JULY 2015
Khaas Baat : A Publication for Indian Americans in Florida
Shreya Ghoshal

Shreya Ghoshal


By Dr. M. P. Ravindra Nathan

If you want to listen to the most popular Indian musical star, winner of more than 20 “Best female playback singer” awards in Bollywood and the most recorded Indian artist, then you are in luck.

For the first time in the history of Tampa Bay, Shreya Ghoshal will perform live in concert from 7 p.m. Saturday, July 25, at USF Sun Dome, 4202 E. Fowler Ave.

Since making her Bollywood debut in 2002 with the beautiful rendition of ‘Bairi Piya’ in “Devdas,” Ghoshal has never looked back. She is firmly established as one of the leading female playback singers in India. The first time I heard her singing in Malayalam, my mother tongue, I was amazed at the control and smoothness of her voice in a language other than her own.

For the past decade, Ghoshal has been performing all over the world, captivating the audience with her charming personality, ability to connect with the listeners instantly, prodigious talent and above all her multilingual versatility. I heard her first in Orlando three years ago and later in India. In Tampa, she will be singing in many languages sure to please all her fans.

Ticket sales are going at a feverish pitch, says Dr. Sajeev Nair, chief organizer of the event for SASTA (Sri Ayyappa Society of Tampa), sponsor of the program. And what is more important, all proceeds will go for a good cause — building the first temple devoted to Lord Ayyappa in Florida.

Tickets are available through Ticketmaster.com or call 1-800-745-3000. For information, contact Dr. Sajeev Nair at (941) 465-1204 or Ravi Nair at (813) 417- 4781.

Dr. Ravindra Nathan is a trustee of the SASTA Temple.

More Leading News

A ribbon cutting is scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday, July 18, at Evans Park, 1104 N. Kingsway Road, followed by a demonstration cricket game.


A starry night of FAPI (Florida Association of Physicians of Indian Origin), Presidency Gala Bollywood Nights, will be held on July 11 in Tampa.


Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS) and the Tampa community celebrated the first ever International Yoga Day (IYD) on June 21


Khaas Baat Business Beat
A partnership with Indo-US Chamber of Commerce, Tampa




Vivek Murthy

U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy

The U.S. Surgeon General, a spiritual world leader, a Nobel Peace Prize winner and the U.S. Attorney for New York were the distinguished speakers at the 33rd annual AAPI (American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin) Convention & Scientific Assembly last month in Orlando, attended by nearly 1,500 people.

Activities included Young Physician Section (YPS) and Medical Student, Residents and Fellows (MSRF) conferences; exhibitors showcasing cutting-edge advances in healthcare and technology; plenary and scientific sessions; alumni/specialty gatherings; symposia on women’s health, men’s health; Women’s Forum; numerous CMEs; dental symposium; CEO Forum for healthcare and hospital executives; children/youth programs; and a fashion show.

In a keynote address, spiritual world leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar congratulated physicians on their noble profession. “But for good health of body and mind, the yogic system reaches you there.” He added, “Health is holistic and should indicate holistic approach to life. Doctors are doing such a good service; keep up the reputation of a physician with a heart, commitment, someone who cares for a patient.” He said depression is a major health issue in the U.S. and highlighted meditation and Pranayama breathing practices as remedies.

Vivek Murthy
PHOTO: Sai Kalyan Photography

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is flanked by Dr. Ajeet R. Singhvi,left,
AAPI President Dr. Ravi Jahagirdar, Dr. Sudhir Parikh and
AAPI Convention Chair Dr. Amish Parikh.

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar led the hall packed with attendees on to a meditation session lasting over 15 minutes. “Meditation is not concentration,” he explained. “Concentration is the effect of meditation.” For Sri Sri, the body, breath and mind are three dimensions with the breath as the vital link between mind and body. “The last two have been ignored for long and we need to bring them back into the mainstream. Yoga/Ayurveda brings absolute comfort to a person.” (see our exclusive chat with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar). He urged delegates to do active research on benefits of Ayurvedic medicine to promote its use.

The Women’s Forum featured Indian Open Water swimmer Bhakti Sharma (see our interview with Sharma), actor and former secretary of BJP Vani Tripathi Tikoo and Rollins College Professor Dr. Margaret McLaren.

On behalf of the Indian government, Deputy Chief of Mission Ambassador Taranjit Singh Sandhu highlighted the contributions made by the three million diaspora, U.S.-India relations, visa-on-arrival program, and the U.S.-India Health Initiative. “You are all ambassadors of Indian culture,” he told the audience.

The AAPI Most Distinguished Physician 2015 Award was posthumously given to the late Dr. Bala Manyam of the Tampa Bay area (daughter Shaila Manyam accepted the honor). Also receiving the Distinguished Physician awards were Dr. Mohan Durve, Dr. Anil Yalapragada, Dr. Ravi Hira and Dr. Sunny Jha. Taking the podium during the awards ceremony were Congressional hopefuls Kumar Barve of Maryland and Raja Krishnamoorthi of Illinois.

Vivek Murthy

AAPI President Dr. Ravi Jahagirdar, left,
U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, Dr. Ajeet R. Singhvi,
State Attorney Preet Bharara and
AAPI Convention Chair Dr. Amish Parikh.

Preet Bharara, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, jokingly remarked in his gala speech, “What’s a prosecutor like me doing at AAPI? Does it stand for Association Against Prosecution by An Indian? Don’t worry. And you have the U.S. Surgeon General here, rock star of doctors. I am having feelings of inadequacy.”

Humor aside, Bharara said that his job as U.S. attorney is to keep streets safe, homeland secure, investigate terrorists, banks, prosecute corrupt officials, and even those in the medical profession. He highlighted the public health crisis caused by misuse of prescription drugs. “You are in a profession of service and we need the best of minds in the world dedicated to the cause. Mohammad Ali said, ‘Service to others is rent you pay for your room here on earth.’ Wherever you come from, any religion, race, when you become an American, you are bound to everyone through liberty, equality and rule of law. We all have a deep feeling of obligation to give back to the United States. The great Tagore once said, ‘I slept and dreamt that life was joy, I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, life was joy.’ ”

U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy attributed his success to his parents who were in attendance at the gala. “AAPI can make a difference for all of us,” he said. “The tragedy we faced in South Carolina, the challenge for me is violence. What allows such violence to go on. There has to be respect or one another’s life and dignity.” He also mentioned the high rate of domestic violence among South Asians and other minorities. “It is important for AAPI to speak out against violence, be a leading voice for all groups, including LGBT. Then there is the mental illness stigma, diabetes, cardiovascular disease.”

The Surgeon General agreed that the Indian community in the U.S. is on the rise in different positions but it cannot rise alone forever. “Other groups are also rising,” he pointed out. “We would do well to work with these groups to make theirs and ours a collective success. Think about what you can do to combat violence, mental illness and chronic disease. Rise as one nation that together can ensure we create better lives for everyone.”

Kailash SatyarthiA children’s rights advocate, the Nobel Peace Prize winner Kailash Satyarthi noted that one billion people around the world sleep hungry daily. There are 168 million children in child labor, prostitution and slavery; 160 million kids suffer malnutrition; 140 million adults are sexually abused in childhood; and there are 15 million child brides.

“I am a transformer design engineer by profession but chose to do something for children,” said the founder of Bachpan Bachao Andolan. “I see myself in a child; they believe and trust in me. The first smile of freedom of a child gives me a glimpse of God. After I agitated for five years, India enacted a law against child labor in 1986. In 2001, India amended the Constitution to make education a fundamental right. In our lifetime, I want to see the end of child slavery.”

AAPI President Dr. Ravi Jahagirdar along with convention chair Dr. Amish Parikh directed efforts to successfully embrace the theme of Generations Many: Mission One.

Entertainment was provided by classical music legend K. J. Yesudas, and playback singers Kumar Sanu, Sonu Nigam and Jonita Gandhi.

PHOTO: Sai Kalyan Photography


Sri Sri Ravi Shankar was on a three-city U.S. tour to lead International Yoga Day events in New York and Washington, D.C. But first he stopped in Tampa to “Explore Happiness” and speak at the AAPI convention in Orlando. We sat down with the international spiritual leader and founder of Art of Living Foundation for a brief chat.

Q: What makes you happy?

  1. I am happiness.

Q: What makes you sad?

  1. When people don’t realize the core values – being born human and wasting their life on petty things. When they do not use wisdom.

Q: What frustrates you?

  1. I don’t let anything frustrate me. I have enormous patience.

Q: You are here in the U.S. to attend the first International Day of Yoga. What do you look to achieve after attending the event at Lincoln Center in NYC?

A: The meetings are not for some accomplishments but a way to create awareness. Declaring June 21 as the International Day of Yoga gives a much-needed seal on yoga, its due place in the nations of the world. Yoga is universal, 177 countries have been practicing it. It simply shows that countries have realized that the benefits of yoga are enormous.

Q: How do you see the future of yoga in the Western world?

A: I feel the future is bright. Communication and technology have improved in the world and spirituality will enhance on a human level. The Western world is very conscious of yoga now; they know it is not just gymnastics and aerobics. Energy, prayer and healing are part of the American culture. Yes, they are many yoga schools that don’t align to the true tradition but I think they won’t last long and will disappear.

Q: In today’s traumatic and busy world, how does one find peace of mind?

A: First, look for the cause of disturbance. One can’t feel disturbance without cause and analyzing and understanding through wisdom. Second, meditation and yoga.

Q: At what stage does someone feel relaxed and comfortable doing yoga, meditation?

A: Once you feel happy, you start sharing it. I did not practice yoga for happiness or a goal. You enjoy inner joy when you share with others and it will go on forever.

For information, visit www.srisri.org


BHAKTI SHARMAJust 25 years of age, she holds the distinction of being the youngest female swimmer in the world to swim in all five oceans and seven seas. And oh, she holds a world record as the youngest and the first Asian for open swimming in the Antarctic Ocean - 1.4 miles in 34 degree F temperature in 41.14 minutes. We caught up with the vibrant Bhakti Sharma at the AAPI convention where she spoke and inspired countless attendees.

She began training at just 2 ½ years under her mother Leena, a National medal-winning swimmer. “At 14, we both realized the potential for me to do more,” she said. “I competed in professional swimming at the national level before the first big one – crossing the English Channel at 16.”

Sharma recently met with Prime Minister Narendra Modi who has promised to support her goal to compete in the 2020 Olympics in the Open Water 5k and 10k meets. “To be honest, I am scared of competition,” she said. However, for the next few years, she looks to train and attributes meditation in preparing for the intense physical training. “I watch my breath, control my thoughts.”

She gave a motivational speech at the Women’s Forum to a standing room only-audience. And also addressed the Young Physician Section (YPS) the next day. She is happy with the “amazing response at AAPI. People know about the sport, and my work gets recognition. It’s a good thing.”

For information, visit www.bhaktisharma.in or like her page at www.facebook.com/Bhaktisharmathepage

Bhaishri Rameshbhai Oza TO PRESENT shrimad bhagwat katha JULY 12-19 IN TAMPA

Bhaishri Rameshbhai OzaFloridians will have the opportunity to hear discourses by Bhaishri Rameshbhai Oza, an internationally renowned spiritual educator, on Shrimad Bhagwat Katha Yagna (in Gujarati) from July 12-19 at India Cultural Center in Tampa. He last visited Florida (Orlando) in 2013.

Bhaishri, as he is popularly known, is one of the leading spiritual mentors to millions of Hindus, like a brother helping his siblings to find peace and self-realization. He also is founder of the Sandipani Vidyaniketan. He believes that education based on Vedas helps all lead ethical lives. The motto of his school is “Come to gain spiritual knowledge, leave to serve people.”

The Shrimad Bhagwatam teaches the philosophy of liberation through the narration of the 24 incarnations of Lord Vishnu; the 10th volume of the Shrimad Bhagwatam narrates the story of Lord Krishna. It was written by sage Ved Vyasa. The Bhagwatam covers all topics of social, political and economic systems; it is a blueprint for the liberation from sorrow, fear and attachment and the ultimate moksha of the soul. Knowledge and devotion are the path of Advaita Vedanta – the realization that God is within us.

Katha timings are 3 to 7 p.m. on July 12, 5 to 9 p.m. July 13-17, 4 to 9 p.m. July 18 and 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. July 19.

ICC is at 5511 Lynn Road. Entry is free, but a special section will be reserved up front $151 per person for the week. Dinner will be served daily. For information, call Dr. Ashok Modh at (813) 728-4450, Nikunj Patel at (727) 804-4513 or visit www.tampabhagwat.com

SABA NORTH AMERICA celebrates south asian attorneys AT convention IN ORLANDO

Vichal Kumar and Vanita Gupta

Vichal Kumar, SABA VP of Community Reach,
presents the Pioneer Award to Vanita Gupta

The South Asian Bar Association of North America (SABA North America) held its 12th annual convention last month in Orlando. Members from 26 chapters from across the United States and Canada discussed legal issues that are important to the South Asian Community.

Panelists included Honorable Sri Srinivasan, United States Circuit Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit; Rabia Chaudry, who was a part of the “Serial” Podcast; the Hon. Justin Anand, Magistrate Judge U.S. District Court, Northern District of Georgia; and Manar Waheed, Deputy Director Policy Director on Immigration of the White House Policy Council. They and other primarily South Asian experts covered such wide-ranging topics as Race and Religion in Trials, Immigration, Civil Rights, Healthcare, Tax and Data Privacy.

Gala speaker SABA North America President Anne Gwal exhorted the South Asian legal community to support one another not just by word, but by deed as well by reaching out to those entering the profession.

Nisha Desai Biswal

Nisha Desai Biswal, Assistant Secretary of State
for South and Central Asian Affairs,
speaks at the SABA convention.

SABA Pioneer Award winner Vanita Gupta, Head of the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department, discussed the landmark civil right cases of which she has been a part and the ones that she is headlining in her current position. Nisha Desai Biswal, Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, spoke about strengthening and deepening the India-US relationship and being at a “pivotal moment of opportunity.”

Bill Schifino, President-Elect of the Florida Bar Association, welcomed attendees on the first day and Hetal Gandhi of WTVT-TV, FOX 13 in Tampa served as Master of Ceremonies at the gala.

Learn more at www.sabanorthamerica.com

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