India: Democracy in Diversity Briefing, Thursday, July 26

As a side event to the State Department Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom (Tuesday, 7/24 - Thursday, 7/26), the Hindu American Foundation is pleased to announce a briefing on the state of religious freedom in India for US lawmakers, government officials, NGOs, policy analysts and experts, and the general public.

As the most religiously diverse democracy in the world with a long history of providing refuge to persecuted religious minorities from across Asia, India is uniquely positioned to provide a civilizational perspective on pluralism for the modern world.

HAF will be officially releasing its new publication, India: Democracy in Diversity.

Panelists from key religious minorities are invited to share their perspectives on pluralism in India. Also featured will be experts on India’s domestic and foreign policy to further expound upon the country’s diversity and implications on current trends in the world's largest democracy.


  • Congressman Raja Krishnamoorti (D-IL) 
  • The Honorable Ngodup Tsering Representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in the United States
  • Brig. Behram Panthaki Ervad (Priest) of the Zoroastrian Community
  • Harminder Kaur Representative of the Indian Sikh Community
  • Isa Mirza Policy Advisor, Federal Government and Human Rights, Foley Hoag LLP
  • Nissim Reuben Representative of the Indian Jewish Community
  • Vijay Sazawal, PhD Representative of the Kashmiri Pandit Community
  • Anand Shah Indicorps Co-Founder and Board Member
  • Suhag Shukla, Esq. HAF Executive Director (Moderator)

Date: Thursday, July 26, 2018
Time: 5:00-7:00pm 
Location: Capitol Visitor Center North, Room 268

Intended audience: US lawmakers, government officials, NGO representatives, policy analysts and experts, and the general public



Whether you can attend this event in-person or not, we ask that you to contact your Congressional representatives on social media and urge them to attend.

Don’t know who represents you? Click here


[Representative or Senator name], as your constituent I urge you to attend the Hindu American Foundation's “India: Democracy in Diversity” briefing, 7/26, 5-6:30pm in the Capitol Visitor Center North, Room 268. More info:


Speaker Bios

The Honorable Ngodup Tsering - Representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to North America, Born in Tibet

Escaped to India in 1959 when China took over Tibet. Raised and educated in India. Served as a Member of Tibetan Parliament in-exile and joined Tibetan Administration as a deputy secretary in Education Department and later on promoted to the secretary of education, Central Administration. Immigrated to United States under the US Tibetan Resettlement Program in 2000. Worked as the Presidents of Tibetan Associations of Minnesota and Northern California in 2003 and 2007 respectively. Returned to India in 2012 to serve as the Education secretary and later appointed as the Minister of Education, Central Tibetan Administration until December 2017, when appointed as the Representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to North America.

Harminder Kaur - Co-founder of Sikh Kid 2 Kid

Sikh Kid 2 Kid's mission is to create a community in which all children can feel safe and secure in their identity regardless of the faith or culture they belong to. Sikh Kid 2 Kid consists of youth working to remove all misconceptions of who a sikh is, and making the next generation accepting of ALL cultures and religions. In addition, Sikh Kid 2 Kid breaks boundaries, creating an inclusive environment for kids to connect with other kids to come up with innovative solutions to problems their generation is facing. Overall, Sikh Kid 2 Kid is a platform for the next generation using education to empower themselves to bettering the greater community.

Isa Mirza - Federal Government & Human Rights, Foley Hoag LLP

Isa Mirza is a policy advisor at Foley Hoag LLP in Washington, DC. Isa’s work is focused on mediating multi-stakeholder human rights dialogue, advising indigenous peoples regarding self-determination and resource rights in disputed territories, implementing international and domestic legislation to protect workers’ rights in global supply chains, representing political dissidents and journalists targeted by governments, and advocating for international religious freedom.

Isa’s approach to religion has always been syncretic. Although his mother’s side is practicing Christian, his father’s family is part of the Deccani Shia diaspora in Hyderabad, India. In addition, Isa has studied Tibetan Buddhism at monasteries in India and lived at the Goban Sadan Institute, an interfaith center under Sikh leadership in South Delhi. He has also been ordained into the Chishti Sufi Order of Hazrat Nizamuddin. A 2008-2009 Yale Fox International Fellow at Jawaharlal Nehru University, he holds a BA from Yale University and an MPhil in Indian Political Economy from the University of Cambridge.

Brigadier Behram M. Panthaki - Ervad of Zoroastrian Community

Brig. Panthaki was commissioned in the 2nd Battalion of the 8th Gorkha Rifles of the Indian Army in 1964. Behram served on the Indo-China and Indo-Pakistan borders, which included an assignment to support operations on the Siachen Glacier. He was a member of the faculty of two premier military training establishments: The War College at Mhow and the Defence Services Staff College at Wellington. As a Brigadier he commanded the prestigious Delhi Brigade which is responsible for the security of strategic installations in the capital, apart from its operational role. Among several appointments during his career, the one he covets most was as ADC (aide-de-camp) to Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw. In 1994, after 30 years of service, Brigadier Panthaki took early retirement to join his family in US. After moving to the US, Brigadier Panthaki worked as a Human Resource professional. His last appointment was Director, Human Resources, at The Kingsbury Center, a non- profit organization that provides special education to differently-abled children. Behram had been ordained as a priest in the Zoroastrian faith, but priesthood was not his vocation. On migrating to the US, he was presented with an opportunity to serve the Zoroastrians of the Washington area, as they had no priest. In that capacity, he often speaks on Zoroastrianism in schools, universities, churches, and interfaith organizations in the Washington, D.C. area and raises awareness to the sterling qualities of head and heart that this miniscule community and their religion have on offer.

Nissim Reuben - Representative of the Indian Jewish Community

Nissim is the Assistant Director of AJC’s Asia Pacific Institute (API) and works on building relationships between the U.S., Israel, and Asian countries and between the Jewish and Asian American diaspora communities in the United States. Nissim started working for AJC in 2014 as the in-house India expert, with vast experience working with Indian diplomats, policy experts, congressional staffers and leaders from the Indian-American community. Nissim is based in Washington, DC, and drawing on his unique personal background of being both Indian/Asian and Jewish, and coupled with his professional commitment and personal passion, organizes unique programs in the DC area and around the country with AJC regional offices. He primarily focuses on networking Indian/Asian and Jewish American leaders, activists and students in the arenas of Capitol Hill, commerce, culture and campuses. He has coordinated regular AJC co-sponsored programs highlighting U.S.-India-Israel relations on Capitol Hill and cultural forums. In India, Nissim worked as Principal Commercial Officer of the British and Israeli diplomatic missions. He holds an M.A. in International Affairs from American University and a B.A/M.A. in Economics from St. Xavier’s College/Gujarat University in India. He lives in Germantown, MD with his wife and son.

Anand Shah - Co-founder and Board member of Indicorps

In 2008, Anand and a team of 4 social entrepreneurs launched Sarvajal to provide clean drinking water to rural Indian villages. Sarvajal acknowledges that 80 percent of diseases in India are related to unsafe water. Also, Anand serves as CEO of the Piramal Foundation, an innovative private foundation dedicated to developing the social infrastructure to enable India's youth to actively participate in the nation's progress. After graduating from Harvard College, with his two sisters and many friends, Anand helped found Indicorps, where he currently manages programs and overall strategy.

Vijay Sazawal, PhD. - Representative of the Kashmiri Pandit Community

Vijay is a policy analyst and a commentator who specializes in local governance and intra-community issues affecting political dynamics within the Kashmir valley. He has written extensively on the current political turmoil in Jammu and Kashmir (commonly referred to as Kashmir), arguing for new and innovative approaches in understanding and resolving the simmering discontent in all communities and regions of the State. Dr. Sazawal has been invited by the U.S. Administration, the U.S. Congress and major policy Think Tanks to address various aspects of the Kashmir problem. He is a frequent commentator on the Voice of America (VOA) Urdu programs beamed to South Asia. He is also a member of a non-governmental organization accredited to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) and frequently speaks in Geneva on changing political and human rights situation in Kashmir. Dr. Sazawal is a specialist in nuclear fuel cycle technologies with over four decades of professional experience in advanced energy programs. He is a member of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Civil Nuclear Trade Advisory Committee (CINTAC), an advisory position to which he was appointed by the U.S. Government in 2011. He is a founding steering committee member of the Indo-U.S. Brain Trust, a non-government organization set up in 2016 to promote and enhance high technology and scientific collaboration between the U.S. and India.

Suhag Shukla, Esq. - Executive Director and co-founder of HAF

She holds a BA in Religion and JD from the University of Florida. Ms. Shukla has helped steer the Foundation to being recognized as a leading voice for civil rights, human rights, and religious freedom. Ms. Shukla iserves on the Board of the Bhutanese American Organization of Philadelphia, and is a thought partner for the Interfaith Center of Greater Philadelphia's Paths to Understanding Public Art Initiative. She serves on religious advisory committees for the Council on Foreign Relations, the National Museum of American Religion, and the Humane Society of the United States, and is a member of the First Amendment Center's Committee on Religious Liberty and the United Nations Women's Gender Equality and Religion platform.