impact of diversity in strengthening the economy and the education system.

President of GOPIO, Jay Bhandari, congratulated and appreciated the achievements of the awardees in their respective fields, and jointly released GOPIO’s souvenir along with the other board members.

Receiving the GOPIO Award of Excellence in Public Service, Director of the White House National Drug Control Policy, Dr. Rahul Gupta thanked the organizers for the recognition. He went on to state, “When an American is dying every 5 minutes from a drug overdose or poisoning and mental health issues are claiming so many lives, I stand with President Biden in ensuring that we all work together, as Americans, to address these challenges with a sense of urgency.” He also applauded the dedication of American-Indians, who are seeking to improve the conditions of their communities locally and globally.

Dr. Rahul Gupta receiving the GOPIO Award of Excellence in Public Service from VA State Senator David Marsden, on April 30, 2023, in Virginia. PHOTO: T. Vishnudatta Jayaraman, News India Times

Presenting a Proclamation – on behalf of Fairfax County – Chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, Jeff Mckay said that he was present not only to celebrate the 14th anniversary but to “Remind everyone of the importance of the diversity that we have in Fairfax County.”

“And you know, so often it seems like our differences are what’s on the front lines and people are doing things to try to divide our community. But in Fairfax County, that never works. Because we know that our strength is in our diversity, our strength is in our economy, our strength is in public education, and the strength in our community is rooted in the diversity that we have…” said Mckay.

Echoing Mckay’s views on diversity, VA State Senator Chap Petersen said, “Diversity is important. It’s also important that people aren’t discriminated against because of their backgrounds. And I will promise you, as long as I am a State Senator, you will not be discriminated against.”

Emphasizing the role of Indian-Americans in advancing diversity in the State, VA State Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn noted, “When I speak of diversity, I think we speak of not just diversity, of religion, of faith, of origin, of gender… but we also think of diversity of perspective. And what comes with having more people and more constituencies at the table? At least in our body, working with them as elected officials, you get better legislation, better ideas because you have diversity of thought and perspective.”

VA Delegate David Bulova recollected that one of the proudest pieces of legislation he was able to introduce was the House joint resolution 149 in 2020, establishing August as the Indian American Heritage Month in Virginia.

VA State Senator David Marsden, VA Delegate Holly Seibold, and other community leaders also spoke at the event. Other GOPIO awardees included President of Virginia Commonwealth University, Michael Rao in Education, Emeritus Professor at Georgetown University, Siva Subramanian in Medicine, Sant Gupta in Science & Technology, Mayur Shah in Philanthropy, Vatsala Mehra in Arts & Culture, Mayur Modi in Community Service, and Rajeev Bhambri in Journalism. All awardees were also presented with copies of an entry into the Congressional Record by the Office of Congressman, Jerry Connolly.

Embassy of India’s First Secretary (Press, Information & Political), Karthik Gurunathan Iyer, was also present during the occasion.



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