Asian Media USA ©

Chicago IL: This past weekend The Federation of Indian Associations (est. 1980) hosted its annual 70th Indian Independence Day Parade and Banquet on August 20-21, 2016 in Chicago Il.   Despite the rain, the annual parade took place as scheduled in Devon Avenue in the heart of Indian community in Gandhi Marg.  Chief guests included 9th District Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, MLA Govt of NCT Delhi Parliamentary Secretary Adarsh Shashtri, Redberri Chairman and CEO Deepak Kant Vyas, Former Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court Dorothy Brown, Illinois 8th District Democratic Candidate Raja Krishnamoorthy, former FIA Trustee and community leader from Indiana Dr. Bharat Bharai, and Smita Shah Parade Chair of Chicago Sister Cities and Co-Chair Syed Hussaini from Wintrust.

Despite the recent decreasing participation in the event by the community due to last minute changes in the program; the entire leadership of FIA (est. 1980) gathered to celebrate the event with great enthusiasm and verve.

The 2-hour event, started with a marching band and flag hoisting ceremony led by   representative from Indian Consulate General Office Consul D.B. Bhatti and President of FIA (est. 1980) Minhaj Akhtar and all dignitaries; followed by procession of floats from local community groups including Air India a and new entry the Indian Motorcycle club who represented the 70th Independence Day celebration.

Despite the turn out, Chief guests Adarsh Shashtri and Patt Quinn both were impressed with leadership.

“ I think it’s very special for everyone who believes in democracy, the United States the first democracy and India the largest democracy. 69 years ago at midnight the democracy of India began and it is very important that we honor that and also honor the friendship of the people of India and the people of America. I have been a part of this parade when it started and its been a long time, it’s a great parade,” commented Patt Quinn.

FIA, Chicago president Minhaj Akhtar thanked the audience, dignitaries and sponsors.

“It is phenomenal to see the enthusiasm from the community leaders.  Indian Americans in the US are a part of the greatest county and democracy of the world and they have come from a country, which is largest democracy. They fact that these 2 democracies can work together not just as countries but as people is the biggest message that we can carry forward,” said Adarsh Shashtri.

The next day FIA held its annual Independence Day banquet at the Meadows Club in Rolling Meadows, Ill, which featured Chief Guest Indian Consulate General Dr. Ausaf Sayeed.

The event began with the rendition of patriotic songs by Jitendra Bulsara who infused the atmosphere with patriotism.

FIA Treasurer Ajeet Singh who invite and give brief introduction. In opening remarks were given by, Adarsh Shastri, who offered his best wishes to the FIA.  “ I would like to thank FIA and Minhajbhai to provide me the opportunity to participate and speak to the community.  Today even more than15,000 KM away from our motherland I am proud and congratulate you on celebrating our nation’s Independence with such enthusiasm and love it is so endearing. “

Adding the progress of Indian as nation has been supplemented greatly by the Indian Diaspora, “ I think a quote by John F Kennedy once remarked people see things which there and ask why, I see things which never were and ask why not? I think that clearly demonstrates the sentiment of Indian people where we have made great strides in development in various aspects of social life, community and country. Over that last few years India has seen a lot a changes politically and economically. I bring a message here that we may have or political differences but when it comes to nation we are united. I hope that in the future we will continue to build a better nation together. ”

Our grand sponsor Wintrust representative Syed Hussaini congratulate FIA, Chicago and audience and commit his full support to the Indian American community.

FIA Founder and Trustee Bhailal Patel introduced Philanthropist, Chairman and CEO Of Redberri Deepak Kant Vyas and thanked him for his whole -hearted participation in both the parade and banquet.  Patel announced that through the leadership of the FIA (1980) Vyas will donate funds for a bust or statue of Mahatma Gandhi in Gandhi Marg and in one of the City of Chicago parks.

Vyas talked about the importance of Mahatma Gandhi’s contribution to world in his address, “As we celebrate 70 years of India’s independence 100 years back “pravasi” like us come back to India with one mission to unite and lead us to Independence and his teachings are more relevant than ever today, and become of the greatest brands India has, which was Mahatma Gandhi.  He gave to us not only Independence but also the vision for “Swaraj” and has become the core basis for peace, inspired not only our freedom but freedom across the world.”

 Tim Choi representative from the Office of Leslie Munger Chief Financial Officer of State of Illinois shared her message stating, “My heartiest congratulations to FIA of Chicago, in the State of Illinois Indian Americans represent great pride and a limitless potential.”

The FIA honored Dr. Deepak Kant Vyas Chairman and CEO of Redberri Group for his support to the Indian American community.

The FIA honored Midwest Bureau Chief Vandana Jhingan for her work in the community. The award was presented by Dr. Ausaf Sayeed on behalf of the FIA (1980) was in recognition of Jhingan’s “fearless journalism” and community service that she has been rendering to Chicago land for more than 20 years.  “I would like to thank the FIA for this recognition and add this award was earned and not bought, “said Jhingan on stage after receiving the award.

The FIA honored Mr. Khan Lateef Khan the chief editor of India largest Urdu newspaper Munsif also businessmen from Chicago. Also for his Urdu Munsif TV worldwide establishment.

The highlight of the event was a patriotic skit and dance performed by Shalini Saxena, which commemorated the sacrifices made by those who lost their lives to achieve Indian independence 70 years ago.  The patriotic performance received a standing ovation from the entire audience.

Banquet Chair, Ravi Harsoor big supporter of our community congratulate everyone on independence celebration and delivered a brief introduction of FIA Chicago President Minhaj Akhtar and invited him to speak. President Minhaj Akhtar talked about the struggle for independence by our forefathers. He also emphasized on the impact of India’s forefather, Lal Bahadur Shastri, who came to Hyderabad, India, and asked Nizam for a donation to build a stronger Indian army, to secure the nation’s borders. The Nizam supported Lal Bahadur Shastri, and this agreement secured India’s independence. FIA President Minhaj Akhtar also spoke on unity, regardless of religious beliefs and differences.

Minhaj Akhtar invited the Indian Consulate General of Chicago to speak.

Most touching address was by Indian Consulate General Dr. Ausaf Sayeed,  “ I would like to congratulate the FIA (1980) for carrying out the Indian Independence and Republic Day events with due dignity and solemnity. It is very important that when we celebrate any national events, they are celebratory in nature but at the same they are very solemn.  There have been enormous sacrifices made by thousands of people who have made these days possible by shedding their blood and their lives, and these events serve as a tribute to them. I was very moved and emotional by the performance of Shalini Saxena.”

Sayeed talked about the live broadcast of the Indian Independence Day parade in NY and how he feels that Indian American diaspora in the Midwest also has an enormous potential which can be translated into a positive energy.   “There are occasions when we all should forget our differences and work together, I don’t see any reason why we cannot have 50,000 people at our events” said Sayeed.

A vote of thanks was delivered by FIA Chicago Trustee Satish Gabhawala and Banquet MC Sanhita Agnihotri.


Photographs and Press release by: Asian Media USA