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Overseas Minister Vayalar Ravi Visits Atlanta

August 2006
Overseas Minister Vayalar Ravi Visits Atlanta

Vayalar Ravi, the Honorable Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs, Govt. of India, attended the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) annual convention in Atlanta. He was also able to grace a luncheon organized by the National Federation of Indian American Associations (NFIA), in collaboration with the Gandhi Foundation of USA, Atlanta (GFUSA) and the Atlanta-India Lions Club, at Haveli Indian Restaurant on Saturday July 2.

Dr. Jay Tribby, Chief of Staff representing Atlanta City Councilor (District2), attended in place of Kwanza Hall. Subash Razdan, acting Chariman of GFUSA, introduced Dr. Jay Tribby and said that it was fortunate for Dr, Tribby to attend because it was in District 2 that GFUSA was hoping to open Gandhi Center, USA. Razdan added that the Gandhi Center would provide health clinics and physicians from AAPI/GAPI have shown interest in volunteering their time.

Guest Speaker, Dr.Tribby, told the attendees that Atlanta City Council member Kwanza Hall's office welcomed guests to the district, which served as the host district for the AAPI meeting and the GFUSA reception at the Haveli Indian Restaurant. "Our district feels most closely Atlanta's connection to Mahatma Gandhi, and we are honored by your colleagues' investment in the district through this week's AAPI convention. On behalf of the district which is the home of the Martin Luther King, Jr., Historic District and the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library, welcome to District 2."

Three Appeals/Resolutions were presented to Minister Ravi for his attention by Subash Razdan. Minister Ravi acknowledged the Appeals/Resolutions and addressed each issue presented to him. He said that his Ministry would be recommending starting the Air-India service from Atlanta because of its importance as a gateway to the southeast of USA and also because Atlanta has a growing Indian American population. Regarding the Consulate Office in Atlanta, he said that despite it being a good suggestion, the issues were reciprocal in nature. Explaining further he said that if India were to acquire one more Consulate in USA, India would also have to provide one more Consulate to USA in India. He praised the Atlanta community for its vision to memorialize Gandhi in the city of Atlanta.

"Naturally, under this inspiration of Gandhi's message, to have a Gandhi Center in the King Historic Site would be most cherishing and befitting", he said. He thanked Dr.Jay Tribby, for taking keen interest in the proposal by the Indian Community.

The luncheon meeting was also attended by two representatives each from Andhra Pradesh and Bihar. This was a result of AAPI's delegation holding a core-group meeting with the Ministry of Indian Affairs in New Delhi last month in which it was decided that two pilot projects would be launched in Bihar and Andhra Pradesh.

Former national leaders from NFIA such as Dr.Sudhir Parikh, Krishna Srinivasa, Gopal Bashist, and Ramesh Kapoor were recognized at the event. Antony Thaliath, President of Atlanta Lions Club recognized members of the club and Manoj Koottapally gave a vote of thanks.

Minister Ravi was escorted by representatives of the Indian American communities to the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic site where he paid his homage. Minister Ravi spoke again at the AAPI Banquet as the keynote speaker. He shared with the AAPI delegates his visit to the Gandhi Statue and importance of the statue during current times of unrest in the world.

~ Mahadev Desai

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