Indian-American community leader Ramesh Patel, who was a moving force behind the New York City’s India Day Parade, has died of COVID-19, according to the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO). He was 78.
Patel, who worked in the forensic investigation division of the New York Police Department, .was a founder member of the National Federation of Indian Associations (NFIA) He served as its president and later chairman during 50 years of community activism.
He passed away in Hackensack, New Jersey, on Saturday after a two-month-long struggle against the coronavirus virus, GOPIO said on Sunday.
Patel helped organise the First Global Convention of People of Indian Origin that brought together diaspora leaders from around the world in New York in 1989 when GOPIO was formed.
India’s Ambassador to the US Taranjit Singh Sandhu said in a tweet that Patel was “a highly respected Indian American Community leader (and) we will miss him very much”.
GOPIO Chairman Thomas Abraham said, “Ramesh should be credited with highly successful India Day Parade in New York City, year after year, from the late 1980s.”
Billed as the world’s largest diaspora event, the India Day Parade held every August in New York City has drawn as many as 100,000 people and its honorary marshals have included Bollywood celebrities.
At one of the parades, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, thanked Patel for all that he does “on behalf of the community”.
In 2013, Patel received the prestigious Ellis Island Medal of Honour that recognises leaders who acknowledge their “debt to their ethnic heritage as they uphold the ideals and spirit of America” through their public service.