Maulana Azad Medical College Alumni Celebrate North American Togetherness

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Dr. Alok Maheshwari, incoming President receiving Certificate of Appreciation from Dr Suneja, current President.

By Jawahar Malhotra

HOUSTON:  If there is a single Indian institution whose graduates have made their mark in the healthcare industry in North America over the past 40 years, then certainly it has to be the medical college that bears the name of one of the noted Freedom Fighters of Indian Independence, Abul Kalam Muhiyuddin Ahmed Azad – commonly referred to as Maulana (an honorific meaning “learned man”) Azad – a firebrand who believed in a secular, enlightened India and became its first Education Minister from 1947 to 1958.

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Dr. Dinesh ChoudhryCME Chair receiving Certificate of Appreciation.

Numerous teaching institutions have been named after Azad – in his native Kolkatta, Aligarh, Bhopal, Hyderabad and Jammu but perhaps the most well-known for the graduates who have come to North America to live and establish their careers is the Maulana Azad Medical College on Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg in New Delhi, just outside the gates of the Old City and the famous Daryagunj district.

Dr. Ashutosh Gupta receiving Bhishm Pitamah and Lifetime    Achievement Award (fr L to R Dr Gupta, Dr Sodhi, Dr Suneja).

Dr. Ashutosh Gupta receiving Bhishm Pitamah and Lifetime Achievement Award (fr L to R Dr Gupta, Dr Sodhi, Dr Suneja).

According to unofficial estimates, there are upwards of 1,700 physicians in North America who claim their medical degrees to the College, which they fondly refer to as MAMCO, and most of them initially settled in the northern cities before many migrated southwards. With their numbers rising, they formed an organization all their own with the long and amusing acronym MAMCOAANA for MAMCO Alumni Association of North America, which celebrates their unique heritage with a convention each year that rotates through different cities in North America.

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Dr. Jagdish Dang receiving Lifetime Achievement Award.

The first reunion was held in 1985 and last year it was held in Toronto. This year, for the second time, the reunion came back to the Bayou City this past weekend, Friday July 24 through Sunday, July 26. Under the guidance and organization of the well-known local cardiologist and 2014-15 President Randeep Suneja (who is a 1983 graduate of MAMCO), the 40 delegates and their families held their 31st reunion with three days of seminars by 12 physicians, renewing acquaintances and organizational meetings at the Omni Hotel off Woodway. Next year’s convention will be held in Minneapolis and the 2015-2016 President Dr. Alok Maheshwari was on hand to extend the invitation for all to attend.

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Youngest performers Nisha and Shivani Suneja.

With the help of the Executive Committee, Suneja proudly enumerated the accomplishments of his term in office, including establishing electronic records of MAMCO graduates to help with the US licensing group ECFMG, reducing the verification time from 3 months to 2 weeks. Also started were educational exchanges between the College and the organization, with guest lectures delivered by to the students, the first one delivered by Suneja himself in November 2014.

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Rhythm India Performers.

Other accomplishments included the creation of a slogan for MAMCOAANA (Education, Excellence, Camaraderie); modification of the group’s insignia and modification of by laws for the first time in 31 years. Visiting Maulana Azad graduate and Padmashree Dr. Kshama Metre, the National Director of CORD (Chinmaya Organization for Rural Development), talked about her work at the NGO. And Dr. Deepak Tempe, Dean of Maulana Azad Medical College, sent a videotaped message felicitating the convention.

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Jay Solanki and Shyamala Ram of Toronto performed for the convention

The event was the occasion to hand out awards to several notable people in the organization for their dedication and service. Dr. Ashutosh Gupta and Dr. Jagdish Dang received Life time achievement awards and the Bhisham Pitamah award was given by Dr. Vimal Sodhi to Dr. Ashutosh Gupta. All 12 speakers and 11 sponsors received certificates of recognition.

A Gala and dinner was held on Saturday, July 26, starting with the pledge to allegiance to the US flag by 6 children and pledge to Texas flag by Nisha and Shivani Suneja (Randeep and Seema Suneja’s 7 1/2-year-old twin daughters). Seema Suneja (Randeep’s wife), who worked tirelessly behind the scenes to coordinate the event was the emcee of the evening.

Entertainment featured DJ Yogi at the turntables, an energetic Bollywood dance by Shivani in a yellow Rajasthani outfit who also performed the song “Eh malik tere bande hum” with her sister Nisha (in a similar outfit). Rounding out the “family” performances, Randeep did a surprise solo dance to the title song from “Badtameez”, to roars of approval.

Dancers from Arzan Gonda’s Rhythm India school performed two pulsating dance numbers and topping it off, the singers Shyamala Ram and Jay Solanki of Toronto (who performed at the convention last year there) sang a medley of Bollywood songs, new and old, for the rest of the evening as the conventioneers danced. A buffet dinner was catered by Bombay Brasserie.