The Power of Passion!

“I didn’t know about this organization and I am blown away”, said Mrs. Indra Nooyi, CEO of PepsiCo., during her conversation with Dr. M. S. Swaminathan (the inspiration for Asia Initiatives) at the 2014 gala! And being blown away is the most accurate way to describe a guest’s experience at the gala and of our humble organization.


The dream team of volunteers, seen above, made this incredible event happen. As words won’t do justice, today’s blog is a story in pictures and quotes from the gala. We hope you enjoy the summary of this event!

Ambassador Mulay, see below, reminded the guests that Dr. Swaminathan continues to keep alive the Gandhian spirit through his service whereas Mrs. Indra Nooyi brought a human face to a profit world.


This followed a spectacular performance by Devanshi Purohit.


Geeta Mehta, CEO of AI, then presented an overview on our most innovative concept Social Capital Credits (SoCCs).


Dr. Swaminathan, during his conversation moderated by our Senior Board Member Kylie Schuyler, provided the attendees with the secret to happiness in life: Eat once, drink twice, work thrice, & laugh four times”.

Mrs. Nooyi, AI’s 2014 Swaminathan award winner, noted that ‘Creating a more equal society is one of the solution to strive for to help address social ills!’

Kusum and Ron
Kusum and Ron

The MCs for the night, Ron Poe and Dr. Kusum Punjabi, see above, who had deftly handled the switch in agenda items, then launched off the live auction and a paddle raiser. The live auction items ranged from a week in the comforts of a luxury home on the cape in South Africa to dinner for 10 with the Secretary of State Madeleine Albright!


This year, we also had a series of paddle raisers and the one’s that attracted the most interest from the young professionals in the crowd included school supplies for children in Dharavi and talk time minutes for women!

All of this was unfolding over a delicious three course meal prepared by Masterpiece Caterers in the Marine ballroom of the historic India House Club.

Another performance by Devanshi, marked the beginning of the end of the gala. Our gala chair, Eva Haller, then thanked the guests and the volunteers who made the 2014 gala the best one in NYC, yet!

Eva Haller

As guests started to leave and the volunteers started the clean up process, I was left in awe of what we had accomplished together.

In my four years with AI, I have seen us grow this annual event from one where we served food prepared by members of the senior board to the professional event that took place on Friday, October 14th. To someone not involved with AI, given the event, it would be easy to assume that we had professional paid staff orchestrating the gala planning! The fact that every year, the event and the organization has been run on volunteer power is nothing short of remarkable. I feel incredibly blessed for getting an opportunity to be a part of this group of passionate and incredible individuals who with their voluntary contributions continue to bring us to newer heights!

In wrapping up, I am speaking on behalf of my incredible colleagues who will agree that the best part of being an AI volunteer is the support, love, warmth, and blessings that one receives from the two humble co-founders, Mr. and Mrs. Krishen Mehta. In return, our star team, therefore, can’t help but give back in troves and continue to help bring the co-founder’s vision to life.

I encourage you to keep watching this space to catch snippets of our work. You can also follow us on twitter, Facebook, YouTube. And if you want to be a part of our work, write to me at

Until next time,

Surkhab Peerzada, MPH, Jr. board member


Some testimonials:

“I loved the venue, the decor, the dancing and your presentation.” – Raqeul R., Gala guest.

“I was inspired to see the success of the Paddle Raiser and the commitment our guests showed to Asia Initiatives.” Lynn B., Volunteer


2 thoughts on “The Power of Passion!

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