Narendra Modi confidant Dr. Bharat Barai amongst 9 Indian Americans to be honored by NFIA in California - August 23, 2016

Courtesy of The American Bazaar • August 23, 2016

By AB Wire | March 4, 2015

NEW YORK: Nine Indian Americans, including one posthumously, will be honored by National Federation of Indian American Associations (NFIA), for their outstanding achievements and contributions to humanity and society at the 2015 NFIA Awards Banquet on at the Sheraton Hotel in Cerritos, California, on March 7.

Heart and Hand for Handicapped (HHH), a New York based organization, has also been selected to receive an award for its outstanding services to handicapped in the US and India.

The awardees are: physician Dr. Bharat Barai and Aparna Hande for Community Service; T.V. Asia Chairman H.R. Shah for Mass Media; musician Rita Sahai and Kathak dancer Amrapali Ambegaokar for performing arts; psychopharmacologist Dr. Rangaesh Gadasalli for Medicine and Health Sciences; and management consultant K. V. Kumar and attorney Navneet Chugh in Business and Finance. The late New York cardiologist Dr. B.N. Viswanath will be honored posthumously for his Life TimeContribution to NRIs through Broadcasting & Philanthropy.

“NFIA has been honoring outstanding achievers among Indian Americans for the last thirty five years who have made a mark in the American society and/or have done outstanding community service and the NFIA Cerritos Convention will honor those Indian American achievers and contributors to our society,” said Lal Motwani, Chairman of NFIA Foundation and the Awards Committee, in a statement.

NFIA, the largest umbrella organization of more than 200 associations, representing over four million Indian Americans will host its members and guests during a three event that includes a welcome reception/dinner and inauguration by Indian Consul General Venkatesan Ashok and California State Treasurer John Chiang on Friday, March 6, followed by a full day of conference on March 7.

The convention will conclude on Saturday evening with a gala awards banquet, where the Indian American achievers will be honored. Congresswoman Linda Sanchez will be the honored guest at the banquet.

“It was almost 35 years ago when Federation of Indian Associations (FIA) of New York under the leadership of the then President Dr. Thomas Abraham brought together over 1000 Indian community representatives for a convention in New York which resulted in the formation of the National Federation of Indian American Associations (NFIA) which has grown to serve not only the Indian American community but it has become a vital part of the India America bilateral relationship,” said Ashok Madan, Convention Convener.

The convention theme is “Indian Americans Making an Impact in America.” After an opening session on the theme chaired by NFIA Founder President Dr. Thomas Abraham, the conference will have three more sessions: Indian Americans Contributing to India, chaired by Inder Singh, Past NFIA Chairman; Indian American Impact in The Area of Technology & Medicine, chaired by Boeing Company Technical Fellow Paul Sikand and Impact in US-India Trade & Business, chaired by Amritt Inc. Managing Director Gunjan Bagla.

“We are very excited about the conference which will feature 20 specialists. The panels will cover a whole gamut of Indian Americans making an impact in American society as well as contributing to India and US-India relations,” said Dr. Thomas Abraham, founding president of NFIA and chairman of the opening conference session.

Here are excerpts from the bios of the awardees:

Late Dr. Banad N. Viswanath – Life Time Contribution to NRIs through Broadcasting & Philanthropy – Viswanath started the first Indian American TV program, Vision of Asia, in 1976. Following the overwhelming community interest in ‘Vision of Asia,’ Dr. Viswanath started ITV/ITVGold, the first 24/7 Indian cable television channel in the United Sates in 1986. The channel reached out to people in South Asia, Guyana, Trinidad and other Caribbean communities. ITV branched out from the New York Tri-state area to become a national platform channel.

Dr. Viswanath was born and raised in Bangalore, India. He obtained his medical degree from Mysore Medical College in 1960 and moved to the U.S. He was a member of the cardiology team which performed the first successful heart transplant surgery in U.S. in 1966.

Dr. Viswanath raised thousands of dollars for relief efforts for Gujarat Earthquake, the flood relief efforts in Guyana, aid to victims of ethnic, religious, and racial violence, and aid to victims of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. They have also covered and given promotion to countless community events and community leaders. Dr. Viswanath is survived by his wife, three sons and eight grandchildren.

Dr. Bharat Barai, MD –Community Service: Dr. Bharat Barai is currently Medical Director of the Cancer Institute, Methodist Hospitals, Assistant Prof. of Medicine at Indiana University Medical School, Member and former President of the Medical Licensing Board of the State of Indiana. He serves on the advisory board of the Indiana University School of Business.

Barai is a Trustee and former President of FIA Chicago, Former Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Manav Seva Mandir, Trustee of the Hindu Temple of Greater Chicago, Trustee of the Indian American Cultural Center NW Indiana and many Indian American organizations. He has served as voluntary Medical Director of Sickle Cell Foundation of NW Indian for the Children of Gary, IN; served as a director of the American Cancer Society, NW Indiana.

Barai, as President of Indian American Community Foundation organized historic reception for Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sept. 28, 2014 in Madison Square Garden, New York. He has received numerous community service awards in last 25 years for his voluntary services. In 2013, he received the “Ellis Island Medal of Honor.” Dr Barai’s wife, Panna is also a physician. He has three daughters and a son, all highly educated and accomplished.

H.R. Shah –Contribution in Mass Media: H.R. Shah is the first NRI to run a 24/7 TV Channel, TV ASIA, throughout North America since 1993. TV ASIA has been a pioneer, produced in America, with local coverage (English, Hindi, Gujarati) in all major cities of the United States, Canada and the Caribbean. TV Asia is viewed on Echo Star (Dish Network) as well as various cable systems. Shah has also launched a 24/7 free broadcast ethnic Radio Station called “Radio Asia,” all over USA. Shah is the Chairman and Trustee of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan (USA), the world famous institute of Indian culture, education, music and the arts. The Bhavan has dedicated an auditorium, “Romanti Auditorium”, in memory of H.R. Shah’s late daughter.

Shah is the first NRI to own a chain store business anywhere in the world. He became prominent for rescuing Krauszer’s Food Stores, New Jersey’s largest chain with over 400 convenience stores. A well-known entrepreneur, philanthropist and community leader, Shah has been serving the Indian community for over 30 years, throughout the United States. He is the recipient of the prestigious 2005 Ellis Island Medal of Honor. The U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate both unanimously passed resolutions sanctioning the Ellis Island Medals of Honor. Each honoree is listed in the Congressional Record.

Shah lives with his wife, Rosemarie, and their two children, Kristina and Daniel in New Jersey.

Aparna Hande, RN – Community Service: Aparna Hande was born in a conservative Marathi family. She fought against all odds to get higher education. Herparents were against her becoming a nurse. She fought against all challenges and succeeded becoming a nurse.

She joined Indian Army and served as nurse from 1965 to 1971 during two Indo – Pakistan wars. She was deployed at the Kashmir border to take care of injured Soldiers. In 1971, she completed the prenatal health project to improve prenatal care in Zambia, Africa. In 1974, she moved to New York and became a Registered Nurse.

She has been involved in many Indo-American community projects since 1980 and she has been using her nursing knowledge and skills to help the community. She was president of FIA-Southern California for the year 2012. She has been bestowed with many community awards and recognitions for her dedicated community services. She was also honored as the Women of the Year in 2012 by Assembly Member of 56th California Assembly.

Dr R S Gadasalli – Medicine and Health Sciences: Dr. Gadasalli received Medical Degree from the Mysore Medical College in Karnataka State. He worked at Harbor UCLA Department of Psychiatry and Psychopharmacology.

Gadasalli has been involved in clinical research areas in psychopharmacology involving most second-generation antipsychotics, many novel antidepressants, and some anxiolytics. His multicenter projects included clinical trials for NIMH Clinical Antipsychotic Trials of Intervention Effectiveness (CATIE) and Sequenced Treatment Alternatives to relieve Depression (STAR*D). He was involved in groundbreaking research of several new anti-psychotics, such as Olanzapine, Ziprasidone, Risperidone, Aripiprazole, amongst others – and anti-depressants, such as Prozac and Paxil. He was recognized with Outstanding Psychiatric Research Contribution Award from the Department Of Psycho-Pharmacology at the Harbor UCLA Medical Center 1996.

Gadasalli is Past President of Karnataka Cultural Association and President of FIA, Southern California. He is Founder, Trustee and Chairman of United Federation of Indian Community Association (UFICA).

Musician Rita Sahai – Performing Arts: Rita Sahai is an acclaimed composer, performer and teacher. Her music reveals a theme of emotional depth, healing and harmony. Though inspired by the romance of the Benares Gharana and the rhythmic complexity of the Seni Alauddin Gharana, Rita strives for additional melodic and emotional depth. She tours throughout the U.S., Canada, the U.K., and India. She also lends her voice to many diverse musical projects at recording studios at home and abroad.

Sahai, after coming to the United States over three decades ago, continued her music studies under the world famous sarod maestro Ustad Ali Akbar Khan. Khansahib, as Rita affectionately called her guru, was impressed by her talent and passion for music. He even gave her the title Gayan Alankar (Jewel of Music).

Sahai is a faculty member at UC Davis, in the department of Ethnomusicology. She teaches music classes all over the Bay Area and Sacramento, CA. She is director of two choir groups – the UC Davis Hindustani Ensemble and her own Vasundhara Choir. In March, 2013 Rita was inducted into The Alameda County 2013 Women’s Hall of Fame, the first Indian to receive such an honor.

Kathak Dancer Amrapali Ambegaokar – Performing Arts: Ambegaokar is a highly accomplished world class performing Kathak dancer. At only 22 years of age, Amrapali was invited to become the Principal Dancer of Cirque Du Soleil’s Dralion in over 730 shows with additional performances on The Today Show, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and more. Amrapali performed as an invited solo guest on Fox’s “So You Think You Can Dance” and won the Solo Silver Medalist on NBC’s “Superstars of Dance”. Amrapali is also a successful actor currently recurring on the hit ABC series “Scandal” with recurring roles on Grey’s Anatomy at 19 episodes and Guest starring roles in many serials and movies.

A UCLA graduate of World Arts and Cultures, and a lifelong disciple of NEA Lifetime Achievement awardee Anjani Ambegaokar, Amrapali has been the Principal dancer of Anjani’s Kathak Dance of India for 23 years and began professionally performing on tour at age 11. Highlights include The LXD, the Hollywood Bowl, Ravinia Festival Chicago, World Music Institute NY, United Nations D.C., National Geographic Society, The Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts, Palm Springs Film Festival and many more.

Extensively trained in classical western and Hindustani music as a musician and vocalist, Amrapali continues to create and perform for various mediums internationally. She has won multiple pageant titles in beauty and all talent titles for Miss Asian America, Miss India USA & Miss India North America. She has judged numerous pageants and international dance competitions including Sony’s Boogie Woogie.

Management Consultant K. V. Kumar – Business and Finance: KV Kumar is the Managing partner of Kumar & Talvadkar Associates, a Management Consulting Company. He also serves on the boards of several companies. KV has turned around many projects including most recently a privately held healthcare company in Southern California.

He Currently serves as:

  • California State District Appeals Board, Member, appointed by the President.
  • Member, Board of Governor’s Committee of Bar Examiners, appointed by the Governor.
  • Member, Small Business Council, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Washington, DC.
  • Founding Chairman Emeritus & Board Member, US Indian American Chamber of Commerce;
  • Member, Republican National Committee’s Asian Pacific American Advisory Council.
  • Member, Advisory Board, The Latino Coalition & The Hispanic 100.
  • Member: Board of Trustees, International Women’s Think Tank Organization.

Kumar has served five U.S. Presidents, from President Ronald Reagan to President Barack Obama.

Navneet S. Chugh, Attorney – Business and Finance: Navneet S. Chugh, MBA, CPA, Attorney-at-Law, Managing Partner of The Chugh Firm. Chairman, Premier Media, Inc., publisher, Indian weekly newspaper in SoCal – “India Journal”.

The Chugh Firm provides corporate, tax, litigation, and immigration services to emerging growth and mature companies. The Firm has a staff of 210 employees with 83 attorneys and CPAs, and has offices in Los Angeles, Santa Clara, Iselin NJ, Atlanta, Fairfax, VA; Bangalore, Chennai, New Delhi, Mumbai, and Chandigarh.

In 1995, Navneet was the founder president of South Asian Bar Association of Southern California (SABA). In 1997, founded The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE), Southern California, and served as its President. In 2003, the became founder president of the North American South Asian Bar Association (, a nationwide body with 25 chapters in North America representing over 6,000 South Asian lawyers in the U.S. and Canada. A Trustee and on the Board of the American India Foundation (, the largest and most successful Indian charity based in the U.S. that has raised $60 million since 2001.

Navneet lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Ritu, and two children Veeraj (20), and Sabrina (17). He has received several awards including Trailblazer Award by SABA-SC, Community Service Award by SASA, Cornerstone Award by NASABA.

Heart and Hand for Handicapped – Charitable and Philanthropic Work (

Five Indian American homemakers in New York started Heart and Hand for the Handicapped (HHH) in 1971. From its humble beginnings, HHH now distributes over $250,000 yearly and supports more than 60 institutions / schools providing education & residential services. It serves Differently abled Children in India & USA. It supports Polio & Cerebral Palsy corrective surgery, braces & therapy. It supports vision care through many institutions in different parts of India. It is focused on helping children with Autism Disorders.