ISKCON of Phoenix's Rathayatra on Sun March 1 India Nite on Jan 25 at Arcadia High School Bengali Cultural Association of AZ's Saraswathi Pooja on Feb 1

13th Annual Sewa National Conference at Phoenix

by Gagan Dhir


Phoenix, AZ (May 22, 2019) : Sewa International is a Hindu-based, humanitarian, non-profit organization that was founded in 2003 with a purpose of serving humanity and a staunch belief in service above self. Sewa has always endeavored since years with strong believes and guided principles. Their strongest belief is “Vasudhava Kutumbakam” which means to respect the dignity of every human being and consider as one family. Also, the organization is purely pluralistic, trustworthy and transparent in all its efforts.  Many volunteers across the world contribute their precious time in serving the people’s needs.

The 13th annual Sewa conference organized by the Phoenix chapter took place from May 4th to May 5th, 2019, in Phoenix, Arizona. An annual conference is held once in a year in different states of America. It was a privilege for Phoenix chapter to host this conference at Thunderbird High School, Phoenix. More than 108 participants from a wide variety of backgrounds attended the two-day conference. People from 18 chapters came together to discuss a myriad of issues related to the community development and various integral issues. On the first day of the conference, on behalf of Sewa Phoenix team, Chapter coordinator Mr. Prasad Koranne and Mrs. Ritu Daryani welcomed all the delegates. The auspicious occasion was inaugurated by Mr. Saumitra Gokhle, the advisor board member of Sewa International Coordinator of HSS. He emphasized that both maitree and Karuna go hand in hand to get the best results. It was followed by an inspiring speech by the famous environmentalist Dr. Shailesh Rao who explained how the nature is perfectly balanced though few actions by animals seems destructive, still it paves a way for new generations and nourishes the nature.


This conference report provides a glimpse of various informative sessions, forums and workshops as well as the insights and discussions that transpired during the event. The conference was presided by many famous personalities and important dignitaries who have contributed to this organization since many years. Mr. Sridhar Talanki, the Director of Sewa International graced the occasion. To talk about him, he is the Founder and President of Pandit View software in the greater Denver area. Also, he is a well-recognized community leader who was honored with the GITEX- 2007 award by the chief minister of Andhra Pradesh, India. Mr. Sree N Sreenath, the President of Sewa International was an important part of the conference. Amongst the other famous delegate, the conference was honored to felicitate Mr. Sachin Kulkarni who graciously donated a huge amount of one hundred and twenty- five million dollars to support this International Organization. Sachin Kulkarni is originally from Maharashtra, but a resident of California. His biggest endeavor is that he is also building many schools in North East India to support the education for the future generations.


Several high- profile keynote speakers set the tone for the conference.  There were many important dignitaries who attended this conference such as Mr. Arun Kankani the executive Vice President and CEO and Mr. Sandeep Khadkekar, the Vice President Marketing and fund department for Sewa International. There was an enriching question and answer session in which all the participants enthusiastically put forth their queries regarding this organization and various technicalities involved at different stages. Both, Mr. Sree Sreenath and Mr. Arun Kankani addressed to all the queries and concerns from people from different chapters. It was one of the most interactive session of the conference.

Delegates from different chapters were also given an opportunity to share their personal experiences and initiatives taken by their team in their chapter.  Addressing the gathering, Dr. Sat Prashar presented his session on building high performing organizations and take away from different chapters regarding the activities carried on in each chapter. The National report was impinged to all the delegates by Mr. Syam Kosigi. Various interesting parallel sessions were carried out such as family services, youth and volunteering for Sewa, marketing, community fund development. Also, there was a projection of an orientation on ASPIRE tutoring program by Dr. Ramesh Rao.


During the conference, many round table discussions were held amongst different chapter coordinators where there were engaging discourses in which the delegates shared their knowledge and expertise. Mr. Syam Kosig and Yashwanth Balsare emphatically pondered over various problem-solving skills enlightening the spirit of real Sewa. Also, Mr. Yogesh Patel and Venkat Santharaman demonstrated a session related to all administration and policies related to inventory and challenges.

An entrepreneur and HSS Sar Sanghachalak Shyam Byra also guided the audience and provided logistic supply. He has also actively served as an advisory board of Sewa International, Phoenix chapter. Mr. Byra has always contributed himself   promoting volunteering activities that enhances not only the knowledge of any individual as well as incorporate the useful interpersonal and organizational skills. On the other end of the spectrum, he has always been a role model too, thus making a community a better place to live.

Last but not the least, the conference was attended by a famous personality, Mr. Somen Debnath who is known for travelling around the world Bicycle tour spreading the awareness of HIV Awareness Program and representing Indian culture. He began this tour in the year 2004 and has covered 191 countries so far propagating Indian culture and diversity. Asia Today”, the famous newspaper of Phoenix lead by Mrs. Manju Walia interviewed many famous dignitaries such as Sree Sreenath ji, Mr. Sridhar Talanki, Saumitra Gokhle and lastly, Mr. Somen Debnath who has been a great inspiration for the youth and people all around the world. The conference was also attended by some of the local organizations from Phoenix such as Kerala’s Hindus of Arizona, Maharashtra Mandal, Kannada House and Bhutanes community of Arizona.


On Saturday evening, “Meet and Greet” dinner was hosted at the venue for all the important dignitaries, guests and volunteers giving them an opportunity to meet with guests and volunteers from other chapters.  There was an aura of informal socialization wherein people from different states of America were found interacting and enjoying with each other. Also, the scrumptious meals for all the delegates and volunteers on both days was sponsored by Mr. Rohit Tripathi the owner of famous Udipi Restaurant in collaboration with Mrs. Ritu Daryani and Ms. Priya Kulkarni, the marketing advisor of Sewa team, Phoenix chapter. The food was served cordially by all HSS and Sewa volunteers from the phoenix chapter. The event was successfully organized and managed under the guidance of sedulous and conscientious local team of Sewa International and persevering HSS volunteers. Finally, Mrs. Ritu Daryani extended the Vote of Thanks to all the distinguished guests and dignitaries that had graced this two day long Annual conference. Also, Mr. Sudhir Kalra, the Vice President of ICARF along with many other trustees’ extended their best wishes and heartfelt thanks for the conference hosted by the Phoenix chapter.


By keeping the proceedings and efforts consistent and pairing in-depth experiences of various chapters, Sewa can weave a picture of the year’s impact around the world. There was clear and concise information about the years progress, sharing diverse experiences by active members throughout, thus connecting the year’s events directly with the amazing efforts contributed by all the active members and volunteers.

Sewa highly demonstrates the importance of consistency from year to year. There was a shift in every members’ perspective from the impact of the past years to what they can accomplish in the future. Through all these developments, it has become clear that Sewa consensus on the challenges facing our community remain stronger than ever. Thanks to the efforts of all the active members of Sewa from all 18 chapters who deserve a special recognition. 

The coming together of members, volunteers and other supporters, Sewa has proved that we can innovate our thoughts and methodologies to bring peace and communal harmony by serving the people in need.


Sewa International team members Prasad Koranne, Jyothsna Bitra, Arvind Swami, Pushpa, Sushil, Nidhi Gupta, Vinod Thakur, Sai Kalluri, Priya Kulkarni, Geetanjali Bandi, Manisha Singh, Aniket Bharaswadkar, Ritu Daryani, Shambhavi Kulkarni, Sita Burada, Isha Vashisht, Savitha Kumar, Krishna Goparaju, Keshav, Vishnu Sharma,  Manju, Jayraj Shahapurkar, Youth Team, Prabhat Joshi, Prabhat Chandran, Sainath and Jayachandran worked hard to make this event successful. They worked on different groups like meal, transportation, accomodation, and event management.


Article by Mrs. Gagan Dhir, ELA Teacher.
Former Times of India and HT journalist