When South Asians of Northeast Queens go to the
office of State Senator Frank Padavan in Bellerose with problems concerning immigration,
education or housing, they find the Senator greatly helpful and understanding. Few of his
visitors, however, can guess that he has a South Asian connection in his family.
Padavans district, the 11th of New York State Senate, is among
the most diverse in the Big Apple. Formerly home to mostly the Irish, the Jewish and
Italians, it now has one of the largest concentrations of South Asians in the city. A
resident of the district since childhood, Padavan has seen it changing.
As newcomers move in, this part of Queens from Bayside to Whitestone
has acquired new temples, mosques and stores selling specialties from the subcontinent.
But, it remains as quiet and green as in the old times.
The Senators son, Scott, is an MD. He is married to an India-born
woman, Pratisha, who has a masters in public health and another in microbiology.
They live and work in Hawaii, from where Pratisha told News India-Times
on the phone that the two had met at Brown University when she was 21 and he 22. That was
12 years ago. They dated each other for nine years, before they tied the knot in
Providence, Rhode Island, on July 3, 1999. Pratishas maiden name is Budhiraja. Her
father, Ashwani, is from Punjab. Her mother, Rita, is a Bengali whose family was domiciled
in Bihar. Pratisha herself is fluent in Bengali.
Scott is an ER doctor and Pratisha works with a women, infant and
childrens program in Hawaii, where the weather is wonderful, somewhat like
India, said Pratisha.
Sen. Padavan, as chairman of the Senate Cities Committee, is a
principal architect of New York City legislation. He has also been a leader in the battle
against crime, drugs and alcohol abuse, and, is a pioneer in welfare cost containment.
The Senator has a bachelors in electrical engineering and a
masters in business administration. Before his election to the Senate, Padavan was
employed by the Westinghouse Electric Corporation and served four years as deputy
commissioner (operations) of the New York City Department of Buildings. Attaining the rank
of Colonel, Padavan had a 30-year active and reserve career in the United States Army
Corps of Engineers, including service as commanding officer of the 411th Engineer Brigade
and chief of staff, 77th ARCOM.
(Gloria Suhasini also contributed to this report)