by Dr. Mathew Joys & Parveen Chopra
New York: Virtual need not be vacuous. The Indo-American Press Club (IAPC), the largest organization of Indian-origin journalists in North America, amply demonstrated this with its hugely successful 7th International Media Conference (IMC) last weekend held virtually to ensure safety for all involved. With participation by eminent people and media professionals, the annual meet was choc-a-block with programs and scintillating discussions, which enlightened all on pressing issues like the Covid-19 pandemic, US presidential election, Indo-US relations and freedom of press. The finale was awards presentation in various categories to prominent people in their respective fields. The entire programming was live-streamed on social media and ethnic TV channels.
Inaugurating the conference, Ms. Shanimol Usman, MLA from Kerala, said that the global Covid crisis has spotlighted role of the media in getting reliable news to the people. In a democracy, it is media’s responsibility to bring vital issues to the attention of the government.
IAPC Chairman Dr. Joseph M. Chalil in his welcome speech said that IAPC is supporting many media persons hit by the Corona crisis. Dr. Chalil is the Chairman of Healthcare Advisory Board and an Adjunct Professor at H. Wayne Huizenga College of Business and Entrepreneurship, Nova Southeastern University in Florida, and a member of the Dr. Kiran C. Patel College of Allopathic Medicine Executive Leadership Council, FL.
In his presidential speech, Dr S.S. Lal said that IAPC sees strong work by Indian-origin journalists in North America. Dr Lal is working for Family Health International, a partner of WHO and is Director of Infectious Diseases (Tuberculosis Portfolio) and in the leadership of key WHO global committees.
With the election just a fortnight away and Indian community courted by both sides, IAPC’s US Presidential Election Debate on Sunday deliberated on strong and weak points of both President Trump and the challenger Joe Biden. Republican side was represented by Puneet Ahluwalia, candidate for Lt. Governor in Virginia, Dr. Sampat Shivangi, Delegate to RNC, and Dr. Anand Tamhankar,
a multi-disciplinary expert and physician. The Democrat panelists were Sujata Gadkar-Wilcox, candidate for Connecticut State Assembly, Anil Bansal, President of FIA-tristate, and Dr Hetal Gor, OBGYN, NJ. Topics discussed included handling of Covid-19, Obamacare, withdrawal from WHO, immigration, Indo-US relations, economy and jobs, and climate change. Whatever party you support, ensure that all should exercise our right to vote responsibly – that was the positive conclusion of the debate moderated by TV anchor and former IAPC President Dr Renee Mehrra.
Former deputy ambassador of India to the US, TP Srinivasan launched IAPC’s Newswire project that will collate and disseminate news covered by IAPC members to subscribers around the world, IAPC Directors Kamlesh Mehta and Ajay Ghosh explained. Mr Srinivasan, speaking from Thiruvananthapuram, noted that Indian origin journalists are increasingly appearing in the mainstream media in the US. He pointed out that Covid has increased the use of technology and changed the course of the world.
A key seminar at IMC was titled “Freedom of Press in India and US”. It was headlined by Siddharth Varadarajan, former editor of The Hindu and cofounder of The Wire. The point made was that governments, political parties and corporate interests do try to suppress and control the media. Generally speaking, freedom of press is under duress in India while the media in the US enjoys much more freedom. Azad Jayan (Niagara) was the moderator.
The seminar on “Cyber Security & Social Media safety” was held by Ms. Kalyani Nair (Atlanta). Moderator Dr. Thomas Mathew Joys introduced the speakers: Cybersecurity experts Joseph Ponnoly (Houston) & Binosh A. Bruce (Kochi). They explained cyberattacks by various countries, cyber criminals and insiders and the security measures which can be adopted by social media users.
The session on ‘India’s relationship with countries like US & Canada’ was led by seasoned Indian diplomats, T.P. Sreenivasan and Pradeep Kumar Kapur, former Indian ambassador to Chile and Cambodia. Moderator was Dr. Aann Abraham (Alberta).
Amb, Kapur released IAPC’s 7th IMC souvenir. Its theme is ‘Covid and Media’, explained its Chief Editor Dr. Matthew Joys, who is IAPC Vice Chairman.
A book titled “Beyond the COVID-19 Pandemic: Envisioning a Better World by Transforming the Future of Healthcare”, co-authored by Amb. Kapur and Dr. Joseph Chalil was released in association with IAPC on Saturday morning.
India’s current Chief Information Commissioner Bimal Julka launched IAPC Board Secretary Mathewkutty Easo’s educational portal www.Buddhi.com, which is a crying need as Covid has forced resort to virtual learning.
IAPC Executive Vice President Annie Koshy introduced her motivational book “How to be your Badass Self”, a guide to use your inner energy for brand success.
IAPC National General Secretary Biju Chacko welcomed the attendees on the Zoom call. Founder Chairman Ginsmon P. Zacharia, Director Parveen Chopra, Vancouver chapter Secretary Anita Naveen, Alberta President Joseph John, Toronto President Azad Jayan, Philadelphia President Milly Philip, Atlanta President Sabu Kurian, Houston Secretary Matthew Vairamon gave felicitation messages. IAPC Secretary Annie Anuvelil presented vote of thanks.
The first day’s program concluded with a 3-hour cultural event under the banner Vande Mataram starring reputed singers and cine artists .
Awards to luminaries
As every year, IAPC recognized luminaries from media, literature, community service, business, and philanthropy, etc.
IAPC’s prestigious Sathbhavana Award was conferred on Wheels Global Foundation, recognizing their “Technology enabled Philanthropy” by Padma Shri Dr. Sudhir Parikh.
The lifetime achievement award Karma Shreshta was presented to eminent cardiologist and former AAPI president Dr. Vinod K. Shah by Ginsmon Zacharia.
Dean of Harvard Business School Nitin Nohria was presented the SathKarma award by Dr S.S. Lal. Another SathKarma award was presented to the Executive Director of Ekal Vidyalaya, Ranjani Saigal, by Kamlesh Mehta. She has worked in education technology at MIT and Tufts University.
IAPC’s Excellence in Literature Award was presented to Amb. Kapur by IAPC Director Dr. P.V. Baiju. Amb. Kapur is Executive Director of Smart Village Development Fund at Wheels Global Foundation.
Chancellor of University of California, San Diego, Pradeep Kumar Khosla was conferred Excellence in Technology & Education Award by Dr. Joseph Chalil.
Excellence in Leadership Award was presented to AAPI President Dr. Sudhakar Jonnalagadda by Dr. Thomas Mathew Joys.
This year’s Media Excellence Award was presented to Lalit K. Jha, Chief US Correspondent for PTI, by former IAPC President Parveen Chopra.
Dr. Sunil D. Kumar, the recipient of Humanitarian Award, specializes in Critical Care Medicine, Pulmonary Disease and Sleep Medicine based in Florida.
The Community Service Award was shared by Satish Korpe and Madhavan B. Nair. Korpe, CEO at Potomac Engineers, is involved in small business issues in Maryland-Virginia area and is active in local organizations. Mr Nair is a chartered Financial Consultant and President of FOKANA. Dr. Parikh presented him the award.
The awards evening was emceed by IAPC Director Korason Varghese and Krystal Korason. Treasurer Reji Philip gave the vote of thanks, concluding the conference.
The entire mega event with participants coming on Zoom platform from different countries and time zones called for technical dexterity. No worries. It was seamlessly managed by a team of IAPC IT whizzes — Biju Chacko, Mathewkutty Easo (NY), Reji Philip (Philadelphia), Prijesh James (Iowa) and Joseph John (Canada).