APRIL 2014
Khaas Baat : A Publication for Indian Americans in Florida

Florida News


Story provided by Ekal Vidyalaya

Ekal VidyalayaThe Tampa Bay chapter of the Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation of USA raised about $240,000 on March 1, enough to fund 650 one-teacher schools for needy village populations in rural India. Renowned Kathak and fusion dancer Aditi Bhagwat entertained an audience of 750 to the India Cultural Center in Tampa.

“I am satisfied with my visit to Ekal School in India and I am telling you this is the right thing to do…” said Dr. Yashwant Ginde, who recently visited an Ekal school in India. Ginde and his wife Padmaja showed pictures and shared their firsthand experience of meeting with students, teachers, volunteers and parents of Ekal kids. “I want to enhance what my husband is saying and am asking you to do more…” said Padmaja Ginde, who announced their pledge for 10 more schools on the occasion of their marriage anniversary.

The fundraiser – co-sponsored by the Trustees of India Cultural Center, Association of Physicians of Tampa Bay and Punjabi Association of Tampa Bay – was part of a national fundraising effort by Ekal Vidyalaya. Aditi Bhagwat and Vibhavari Yadav team are visiting 67 cities over three months to raise funds and awareness for the Ekal cause. The performers chose classical, folk and film songs with Bhagwat performing Kathak, fusion and modern dance to various melodies. Dinner preceded the music program. “So far, we have raised funds for 1,140 schools from Florida alone,” said Jawaharlal Taunk, president of Ekal’s Florida fundraising efforts. Bhagwat started with a program in Jacksonville raising $ 37,000 and Orlando raising $72,000. Artists Vibhawari Yadav and Sunil Menon performed in Ocala, Lakeland and Tallahassee raising an additional $67,000.

The organizers of the event were the dedicated core of the Tampa Bay chapter, including office bearers Umesh Choudhry, Vice President Malti Pandya, Secretary Sanjiv Jain, Treasurer Chirag Shah, Florida President Jawaharlal Taunk, Florida Vice President Vijay Patel, Florida Secretary Kaushal Chari, and former National President of Ekal USA, Chandresh Saraiya.

The Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation of USA (www.ekal.org) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to educating children in functional literacy throughout tribal and rural India through the use of one-teacher schools, each serving 30 to 40 children. Each school teaches reading, writing, and arithmetic, and costs $365 to run for a year — a dollar a day.


Story provided by Dr. HUSAIN NAGAMIA

The 17th annual Islamic Charity Festival will take place from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, April 6, at the Riverfront Park, 1000 E. North St., Tampa.

Organized by the Tampa Bay Muslim Alliance, the event will be inaugurated by Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn. Dignitaries will be in attendance, including county commissioners, city councilmen, and chiefs of police and fire departments.

About 2,000 free meals, including an American barbecue, are planned. Other giveaways include toys, clothes, shoes, new bicycles with safety helmets and medical tests.

Entertainment, especially for children, will include clowns, face painting, musical bands and games. The charity festival is an expression of the “Spirit of giving and sharing that is promoted by teachings of the Islamic faith.” ‘Zakah’ or charity is compulsory in the Islamic faith and one of the five pillars of Islamic tenets.

For more information, call Dr. Husain Nagamia at (813) 654-4466 or the Tampa Bay Muslim Alliance at (813) 661-6161.


For the first time ever, Sikh Society of North East Florida (SSNEF) trained and enlightened a batch of 32 police officers on March 21 at the Jacksonville Police Academy. The officers were introduced to the tenets and beliefs of Sikhs and Sikhism and, more importantly, about the Sikh turban. Officers were told how they can avoid misidentifying someone who wears a turban, which has been a challenge. Through such ongoing events, SSNEF looks to educate and appraise fellow citizens and law enforcement agencies. For more information, visit www.JaxGurudwara.org or e-mail [email protected]

Jay Shah, left, Beena Parikh, President Tino Patel,
Consul General Ajit Kumar, Yog Melwani and Hetal Engineer.


Story provided by ARUNA MOIDU

Ajit Kumar, Consul General of India in Atlanta, visited the Indian American Chamber of Commerce, Orlando, on March 13. A career diplomat of distinguished standing, he came to the United States in 2012 to set up the Consulate in Atlanta to service Southeastern states, including Florida. The opening of the Consulate was well received by the Indian American community, who previously had to refer to Houston for services. Organized by the IACC Executive Committee (Tino Patel, Dr. Varesh Patel, Yog Melwani, Jay Shah, Dr. Beena Parikh), the event was well attend by leaders of numerous organizations.

The Consul General spoke about a new era in Indo-American relations. Talking about the emerging India, he pointed out the great strides the country has made since its independence in 1947. One of its most notable medical achievements on the world stage is eradication of polio. In spite of the global recession, India's productivity and growth remain, while the deficit shows a downward trend.

Emphasizing the developing, mutually reciprocal relationship between India and the United States, Kumar celebrated the investment by multinationals in India, including CocaCola and Pepsi, GE and others. In turn, India imports much of its advanced military hardware from the U.S. The 3 million Americans of Indian origin are assimilated into the fabric of American society, and several 100,000 Indian students contribute billions in fees to universities and colleges, he said.

Answering questions about consular services, the CG stressed they were working toward making the services more efficient and user friendly. He said, in an emergency, he personally tries to help stalled visa and other applications. Kumar advised using the link on the consular website at www.indianconsulateatlanta.org.


In 2006, about 15 people attended the first India Cultural Center Seniors get-to-gather. Today, the number has grown to more than 200 seniors. They come from such places as Sarasota, Spring Hill, Lakeland to attend every third Wednesday of each month from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The April 16 monthly get-to-gather will be the 100th – a milestone for the group.

Seniors meet not only to socialize and network but also listen to world-class musicians and speakers specializing in elderly needs such as finance, health care, Medicare, spirituality, diet, stress management, etc. Organizers acknowledge the efforts put on by the ICC management team for providing free use of the Lotus Hall, kitchen facility to cook food on site, as well as provide audio/video system, tables and chairs.

Everyone is encouraged to participate in the monthly get-to-gather. There is no entrance fee. Also, rides could be arranged for seniors who do not have transportation. Volunteers of all ages also are welcome. For information, contact John Adhia at (813) 784-1132 or Ram Jakhotia at (813) 962-4172.

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