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orlando IACC holds Annual Gala, Awards Ceremony

The IACC Board of Directors includes Beena Parikh, left, Varesh Patel, Sanjay Srinivasan,
Tino Patel and Shobana Daniell.

More than 270 people attended the Nov. 19 annual gala and awards banquet held by the Indian American Chamber of Commerce at Rosen Centre in Orlando. The awards recognize the achievements of those who have made a positive impact in the Central Florida region’s business community and broken new ground for Indian American entrepreneurs.

IACC Director Tino Patel welcomed guests while Beena Parikh hosted the event. Varesh Patel gave a summary of the eight IACC events this year. Sanjay Srinivasan, IACC director, who will step down at the end of the year, pledged to continue supporting the organization. Srinivasan is president of Global Eye Wear, an international company based in Orlando.

Braham Aggarwal of Park Square Homes
receives the Distinguished Community Service award as
Beena Parikh and Shobana Daniell look on.

The annual Distinguished Community Service award was given to Braham Aggarwal of Park Square Homes and Hindu University of America for his tireless service to the Indian American community as well as other state, national and international groups and organizations.

The business category winners are: Young Entrepreneur of the Year winner – Prashant Patel of Third Eye Vision; New Entrepreneur of the Year winner – Vasudev Punjiram of Shivam Distributors; Entrepreneur of the Year Winner – Anil Vallabh of Avista Properties. Award recipients graciously accepted with words of thanks. Other honorees mentioned were Hetal Engineer for dedication to IACC in the past few years; Neal Patel for an active role in organizing the 2011 IACC Annual Business Expo (held every April); Suresh Gupta for starting the annual tennis matches; and Bennet Sebastian for the regular IACC golf tournament.

Varesh Patel, left, presents the
Young Entrepreneur of the Year award
to Prashant Patel of Third Eye Vision.

Sanjay Srinivasan, left, presents
the New Entrepreneur of the Year
honor to Vasudev Punjiram of
Shivam Distributors.

Anil Vallabh of Avista Properties, left, receives the Entrepreneur of the Year award from Tino Patel.

Sponsors included Private Wealth Management of Lake Mary, Kovalam Consulting, Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, Principal Financial Services, CAPI, Orlando Magic, Audi, Saffron, Aashirwad, Gateway to India and Park Square Homes.

For more information, visit or call Tino Patel at (407) 579-5050.

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Rick Singh


By NITISH S. RELE, [email protected]

“As Asian Americans, we have accomplished so much. We are most educated, earn the most and most likely to open a business but yet we are least likely to run for office. So, we need to transform this economic and academic power to political power by stepping up to run and win elections,” says Rick Singh of Orlando, who is vying to become the next Orange County Property Appraiser.

You couldn’t agree more with the 49-year-old whose only motivation is to give back to the community. “I have done well as a United States citizen and appraisal is what I know,” he stresses. And he has plenty of experience to back his claim. Rick Singh

A native of Guyana, Ricky was just 10 years old when his family moved to New York City. After graduating from Aviation High School, he enlisted in the U.S. Army to work on the weapon systems for Apache helicopters.

In 1986, he relocated to Orlando to raise a family as well as turn around a failing repair business Total Automotive. He also managed a family owned real estate firm, offering advice on investments, and managing home rental and upkeep.

Within eight years, he began working as a field appraiser in the Orange County Property Appraiser’s Office, assessing properties and defending the county’s position at the Value Adjustment Board. In 1996, he became qualified as a state certified residential appraiser, “which allowed me to open my own company, Abacus Appraisals, which hired and trained appraisers, servicing seven counties,” he says. Singh also was a real estate broker for the Century 21 franchise. And he has been active culturally in the community as a radio broadcaster and promoter of shows.

“Rick Singh campaign represents a coming of age for our community. It demonstrates that we are willing to give back and get involved to make a difference,” says consultant Dr. Ram Ramcharran of Palm Harbor, who has known Singh for several years.

Rick Singh“The property appraiser’s office is run by a career politician and I see a need to have it run by an appraiser,” says Singh. “I want to lay a foundation so children in future can essentially have something to build on. For more than 20 years, Orange County has been my home and anyone who lives here can attest to the spirit of community we have built. It is in that spirit I wish to serve our community with the skills and experience I have accrued in my career in the real estate industry – including my role as a property appraiser.”

The Orange County Property Appraiser’s election will be held on Nov. 6, 2012. Singh’s campaign budget is $220,000 and so far he has been able to raise about $50,000 from family and friends. A meet & greet with Singh will be held 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Dec. 5 at Holiday Inn Express, 7474 W. Colonial Drive, Orlando. RSVP (407) 278-1500 or [email protected]

Singh and his wife Davieca, a registered nurse, have two children: Avenash is a Florida state certified appraiser and daughter Amrita is a real estate attorney in Orange County.

For more information, visit


Florida is ranked seventh in the United States for its number of international students (29,715) attending colleges in the 2010-11 academic year. Most are from China (14.2 percent), India (12.3 percent), followed by Venezuela (6.7 percent) and Saudi Arabia (4.9 percent).

Ranked at No. 13 in the nation, University of Florida in Gainesville has the most students from other countries (5,394). In fact, UF is the only Sunshine State school among the top 25 for international students in the United States. A distant second is Florida International University (2,677) in Miami; University of Miami (2,182); University of South Florida (2,061) in Tampa and University of Central Florida (1,839) in Orlando area.

According to the Open Doors yearly report, published by the not-for-profit Institute of International Education, the number of international students, at about 724,000, attending U.S. colleges and universities represent the fifth straight year of record growth.

China numbered 158,000, which makes the Asian giant No. 1 in sending students to the U.S. at 22 percent. Coming in second at 104,000 students is India (14 percent) and South Korea at 73,000 (10 percent) of the total. In the Asian subcontinent, Nepal sent 10,301 students and Pakistan 5,045 students.

Though there was a 1 percent drop in Indian students coming to the U.S., there was a 44.4 percent increase for U.S. students taking off to study in India.

The top-leading host institutions in the country are University of Southern California (8,615) followed by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (7,991) and New York University (7,988).

For more details on the study, visit

Photographs ©Sanjib Singh, Guide Studios Photography

Youth perform to Bollywood tunes.

Indian Cultural Society of Jacksonville celebrates Diwali

Indian Cultural Society of Jacksonville celebrated ICS Diwali 2011 on Nov.19 at University of North Florida Arena (indoor basketball stadium). ICS Diwali is the largest annual Indian gala event in Jacksonville. This year, it attracted 350-plus participants, 1,600-plus attendees, 20 sponsors and several vendors.

Adults dance to Latin music.

Kids’ performance also included Tron-esque techno-light effects

ICS President Jitesh Doshi thanks his committee for their service

The gala began with a stage show consisting of 27 choreographed group dance performances interspersed with skits by emcees and ended with lavish gourmet dinner and freestyle dance on DJ music. A video trailer is available at

During the halftime show, ICS President Jitesh Doshi recognized his executive committee and announced awards, including Salaam-e-ICS (pronounced "salaam-ae-iks") award for outstanding artistic contribution to Aparna Chakravarty, who has choreographed some of the most memorable dance acts over the years for ICS Diwali. The new Executive Committee for the year 2012, headed by Jignesh Kapadia, was also introduced.

A semi-classical performance was choreographed by Aparna Chakravarty
(far right, recipient of 2011 "Salaam-e-ICS" award).

Indian Cultural Society of Jacksonville organizes several events throughout the year, such as India's Republic Day (free and open to all - stage show and dinner), Holi (spring festival of India), India's Independence Day (free and open to all -- parade, stage show and dinner) and Diwali gala (ticketed event). It also organizes camps for performing arts and entertainment shows such as the one this year by Bollywood star Paresh Rawal. ICS also represents India at World of Nations, the four-day cultural diversity showcase event organized by city of Jacksonville.

Bhangra Fusion was choreographed by Nupur Godbole and Nisha Horton.

To learn more about Indian Cultural Society of Jacksonville, visit, e-mail [email protected], or call (904) 638-2918. ICS Executive Committee 2011 is headed by President Jitesh Doshi and includes Vice President Pushpakar Ganguli, Treasurer Lokesh Sharma, Secretary Priya Doshi, Youth Committee President Abhinav Sharma and EC members Mansi Parikh, Narendra Sharma, Jagan Vaid, Vikas Hawaldar, Rohit Vaid, Parag Shah and Anita Mandal.

CALL 813-758-1786.
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