Latest News USA

National Federation of Indian American Associations’ new committee sworn in

December 30th 2020, Ajoy Dube from Bellflower, CA was installed as the nationally elected President of the National Federation of Indian American Associations (NFIA). 

A virtual Swearing-in and installation Ceremony for all the nationally elected officers was held at the 1st General Body Board for the new term of NFIA.

NFIA conducted its bi-annual election between Dec 26 – 27, 2020 on a nationwide electronic voting among eligible members of NFIA and the result was declared on Dec 28, 2020 by the Chief Election Commissioner Dr. Thomas Abraham and Past President Ashok Madan. 

Ajoy Kumar Dube who was elected NFIA president is a veteran in community involvement, both in the metropolitan Los Angeles and in California and has been working in the community for several decades in leadership positions. A retired Boeing Engineer by profession, Ajoy Dube is bringing into the current Executive Committee a lot of enthusiastic team members who have contributed to their local communities and to NFIA for the last several years.

Executive Committee Members including Lavanya Reddy (Executive Vice President), Dr. Satish Mishra (Vice President), Ashok (Pat) Patnaik (Vice President), Raj Razdan (Vice President), Dr. Makam Subbarao (Secretary), Dr. Om Sharma (Joint Secretary), Pooja Thomre (Treasurer) are all veteran members of NFIA and are bringing in their experience besides their long-term service association with NFIA.

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Latest News USA

Discriminated at Harvard, Asian, Indian students lose case

New York: A US federal appeals court has ruled against Asian students, a category that also includes Indians, in a case they brought against  Harvard University, saying that it discriminated against them in admissions and it was likely to end up in the Supreme Court.

Last Thursday, Chief Judge Jeffrey Howard and Judge Sandra Lynch of the circuit court in Boston upheld a judgment by a lower court that sided with the university ruling that the university did not discriminate against Asians in its attempts to have a diverse student body.

Four Indian organizations were among the group that brought the suit alleging that the Ivy League university violated the Constitution and Supreme Court rulings by discriminating against Asians in admissions.

Although the goal of diversifying the student body is to help students from groups like African-Americans, Latinos and Native Americans who have been historically discriminated against by the Whites, research has found that policies claiming to help them also favor Whites at the expense of academically better performing Asian students.

The root of the case is the affirmative action programs that have a goal similar to the reservations policy in educational institutions and in government and public sector jobs in India to help those who have been historically discriminated against gain a foothold in education and jobs.

However, in the US setting quotas like those in India is illegal and institutions have to come up with race-neutral ways like using economic criteria to boost the admissions of the previously discriminated groups in order to comply with Supreme Court’s rulings against overt use of race or setting up racial quotas.

The judges wrote that in Harvard there was “limited use of race in its admissions process in order to achieve diversity” but it “is consistent with the requirements of Supreme Court precedent”.

To get around the injunctions against using race as a direct consideration, institutions give greater weight to criteria other than the common entrance test scores in which Asians score very high to effectively limit their numbers.

The Trump administration sided with the Asians and filed a brief supporting their case.

Edward Blum, who heads Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) which brought the case, said that they would appeal the case to the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court now has a solid conservative majority strengthened by Trump’s appointment of Amy Coney Barrett that could side with the Asians.

Harvard’s admissions policy applies only to students who are citizens or residents of the US as universities use a different set of criteria in selecting foreign students.

SFFA was joined by GOPIO, and NFIA, American Society of Engineers of India Origin, and BIT Sindri Alumni Association of North India in bringing the case.

Harvard College, which is the university institution for undergraduates and was directly involved in the case, is headed by an Indian-American, Rakesh Khurana who is its dean.

In their judgment, the judges cited the report of a committee headed by him to look at the admissions issue.

The judges quoted the Khurana committee report: “Today, Harvard College graduates ‘are founding and running global companies in technology, retail, finance, and healthcare, among others’.

“It concluded that if Harvard does not provide its students with the opportunity to engage with other students in a diverse undergraduate environment, ‘(its) students likely would be constrained in their pursuit of excellence, and (Harvard) would be remiss in failing to provide them with the skills they need to flourish after graduation’.”

During the trial in the lower court, it was revealed that Harvard rated applicants on academic, extracurricular, personal and athletic criteria and also considered race and ethnicity.

An academic expert who analyzed Harvard’s admissions records on behalf of SFFA found that it consistently rated Asians lower on “positive personality,” and as less “widely respected”.

An unrelated study by a Princeton University academic found that to gain admission to elite universities, Asian students had to score 140 points more than whites in the SAT, a common entrance test.


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Latest News New York

Rich tributes paid to Ramesh Patel, the tallest community leader

By SATimes Team

New York:  The founder and Chairman of FIA (NY-NJ-CT) whose legacy of making India Day Parade in NYC the largest celebration of India’s independence outside the India will live on, passed away peacefully surrounded by his family on June 6 from Covid-19 complications. 

Arguably the tallest leader of the Indian community leader in the USA for five decades, he  served the Indian diaspora selflessly and wholeheartedly through FIA (Federation of Indian Associations), National Federation of Indian Associations (NFIA) and other regional/cultural organizations by serving at top positions.

Fondly known as ‘Kaka’ within the community, he also successfully led many a battle on behalf of the community and India, for example:

  • Retaining Family reunification bill in 1984
  • Successful fight against Dot-Busters in 1988
  • Successful and huge rally in Washington DC to stop Pakistan from getting advanced military equipment from the US.

India’s Ambassador to the US Taranjit Singh Sandhu expressed condolences on the death of Patel: “Very sad to learn about the passing away of Ramesh Patel, Chairperson of FIA, after 2 month long fight against COVID-19. A highly respected Indian American Community leader, we will miss him very much. RIP!”

India’s Consul General in New York Sandeep Chakravorty called Patel’s death a big loss to the Indian American community: “A pioneer who brought together the Community & worked on many issues. I particularly value his strong support to the Consulate.”

HH Mahant Swami Maharaj, spiritual leader of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, has offered prayers after learning of the passing of Indian community leader Ramesh Patel.

Patel’s passing “leaves a void too big to be filled,” FIA president Anil Bansal said. He described Patel as a kind, supportive and strong person who guided the FIA for the past 50 years with his dynamic leadership and vision.

Kamlesh Mehta, Chairman of The South Asian Times said, “The demise of Shri Rameshbhai Patel is a huge loss to the Indian American diaspora, he solely kept India shining for almost 50 years in the East Coast USA.” He pointed out that  to honor the dedication and visionary leadership of Ramesh Patel and contributions of the organization he built, “we featured  FIA as “The South Asian Times-Organization of the Year 2015”.  

Ramesh Patel worked in the forensic investigation division of the New York Police Department before retirement and was honored with the prestigious Ellis Island Medal of Honor in 2013.

Patel, 78, is survived by his wife Sucheta, son Suvas and daughters Manisha and Kunjal.

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