INDIA ABROAD DECEMBER 30, 2016 T2 NY/NJ/CT
By George Joseph
ureshwar Prasad Singh,
who was instrumental
in starting the India
Day Parade in New
York City in 1981 as the
president of the
Federation of India Association
of New York, New Jersey and
Connecticut (FIA) died on Nov.
22 in Kolkata, according to his
youngest son, Navin Kumar
Singh. He was 72.
Born in Bhadvar, Bihar, Singh
was a student leader in the state.
He came to the U.S. in 1969 to
further his education and earned
a doctorate in engineering from
New York University.
When Singh first raised the
idea of an India Day Parade in
Manhattan, there were no takers
for his proposal. Some laughed at
the suggestion as bsing naive,
Singh had told India Abroad in an
earlier interview retelling the history of the parade.
He doggedly pushed for the
idea. He had seen parades organized by other communities and
saw the media coverage they
drew. He believed the Indian
community was ready to have
one of its own.
His persistence paid off and
finally the FIA executive committee gave him the green light.
Singh had no idea where to
start. And nobody in the organi-
zation had any experience organ-
izing such an event. So he went
to the organizers of the Puerto
Rican and Italian parades to find
out how their events were organ-
Singh skipped work — he was
the vice president of a leading
engineering firm, a major supplier to the United States Navy at
the time — and told his supervisors he was going out on official
work. He paid the price: He lost
his job immediately after the first
parade. The first person to prom-ise a float at the parade was
Giriraj of BBN Radio. Soon, the
Richmond gurdwara stepped in,
promising one of its own.
Placido D’Souza, the consul
general at that time, was also
very helpful. But K R Narayanan,
then the Indian ambassador
(later, president of India), was
not very happy. He called Singh
to say it was too early to organize
an Indian parade. Singh replied
that he was not a government of
India employee and that he
would go ahead with the parade
even if there were only a handful
of people to march with the
Then the group began searching for a grand marshal. The first
name on everybody’s mind was
sitar maestro Pandit Ravi
Shankar. Shankar was sick and
could not attend, but suggested
the name of famed classical
music conductor Zubin Mehta.
Mehta, who was in Germany,
“I cried in desperation. I
prayed for a long time with tears
in my eyes,” Singh recalled.
The clouds relented, and Aug.
16, 1981 turned to be a pleasant
and sunny day.
Mehta led the parade, of
which Singh was the grand marshal. The Indian consul general
was among those present.
About 90,000 or more people
turned up from as far away as
Pennsylvania, Singh claimed,
adding that there were 19 floats.
Singh was happy; he had no job,
but his parade was a resounding
New York Times and other
papers carried detailed reports
The number of participants in
parades over the years increased
each year and it has become a
major event for the diaspora.
But in later years, he grew
unhappy with the way the
parade was conducted, saying it
had become an affair of some
communities and was controlled
by a few people.
“It lost the inclusive character.
The parade was started for all in
the Indian community, which is
not happening these days,” Singh
said at the time.
He was also not happy that
film stars were brought as grand
marshals paying lot of money.
That money could be used for
other purposes. “What we need
is to project India to the mainstream Americans,” Singh, said.
The floats also should depict the
culture and life of India, he said,
believing people should get some
knowledge of India through
them. He was the secretary of
FIA from 1978 to 80 and became
president in 1980. Later he
became leader of the NFIA,
Indian Associations for Political
Action and GOPIO.
“Suresh served as secretary
with me in FIA New York before
he took over as the president,”
Noted dancer Lakshmi Anand,
who was the secretary, said,
“Singh was a dear friend and was
like an elder brother. The first
parade brings back warm and
special memories. Tirelessly we
worked together as a family to
bring the parade to fruition. He
was diligent, selfless and deter-
mined to celebrate August 15th
with the parade. We worked on
other fundraisers and projects as
well. His heart was always in
India like many of us and he
breathed his last over there. May
his soul rest in peace.”
After retiring from his career
at the New York City Housing
Authority, he created a temple in
his home village and opened a
school, occupying his time with
other philanthropic work.
He is survived by his wife
Sarswati Singh, sons Binod
Kumar Singh, a Marine veteran;
Pradip Kumar Singh, a state
inspector with the New Jersey
Housing Authority, and Navin
Kumar Singh, program director
of Catholic Charities, Archdiocese
of New York. He is also survived
by eight grandchildren.
He was instrumental in starting the Federation of India Association of NY, NJ and Connecticut
By Ritu Jha
rojects in India to improve
sanitation in rural commu-
nities, to safeguard and
treat female victims of domestic
violence and to achieve a zero
mortality rate for mothers and
their babies are expected to ben-
efit from an estimated $80,000
raised this month at the 34th
annual gala of the nonprofit
Share and Care Foundation. The
event was held on Dec. 10 at the
New Jersey Performing Arts
Center in Newark.
The 2016 gala theme was “I
Am Empowered" and attracted
about 1,600 attendees, raising an
estimated $800,000, according
to cofounder and treasurer Dr.
Shirish Patrawalla. Patrawalla
said although attendance fell
short from last year’s gala with
its 1,800 guests, there were more
funds raised this year, compared
to the $600,000 from the previous year’s event.
"We raised more because 10
new members joined the founda-
tion and the board members
pledge more than last year,"
Founded in 1982, the Share
and Care Foundation is based on
a simple concept: convert
“waste” from the Western world
into much-needed help in the
East. The foundation works with
community NGOs in India to initiate interconnected education,
healthcare, and women’s
empowerment programs to create long-term impact and sustainable change.
This year, supporters got a
closer look at three of the foundation’s landmark projects:
Women’s Empowerment, the
Nirmal Village Program and
Healthcare 2 Unreached. The
women’s program has acted on
behalf of more than 6,000
women experiencing violence,
discrimination, injustice, and
consequent emotional and mental distress.
Nirmal Village Program has
helped built indoor toilets for 750
families and provided sanitation
and hygiene education and train-
ing in rural India. According to
the Share and Care Foundation
web page, $130 buys a family an
indoor toilet as well as sanitation
and hygiene training.
Healthcare 2 Unreached has
goals of a zero mortality rate for
infants and mothers. This is an
ongoing pilot project in Kerja,
Rajasthan, which had previously
had some of the highest of these
mortality rates in the world. The
foundation has a plan to expand
this project in India.
Share and Care Foundation Raises $80,000 for Social, Health Programs
New Jersey fundraiser draws 1,600 supporters to Newark Performing Arts Center
Sureshwar Prasad Singh
Actor Omi Vaidya, seventh from left, with members of the Indian community at the event