FIA plans to expand activities in the NY Tristate area.
Veteran community activist Andy Bhatia has been elected as the president of the Federation of Indian Association, Tristate area (FIA), comprising of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, which organizes the largest annual India Day Parade, outside of India, in New York City.
Bhatia took charge on January 1 along with a new team, comprising of Srujal Parikh (executive vice president); Alok Kumar (vice president); Chhavi Dharayan (secretary); Jatin Patel (joint secretary); Himanshu Bhatia (treasurer); Anand Patel (immediate past president).
The signature events of the FIA, including the India Day Parade, India Day Banquet and the Dance pe Chance, will be organized to attract more people with new features which will take them to the next level, said Bhatia, according to a press release. A college fair for the youth and a fundraising event for the organization in April are also being planned. Expanding the programs of FIA to Connecticut and Queens/Long Island areas are also being explored.
Bhatia is the president of American Sales and Marketing Partners LLC, who has extensive experience in the airline/travel industry. He retired as the Area Sales Manager for Air India in New York, where he worked for nearly 35 years, both in the field and at the North American headquarters in various capacities.
He has served in the FIA in various capacities for several years. For a quarter of a century, he actively participated in organizing the India Day Parade and Diwali Festival in New York City and Diwali Mela in Jackson Heights, among other community events in the Tri-State area on behalf of Air India. He was honored thrice by the FIA and the National Federation of Indian Associations (NFIA.)
Bhatia is credited with conceptualizing and launching the ‘Know India Seminars’ in USA and Canada which were attended by more than 6,000 American travel agents to qualify as India tourism specialists. He also formulated the concept of selling co-op tours by agents in non-conflicting sales territories to increase tourist bookings to India. He was also instrumental in the launching a bi-monthly India Travel newsletter and the Traveler’s India magazine.
Bhatia continues to be engaged in the industry as a consultant and serves as a member of several travel trade associations including the Pacific Asia Travel Association’s New York Chapter and the American Society of Travel Agents, Airline Sales Managers Association and SKAL International.
He also worked at the Public Relations and Development Office at the University of Bridgeport as executive secretary of the Committee on Informal Education. He chaired the Halsey International Scholarship Program consisting of community support groups representing 16 countries, including India’s Shastri Scholarship Committee.
Organizations including the Gujrati Samaj USA, City Council of New York, and Jackson Heights Merchants Association too honored him. He was also selected for the Paul Harris Fellowship Award of Rotary International for International Relations in 1998. The travel industry honored him several times.
Another honor he cherishes was the WICC Radio Station’s Community Service Salute (1971, 1974) for community service in the Greater Bridgeport area. He was also honored by the Rotary Club of Bridgeport with the Outstanding Young Man of America award (1971 and 1974) for leadership qualities when he was a student.
Srujal Parikh, executive vice president, is working for New York Police Department. He has been serving in the executive committee for more than five years. He is a co-founder of South Asian Community Outreach, co-founder and president of National School of Cricket USA, trustee of Indian Officers Society at NYPD, former vice president of the Edison Cricket Club, which has legends like Sunil Gavaskar as honorary members.
“My passion of serving the community comes from my parents, who served a small town of Gujarat through Lions Club International,” he said, in a statement.
Parikh was instrumental as a team leader in coordinating the first ever South Asian celebration of America’s Independence Day in Edison Township by South Asian Community Outreach. He also served as a co-chair of Dushera Festival in Edison Township.
Alok Kumar, vice president, is a native of Darbhanga, Bihar. A resident of Old Bridge, New Jersey, he has been involved with several organizations in addition to the FIA, including Bihar Jharkhand Association of North America ( BJANA), and South Asian Community Outreach (SACO). Kumar, who has a masters degree in computer science is a young entrepreneur who acquired IT companies such as Acme Technology Group, United Business Solutions, & Spino. He later started a new portal to find right jobs. www.thegreatbrains.com
Chhavi Dharayan, secretary, has been working with the FIA since 2011 in various capacities. She served as secretary in 2016 also. She was the co- chair of Dance Pe Chance, to celebrate India’s Republic Day, in 2012 and became the chair for 2015, 2016 and 2017. The event created history with the maximum number of participants in 2015. “As the chairperson for Dance Pe Chance 2017, I look forward to an equally magnificent competition as was in the past two years
“It has been a magnificent journey wherein I got an inimitable opportunity of community service and was instrumental in promoting Indian culture, heritage, music and dance,’ she said, in a statement. Dharayan is a business graduate, who has been running an IT consultancy for the last 16 years.
Jatin Patel, joint secretary, has been with the FIA community since 2013. He holds a master’s degree in engineering and has a background in Information Technology and business. After spending 10 years in the IT departments of AT&T, Ingersoll-Rand and Coach, he has branched off into running his own businesses mainly in the food service, hospitality and beauty industries.
Himanshu Bhatia, treasurer is a business professional.
“I have a passion for the social cause and philanthropy. I bring open minded approach to the business and to the society for the betterment of all,” he said.
Bhatia holds a master’s degree in engineering from NJ Institute of Technology and has worked for Oracle Global Health, Pfizer, Merck and Glaxo Smith-Klein prior to going into business for himself.