MILFORD, MA—Approximately 1,000 people attended India Visa Camp in Milford, MA, organizers of the event said. The day-long event was organized by Indo-American Community and Federation of Indian Associations (FIA), New England, in partnership with Indian Consul General’s Office, New York, along with VFA (Visa Facilitation Services).
Indian Consular VISA Camp 2021 program titled ‘The Indian Consulate @Your Doorstep’ was held at Double Tree Hotel in Milford, MA, on Saturday May 8, 2021.
This event was held in the light of COVID-19 outbreak and struggles of people to travel to India to meet their loved ones, in sickness and death during this pandemic.
“More than one thousand people attended the program that included more than 600 registered applicants and around 400 walk-ins from the entire New England Region: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont and took the advantage of the VISA services,” organizers said in a statement.
The VISA Camp volunteers categorized their services into 5 groups – 1) OCI, 2) Passport, 3) Consular, 4) Miscellaneous, 5) Reserved and provided drive-through services such as temperature checkup, sanitization, and examination of CDC COVID-19 screening doc, checklist of docs for different services and guided them to the parking lots per their category.
One key person per family was allowed into the waiting room and given a numbered token for his/her respective service. This process started from 6:30am until 5:00Ppm. The actual review and approval of applications for New/renewal of Overseas Citizen of India (OCI), PIO to OCI Conversion, Indian Passport Renewal, Emergency Visa for India was held between 8:30am to 5:00pm by the Consulate and VSF officers and submitted on the spot for further processing. They also rendered services regarding Power of Attorney, Attestation, Life Certificate etc. and addressed questions related to VISA.
Simultaneously, the FIA started its program with a welcome and thank you note by Shova Sharma and observed a moment of silence for those who died all over the world due to Corona Virus. Robert Lancia, former Republican Party member of the Rhode Island House of Representatives, representing District 16 held a prayer in the name God to give strength to everyone to get through this challenging time.
All the participants sang National Anthems of USA and India. Chief guests of the program were introduced to the audiences by Abhishek Singh. Randhir Jaiswal, Consul General of India, New York said that an effort to get as many Indians vaccinated as possible has been terribly outmatched by the speed of the virus devastating the country. Help is pouring in from different countries in the world and hope to get out of this situation soon.
“Massachusetts is willing to extend all kinds of help to India,” said Carolyn Dykema, the Massachusetts State Representative from the Massachusetts House of Representatives’ 8th Middlesex district made up of Holliston, Hopkinton, Southborough, and precinct 2 of Westborough.. She requested all the community leaders to contact her in person for any help from healthcare equipment to logistics.
Ramesh Kapoor, Dr. Dinesh Patel, S. P Kothari, the Gordon Y. Billard Professor of Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management and Justice Sabita Singh, Appeal court Justice of Commonwealth of Massachusetts, also promised their helping hand to the Indian government and other non-profit organizations. Sumita Gokhale sang a patriotic Hindi song.
In the presence of FIA Chairman Ankur Vaidya, Anil Bansal, Sujal Parik, Anand Patel, Pravin Bansal, Sourin Parek all the new officers of FIA New England Chapter were sworn in: Abhishek Singh, Shova Khanal Sharma, Deepak Rathore, Rakesh Kavasari, Amol Penshanwar, Gautam Patel, Karan S
Salian, Karthikeyan Ramu, Prashant Sharma, Kashish Khurana, Ishan were sworn in by Honorable Randhir Jaiswal, Consul General of India, New York in the oath ceremony. This was followed by a brief speech by Anil Bansal, FIA President and Sujal Parik.
Indo-American Community and FIA received citations from the Governor Daniel J. McKee of Rhode Island and the Massachusetts President of State Senator Karen Spilka.
FIA recognized several community leaders: SP Kothari, Dr. Dinesh Patel, Amit Singh, Girish Mehta, Shefali Kelyani, Raju Datla and Upendra Mishra, for their passionate services. Platinum Sponsor Recognitions were given to Jamsan Hotel Managemen Inc, and PelMed: Bhupen Patel.
FIA Unsung Heroes Awards were conferred in recognition of exceptional service/performance of the highest order to Geetha Patil (Media), Team Aid: Mohan Nannapaneni & Rama Penumarthy ( Community Service), Anil Chawla (Social Reformer), Dr. Saraswati Muppanna( HealthCare) , Gauri Banerjee (Women Emoporment), Geena Vermani, Shova Khanal Sharma (Volunteer Service) by Honorable Randhir Jaiswal, Indian Consul General, Shatrughan Sinha, Deputy Consul General.
Token of appreciations were also given to Murugesan Ramaswamy, Consul (CPV), Srikant Kumawat,Saylee Bhalerao, Team Member,Khushboo Bhandari,Rajani Thapa, & VFS Global US Operation Head Sonia Dhayagude and team. Sponsor Recognitions by Shova included Mark Freeman, EZ Tax, Godavari Restaurant of Rhode Island, Sumana Veera, Vijaya Yelchuru, Amr Jayam, Arpita Shah, Dr. Lakshmi P. Thalanki.
President FIA,New England Abhishek Singh and Commissioner Meena Bharati of Asian American Commission of Massachusetts offered a vote of thanks to the partner organizations, media partners, health partners, sponsors, participants, volunteers and Double Tree Hotel staff. Namrata, Shova Sharma, Abhishek Singh, Jyoti Singh and Meena Bharath did wonderful work as emcees of the program.