Voice of Indian-American Voters launched

Ramesh Soparawala
India Post News Service

CHICAGO: It was a start in Chicago with the aim to become recognizable voice at the national level – the launch of the Voice of Indian-American (VIA) Voters on January 13.
Many in the Indian American community felt that there was a crying need to have the voice of the community really heard and issues it faces get addressed by the elected officials at the local, State and National levels. It was also felt that without united and concerted efforts in this direction what hurts and what interests the community would not be resolved the way that should be.

It was with a view to fill this void that a group of Indian Americans primarily – Dr Bharat Barai, Dr Anuja Gupta and Sanjay Singh – with the backing of a team of other activists, decided to launch the Voice of Indian American Voters here in Chicago last week. It is a small beginning with the potential to have a significant impact on the State and national politics.
The organizers pointed this out during the launch meet at Waterford Banquet Hall in Elmhurst (a Chicago suburb) on January 13 that the plans are already afoot to have similar forums across the country in the near future. “The response from other cities and states is tremendous and hugely encouraging,” Sanjeev Singh pointed out in his address. .

The VIA Voters is a new community forum with a distinct goal of increasing the civic engagement of and enlightenment of Indian-Americans in Chicagoland and nationally. The founding members of the group are Sanjeev Singh, Dr Anuja Gupta and Dr Bharat Barai. “We felt there was a need for a non-partisan platform that promoted the civic engagement of the Indian-Americans at the local and national levels” said Dr Gupta. The prime goals are to seek a better level of engagement with elected officials, creating a more informed voter base and increasing the participation of Indian-Americans in the election process.

Several community business persons, leaders and the media attended this event. “In our businesses we often need to interact with elected public officials and a big goal for me to initiate such a cause was to seek a better level of engagement with them” said Dr Anuja Gupta, a physician and real-estate developer of Verandah Retirement Community. She is a lead promoter of yet another organization – the Women Empowerment Campaign (WE) Chicago. WE are a networking & empowerment platform for Indian women in Chicagoland.

The founding organizers of VIA – Sanjeev Singh, Dr Anuja Gupta and Dr Bharat Barai

The participation of Indian-Americans in the election process is sadly much below the national average. “As a community we need to be more involved in the voting process. The time has come to engage more seriously in our civic responsibility in keeping with our economic and social success” added Dr. Bharat Barai, a practicing Oncologist and president of Prime Partners Inc based in Indiana. Dr Barai is widely regarded as a pillar of the Indian community.

“Indian-Americans are the most successful minority in the country, yet currently we do not get the attention we deserve from elected officials because there is no significant powerful group” said Sanjeev Singh, president of ASAR America, a Naperville based technology company.

The Leadership Council of the group includes prominent citizens and community leaders Among them are Gulzar Singh , Nimish Jani trustee Schaumburg Township, Kanti S Patel, Vidya Joshi secretary Bruhan Mumbai Maharashtra, Syed Hussaini vice-president of commercial loans at Wintrust Bank, Khaja Moinuddin trustee Hanover Township, Ulka Nagarkar, Girish Kapur, Shree Guruswamy, Vandana Jhingan TV Asia, Keerthi Ravoorie, Savi Singh, Deepti Suri, Dr Rahul Deepankar , Dr Kamal Patel, Sapan Shah, Gladson Varghese and Ashfaq Syed.

The group intends to organize seminars and debates of public office candidates to create a more informed voter base, create a national list of Indian-Americans and start local chapters in other cities that have a sizable Indian population like New Jersey, New York, Dallas, Los Angeles. The inaugural event of the group is a reception of the Chicago Mayoral candidates for the Indian-American community.
Close on the launching event, the VIA organizers announced that their first lap will be meeting the keenly contested Mayoral election slated for last week of February. This VIA event is planned for Sunday February 10 at Taft High school in Chicago. It will be moderated by Ravi Baichwal, ABC TV Network’s Prime News anchor.

Front-running candidates in the Chicago Mayors race have been invited including Toni Preckwinkle, Gery Chico, Garry McCarthy, Susana Mendoza and Paul Vallas. VIA Voters expects 500 guests to attend the event including business persons, community leaders & the media.
More information about VIA Voters can be found on their website www.VIAVoters.com

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