Skip to content

Hindu Leaders of Tomorrow (Virtual Conference)

To bring together the Hindu community and give us a chance to learn and connect

Hindu Students Council (HSC), in partnership with Hindu University of America (HUA), is hosting a virtual conference: “Hindu Leaders of Tomorrow” on August 29 and 30 from 12-4pm Eastern.

The conference format will be virtual panels, workshops and discussion groups guided by students & community leaders on topics that impact Hindu youth in North America.

It is free to register for the conference and open to Hindus of any age – from students in first grade all the way to parents and grandparents.

All attendees should register below in order to receive invitations to the virtual sessions. If multiple people in your family will be joining, kindly register each person so that we have the full list of names in attendance.

  • 00Days
  • 00Hours
  • 00Minutes
  • 00Seconds

Conference Schedule

(Times are listed in Eastern Standard Time (EST).)

Saturday, August 29, 2020
12 PM - Session I: Education Panel: Hindu institutions, textbook issue, etc.

Moderator: Ankur Patel, Director of Advancement, Hindu University of America


Indu Viswanathan, Doctoral Candidate in Teacher Education, Teachers College, Columbia University, Indu Viswanathan received a BA in Economics from Cornell University and an MA in Elementary Education from Teachers College, Columbia University. She has worked in the field of education for twenty years as a teacher, curriculum developer, teacher educator, and nonprofit research director. She is currently finishing up her doctoral work in teacher education at Teachers College. Her research focuses on the transnational consciousness of second generation Indian American teachers. Indu is a second generation Hindu American raising third generation Hindu American children. In addition to having experienced how Hinduism is taught in American schools as a student, she has seen how it impacts her children and where it sits in conversations about school, immigration, and teacher education. Indu is keenly aware that the academic narrative about Hinduism is controlled by a small group of influencers who both reinscribe coloniality and do not seem open to scholarly, liberal dissent. She is committed to adding Dharmic voices and reverence for adhikara to the conversation.

Kalyan Viswanathan, President, Hindu University of America, Kalyan Viswanathan received his Master’s Degree in Computer and Information Science from Ohio State University and his Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical and Electronics Engineering from Birla Institute of Technology and Science. He has studied the texts and traditions of Hinduism from an Advaita Vedānta perspective through a 21-year association with Pujya Swami Dayananda Saraswati, Founder of the Arsha Vidya Gurukulam group of institutions and the first Convener of the Hindu Dharma Acharya Sabha. He serves as the President of Dharma Civilization Foundation and is the Founder and President of Sanatana Dharma Foundation. He has had a long-standing interest in the promotion of the academic study of Hindu Dharma and played a key role in the establishment of the Mira and Ajay Shingal Center for Dharma Studies at the Graduate Theological Union.

Krishna Maheshwari, CEO & Founder of Hindupedia, the online encyclopedia of Hindu Dharma, Krishna Maheshwari has a MBA from Harvard Business School and Masters & Bachelors degrees from Cornell University in Computer Engineering and Computer Science. Krishna has co-founded several Hindu organizations in the past including Cornell Hindu Student Council (which is also the Cornell Hindu Chaplaincy), Chinmaya Mission Seattle, ISKCON Bhakti Vriksha programs in Boston, San Jose and Seattle, and Yoga Bharati Seattle. He has co-authored “Making Children Hinduphobic: A Critical Review of McGraw Hill’s World History textbooks” which is the first published work that does a formal critique of a textbooks coverage of Hindu dharma.

In addition to making an online-encyclopedia, Hindupedia is engaged in driving textbook reform – to remove Hinduphobic & Indophobic content from textbooks. To this end, the Hindupedia team was successful in getting one publisher banned for their Hinduphobic materials for 10 years in California and instrumental in getting another publisher to drop out of social studies altogether. Hindupedia has also developed an alternate framework for how textbooks should cover Hindu dharma that has been backed by Hindu organizations representing over 1 million Hindus in the US.

1 PM - Session II: Workshop: Deconstructing Media Bias

Workshop lead by Parth Parihar, Economics Ph.D. Student and Director of Advocacy, Hindu Students Council – Parth graduated from Princeton University with his Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics in 2015 and stayed there to pursue a Ph.D. in economics. Since the Global Dharma Conference in 2015, he served as General Secretary to the Hindu Students Council– the largest Hindu youth organization in North America. He has been a contributor to the Huffington Post since 2012.

2 PM - Session III: Panel: Addressing Current Day Hinduphobia

Moderator: Nikunj Trivedi, President, CoHNA & Chairman, HSC


Dr. Jeffery D. Long, Professor of Religion and Asian Studies, Dr. Long specializes in the religions and philosophies of India. He is the author of several books and numerous articles, as well the editor of the series Explorations in Indic Traditions for Lexington Books. In 2018, he received the Hindu American Foundation’s Dharma Seva Award for his ongoing efforts to promote more accurate and culturally sensitive portrayals of Indic traditions in the American educational system and popular media. He has spoken in numerous venues, both national and international, including Princeton University, Yale University, the University of Chicago, and Jawaharlal Nehru University (in India), and has given three talks at the United Nations.

Avatans Kumar, Indic Academy, Avatans Kumar is a columnist, public speaker, and an activist. He writes frequently on the topics of language & linguistics, culture, religion, Indic Knowledge Tradition, and current affairs in several media outlets. Avatans holds graduate degrees in Linguistics from Jawaharlal Nehru University and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where he also taught Linguistics and Hindi as a foreign language respectively. Several of Avatans’ Hindi poems have also been published including in Bharatiya Gyanpith’s magazine Naya Gyanodaya. Avatans has vast experience in the field of IT, PR & Marketing, and Management. He serves on the executive board of the American Academy of Indic Studies.

Parth Parihar, Economics Ph.D. Student and Director of Advocacy, Hindu Students Council – Parth graduated from Princeton University with his Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics in 2015 and stayed there to pursue a Ph.D. in economics. Since the Global Dharma Conference in 2015, he served as General Secretary to the Hindu Students Council– the largest Hindu youth organization in North America. He has been a contributor to the Huffington Post since 2012.

3 PM - Session IV: Group Discussions (Virtual Break-out Rooms)

Please join the moderators and speakers from each of our two panels for a lively discussion.

Breakout room #1: Education

Breakout room #2: Deconstructing media bias

Breakout room #3: Hinduphobia

Sunday, August 30, 2020
12 PM - Session V: Panel: Hindus & Social Justice Issues

Moderator: Samyuktha Ramanan, Hindu Students Council


Neha Srivastava, President and Founder of Shaktitva Foundation, Neha is the President and Founder of Shaktitva Foundation. After completing her Masters from Columbia University, she is currently a student of public policy at Johns Hopkins University. She dons many hats, an engineer by profession and a socio-political commentator, activist and writer by passion. An ardent worshipper of Shakti, she is particularly interested in exploring the effects of colonization on native cultures which have a strong affinity towards the Divine Feminine.

Vindhya Adapa, Asst Gen Counsel at HIAS, Inc. Washington DC, Juris Doctor, University of Pennsylvania, Vindhya graduated from University of Pennsylvania Law School in 2014, with an added certification from the Wharton School of Business. She is based out of the Washington, DC area and previously practiced corporate law at Pepper Hamilton LLP, a leading national law firm with a sophisticated corporate practice.Her practice consisted of M&A and private equity transactions and general business counseling. She currently serves as the Assistant General Counsel of HIAS, an international refugee resettlement agency. HIAS is the world’s oldest refugee resettlement agency. HIAS receives funding from the U.S. Federal government and other international bodies to resettle and integrate refugees and asylum seekers around the world.

Niki Shah, Vice President of CSFPN, Niki Shah is a Master of Science candidate in the Sustainability Management program (SUMA) at Columbia University where he is building his expertise in sustainable investing and ESG and policy. In his professional capacity, Niki has worked with civil society, governments and corporations to bring sustainable solutions to social and environmental challenges, such as: public health, education, environment and financial inclusion. At Columbia University, he holds leadership positions with the Columbia Sustainable Finance Professional Network, Sustainability Management Consulting Club, and Aquanauts. Niki’s belief systems are rooted in Dharmic principles and Vedas which makes him a strong advocate for sustainability. He practices a yogic way of living and promotes sustainability by being a responsible consumer and citizen.

1 PM - Session VI: Workshop: How to address misconceptions about Hindu Dharma

Workshop led by Riddhi Patel & Nikunj Trivedi

Riddhi Patel, General Secretary, Hindu Students Council, has been appointed HSC’s general secretary. Like Arnav had done before her, as general secretary, Riddhi will be responsible for executing much of HSC’s mission and vision on the ground be connecting with and guiding our chapters. Riddhi has been part of HSC since she joined the University of Illinois-Chicago chapter in 2013, serving as its president for two years. During her time on the HSC’s national Executive Board, Riddhi has focused extensively on chapter relations, traveling to HSC chapters throughout the Midwest and mapping out a strategy of engagement with all chapters. She hopes to bring this expertise and skill set of working with people to her new role as general secretary. Riddhi has been part of the Swadhyay Parivar since she was a child in Gujarat. She currently resides in the Chicago metro area.

Nikunj Trivedi, President of CoHNA & Chairperson of the Board of Trustees of Hindu Students Council, has been associated with HSC since his college days at Rutgers. He is passionate about contributing to Hindu society and enjoys learning about all the marvelous aspect of Hindu Dharma.

2 PM - Session VII: Mental Health Panel: Addressing Depression/Anxiety through Dharma

Moderator: Shoilee Banerjee, Teen Author & Activist


Dr. Darshan Mehta, Medical Director, Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine; Assistant Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Education Director, Osher Center for Integrative Medicine, Dr. Mehta received his MD from University of Texas-Southwestern Medical School and completed his residency in internal medicine at University of Illinois-Chicago Hospital. He completed a clinical research fellowship in complementary and integrative medicine at the Harvard Medical School Osher Research Center. His educational and research interests include curricular development in complementary and integrative medical therapies, mind/body educational interventions in health professions training, and promotion of professionalism in medical trainees. He directs medical student and resident rotational electives at BHI-MGH and the Osher Center. Dr. Mehta sees patients at both locations in a consultative role for use of complementary and integrative medical therapies, as well as mind/body interventions for stress management and stress reduction.

Ravi Jaishankar, Board of Trustees, HSC, Ravi Jaishankar is the past president of the national body of Hindu Students Council and currently serves on its board of trustees. He works for a community mental health non-profit, Building Hope Summit County, as its Program Coordinator which follows a long corporate career at AT&T. Originally born in India and raised in New Jersey, he graduated from Rutgers University with a triple major in IT, Psychology, and Religion. Ravi moved to the Colorado Rockies in late 2016 to pursue his passions, deepen his commitment to health and wellness, and expand his meditation practice. He enjoys skiing, snowboarding, hiking, running, biking, motorcycling, backpacking, and teaches meditation, yoga philosophy, and facilitates mental health support groups. Ravi’s goal is to discover the applications of yoga/meditation to psychotherapy and develop a practice integrating the two.

Niki Shah, Vice President of CSFPN, Niki advocates for an ayurvedic approach to healthcare by integrating ayurvedic herbs, yoga and meditation into sustainable living practices to lead an optimal and meaningful life. With a healthy mind, body and spirit, the four aims of life – dharma, artha, kama, and moksha – can be fulfilled.

3 PM - Session VIII: Group Discussion [Virtual Break-out Room]

Please join the moderators and speakers from each of our two panels for a lively discussion.

Breakout room #1: Social Justice

Breakout room #2: Misconceptions

Breakout room #3: Mental Health