by Ajay Ghosh
ATLANTA, Georgia: July 6th, 2019) “I have to work double hard in Bollywood. Men had lots of freedom and can have their way. Women had to be confined to line always,” recalled Bollywood actor Preity Zinta, in her keynote address at the Women’s Forum to a packed audience during the 37th annual Convention of American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) at the world famous World Congress Center in Atlanta, GA on July 5th, 2019.
Organized by the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) the Women’s Forum had a galaxy of successful women, who shared with the AAPI delegates their own stories of growing up and facing challenges with conviction and courage, and have today become role models for other women around the world. Dr. Naresh Parikh welcomed the panelists to the Forum with a warm note. Dr. Naresh Parikh, in his opening remarks, highlighted the importance of Women’s Forum, which has come to be a much sought after event at ever Convention and GHS.
In her welcome remarks, Dr. Asha Parikh, Chairwoman of the Women’s Forum, said, “There is a need for empowerment of women, which means women should be respected at home, at work and in the larger society.” Dr. Parikh underscored the importance of the Women’s Forum in AAPI convention and Global Healthcare Summit, and how it has evolved and today it’s one of the much sought after event, with distinguished panelists on the Forum. “The Women’s Forum is where successful and powerful women come and share their life’s dreams, challenges and this empower and inspire other women. Today’s Forum is about how career changes by women affect t them and the larger society.”
Dr. Parikh, who is a renowned physician and the First Lady of AAPI, is described to be the power behind Dr. Naresh Parikh, the president of AAPI. Dr. Asha Parikh introduced the Panelists to the audience.
The Women’s Forum had Bollywwood actor Preity Zinta, Archana kochar. International designer, who promotes India and Indian-ness through fashion. Consul General of India in Atlanta, Ambassador Swati Kulkarni; Aparna Bhattacharya. Founder and President of Raksha, who has won awards for her relentless community service; Malini Moorthy, Vice President of Medtroics, and Dr. Ila Shah, a Physician and AAPI Leader.
Dr. Udaya Shivangi, Vice Chair, AAPI Women’s Forum, led the panelists to a lively discussion on ways how career changes affect women and the inspiration for leading successful career lives. She introduced Dr. Asha Parikh to the audience and welcomed the panelists. Through insightful short questions, DR. Shivangi, a veteran at the Forum since its inception, was able to bring out the best from member of the panel through pointed questions.
Priety Zinta, an Indian film actress and entrepreneur, has earned a name for herself as a popular actress in Hindi, Telugu, Punjabi, and English language films. In her free flowing spontaneous speech, now an actor turned entrepreneur, owning several Cricket Teams, said, in a developing country like hours, “Women have come to be successful and they have to be working really hard.” She stressed on the need for equal wages. Respect women and have them walk shoulder to shoulder with men is the biggest challenge, she said.
Zinta said, education of women is critical and the need of the hour. “In fact, education helps to highlight a woman’s strength and how much she can do to better the life of her children.” According to her, great emphasis should be given to every woman to empower her financially and socially, educationally, so that she can be independent. “I believe that woman empowerment means financial independence and self-reliance for women.”
Preity Zinta said, today, I feel proud that women have achieved so much. But we still have a long way to go. Woman has to realize her own potential and strength as an equal member of society. Empowerment is also about women realizing that they should embrace change. Creating awareness is so important, drawing public attention to instances of injustices towards women. “My biggest change in life is being married and I love it and that’s the best change that has ever happened in my life,” the young and talented actor told the AAPI delegates.
Aparna Bhattacharya shared with the audience about her own advocacy role she and RAKSHA, her noble organization working with women are doing in the state of Georgia and other southern states. Describing violence against women as “most shameful,” Bhattacharya stated, the prevalence of violence against women is a global phenomenon. She called for the need for education towards gender sensitization.
“I started as a volunteer and was working with survivors and wanted to help victims of crime in my community,” she recalled. “Breaking the silence of talking about violence and able to talk about it and empower those silently suffering has been the biggest challenge,” she said. “Getting to communicate become aware of working with the Administration to get the resources and help someone get services and break the barriers, some of the initiatives she and RAKSHA are committed to work on. According to her,
“The biggest challenge is to keep fighting. Women need to support each other and applaud each other’s victory. If you are not doing it no one is going to do it for yourself,” she told the audience.
Malini Moorthy, another panelist, while acknowledging that there is discrimination in the business world, said, in choosing lead positions and when it comes to payments, men are always preferred over women. “We have come a long way. Changes are taking place,” she said. “There are questions raised when such practices are seen happening.” She called upon “more people to speak out against any type of discrimination.” Stressing the need for equality, she said, “I strongly believe in promoting equality. You are the role models for all of us here. Keep fighting and support one another.” In terms of women’s empowerment, “Medtronic has a policy and program for empowering and ensuring recruitment of women from each community, ensuring equal representation to all. We look at leadership as coming from all forms women bring in their unique talents and leadership,” she said. Regarding her personal life, Moorthy said, while she wants to use her talents and skills for serving larger society, but not sure if she wants to fight for any political office.
Archana Kochhar, an Indian fashion designer, who designs have been featured by celebrities like Prabhu Deva, Shriya Saran, Amrita Rao, Nargis Fakhri, Jacqueline Fernandez, Bipasha Basu and Vijender Singh among others, spoke about guiding our children to make career choices in the highly competitive fashion world. If one wants to make fashion his or her career, one needs to be prepared to have hard work, right attitude, creativity, how you deal with people, especially being humble and open attitude, she said. “We should work hard on building our brand, Be able to recognize one’s uniqueness inonselfu and build on it and pursue your career.
Sharing her personal experiences with SMILE and ther inspiration to start SMILE, Kochar said, “My journey with SMILE happened accidentally after seeing an acid victim.” In her efforts to help acid victims and help with their treatment, she had an acid victim walk on a New York Fashion Show, which made headlines across the world media. She was able to raise money to help victims of acid victim. Ever since, it has been a passion for this talented fashion designer to be associated with and support acid victims, she said. “When we share our platform for a noble cause, we can create magic for all,” she said.
Dr. Kulkarni, who has changed career from being a Physician to a Career Diplomat shared with the audience her won story of how she happened to change her career. She have credit to her uncle from Mumbai, who “dragged” her into career diplomacy, which she has come to enjoy in life.
Stating that she misses being with patients and caring for their health, Dr. KUlkani, who has risen to heights through hard work and dedication said, “My Medical career gave me the rigorous discipline which has made me successful in my present career. I miss my OPD, but I love my new career and work,” she said.
In her message to women, Dr. Kulkarni stressed the need for women’s education. “Education is the keyword, which will empower women socially, emotionally, and economically. Financial independence will give one self respect and she can become a key rolemodel for others.”
The three-day historic event, the 37th Annual AAPI Convention & Scientific Assembly being held from July 3rd to July 7th, 2019 at the fabulous and world famous Omni Atlanta at CNN Center and Georgia World Congress Center, and inaugurated by Sadhguru, offers an intimate setting that facilitates the exchange of cutting-edge research through CMEs, promotes business relationships, and displays and promotes ethnic culture and traditions.
The 37th annual AAPI Convention, while providing physicians of Indian origin an opportunity to come together in an atmosphere of collegiality, it enables them to retrace and appreciate their common roots, culture and the bond that unites them as members of this large professional community. Giving them a platform to celebrate their accomplishments, the annual convention to be attended by nearly 2,000 physicians of Indian origin, it provides a forum to renew their professional commitment through continuing medical educations activities.
For more details, please visit: https://aapisummit.org/www.aapiusa.org