On our July 19th "Samosa and Chai" speaker and networking event GIACC hosted Imad and Reem Younis; co-Founders of Alpha Omega Engineering, a global high-tech company with offices in Nazareth, Israel, Atlanta, Germany and China that incidentally celebrates its 25th Anniversary this year. The session was attended by over 50 people and organized at AC Hotel Atlanta Buckhead at Phipps Plaza.

Imad and Reem talked about their journey as fresh young Engineering graduates just out of college in Israel looking for a challenging career who had to venture into tech innovation and start Alpha Omega because discrimination against ethnic minorities like themselves kept all the career jobs out of reach. Through these struggles where they had to operate in shoestring budgets and uncertain futures they developed innovative engineering solutions for Neuroscientists specifically in the field of neuromodulation work in animals. Imad and Reem shared that they key to their success was hard work and dedication of course but more importantly working closely with end users and Customers. They spent the first decade simply building solutions working directly with Scientists who one after another became their Customers.

As business grew, Alpha Omega made took its biggest step forward by venturing into medical devices by securing FDA approval for its products and technologies that they had so diligently developed with Neuroscientists working in animals. Since then, Alpha Omega has grown to close to over 100 employees worldwide with the largest market share in the United States in electrophysiological mapping equipment and technology for Deep Brain Stimulation Surgery (DBS). DBS is a procedure where electrodes are implanted in the brain in very specific nuclei or targets for alleviation of symptoms in movement disorders like Parkinson’s disease using electrical stimulation in the brain. To enable the Surgeons to place those chronic implants in the right locations in the brain, Alpha Omega has FDA approved solutions including hardware and software that help the surgical team perform electrophysiological mapping essentially acting as a GPS of the Brain (https://www.alphaomega-eng.com/haguide-30.html) for the mapping part of the DBS procedure.

Imad and Reem shared that they Company’s mission is to help standardize the DBS procedure so that it can be performed efficiently, effectively and quickly by more and more neurosurgeons worldwide making the procedure accessible to tens of millions of patients that are unable to have access to DBS. Alpha Omega has substantial interest in helping patients of movement disorders in India by bringing cost-effective solutions since DBS is still an extremely unaffordable procedure in India currently accessible to a very small percentage of the patient population.

The session rounded off with the point that a Company started by two people from an ethnic minority in Israel because they couldn’t find jobs because of discrimination is now one of the leading high-tech companies in Israel employing people of all faiths, demographics and religions. Imad and Reem Younis were recently recognized by the Israeli government to be among the top 10 technology innovation Leaders of the last 70 years since Israel’s independence.

Related Links of Interest

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The Georgia Indo-American Chamber of Commerce (GIACC) hosted the Atlanta Indian Film Festival over the weekend, on May 11 and 12, 2018, at the beautiful Historic Academy of Medicine at Georgia Tech, in Midtown Atlanta. Key partners in this initiative were the Consulate General of India – Atlanta, the New York Indian Film Festival, the Atlanta Film Festival, and the India China and America (ICA) Institute.

The film festival was in keeping with the mission of the GIACC, namely, to develop, encourage, promote, and foster trade, business, financial, or professional interests and commercial relations between India and the United States, including, specifically, Georgia. Recognizing one of the rapid growth sectors currently attractive to both countries as being the film/TV industry, (the movie industry in the State of Georgia has grown in the last decade from $240 million in 2007 to its current $9.5 billion), GIACC decided to focus on this initiative as its flagship event for 2018.

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Lighting of the lamp with GIACC Chairperson Unmesh Mishra, CGI Nagesh Singh, President of GIACC Anita Ninan, Deputy Director of Mayor’s Office of International Affairs Vanessa Ibarra, and Dr. Jag Sheth. (Photo: Vinod Devlia)

 

 

 

 

Read the full story in the June 2018 issue of Khabar magazine.

Click the images below to see videos about May's film festival.

Film Festival Program   Film Festival Banners

To follow the career of Natarajan Ramji, who likes being known as the “Location Guru” for the Indian film industry from “Bollywood to Tollywood,” it’s best to have an atlas handy.

As chairman of the Chennai, India,-based Travel Masters India firm, he finds exotic locations around the world for film producers across India.

For Mr. Ramji, it all started in Singapore, but not with films. At first in the early 1990s he produced locations for music videos. Switzerland then became a desired location for the MV TV-type productions.

Due to climate change, however, Switzerland’s settings became less reliable and he began exploring locations in New Zealand and elsewhere.

As of now, he’s traveled to more than 110 countries and instead of locations for music videos, he’s into the movies big time, taking care for his clients of all the details for a successful Bollywood film to the extent of even arranging for Indian cooks for the casts.

On May 11, he’ll be flying into Atlanta from Iceland to check out Georgia’s claims as the “Hollywood of the South” and to attend the inaugural Atlanta Indian Film Festival being organized by the Georgia Indo-American Chamber of Commerce.

Lee Thomas, the deputy commissioner of the Georgia, Film, Music and Digital Entertainment Office of Georgia’s Department of Economic Development, is arranging a tour of the Pinewood Studios Atlanta in Fayetteville.

No doubt, Mr. Ramji will be getting an ear full about films ranging all the way back to Gone With the Wind with updates about locations across Georgia for hundreds of feature films, commercials, music videos, along with television movies, series, and specials. And that’s not to mention the tax incentives the state offers.

The film festival to be held at the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Historic Academy of Medicine will feature four films dealing with a wide variety of themes ranging from the ambitions of a nude model in an art school to the adventures of a modern homebuyer in India.

Anita Ninan, the president of the Georgia-Indo American Chamber, told Global Atlanta that the “India Meets Georgia” film festival is the culmination of a GIACC trade mission she led to India two years ago and sustained efforts of the GIACC to promote this opportunity to connect the Indian film industry with Atlanta and Georgia.

During the mission, the delegates visited a number of film and television institutes and met with actors, producers, directors and well-known Bollywood film studios to whom they were introduced by Nagesh Singh, India’s consul general based in Atlanta.

The two-day festival is to open on May 11th with a reception to be attended by Mr. Ramji and visiting Indian film directors, actors and screenwriters including Ravi Jhadav, Raj Shetty, Eisha Marjara and Ravi Kashyap, who will interact with Atlanta city officials, and Atlanta film representatives.

Academicians. including Dr. Jagadish Sheth, Charles H. Kellstardt professor of marketing at the Goizueta Business School at Emory University and Dr. John R. McIntyre, a professor at Georgia Tech, also will be participating.

It is being held in collaboration with the New York Indian Film Festival, the Atlanta Film Festival, the India China and America Institute and the Indian Consulate in Atlanta.

To learn how to get involved in the festival, click here, and to learn more about it, send an email to Ms. Anita Ninan at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The original story appeared in Global Atlanta on May 4, 2018.

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On February 28, 2018, GIACC hosted its first  "Samosa and Chai" Speaker Series featuring Leher Thadani as our special guest speaker at Jai Ho Indian Kitchen and Bar, in Atlanta.  The event was well attended and greatly appreciated by GIACC members who attended. The event began with networking over drinks and delicious snacks prepared by our host, Jai Ho. Networking was followed by an introduction given by Ms. Anita Ninan, President, GAICC. Ms. Ninan spoke about the mission of the GIACC and introduced Ms.Thadani.

Ms. Thadani is currently Associate Director, Public Affairs, with Edelman India Pvt. Limited. At Edelman, Ms. Thadani advises government and corporate clients across a wide variety of sectors, including automotive, food & beverage, chemicals, and energy, on stakeholder engagement campaigns and crisis communications management. Previously, Ms. Thadani worked as a Government Consultant with Ernst & Young’s Government Advisory Service, where she was responsible for driving industrial investment in states, enabling performance improvement of government schemes and programs, and developing industry-focused policies for India's Central and State-level governments. Ms. Thadani is a graduate of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and George Washington University.

At the presentation, Ms. Thadani focussed her presentation on:

  • Highlights of the 2018 Union of India Budget and the potential impact on Indian industries
  • Key legislative/policy developments that have affected businesses and the operating environment in India over the last calendar year

This was followed by an interesting Q & A session with attendees asking questions relating to the Union of India budget, "Make in India" initiative and its impact, the Indian Economic survey, and other questions.  Ms. Ninan closed the event by thanking Ms. Thadani, our host for the evening - Jai Ho, and giving a short brief of the upcoming programs of GIACC.

2018 GIACC Group Board Pic 2 7 2018The Georgia Indo-American Chamber of Commerce’s board of directors elected Anita Ninan of counsel at the law firm of Arnall, Golden & Gregory LLP, Jan. 11 as its president and Unmesh Mishra, area vice president, Larsen & Toubro Infotech Ltd., chairperson. The board also re-elected five former members and four new members.

Additionally, it outlined an ambitious schedule of events for 2018 including a film festival in collaboration with the Indian Consulate General, the India China America Institute and the Atlanta Film Festival.

It is planning a “Smart Cities” seminar in collaboration with Skipping Stone, a global energy markets consulting and technology services firm and the law firm of Thompson Hine LLP to be held on March 7.

Ms. Ninan told Global Atlanta that the event is to focus on promoting international business by importing and exporting goods and services as well as highlighting the Indian government’s Smart Cities initiative.

“GIACC is excited to bring this event to its membership since it is in line with its mission, goals and objectives, namely to promote and foster trade, business, financial or professional interests and commercial relations between India and the United States, specifically Georgia,” Ms. Ninan said.
Former chairpersons and current board members Ash Thakker and Sonjui Kumar.

The chamber is to continue hosting trade missions such as the one from the Indo American Chamber of Commerce in Chennai, India, that came to Atlanta last year and the local event held with the Sandy Springs Chamber where a number of its members described their visits to India.

And it will continue its (now) annual cricket match with the British American Business Council.

The following were re-elected to the board: David Gault, Direct Resources Group, president; Sonjui Kumar, KPPB Law, founding partner; Unmesh Mishra, L&T Infotech, area vice president; S.K. Ray, Forar Tech LLC, vice president and Ash Thakker, Global Technology Connection, president.

New members elected to the board: Sudipto Banerjee, The Boston Consulting Group; Jaymen Chavda, Chugh LLP, associate; Grace Multani, Wells Fargo Bank, adviser; Srivastan Pallavaram, Alpha Omega Co. USA, Inc. (from Nashville, Tenn.)

The original article appeared in Global Atlanta.

 

BrIndCricket Together1776680The two teams's players donning official uniforms (BABC in orange color) and (GIACC in blue), flaked by two West Indian umpires, Oral Simpson and Conrad Rogers, posed for group photographs and introductions by their respective captains.

Despite very cold and cloudy weather, the match began promptly at 12:30 pm when India’s opening pair of Rohan and Rishi walked to the crease. West Indian cricket commentator Enos Phillips (from Guyana) engaged the spectators with his fluent, crisp, and often amusing ball by ball commentary. India team made a slow start but later increased the pace with a flurry of shots by Rohan Dabir who scored 22 runs off 22 balls. But runs came slowly in just ones and twos. Due to drizzle, play stopped after six overs when India was 64/1. The players and spectators used the break to enjoy snacks and hot coffee/tea. Due to weather and time constraint, it was decided to play 14 instead of 20 overs match. Rishi retired after scoring 13. And Gautam stepped in. He hit a few crisp drives but got out for 19. Ketan, Tanmay, Sapan, Ashish, and Jinish batted but none could score against England team's bowlers Farrakh, Tom, Adeel, Andi, and Gordon. Three batsmen retired. England threw away 29 runs in extras! GIACC closed its innings at 109/3.

Read the full story in the December 2017 issue of Khabar magazine.

The Georgia Indo American Chamber of Commerce (GIACC) organized a summer networking social on June 22, 2017 at The Buckhead Club. Sponsored by UBS Financial Services, the event was well attended and included special guests from the Sandy Springs Chamber of Commerce who spoke about their trip to India. “Desktop Yoga” was also a topic, as well as making donations to overseas charities.

Jan Paul, executive director of Leadership Sandy Springs, speaks about her visit to India with the Sandy Springs Chamber of Commerce at the GIACC event hosted at The Buckhead Club.Sandy Springs’ leadership included Tom Mahaffey, president/CEO, Sandy Springs Chamber of Commerce; Jan Paul, executive director of Leadership Sandy Springs; Jim Kelley, CPA, board member of SS Chamber; and Charan Singh, M.D., board member of SS Chamber.

​Mahaffey and Paul spoke about their recent trip to India where they met with industry leaders and explored future business and tourism opportunities in Mumbai and New Delhi. Singh also shared his experiences and the very positive steps being taken by the chamber to make Georgia a lucrative destination for investors. Additionally, Paul spoke about Bollywood’s bustling film industry as well as STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) programs empowering the youth of India, many of whom are coming to Atlanta to further their studies and careers.

IMG 8148​“Desktop Yoga” was demonstrated by Mona Shah and Nalini Mehta of TLEX in honor of International Yoga Day. The TLEX program (Transformational Leadership for Excellence) is a customized course offered to companies, that uses the basic tenets of yoga and breathing exercises to help increase productivity, efficiency, and employee wellness.

​​Langley Respess of UBS, a new GIACC corporate member, spoke about the wealth management firm and its work with the Indian community, assisting in various issues related to cross-border financial transactions and wealth planning. He spoke specifically about donor advised funds that can be used by U.S. families to make tax deductible donations to overseas charities, including charities in India.

“The Sandy Springs Chamber of Commerce’s trip to India to explore future business opportunities in India is a true testament to the unified success the State of Georgia and India can achieve,” said Sonjui Kumar, GIACC’s chairperson and partner at KPPB Law. “The opportunities and relationships that the leadership of Sandy Springs forged in their trip is exactly what GIACC aims to foster in Georgia.”

In its mission, GIACC protects, develops, encourages, promotes, and fosters trade, business, financial, or professional interests and commercial relations between India and the United States, including specifically Georgia.

The original story appeared in the August 2017 issue of Khabar magazine.

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Strong international relationships support the state's favorable trade climate.

If your next-door neighbor owned a car dealership, you might turn to them first when you needed a new vehicle. Or if you decided to try your hand at keeping beehives in your backyard, you might offer your neighbors first choice at that locally produced honey.

Now imagine that with dollars attached. Big dollars.

That’s a little what it’s like when it comes to international trade and Georgia. In 2016, the state’s exports pulled in more than $35.5 billion, with $5.9 billion and $3.6 billion of that coming from our closest neighbors, Canada and Mexico, which rank No. 1 and 2 in terms of export markets.

Although exports are down $3 billion from 2015, Georgia maintained its rank as 11th in the country in exports. It’s 7th in imports, and international trade accounts for $121 billion dollars overall in the state.

Across Georgia, more than 14,500 businesses, most of them small or medium-sized companies, are involved in exports. And that dollar amount supports about 200,000 jobs, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.

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Trade Winds

Although Georgia’s exports did decline in 2016, Waters notes that may be a product of an improving economy creating a bit of a headwind. “During the recession, export growth was one of the only bright points,” she says. “The strength of the dollar was favorable, so we saw a lot of export growth from 2011 to 2014.”

But despite a stronger dollar now, there are plenty of places ripe for more trade. Take India, for example – it ranks 21st in terms of exports and 8th for imports, but it’s a big player at the Port of Savannah, where cargo coming to and from India has increased by more than 50 percent in the past 6 years.

Sonjui Kumar, chair of the Georgia Indo-American Chamber of Commerce, says that since India is “second only to China as the powerhouse out of Asia,” there are plenty of opportunities to increase trade and foreign direct investment. She says Georgia has a big advantage with the Indian Consulate combined with a sizable Indian population in Atlanta.

Waters says that services is another area that is “big for Georgia and getting bigger everyday.” It’s harder to quantify, since export numbers are all based on the dollar value of goods, not services. But service sectors that are strong in the state include design, construction and architecture, film, financial tech, and education and tourism.

As for uncertainty in trade policy at the national level, Kumar says the Georgia story is unified and upbeat. She recalls a trip to India in January where her message was “We know there’s a change at the federal level, but [Atlanta] is still a welcoming city – the mayor, the governor, everyone has said that we are still open for business and we are not turning away trades.”

Read the full article: The original article appeared in Georgia Trend in June 2017 

Better exchange between the U.S. and India can address deficiencies in each of their respective health care systems, creating immense commercial value and healthier citizens in the process, a group of medical and technology experts said during a recent forum at the Consulate General of India. IMG 2444

While it has some of the best technology and treatments in the world, the U.S. health care system is expensive and unwieldy, really operating as a “sick care” system that doesn’t value preventive medicine, some said.

Little standardization of health care data among multiple payers means that providers can’t efficiently use it to improve outcomes.

“It’s really akin to you going to the ATM of a different bank and not being able to withdraw money. It’s really that serious,” said Saurabh Sinha,, CEO of eMids Technologies, which uses specially trained Indian IT workers to translate data into forms that make sense for researchers and doctors.

Plus, the insurance system in the U.S. detaches the patient from the true cost of their care.

“We have cultivated a generation of people, including myself, who are used to somebody else paying for health care,” Raja Ramachandran, director of product management at Change Healthcare, said at an Oct. 25 event organized by the Georgia Indo-American Chamber of Commerce in partnership with the consulate.

India, on the other hand, has succeeded at making top-notch care available (at least in major cities) at rock-bottom prices. A relatively poor country where insurance is still largely a foreign concept, doctors and hospitals have had to focus on cutting waste and focus on the entrepreneurial concept of a “minimum viable product.” That is, they use innovation to find the cheapest way to an acceptable outcome on a given procedure or device.

The marriage of these two national systems — or at least more interaction between them — would benefit both, and the more than 100,000 doctors of Indian origin in the U.S. are in a prime position to assist in making these connections.

Jayesh Sheth, or Dr. J, as he called himself, is one of those that works in both locales, and he’s noticed more of an appetite among the diaspora to work together for India’s benefit — and to tap business opportunities.

“I’m in Atlanta for 12 years now, and really I’m getting connected now,” said Dr. Sheth, CEO of Zilmed, which specializes in geriatric care.

Experts agreed that India has created a consumer culture around health care, while the American system has created ways to standardize quality care, even if the prices for it can vary wildly.

One advantage India has is scale, said Srivastan Pallavaram, a staff scientist at Vanderbilt University whose research helped develop a therapy that implants electrodes into the brain to treat Parkinson’s Disease. The procedure helps with tremors and other symptoms; the problem is that being off by just a few millimeters can create significant side effects.

With a base of more than 4 million Parkinson’s patients but few hospitals able to conduct such “deep brain stimulation” surgeries, Mr. Pallavaram sees immense value in the possibility of using data from procedures to better model implantation locations for future surgeries.

Data — collecting it first, and then being able to meaningfully use it — was seen as the next frontier in health care in the U.S., from information gathered from the sensors in wearables to data garnered from clinical trials conducted in India’s huge patient pool. Even the seemingly mundane area of claims processing is an area ripe for disruption through data.

India has an opportunity to avoid some of the negative aspects of the U.S. system as it develops.

For instance, telemedicine is already becoming integral to providing care across a massive nation with millions outside the reach of traditional health care infrastructure. The government’s Aadhar program, a system of ID numbers tied to biometric data, can also help with scale. Nearly 1 billion people have been catalogued in the system.

“In some ways that’s easier to build from the ground up in a system that’s emerging than it is to graft that onto a system that’s already well established here,” said Mr. Ramachandran.

Nagesh Singh, consul general of India, provided opening remarks and hosted the event, after which a dinner was held at the consulate.

The full list of speakers included:

  • Mr. Sameer Bhargav, Chief Technology Officer (CTO), SaaS Healthcare
  • Dr. Srivastan Pallavaram, Sr. Staff Scientist, Vanderbilt University
  • Dr. Barry Patel, Executive Vice President at Indegene
  • Mr. Maqbool Patel, Chief Technology Officer (CTO), Vincari
  • Dr. Jayesh Sheth M.D., Chief Executive Officer, Zilmed.com
  • Mr. Saru Seshadri, Chief Executive Officer, Ultramatics
  • Mr. Raja Ramachandran, Director Product Management, Change Healthcare
  • Mr. Saurabh Sinha, Chief Executive Officer, eMids Technologies

Anita Ninan, an attorney at Arnall Golden Gregory LLP and a board member of the GIACC, moderated the panel.

Read the original article here.