NFIA Launches National Scholarship Initiative at a Charity Musical Concert
National Federation of Indian American Associations (NFIA), a national umbrella organization of Indian American associations established in 1980, launched its Scholarship Program during a musical charity concert with popular “The Voice” fame Bollywood singer, Garima Khiste, at Berkmar High School Auditorium on July 8. The event also celebrated the Independence Days of India (August 15) and the U.S.A. (July 4). State Representative Matt Reeves and Georgia Senator Jason Esteves were guests of honor.
[L to R] Georgia Senator Jason Estevez, Padmabhushan Dr. Jag Sheth, NFIA President Raj Razdan, and educator Savitri Gauba.
With tributes through national anthems, sung by Esha Singh and Shasank Jagirdar, and lighting of the lamps, the NFIA program, which was co-organized by Senior Citizens Program of Georgia, launched the following five national scholarships spread over a
period of four-year academic curricula: NFIA-Heartfulness; NFIA-Bhandari Nirankari Trust; NFIA-Sardana (Innova); NFIA-Sheth (Jagdish & Madhu Sheth) Foundation; NFIA-Kashmiris of Georgia (KOG).
[Right] Bollywood singer, Garima Khiste, performed at the event.
The Gandhi Foundation of USA chairman (and former President of NFIA), Subash Razdan, who was the emcee for the evening, thanked the sponsors, volunteers, and attendees while reminding the audience that his engineering degree from IIT, a world-class Indian institution, cost only $110 over five years. “The heads of Microsoft and Google and other MNCs are from IITs and got
their education for more or less the same amount. That is because their home country and their parents gave importance and support to quality education,” he said.
Raj Razdan, president of NFIA, expressed profound gratitude to those who helped raise funds for the scholarships. “Today, we have the opportunity to make a tangible difference in the lives of young individuals who deserve a chance to pursue their dreams and unlock their true potential,” she said in her remarks. “Education is the greatest gift we can offer our future generations. It is the catalyst that ignites innovation and empowers communities and progress in our society. By supporting the scholarship initiative, we are investing in future leaders, innovators, inventors, and changemakers of tomorrow. We are not only helping their education, but helping them break the cycle of poverty, empower others, and make a lasting difference in the communities.”
(L to R) Representative Matt Reeves, Madhu Sheth, Raj Razdan, and Savitri Gauba.
Representative Matt Reeves, in his remarks, said education is expensive these days, but it is not nearly as expensive as ignorance. “We need support for education. The Hope scholarship in Georgia has been great, which a lot of folks in the Indian community have supported.” He said the Indian community in Suwanee, Sugar Hill, and Duluth (the areas he represents), are showing the rest of the community how to live the American dream every day.
State Senator Jason Esteves, who is also a former at-large representative and Board Chair of the Atlanta Public Schools Board of Education, said India and the U.S. share common values, particularly around freedom, liberty, and democracy. “Those values are incredibly important because they enable us to pursue happiness for our families. As I travel around the country, I see so many of our families want the same thing. We want to raise our families in a safe and welcoming environment and ensure that our children live better lives than we lived ourselves,” he said. He congratulated Subash Razdan for his vision in drafting the Georgia State Senate Resolution SR 1248 on Indo-Georgia Friendship which was spearheaded by Senators Hill and Pearson and approved by the Senate unanimously.
Lifelong educator and retired school principal Savitri Gauba, in her spirited address, said knowledge is power. “Education gives us confidence. It gives us the power to know ourselves, our society, culture, religion, country, and the world at large. In Sanskrit there is a saying: If you educate a boy child, you educate one person, but if you educate a girl child, you educate the whole family. We should emphasize equal education for boys and girls,” she said.
Heartfulness, another grand patron of the scholarship, was represented by Suraj Sehgal who emphasized that “Education was so important to them. It helped my dad (Sanjay Sehgal) become the first person in the family to come to the U.S. Education has transformed my life as well,” he said.
“Now, 31 years later since its launch, in 2023, NFIA has diversified with emphasis on youth education, mentorship, and scholarships,” remarked NFIA President Raj Razdan.
A moment of silence was held in tribute and prayers for the passing away of Dr. Christine King Farris, sister of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and a true friend of the Indian American community.
The evening continued with a live concert by the very talented versatile singer, Garima Khiste and her band, who mesmerized the audience with Bollywood and regional hits, both old and new, over a standing ovation into the wee hours of midnight at the Berkmar Arts & Performing Center. Light dinner and refreshments were sponsored by Narendra Patel of Madras Chettinaad/Mantra.
—Veena Rao/NRI Pulse
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