Threads 2019 - The Hindu American SAGA
A grand three-day conference titled, Threads 2019- The Hindu American SAGA was hosted by the World Hindu Council of America from November 1-3, 2019 at the Hilton Hotel, Woburn, MA with more than 400 delegates from 29 states of America and Canada. Threads was first of its kind community driven conference with one goal: to tell the story of the Hindu American. The theme for Threads is to share, appreciate and engage with the larger American community to shape a collective future. After the registration and the evening meet and greet hour with light snacks and drinks, Inaugural Session began in the Flagg Grand Ball Room with conch blowing and Lamp Lighting by the Chief Guests, Special invitees, the sponsors, and the prominent citizens. This was followed by the Convener's Welcome speech by Dr. Jai Bansal Distinguished Fellow, Argonne National Lab. Opening Remarks were made by Hon. Scott Galvin Mayor of Woburn and a Keynote address was presented by Hon. Michael Stanley Dukakis Former Governor of MA. Another enlightening Keynote speaker of the evening was Mr. Rajiv Malhotra, Founder Infinity Foundation. Host's Remarks were delivered by Mr. Sanjay Kaul, Vice President World Hindu Council of America by saying that Threads Conference is about sharing the comprehensive, multi-dimensional contributions Hindu Americans (not just Indian Americans) have made over the past six decades by make America better. Later, a vibrant cultural Program was presented by the young star musicians of Carnatic and Hindustani music namely, Ms. Aishu Venkataraman Violinist accompanied by Mr. Trivandrum Balaji on Mridangam and Mr. Ghatak Karthick on Ghatam. Mr. Vivek Pandya played magical Tabla with Mr. Ramchandra Joshi on Harmonium. The evening was filled with virtuosic playing and exhibited the command of the instruments by the artists.
Next day early morning, a rare musical treat was provided to the audiences by singing melodious morning ragas by Ms. Rachna Bodas. Followed by the second session on Raga Parampara: The pursuit of India Arts and Aesthetics in the Americas. In this interactive session, an artist, a performer, a writer and a cook told the audiences the story of their journey and narrated their dedication and how they tackled their challenges to achieve their dream goals. Moderator Dr. Shekhar Shastri, Entrepreneur, performing Arts & Higher education handled the session very diligently with interesting answers for the questions. The third session focused on exploring opportunities in the US-India commercial relationship and the panelists were of the opinion that the opportunities for innovation and commerce in the bilateral corridor have never been great. So, there is a need for more exploration in commercial relationships to see the impact on the rest of the global economy. Dr. Mukesh Aghi, moderator of this sessions did a good job in bringing out the panelists’ perspectives and answers to the audiences’ questions.
After the break, session 4 highlighted the views of the panelists on the Ancient Wisdom – modern Applications: The emergence of Hindu Americans in the public square. They talked about various mechanisms to expand the role, visibility, and influence of Hindu Americans in these spheres while cultivating skills and opportunities at the gross roots level through effective training, mentoring, developing support systems and networks for young Hindu Americans to enter and succeed in Public Square. They touched upon using the positive Hindu approaches that are driven by inquiry and sustained by vales of non-harming, truth, moderation, universal well-being, as well as comfort with difference and plurality of ideas and opinions. Moderator, Suhag Shukla conducted the session in a professional manner and got all the intelligent answers for the questions raised by the audiences. The panelists of the session five after a sumptuous lunch, talked about a world where humanity and the planet enjoy peace, harmony and health. According to their research, a holistic life style benefits us physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually: watching diet, keep our mind, body active through the practice of yoga and meditation. They recommended that consistency, regularity and self-discipline are the keys in living a holistic lifestyle and keeping a positive outlook and attitude. Moderator, Hillary Garivaltis, executive director of the national Ayurvedic Medical Association coordinated the presentations and panelists viewpoints and answers to the questions very methodically. Later, session six, Innovation - Thinking Non-linearly brought out the standpoints of the eminent enterprisers, investors, scientists about what attributes allow one to think outside the proverbial box and whether these are innate or acquired or both? What factors help one to cultivate them in his/her life? They shared their own stories and the role of these attributes played in their success. It was very interesting to listen to the panelists and their answers to the questions with an intelligent moderator, Mr. Mukesh Chatter who coordinated the discussion very well.
In the evening session 7, after the tea break, the panelists talked about the ethics of emerging lifesaving therapies and technologies and shared their perspectives on how they are collectively working across the healthcare system -– in hospitals, in the pharmaceutical industry (both large & start-ups), in academia, in the tools industry – to accelerate efficient and effective access to life saving therapies and technologies and how they can do so ethically. The curiosity and concerns of the audiences in the having accessibility of tools such as Crispr for gene-editing managed very nicely by the moderator, Dr. Udit Batra by bringing together wise responses from the panelists. After dinner, session eight planned its panel’s presentations on the Science of Consciousness: Lessons from Modern Science and Vedanta. Eminent scientists and philosophers from physics, medicine, biology and cosmology fields talked about a new field of inquiry, inspired by quantum physics, argued that consciousness is much more than electrical impulses and chemical interactions within the brain, and precedes all living things by being fundamental to the universe and how Vedanta holds that consciousness is the only reality. This session brought about an enlightenment among the audiences since the moderators Dr. Subhas Kak and Dr. Anand Venkatraman made this very interesting by synchronizing the ideas of the experts very carefully. In the last session of the day, 11 young ladies and 1 young person shared their stories on how they are making their own ways into the American dream and realizing their ultimate goals. Moderator, Priya Samant did wonderful job in putting this large panel comprising of students and young professionals from various fields who showed their confidence and determination in their endeavors to the audiences.
On Sunday, November 03, early morning session began with Ms. Suchita Rao’s morning melodious ragas that appeased the souls of the delegates. Two morning sessions focused on topics, Imperativeness of Pedagogy for Achieving a Model Society and Knowing Your Motivation: The Thoughtful, Effective, and Joyful Philanthropist. Panelists expressed that a good education system constructively molds the minds of the next generation, its absence causes a nation to stagnate, its people to become ignorant, and its ideas to get frozen in time. They said transmission of civilization happens due to a good education system and parents/joint family support. The panelists on the philanthropy shared their life experiences that inspired them to give and some things that hold them back from giving in certain ways or to certain areas and how they handle them. Their insight certainly provided some giving strategies to the audiences. Both moderators, Prof Amit Tandon and Dr. Kumar Nochur managed their respective sessions very prudently.
Lastly, in the closing session, two keynote speakers Mr. Tahir Gora, Founder of Canadian Thinkers Forum and Mr. Darshak Hathi, International Director of AOL presented their brilliant speeches and Ms. Maha Lakshmi Pula and Neeraj Kumar did their fantastic job on the wrap up. Mr. Sanjay Kaul thanked all the delegates, panelists, invitees, media people, cameramen, sound engineers and stage and venue decorators, Hilton staff, all the members of different committees of the conference and the dedicated volunteers for their time and services and helping the main conference team in making this event a grand success.
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