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Lokvani Talks To Ramesh Advani

Ranjani Saigal

Ramesh Advani, former Director, Federal Grants Management in the Executive Office for Administration & Finance, was responsible for the operational and financial oversight of 3+ Billion dollars in federal grants received by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. He was recruited by Governor Patrick’s administration to help start up and run the operations of a 7 Billion dollar federal recovery effort for the state in the Great Recession. He served as the Deputy Director of the Massachusetts Recovery & Reinvestment program (“stimulus”) for the Commonwealth.

He is an experienced senior executive with over 30 years of global management in the financial services, high technology medical and materials manufacturing industries. As a former Vice President at Fidelity Investments, he was instrumental in the start-up of Fidelity’s India Operations. Ramesh has also held senior finance, operations, technical customer service, information technology & marketing positions in the medical diagnostics manufacturing industry with Corning, Chiron, Novartis and Bayer.

Inspired by the work of his wife as a School Committee member, Ramesh decided to get engaged in community service for his home town and ran for local office. He became Massachusetts’ first Indian American Selectman and served as Selectman from 2003-2009. He also served as a member of the Commonwealth’s Asian American Commission for several years and ran the Mass Chapter of the Indian American Forum for Political Education. He is currently involved on a pro bono basis with South Asian non-profits, is a Board member of Hearth, a Boston non-profit dedicated to ending elder homelessness and a counselor at SCORE Boston, an organization guiding young entrepreneurs. He holds a Masters in International Business from the University of South Carolina and a Bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay. Ramesh is a Boston resident and manages the finances of a family business franchise in the science education market for early learning, elementary and middle schools in eastern New England and Rhode Island.

 Ramesh Advani talked to Lokvani about this organization and the Colors of the Commonwealth event being held on May 6 at MIT Wong Auditorium at 1:30 pm whose focus is to be united against hate crimes and to learn the mechanism available to safeguard against hate crimes. 

To register, visit: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/colors-of-the-commonwealth-building-alliances-to-combat-hate-tickets-33361323617

Can you tell us a little about IAFPE?

The Indian American Forum for Political Education (IAFPE) known as the Forum, is the oldest and largest Indian American organization for political education in the country. It is nationally recognized for its outstanding work to enhance political awareness among the Indian American community and encourage civic engagement through seminars, symposiums, and their flagship fellowship program. With over 2 million community members, the forum continues to be an organization that stands behind Indian Americans and serves as a voice for our community.

What motivated IAFPE to do the Colors of the Commonwealth event?

There is a  greater sense of personal insecurity and fear of hate crimes, with unprovoked incidents like those in Kansas, Seattle,Washington, etc. Our community which has often been described as a "model minority". but informally, many are abuzz with questions, regarding their personal rights, what to do or who to approach in the event of harassment or discrimination or hate in their homes, towns, workplace, or ports of entry into the country. The Forum and many community leaders felt we need to reach out to legislators and law enforcement and to other communities facing similar issues to learn from their experiences and form alliances to combat hate crimes. We are holding this discussion event as our first step in the process.  

Could you tell us a little about the event?

This is a panel discussion being held on Saturday, May 6, from 1.30 to 4.30pm at MIT (thanks to our hosts - the MIT India Program). It is free and open to all residents of the Commonwealth. It is being held in May - the national month for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. We are honored to have a panel of public safety, civil rights, and organizational leaders from the Jewish and Muslim communities who will participate in a moderated discussion by a prominent Indian American academic to give us their thoughts and action oriented ideas on how to live and work peacefully together to solve issues and get engaged in our towns, cities and schools.We will also have some networking time for the attendees and participants after the discussion.

Who should attend the event?

Many South Asian organizations - and there are several from the Indian and Pakistani diaspora who support this. Many other Asian American and non Asian communities are also joining in. We are encouraging the leaders and members of these social, cultural and ethnic  to attend. Everyone should attend - US citizens, Immigrants, students and anyone who cares about this welcoming, open society we live in. Many Asians who came here as immigrants decades ago, like me, tend to keep their heads down and go about their business, often times very meekly and in an unassuming manner. But our children and grandchildren view their rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as unalienable and just as important as any freedom - and rightly so. We are making valuable contributions to our economy and our way of life and need to assert ourselves. So, the Forum thinks, everyone should attend.

What can people hope to gain out of the event?

People can hope to learn about their rights, who to speak to in case anything was to happen that endangers their daily existence, how they can and should engage with their neighbors in our cities and towns socially and politically in civic matters.

How do you see the future of diversity in the Unites States?

The path of diversity and equality continues to look bright for all in the future, as long as our institutions, the Constitution and the rule of law is preserved and we do not turn the clock back of equal rights for all citizens and residents of the country.

What message would you like to send to the leaders?

For community leaders, I ask they register and come to the event. They should also poll their members for questions and concerns on their minds and send them to us before the meeting so we can get our panelists to address them. We also want them to spread the word and also think about what are the next steps we can take to educate and build coalitions.   

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