“I am humbled and honored by this great honor bestowed on me today,” Dr. Narendra Kumar, President of American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) said, soon after receiving the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman, the Government of India's highest civilian honor for non-resident Indians in Kochi, India on January 9th, 2013 during the 11th annual Parvasi Bharatiya Diwas. “I consider this award as the recognition of the achievements and contributions of 100,000 physicians of Indian origin in the United States, whom I represent as its sitting president,” Dr. Kumar added.
Pranab Mukherjee, President of India, conferred this highest honor on Dr. Kumar and eight others from the Resident Indians from across the globe. Dr. Kumar received the award for his achievements in the field of medicine, community service, global leadership and contributions to building bridges between India and the United States.
It’s been a steady growth to prominence for Dr. Narendra Kumar, who took charge of AAPI in June 2012, during its 30th annual Convention in Long Beach, CA. Soon after assuming office, Dr. Narendra Kumar told his fellow physicians: “We will put all our energy in a positive direction in order to restore AAPI’s image, improve financial health, and bring unity, integrity and stability to our organization.”
Within six months, Dr. Kumar and his extraordinarily committed team have worked hard to fulfill those prophetic words. AAPI today is more united than ever, financially stable, expanding steadily and is on the right path strengthening the organization and its 100,000 members, seeking ways to contribute to their motherland.
His leadership qualities and organizational skills came to the forefront and have been hailed by one and all during the Nine-City Musical Tour in the United States as well as during the most recent Global Healthcare Summit 2013 in Kochi, India. With over 1,200 delegates from around the world, the Summit was historic for the number of delegates and the quality of discussions led by world renowned physicians, CEO’s, and scholars from around the globe, in addition to the many initiatives planned to benefit millions of people in our motherland.
For many, leading such an organization is an honor. However, Dr. Kumar sees this as a responsibility, and says, “I have tried my best to carry on this responsibility with ever greater commitment and dedication.” Serving in various capacities in his local Michigan chapter and subsequently the parent AAPI, Dr. Kumar has an intimate knowledge of the “nuts and bolts” of this giant organization.
When others were hesitant to commit almost a million Dollars towards Shreya Ghoshal Musical Tour, especially after he had inherited several hundred thousand Dollars of debt from his predecessors, Dr. Kumar showed courage and innovation, encouraging AAPI and its local Chapters around the nation to play an active role that resulted not only in generating over $1.2 Million but also, brought the Chapters and the national organizations together.
“It all began with the idea of strengthening the relationship between the AAPI Chapters and national office,” Dr. Narendra Kumar says with a sense of pride. “The concept of this program to bring together various local Chapters and its members and Fellows closer has been in my mind for several years. Drs. Jayesh Shah, Ravi Jahagirdar and Hemant Dhingra enthusiastically received this idea and the net result of our collaboration and dialogue is the Multi-City Tour.”
Being a leader of an umbrella organization representing over 130 member associations nationwide, and having a total membership of over nearly 100,000 physicians and fellows of Indian origin, Dr. Kumar has ascended to leadership with his decades of hard work and dedication to the organization and the people it is committed to serve. As a Regional Director of AAPI, Dr. Kumar had attended almost all the local AAPI chapter meetings in his region in an attempt to serve as a liaison between the local chapters and the national organization. He has been instrumental in recruiting hundreds of new AAPI patron members to AAPI.
The Pravaasi Bharat Diwas (PBD) Meeting held in New Delhi in January 2007, “gave me a chance to prove my ability to act as political liaison in organizing special interviews with India’s top dignitaries,” Dr. Kumar recalls. Since then, it has been a steady ascendance for Dr. Kumar, culminating in his current position as the president of AAPI.
As the AAPI Treasurer, Dr. Kumar was able to fulfill his promise to keep AAPI finances in proper order by maintaining fiscal stability, accountability and enhance financial health. “It is important to keep financial matters transparent to the membership,” he says.
A man of integrity and giving his best to every effort that he has undertaken both in his professional, family and social life, Dr. Kumar has won the admiration of everyone. In the words of Dr. Jayesh Shah, President-Elect, AAPI, “Dr. Kumar is kind of person that you immediately feel like he is your friend. To describe Dr. Kumar in 3 words: He is personable, go getter and passionate. He can translate any dream into reality by hard work, perseverance, and commitment.”
An accomplished physician and surgeon in the United States, specializing in Otolaryngology- Head & Neck Surgery, Dr. Kumar is a Board Certified Sleep Medicine specialist and founder/Medical Director of Sound a Sleep, Sleep Diagnostic Labs which includes 4 Sleep Labs in the state of Michigan. Dr. Kumar, who had completed his medical degree from Trivandrum Medical College, Kerala and post-graduate residency from Banaras Hindu University (Varanasi, India) and Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio, is committed to giving back to the community and to the enhancing of opportunities for the professional growth of physicians of Indian origin.
On his commitment to social causes in addition to his professional leadership, Dr. Kumar, who is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, candidly admits, “Over the past 10 years, I have become increasingly involved in social, professional and political arenas and have taken active leadership roles in various Medical Organizations.”
Dr. Kumar has been involved in social professional and political arenas and has taken active leadership roles in various medical organizations both in USA and abroad. Encouraging his fellow physicians to give generously towards noble causes, Dr. Kumar says, “As members of AAPI, we have not forgotten our roots and are engaged in several activities such as conducting Indo-US Healthcare Summit in Kochi this year that will blaze new trail in healthcare sector in India and will pave way for new frontiers in public private partnership.”
During his tenure in 2004 as the Silver Jubilee President of Association of Kerala Medical Graduates, AKMG Executive Committee was dedicated in taking this organization to the next level by promoting increased member participation, partnering with global AKMG chapters in India and the Middle East, which included the inauguration of AKMG Emirates in Dubai, and furthering its mission to charitable projects. “I was instrumental in establishing Electronic Learning Resource Centers in various government medical colleges in Kerala, raising over $500,000 in alumni donations.
Dr. Kumar was instrumental in organizing the Heart-Heart program in conjunction with the Lions Club of Kerala, India which provided free open heart surgery for 150 indigent patients in Kerala, India. In 2004, he helped raise over $150,000 for the charitable wing of AKMG-Humanitarian Services, thru the AKMG Silver Jubilee convention held in Detroit. In 2010, as the Fund Raising Committee Chair- Tri-City Hindu Temple of Mid-Michigan, USA, he helped raise over $2 million to build a Hindu Temple in Michigan.
Dr. Kumar has been active in the political realm too. Since 2002, he has been organizing Indo-American Political Fund Raising events and made substantial contribution for State Governors, Senators, and Congressman Election Campaigns enhancing political image of Indian American Community. In May 2005, as the co-President of the Indo-Pak Friendship Society Convention, organized in Saginaw, Michigan, attended by over 1,200 participants, he was instrumental in enabling the people of these two nations to work together for fostering peace and cooperation.
Recognizing his leadership and contributions, the AMA honored him with the Leadership Award in 2008. In the same year, he was bestowed with the Kerala Ratna Award and the MAPI Presidential Award. In 2004, Dr. Kumar received the Distinguished Leadership award from Michigan State Medical Society (MSMS), from the President of MSMS. In 2009, he was given the Keraleeyam-Kerala Ratna Leadership Award in New Delhi, presented by Chief Justice of India, K.G. Balakrishnan, for enhancing the image of Kerala through dedicated service. In 2011, he received the Distinguished Leadership Award from AKMG (Association of Kerala Medical Graduates). Dr. Kumar is also the recipient of Flag Award from Michigan State Medical Society; AKMG Purple Heart Award for Philanthropy; Leadership Award from Kerala Center in New York; and Certificate of Appreciation from R.K. Foundation, Inc. USA. Most recently, he was awarded with the Excellence Award by Price Holding and GOPIO during the Kerala Investment Consortium in Kochi on January 5th, 2013.
Dr. Kumar is married to Meenakshi for 32 years and the couple are blessed with two children, Sarada and Ramesh. Dr. Ramesh Kumar graduated with a Medical Degree from Amrita Institute of Medicine in Kochi, India, and is currently a Research Fellow at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit. Sarada completed her Masters in Healthcare Administration from the University of Michigan and is currently on sabbatical, taking care of the family and with her husband, Dr. Arjun Das’ medical practice in Toledo, Ohio. Their 2 ½ year old grandson, Aarav Kumar Das is the pride of the family.
Dr. Kumar is a proven leader entrusted with the task of leading this prestigious global organization that represents the influential and committed members of AAPI. Under his effective leadership, AAPI has become a force to reckon with. AAPI's stellar role has come in for appreciation with the political leaders both in India and the United States. Ever smiling, affable and approachable, Dr. Kumar is a solid leader in the AAPI tradition.