Interview by Parveen Chopra
New York: Ankur Vaidya, Board member and Past President (2014) of Federation of Indian Associations – Tristate , has been unanimously elected its Chairman for three years at a board meeting last week. The 40-year-old who is a construction professional, has an onerous task of filling the boots of Ramesh Patel, a titan who passed away last month. Excerpts from an exclusive interview with him:
On elevation as Chairman: It is bitter-sweet. It would have been joyous to have Rameshbhai with us today. But his blessing are with the organization and myself. In my elevation, he wanted the board to comply, which has happened.
On FIA’s Golden Jubilee and India Day Parade: As much as we wanted to do it this year, you don’ want to have a celebration in a pandemic. That would not be a fitting message when thousands of people have died of Covid including our chairman. Maybe in August next year or in 2022, when we can safely do it and enjoy having our community family gathered with a good, positive message.
No to the Parade also in August; either we will do a peace march or drive-through or a virtual event – but keeping in mind the utmost safety of our community first.
Preparing for the job: I am preparing myself for the challenge even as I still don’t know the scope of the work entailed. I have full support of President Anil Bansal, a total professional. With guidance from our seniors – Vice Chairman Bipin Patel, Srujal Parikh, and our senior advisers, Dr Sudhir Parikh and H.R. Shah, hopefully we will be able to streamline work.
His vision and plans: Because the New York Consulate has jurisdiction over 10 states in the northeast, the focus is to have a presence in D.C. and on social issues that impact our community all over. A place like Rhode Island that has a small community is no reason that they get ignored. We are also planning to put together a fund of about $100,000 a year, which we can distribute as grant to support organizations and chapters with our agenda. We also want to have our own physical home for FIA, in New York one day, but for starters in New Jersey. A kind of Indian community center where people can assemble and be with likeminded people.
Uniting the community: We want to be inclusive, and diverse. Our biggest challenge is unifying the community. We can talk about organizations and pictures with Prime Minister Modi, but what will matter for our children and the next generation is how Americans see our community and how the lawmakers see our community. It is high time we are seen as a conventional American community, which happens to be from India. We should be part of the fabric of America and not just seen as migrants.
Working with the Consulate: The Consulate renders consular services to the community for which we pay a fee and they make lot of money. We want to ask what they do for the community and how we can work together. Can they put down say $ 100,000 a year in support and improve the lot of the Indian immigrants in America.
Fulsome praise for Ankur’s elevation
Vice Chairman, FIA
I came to know Ankur well when I became FIA President in 2011. He was in his late twenties then, and I noticed lot of passion in him for FIA and community work. Since then he has taken a lead in supporting the organization and defending it against false allegations. Politics is one area where Indian community has not done well, so we at FIA want to encouraging and support more of our young people to emerge as leaders. Of course, in promoting our culture heritage, FIA is always in the forefront.
I am so happy to know that Ankur has been unanimously elected as our Chairman for FIA. He is the best choice to take the dream of Ramesh Bhai to new heights. He is young, energetic and a true leader. As the President of FIA, I am honored and excited and am looking forward to working with him to make the Golden Jubilee Celebration of FIA a great success.
FIA Board member
I’ve seen FIA’s growth with the young generation also getting involved. My good friend Ankur Vaidya, who brought so many innovative ideas is now Chairman of the organization. His dedication, commitment and hard work was rewarded with this position. I am confident that he will take FIA to the next level. My full commitment and support is there in our journey.