On Saturday, January 19th, we attended the Federation of India Community Associations of Northeast Ohio (FICA)’s celebration of India’s 70th year as a republic at the Embassy Suites hotel in Independence. As Mr. Sudarshan R. Sathe, the Chairperson of the FICA Board of Trustees, said during the ceremonies and wrote in the souvenir booklet:
“While India became independent from British rule on August 15th, 1947, she became a full Constitutional Republic on January 26th, 1950. This day is celebrated in India with great fanfare and a spectacular military parade showcasing not only India’s military prowess but also her ethnic diversity…”
Despite the heavy snowstorm, we happily noted that event was very well attended. We had a great time visiting with Sister Christine DeVinne, President of Ursuline College, who recalled seeing us at the annual holiday party of Margaret W. Wong & Associates, and Mr. Ravi Marwaha, Director of International Business Consultants of America, who is an old friend of Ms. Margaret W. Wong. In addition, it is always good to encounter such old friends as Mr. Ken and Ms. Mary Ann Kovach, and Mr. Aklilu Demessie all of whom are also involved with ICC-WIN. Ms. Wong’s name came up again during the ceremonies when Dr. Ritu Mahna, President of FICA, acknowledged her for being a consistent sponsor of FICA events “for as many years as I can remember.”
During the course of the program, Dr. Atul Mehta (a highly honored physician from the Cleveland Clinic) gave Dr. Tomislav Mihaljevic, CEO and President of the Cleveland Clinic as well as the evening’s main speaker, an especially touching introduction referring to him as “my boss and a great human being”. Dr. Mehta also noted that, as a Croatian immigrant, Dr. Mihaljevic was very much aware of the struggles that people who immigrate to the United States often undergo as well as the contributions they make that benefit us all.
Dr. Mihaljevic then devoted a good portion of his remarks to acknowledging how much the mission of the Cleveland Clinic has been fulfilled by the “hard work and passion” of the many Indian physicians who have worked at the Clinic over the years.
Mr. Yatish Desai, Dr. Rupesh Raina also took part in the event while Ms. Swati Desai performed a lot of the emcee duties as well as coordinating the event itself.
Our friend, Dr. Sanjay Garg received honors for his work with the Shiksha Daan education project. Mr. Suraj Srinivasan, a young man of great promise who plans to open a biomedical engineering firm here in the Cleveland area in spite of lucrative offers to relocate elsewhere, was also lauded. We conducted an iForeignBorn interview with Dr. Garg that you can read here. In addition to the above, children who placed high in an essay contest put on by FICA were called forward for prizes. The topic that they were given was, “what does pollution mean to me?”
Of course, there was some swell cultural dance numbers put on by students from the Nupur School of Dance, Anga Kala Kathak Academy, and Nritya Geetanjali School of Dance. Along these lines, Ms. Rupa Parikh, a teacher from the Nupur School of Dance was recognized for using her talents to enhance appreciation of Indian arts and culture. We talked to her briefly and learned that she has taught dancing for 27 years in Cleveland 35 years in the United States as a whole. These dance numbers established the ambiance for the evening to end in joyous exhubrance as almost everyone present came together on the dance floor to take part is some high-spirited Bollywood numbers.