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IACT Hosts Community Conversation: Coping With Covid-19

By Sumaiya Malik

On Sunday, January 17, the Indian American Coalition of Texas (IACT), a non-profit civic-engagement Indian organization in Central Texas, organized community conversation on Zoom called Coping with Covid-19.

The event started with a moment of silence for all those who lost their lives to Covid-19.

Moderated by Pramod Patil, ex-Community Advisory Board Austin PBS and a director of IACT, and Fahd Siddiqui, a board member, the guests included immigration attorney Pooja Sethi, special education teacher Sobia Kidwai, restaurant owner Sanjay Parikh, community member Retired District Judge from India and now Austin resident Bhagirathi Rangarajan, and medical student Faiz Baqai.

Each guest shared how Covid-19 altered their plan for the year and how they tried to cope with it.

“We were in a great shock the first few weeks,” said Sanjay Parikh, the owner of Masala Wok. “We lost 40 to 50% of our sales,” Parikh added.

Dealing with vendors, cutting hours of employees, training new ones, and not making it to funding from the government in Round 1 were issues the restaurant dealt with.

“The second round, we had money coming in which helped us bring back our business,” he said.

Pooja Sethi, who also ran for the office of the City Council District 10 this past November elections talked about how she juggled work, school of her child, her campaign and taking care of her work commitments.

Sethi is also a member of the Quality of Life commission in Austin. For special education teacher, Sobia Kidwai, the home had to turn into four offices.

One room per child and between her husband and her, two separate rooms for her children who went to school from home through Zoom.

Faiz Baqai, a medical student enrolled in the Moderna vaccine program as his aging grandmother lives with them and he felt he needed to protect her from exposure. He also trusted the medical advancement in the field.

Retired District Judge from India Bhagirathi Rangarajan is a member of SAIVA, SAIVA is a central Texas-based 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization that promotes a sense of well-being, belonging and fulfillment for older adults of South Asian heritage through community engagement, education, partnership building, and advocacy & civic involvement.

Being someone who had seen previous pandemics in India, she hardly stepped out of the house.

“To be together and grateful is a lesson we learned,” she said when talking about the pandemic. All agreed about being grateful.

IACT has held several successful forums to educate the community on topics or issues pertaining to non-partisan political and civic engagement.

For more information about Indian American Coalition of Texas please visit

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