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India Association of Long Island swears in officers
A new president and 11 other executive board members of the India Association of Long Island were sworn into office Sunday at a ceremony at the office of the Nassau County executive.
It was the first time the cultural organization, which has been active for 34 years, held its annual election ceremony at the county’s offices, coinciding with what the group called its biggest election, both in terms of the number of contenders for 12 spots and the number of returned ballots among its 1,400 members.
About 200 people attended the event, which began with the singing of the American and Indian national anthems and cultural dance performances.
Kishore Kuncham, 53, of Bellmore, was sworn in as the group’s new president. Kuncham, who is also superintendent of the Freeport school district, said the well-attended ceremony marked the beginning of what he hoped would be a productive year.
“Every beginning has to have a celebratory event,” he said. “Every new thing has to take off with a blessing and grace and good feelings.”
After taking an oath to follow the bylaws of the organization, Kuncham outlined some of his goals for the year, which include increasing membership and working with Nassau County to build a cricket pitch. He also wants to make strides toward the organization’s longtime dream -- to build a center for internal and public activities that it would call India House.
But as always, he said, the main goal of IALI is to bring unity among the Indian community and promote their culture among the greater community.
“The Indian community is pretty strong in presence in Nassau and Suffolk counties,” said Kuncham, adding that there are about 120,000 people of Indian origin living on Long Island, and in Brooklyn and Queens. “I’m always for anything we can do to bring people together.”
Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano was expected to preside over the inauguration, but canceled at the last minute due to illness.
Deputy County Executive for Health and Human Services Phillip Elliot, who is also a pastor and a bishop, attended the ceremony between leading services at his congregation Sunday morning and serving as keynote speaker for an NAACP function in the afternoon.
Elliot said he was honored to take part in the ceremony and had great respect for the organization.
“I have a special place in my heart for your organization,” he said. “Your work is rich, you're impacting this county and impacting this state.”
The others elected into office Sunday were Satnam S. Parhar as vice president, Ved Behl as secretary, and Bina Sabapathy as treasurer. Ajay Batra, Nishi Behl, Damyanthi Gokhlani, Jyoti Gupta, Veena Lamba, Shoba Prakash, Rashmi Mittle and Gunjan Rastogi were all elected members-at-large and assigned as chairs for individual committees.
Romeo Parhar, 29, of Cedarhurst, whose father was elected vice president of the group on Sunday, said he had previously thought of IALI as a social group for adults. After being involved in his father’s campaign and attending the inauguration, he said he was interested to see how the executive board would go about its goals.
He said he was also impressed with the inauguration ceremony.
“It’s something that more people should have known about and come to,” he said. “It’s actually interesting to be here and to have people from Nassau County government honoring our community.”
Above: Kishore Kuncham, newly elected president of the India Association of Long Island, swears in his fellow executive board members at the Nassau County executive's office in Mineola. (Jan. 13, 2013)