May 26, 2013
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(Chicago, IL (May 28th, 2013): During a solemn gala reception attended by over 1,500 delegates from across the nation, Dr. Jayesh Shah assumed charge as the president of the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI), the largest ethnic Association representing 65,000 physicians and 35,000 Fellows in the United States, during AAPI’s 31st annual convention on Sunday, May 26th, 2013 at the Sheraton Hotel and Towers, Chicago, IL. Delivering his acceptance speech before an enthusiastic audience, which cheered him loudly several times, while holding the gavel he inherited from the out-going president, Dr. Shah said, “I accept this gavel with reverence, responsibility, humility, and pride for it carries the weight of 31 years of our history, representing 100,000 physicians of Indian origin in the US, and for the privilege of serving every 7th patient in the US, and on behalf of 20% of students who walk the hallowed halls of US medical schools who will one day hold this gavel with pride representing physicians of Indian origin. I accept this gavel with a sense of service to all of you, accomplished physicians and leaders and your families in our communities throughout the United States.” Acknowledging the contributions of Dr. Kumar, the new president said, “Thank you for your service to AAPI. With single minded dedication you have put AAPI on sound financial footing, you set the trend for long term and sustained involvement of sponsors and you have given us a wonderful experience in Chicago. For all that and more please accept a small token of our appreciation.” In his final address as the president of AAPI, Dr. Kumar, who had assumed charge of AAPI at a very critical time, said, “With great pride and happiness that I report that the state of AAPI is strong.” Accepting a standing ovation from the audience, Dr. Kumar went on to say that he and his enthusiastic team that had worked together and has been instrumental in restoring its image and stabilizing the finance of AAPI. “Thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve as your AAPI President, and for also giving me a wonderful group of officers and Executive Committee to work with this term.” Dr. Kumar pointed to some of his pioneering efforts in reenergizing AAPI, including the “game-changing Regional AAPI Conferences, the Shreya Ghoshal Nine-City Tour and Educational Programs, the first ever Global Healthcare Summit in Kochi with a record number of participants, a very effective Legislative Agenda and presence on Capitol Hill, creating and developing new strategic long-term alliances with four of the largest healthcare companies, strategic planning phase and transforming the way AAPI is looking at the future. “Together we have created history in the last 11 months, and we are marching forward for even newer heights,” he said. Earlier on Friday night, Dr. Kumar honored his team consisting of Dr. Jayesh Shah, President-Elect; Dr. Ravi Jahagirdar, Vice President; Dr. Seema Jain, Secretary; Dr. Ajay Lodha, Treasurer; Dr. Kusum Punjabi, YPS President; and Dr. Amit Bhakoo, MSRF President, with awards of appreciation.. What was begun 31 years ago by a handful of Indian doctors, today AAPI has grown to be the largest ethnic medical organization of a diaspora, globally, influencing important issues such as graduate medical education, physician work force and shaping health care delivery in the US, Dr. Shah said. “We will continue our mission to bring the best health care to India by working in collaboration with other Indian Physician Associations throughout the world and the Indian government,” Dr. Shah promised. While paying tributes to his predecessors who have contributed to the tremendous growth of this organization, Dr. Shah, the youngest ever president to lead AAPI said, “I will be taking this awesome responsibility as President at the time when the ‘Affordable Care Act’ will be implemented. I see this as an opportunity, to collectively shape the best health care for the people of US.” Pointing to a new role for AAPI, Dr. Shah said, “A new era has begun, AAPI will discover her own potential to be a player in shaping the health of each patient with a focus on health maintenance than disease intervention. To be a player in crafting the delivery of health care in the most efficient manner. To strive for equality in health globally.” Dr. Shah said, he was confident that with the help and support of all AAPI members, he will be able to take AAPI to new heights. “I hold this gavel today confident that there are many pairs of hands that will not let me falter, who have stood and will stand with me in this journey I embark on.” Vayalar Ravi, India’s Minister for Overseas Affairs while highlighting the great achievements of his home state in the health sector, encouraged NRIs to invest in the health sector which has enormous potential for growth. While pointing to the fact that India’s public sector investment in health care is only 2.1% of India’s GDP, he said, the private sector invests far more and there is even more scope for healthcare sector to expand in India. “doors are open for any cooperation and collaboration for you to come in and invest in the healthcare sector,” he said. While lauding the contributions and achievements of Indian physicians in theUS, Ravi said, “AAPI and its members have excelled in their areas of profession and play a very vital role in the health of the people of India and the US,” he said. Patrick Quinn, Governor of the state of Illinois, while addressing the audience referred to the Health Care Act and how the physicians come to play a vital role in its implementation in Illinois and the rest of the country. Chris Kaplan, vice president of Boehringer Ingelheim in his address touched upon the concept of unity in diversity and how the message of Swami Vivekanada inspires the Indian American physicians and the world to provide the best of healthcare and health the world. Vayalar Ravi presented to the Presidential Awards to the following for their commitment, dedication, achievements and contributions to the cause of AAPI and for the successful convention in Chicago. The awardees included, Dr. George Thomas Dr. Vinod Shah, Dr. Jagan Ailinani, Dr. Kathen Mehta, Dr. Srikant Mishra, Dr. Pratap Kumar, Chris Kaplan and Anwar Feroz. The five-day long convention was earlier inaugurated by US Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) with the lighting of the traditional lamp on Friday, May 24th. “The story of immigrants is the story of America,” Senator Durbin, who is part of the Gang of 8, who have been working on the US Immigration Bill for the past few months, said in his inaugural address. “The courage to come to a new land leaving all the beloved things, churches, temples, chicken, cats is remarkable. Some do not speak English. But the spirit of adventure and courage is in their DNA. Diversity is not weakness, but diversity is our strength,” he told the enthusiastic audience even as they cheered him with loud applause several times. As though addressing one of the agendas of AAPI, Sen. Durbin, while pointing to the shortage of qualified physicians, said “We need more hospital Residency slots in order to absorb and train the Graduates who come out of medical schools every year.” Dr. Jeremy Lazarus, president of American Medical Association (AMA), in his remarks praised the incoming president of AAPI and a past Chair of AMA. “Dr. Jays Shah, a shining example of a young physician leader both in AMA and AAPI.” There are over 25 Indian American physicians who are on leadership positions at IMA. While acknowledging that AAPI represents the largest section of physicians among all ethnic communities, he said, “You have emerged as leaders in the physicians’ community.” Eric Peterson, Vice President of GM Corporate Diversity, in his address said, “We are so pleased to be part of your endeavors. At GM, we are committed to building a lasting relationship. We are excited to be inIndia and want to collaborate with India, which is going to be the 3rd largest automobile nation in the world. And we want to be there to uplift the community, offering job opportunities to the talented Indian youth.” Dr. Venkat Ram was congratulated with a special mention for being the recipient of prestigious Padmashri award from the president of India. Dr. Ravi Palaniandi was honored with the “Most Distinguished Service to Humanity Award” for his outstanding services and philanthropic activities both in the US and India. Dr. Makunuri Sanjaya Kumar received the “Most Distinguished Service to Humanity Award” for the outstanding work done as Organizing Secretary of an AAPI Clink in Wagtail, India. “Be proud of who you are and from where you come from. And remember your roots,” US Senate Majority Leader, Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) told AAPI delegates while delivering the keynote address on Saturday, May 25th. “America has been strong because of our immigration policy.” Each group or wave of people who came to this country brought with them their courage and spirit of innovation with them. Each of them contributed to the success and growth of America, a land of opportunities.” Insisting that the immigrants who come in today are bringing in the same qualities that other immigrants brought centuries ago, Sen. Reid promised to work towards making into law the Immigration Reforms Bill that is being considered by the US Senate. “We have a broken immigration system. This needs to be fixed. That’s what is the new Immigration Policy is about,” he said. Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard from the state of Hawaii shared with the audience her strong belief and practice of Hindu Religion. “My path to coming here, allowing me the privilege of serving in the Congress is so warming and meaningful as to share the room with so many people who understand the deep meaning behind the choice of me taking the oath of office to be a member of the US Congress on the Gita,” she said. “every day we make positive impact and we are doing our best to be of service to others, which is the practice of Karma Yoga. That’s what you embody in your everyday medical practice,” the first ever Hindu Congresswoman told the majority Hindu audience at the Sheraton. Rep. Roskam shared with the delegates his personal experiences with the Indian American community. He pointed to the high view of family, education, respect for each other and working together to build a world where we find common grounds, the Indian American community shares with the larger American population. Describing the Indian Diaspora as “the biggest Diaspora in the whole of US,” Congressman Roskam referred to the fact that “the best and the most intelligent choose to be physicians,” who are healers of the world, dedicating their lives at the service of the nation. Ambassador Rao praised Dr. Kumar for his outstanding services that endeared him to receive the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman from the government of India earlier this year. “I truly believe it was an opt and fitting and fulsome recognition for his enormous contributions in the field of medicine in this country and to the cause of Indian American community and also to the healthcare sector in India, and in particular, in the state of Kerala,” Rao said. “Your commitment to provide efficient and cost-effective health care to India needs to be lauded,” she told the delegates referring to the successful Global Health Summit AAPI had organized in Kochi in December 2012 with over 2,200 delegates from around the world. Dr. Birinder Marwah, Chairman of the Convention Organizing Committee in his eloquent address shared with the audience the efforts, planning, skills, dedication and commitment of the organizing committee that made the convention a huge success. Dr. Marwah singled out the exceptional leadership of Dr. Kumar and his team members consisting of Dr. Prem Rupani, Convention Convener, Dr. Umang Patel, Convention Co-Chair, Dr. Satya Ahuja, Chair, Advisory Councill, and Dr. Raj Arora, Host Chapter President and dozens of volunteers from Medical students and Fellows. The Leadership and Service Awards was given to Dr. John Panicker of the Trivandrum Medical College for his outstanding leadership as the Organizing Secretary of the Trivandrum Medical College Alumni Association in organizing Diamond Medcon in 2012 and the Global Healthcare Summit in Kochi, India. The Outstanding Contribution and Service Award was bestowed on Dr. Pratap Kumar. The CME lectures that filled the entire morning and afternoon all the days of the convention were highly educative and well organized. “These were one of the best lectures on specific areas of medicine,” remarked one of the attendees. The Alumni meetings of several Medicine Schools from India brought in those nostalgic memories of the school days among the hundreds of Alumni got to meet and greet one another and renew their bonds. The fashion show by world renowned Indian American designers showcased models cat walking the ramp dressed in elegant and beautifully adorned South Asian attires. A cruise on Lake Michigan with live music, dance, delicious Indian cuisine and open bar for over four hours gave the participants a glimpse of the beautiful skyline of the windy city in moon light. The spectacular drawbridge opening in the dusk with background of twinkling city lights to let the two ships sail through was truly an amazing experience. Above all, the event gave a platform for the nearly 1,500 delegates who were in two large boats to meet, greet and make contacts, and network. A lively women's forum, chaired by Dharmi Kanuga, MD, and Annita John, MD, had inspiring speeches on various issues pertaining to women by Congresswoman Tulasi Gabbard, Writer Anne Cherian, and Surinder Nand, MD, a founding member of Apna Ghar, serving women both in India and the US. Superstar “K K” enlivened the audience with hit numbers from popular Bollywood world, with the live music concert going intomidnight. On Sunday night, “Sangmam,” a nearly two-hour long dazzling stage performance of fusion dance program of Indian classical dance forms and music with visual effects, depicting unity in diversity of India by Soorya Stage and Film Society was truly a treat to the hearts and souls of the audience. Comedy Show by popular artists Raju Srivastava and Entertainment by DJ Sobhash Khan added variety to the evening that well lasted into the early hours of Monday morning. Physicians of Indian Origin in the United States are reputed to be leading health care providers, holding crucial positions in various hospitals and health care facilities around the nation. While serving as an umbrella organization for more than 130 member associations nationwide, AAPI was formed to coordinate the efforts of the physicians of Indian origin, currently working in the United States. Headquartered in Chicago, AAPI has come to be recognized as a strong voice in the healthcare legislation and policy arena.