REPORT & VIDEO BY JYOTHSNA HEGDE
Photos by Vinod Sharma, SFA Productions
Atlanta, GA, June 6, 2019: Cultural performances, fashion show, awards ceremony, and eloquent speeches inundated the Hilton Perimeter premises at the inauguration and induction ceremony of the Atlanta chapter of Indo-American Press Club (IAPC) held on May 5, 2019. Hon. Dr. Swati Kulkarni, Consul General of India, Atlanta, and Hon. George Hutchinson, Chief Judge, Gwinnett County Superior Court presided as chief guests for the evening. Guest speakers included Barbara Bender, Mayor, Snellville, Subhash Razdan, Chairman Gandhi Foundation, Narender G Reddy, Political activist, community leader.
Mathukutty Easo, General Secretary National Executive committee welcomed the guests, followed by lighting of the lamp by the guests of honor.
Cultural segment, coordinated by Mustafa Ajmeri and Binu Kasim showcased singing, dance and a very apt fashion show featuring popular fictional characters, by Swati Takur. The night was anchored by an enthusiastic Vrishali Deshpande.
“Press if the sunshine that shines the spotlight on the governments. You serve as an independent monitor of the people you cover,” said Judge Hutchinson.
“The Consulate and IPAC are growing together and I’m glad a woman is leading the efforts,” said Dr. Kulkarni in her address. Highlighting the key role of journalism, Dr. Kulkarni said a good newspaper serves as the face of the nation and backbone of democracy. “Press in India is at the forefront of democracy, she said, adding it was one of India’s top employers. Structural efforts and international conferences with US and India can find ways to monetize brain drain into brain gain, she noted.
“In the effort to fill 24-hour supply of anything, news reporting has lost some credibility. There is loss in trust. It has created a perception that journalists are on the job for a headline. Let the IAPC be the organization committed to promote unbiased, and accurate coverage of all event with fairness and objectivity. Be the news organization to verify information before it’s a headline. Engage with community leaders to spur informed conversations to challenge the status quo.” Said Mayor Bender citing the misinterpreted viral video of students mocking a native American.
“Media is not doing a responsible job. Media is creating news that is not news but opinions. Media with its own agenda is a big problem for democracy. Biased media causes rifts even in social cirlces,” said Reddy, citing personal examples of drifted old friendships resulting from prejudiced media. He however concluded that despite the media bias, Trump was elected President, thanks to social media.
Complimenting local media personalities, Razdan traced the various media milestones all the way from radio, B/W TV, Doordarshan, Cable, CNN and President Trump, who he said had a different kind of “handle” on the media. Razdan also stressed on the importance of packaging the news, with little bit everything including news, Bollywood, and humor. “Whatever media you are part of, try to being authentic news, get your audience interested,” said Razdan complimenting NRI Pulse in that area.
Jomy George, Chapter Secretary and Kalyani Sudhir presided over the award ceremony. Recipients were recognized for excellence in their field of work. Veena Rao, Publisher/Editor-in-chief, NRI Pulse received the award for Media Excellence, Vinod Sharma, SFA Productions, received Photo Journalist Award, Anjali Chhabria, TV Asia, received the Visual Media Award, Shiv Aggarwal, Owner, Global Mall, received the Lifetime Achievement Award, Dr. Mathew Kandathil received the Humanitarian Award, Narayan Seva Sansthan, represented by Manoj Barot received the Community Service Award and Prabha Raghava received the Entrepreneur Award.
Oath ceremony, presided by Ginsmon Zacharia, Founder and Former Chairman, pledged in Atlanta Chapter members including Mini Nair, President, Lukose Tharian, Vice President, Jomy George, Secretary, Joseph Varghese, Treasurer. Advisory Board includes Anthiny Thaliath as Chairman, with Alex Thomas, Prakash Joseph, Harmeet Singh, and Lada Bedi.
Atlanta chapter Ex-President, Dominic Chackonalwas, National executive members Anil Augustine and Sabu Kurian, Jamaluddien, Ninan Kodiath, Prasad Philipose and Thomas Kalladan were also present at the event.
“IAPC aims to bring together the media groups and the Indian American media persons across the United States under one umbrella to work together and support one another, to give them a powerful voice in the media world and the larger society,” said Mini Nair, in her presidential address. She thanked all volunteer, coordinators and sponsors, 27th Investments and Drs. Subramanya Bhat and Anu Bhat.