Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray and the Town Board hosted Long Island’s only India Republic Day Ceremony at Town Hall. This holiday marks the establishment of India as a republic and its liberation from British rule.
The event, co-sponsored by the Indian American Forum, featured appearances by distinguished guests, the presentation of Hempstead Town’s 2013 India Republic Day Awards, traditional Indian dances and music, and a cultural food reception provided by Akbar Restaurant of Garden City.
“The Town of Hempstead is proud to be the only municipality on Long Island to host a ceremony that commemorates India Republic Day,” Murray said. “Indian Americans have contributed much to our society, and it is important that we celebrate their achievements and values on this special occasion.”
The 2013 India Republic Day Award winners were Harendra V. Singh and Dr. Parveen Chopra.
Harendra V. Singh, known by many as “H,” migrated to the United States from India in 1979. The oldest son of Dr. Rajesh Singh, an accomplished and renowned Cardio-Vascular and Thoracic Surgeon, Singh’s humble career began as a clerk in Chemical Bank on Wall Street. His inherent drive to success and to further his career led him to two associate degrees in Heating and Refrigeration Engineering and Business Administration from the State University of New York. He went on to work with Sun Property, Inc. and continued his education by earning Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Business Administration at New York Institute of Technology.
While still studying in college in 1988, Singh ventured into the restaurant business, opening a franchised A&W Restaurant in Bethpage. Singh’s desire for growth propelled him to close A&W and reopen with his new name, No Bananas, a 100-seat restaurant with a large adjacent catering facility. The venture was so successful that his revenue increased up to 10 times through 1998. He went on to establish HR Singletons Classic American Grille, which is today the flagship of Singh Hospitality Group, a restaurant, banquet and conferencing facility with a capacity of almost 600 seats. In 2000, Singh also launched a successful partnership with the Town of Oyster Bay, running food concession services at The Woodlands and Tobay Beach. He has continued to expand his hospitality into several operations, including HR Singleton’s, The Woodlands, The Water’s Edge, Poco Loco, The Woodlands at The Greens, Besi Ristorante and Pizzeria, Salsa Shack and Seafood Shack. Singh and his Singh Hospitality Group have received a variety of accolades.
In 2009, Governor David Paterson appointed Singh to serve on the Honorable Board of Trustees for Nassau Community College. He is also active with his father’s nonprofit organization, The Raj and Rajeshwari Foundation, an organization seeking to uplift the lives of the poor and destitute in rural India through medical support and services.
Dr. Parveen C. Chopra is an accomplished scholar, with five graduate degrees and a Ph.D in Business Administration, studying at Panjab University, the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bombay University and City University of New York. He has taught thousands of students as a full-time professor of Management at several local colleges and universities.
Dr. Chopra has been a longtime advocate for civil and human rights. As President of the Federation of Indian Associations for New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, Dr. Chopra led the fight against racism by orchestrating marches and protests and working with government leaders.
Locally, Dr. Chopra served for 20 years on the Nassau County Human Rights Commission, and was the first Indian-American to serve as its Commissioner. He helped enforce human right laws to protect citizens who faced discrimination in employment, housing and public conveniences. He was also the county’s first Asian-American Commissioner of Planning from 1996-2002. Dr. Chopra’s advocacy and community activism spans more than three decades.
He has been recognized by many noted organizations, and has received hundreds of awards and honors. Some of the awards that he has received include the Liberty Bell Award for 2010; the Haywood Burns Memorial Award for 2009; the Dr. Martin Luther King Award; The Ellis Island Medal of Honor in 2005; and the Distinguished Community Service Award by One Hundred Black Men, Inc. in 2003 for enriching relationships between Indian-Americans and the African-American community. Dr. Chopra currently serves as director of the New York Civil Liberties Union and President of the Asian American Coalition USA Inc. He also serves on several boards, including: Bhartiya Vidya Bhavan USA, a premium Indian Institute of Culture and Arts; the Constitution and Elections Committees at the Hindu Center Inc., and the Dr. Martin Luther King Committee, Inc.
Dr. Chopra is also a past chairman of the Indian American Forum, which co-sponsors the Town of Hempstead’s India Republic Day.
The featured keynote speaker for the historic event was Ambassador Prabhu Dayal, Consul General of India in New York. Prabhu Dayal took over as India's Consul General in New York in September 2008. In his previous assignment, he served as Indian Ambassador to Morocco from July 2004 to August 2008. From September 1998 to December 2001, he served as India's envoy to Kuwait. Dayal's 32-year career in the Indian diplomatic service includes high-level posts in India's Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi. From December 2001 to July 2004, he was Joint Secretary in India's Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in New Delhi. He also served as Deputy Secretary in the MEA from May 1985 to April 1988.
He served as Indian Consul General in Dubai, UAE from August 1994 to August 1998 and Counselor in Tehran, Iran from October 1991 to August 1994. He was First Secretary in Geneva, Switzerland from April 1988 to September 1991. He served as Consul/First Secretary in Karachi, Pakistan from December 1981 to May 1985. He was Third Secretary in Cairo, Egypt from July 1978 to December 1981.
“As Americans, we share India’s spirit of democracy, freedom, equality and justice, and we are proud to celebrate that bond today on India Republic Day,” Murray said. “Year after year, our honorees exhibit qualities that make them role models for their fellow Indian Americans, enriching and spreading awareness of their treasured culture.”