Ambassador Taranjit Singh Sandhu calls Indian American Physicians the “real heroes”
After nearly two years of isolation, virtual meetings, covid fears, the first ever in person event, the 39th annual Convention by American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) inaugurated at the at the fabulous and world-famous Omni Atlanta at CNN Center and Georgia World Congress Center on July 2nd.
“Remembering and memorializing the brave AAPI Warriors and thousands of healthcare workers, who have sacrificed their lives at the service of humanity, especially during the Deadly Covid Pandemic is the major theme during the Convention,” said Dr. Sudhakar Jonnalagadda, President of AAPI. “This convention is a tribute to those who have lost their lives and to the frontline medical professionals who are at the forefront, combating the pandemic around the globe,” he added.
Describing the theme and importance of the Convention as the world struggles to return to normalcy with the pandemic our lives for the past year and a half, Dr. Sreeni Gangasani, Chairman, Co-founder, eGlobalDoctors and Chair, AAPI Convention 2021 said, “We invite physicians of Indian origin to join the AAPI community as we celebrate the victory of science over calamity while paying tribute to all the fallen healthcare workers including some from AAPI family. We also want to show the world that we can start socializing with precautions once you are vaccinated.”
Dr. Smitha Lodha, widow of Dr. Ajay Lodha addressed the AAPI members, thanking them for their support as the late President of AAPI suffered Covid related complications and succumbed to the deadly virus. She praised AAPI and the medical fraternity for their courage and selfless service to bring health and wellbeing to millions across the US and around the world.
The annual convention this year is being organized by AAPI’s Atlanta Chapter, chaired by Dr. Sreeni Gangasani. The inaugural Nite’s Gala was hosted by Georgia Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (GAPI), during which several leaders of GAPI, including Drs. Raghu Lolabhattu, Manoj Shah, Yogesh Joshi, Arvind Gupta, PB Rao, Dilip Patel, Uma Jonnagalada and Tarun Gosh addressed the audience and shared about GAPI’s educational, philanthropic, humanitarian, political, entertaining and social activities. Educational scholarships were presented to deserving students from the region.
Although only a limited number of participants are attending the convention this year due to the ongoing Coivd pandemic and taking into account the safety of those attending, there was new energy and enthusiasm among the AAPI delegates with an obvious relief among the members cherishing every moment of the coming together and networking and renewing friendship.
After inaugurating the Convention with traditional prayers and blessings by Hindu Priests, Congressman Buddy Carter, representing the 1st District in Georgia, said, “If there is anything that the COVID-19 pandemic laid bare it is that our country is too dependent on foreign sources of critical pharmaceutical and medical supplies. I reintroduced bipartisan, bicameral legislation to retake control of America’s health care supply chain. For America’s national security, the legislation incentivizes the domestic manufacturing of drugs and other medical supplies to make the U.S. supply chain less dependent on foreign countries like China.” The only pharmacist in the US Congress, Rep. Carter referred to how the middlemen hike up the prize of drugs by upto 47% in the US, and urged the AAPI fraternity to advocate for more patient-centered care.
Ambassador Taranjit Singh Sandhu called Indian American Physicians as the “real heroes”. Ambassador Sandhu said: “You are the real heroes who have risked your lives and have been out to assist others. “What is unique about AAPI is that you bring a global perspective to defeat the virus and serve the people. We are proud of the achievements of the 4 million Indians in the United States.”
In her inaugural address, Dr. Swati Vijay Kulkarni, Consul General of India in Atlanta, who is a career diplomat who holds is a Physician by profession, described the Indian American Physician community as a “Testament to the greatest growth story” of Indian Americans. Dr. Kulakarni while emphasizing the role of physicians during the pandemic, she praised their contributions and achievements.
Congresswoman Carolyn Bourdeaux representing the 7th Congressional district of Georgia was introduced to the audience by Dr. Sreeni Gangasani. Sharing her own close association with the South Asian community, Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux said, her district is home to the largest South Asian population in the South East. “I have so many wonderful friends in this community for many years I have had many friends who are from South Asia,” she said. “I have been in Washington for about 6 months and I have worked very hard to advocate on behalf of the South Asian Community.”
An exciting Bollywood Hungama Dhum Dhama Dhum featured popular stars Kosha Pandya, Rex D’Souza and Shilpi Paul. Talented artists Vidya Vox and Ravi Drums led the cultural programs. Traditional Dandiya Raas by AAPI’s own Garba King, Dr. Dhiren Buch with live music by Aradhana Music Group of Los Angeles was huge hit among AAPI delegates. World renowned fashion designer Ghazala Khan-choreographed Fashion Show by beautiful and talented local artists was a treat to the hearts and souls of all the participants.