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IAFPE Honors Ramesh Advani And Priya Mathur

Nirmala Garimella

It is breakfast time at Hotel Khushboo in Lexington,but the food is fuelled by the positive energy of its participants. In the midst of sumptuous cutlets, bhatura, hot and spicy chana and topped with masala chai is the congratulatory buzz going around to Ramesh Advani and Priya Mathur, two talented and dedicated individuals that the Indian American Forum for Political Education (IAFPE) had invited to honor and felicitate on this occasion.

The informal atmosphere soaked in warm wishes from known faces as Dr Dinesh Patel, Puran Dang, Gopi Gidwani, Dr. Dwarakanath, Neelam Wali, Amar Gupta, and a host of others along with members of the IAFPE. Vanita Shastri, President IAFPE dressed in her signature silk sari introduced the two individuals, Ramesh Advani as one who came to the US as a student and Priya Mathur as a second generation Indian American. “It is with pleasure that we felicitate and honor them, and we also need to reflect and discuss issues that the forum ought to do in future,“ she said and hoped that the day’s meeting would point in the direction.

Ramesh Advani, whom Lokvani had introduced earlier in the campaign for its readers, thanked IAFPE for their advisory role and their inspiration. “Some time back, while running my campaign, I was struck by an article in the Boston Globe that headlined 'Why would you be involved'," says Ramesh Advani, ”because it struck a instant chord in my heart. I totally empathized with the person in the story who said that he was making a difference to his family, country and his community.”

“Norfolk”, he said “was a small town known for its neighboring outlet malls in Wrentham and not known to encourage businesses.” But whether it is making a decision about the feasibility of a golf course for his town, or pitching for new businesses to reduce taxes, Ramesh Advani vibrates with positive energy and sound political sense in his new role as Selectmen. "To be active in politics is to commit time and energy and intellect", he said. His tips were 'enjoy being with people, listen, listen, listen and learn to smile a lot'.

The story of Priya Sara Mathur, who is the only Indian American to hold a Statewide office is also one of a kind as she is the first woman to be elected to the Calpers Board in 40 years. A Lexington alumni, she is smart, articulate and pleasing. At Calpers, she is Vice Chair of the Investment Committee. She also serves on various other committees and is a principal financial analyst for Bay Area Rapid transit District (BART). Admitting that India has not been in the list of countries for investors in Calpers, she felt that although there was an effort, the Indian Government was not very responsive. Calling her election campaign a meaningful experience, she urged all those interested in political participation to 'know your people' and approach coalitions unions for maximum exposure. Last but not the least, she said "try to seek support from family and friends". In her case, her sister and mother tirelessly sustained her energy and spirit and her father helped her hand out fliers and pitch in every possible way, throughout her campaign.

The morning then opened to a lively discussion on where the Forum can take up issues in future.

To know more about IAFPE visit www.http://www.iafpe-ne.org/

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