With heavy hearts, but also immense gratitude for his life and legacy, NAAPAC (80-20 PAC) mourns the passing of our beloved Dr. Ved P. Chaudhary on Friday, February 5, 2021. Ved has served 80-20 PAC for many years as a Board Member until he had to retire because of his illness several years ago. He has made tremendous contributions to our organization working tirelessly promoting API American rights and making sure we have a voice with the mainstream media. He is one of the original 80-20 Initiative Board Members and will be missed tremendously by our organization.
Dr. Chaudhary was born on January 5, 1942, in the village of Dadora in the Etawah District of Uttar Pradesh, India, to father Babu Ram and mother Sushila Devi. Like his father, he was a devout Arya Samaji and learned a great deal from the teachings of Dayanand Saraswati. At an early age, Dr. Chaudhary was also inspired by two of his father’s uncles. One was very involved in local politics and affectionately called “Netaji”, and the other was a sadhu and local spiritual leader called “Swamiji”. These influences helped shape his belief that the purpose of his life was to provide help and comfort to everyone that he could.
An exemplary student and a leader throughout his adolescence, Dr. Chaudhary was the Prime Minister of the Student Parliament at his high school and gained renown throughout the surrounding villages. Because his opinion was so widely respected, the administrators in his school would have him interview candidates for new teaching positions and seek his opinion on potential new hires. He graduated from high school at the age of 16 with an interest in engineering, which led him to the agricultural engineering program at the highly selective Naini College in Allahabad where he graduated at the top of a class of 20 elite students. Following college, Dr. Chaudhary took on a prestigious role with U.P. Soil Conservation Services in the Himalayan foothill town of Ranikhet, which was one of the places he remembered most fondly.
Dr. Chaudhary considered India his janmabhoomi (or land of birth) and the United States his karmabhoomi (or land of his work, action, and life). His life in the United States began in 1965 when he came to Rutgers University for higher studies and a research assistantship. This was the start of a long association with Rutgers, where he served on the Board of Trustees. He completed his Ph.D in Engineering in only two-and-a-half years at the University of Nebraska in 1969. His professional career spanned nearly 40 years, and included obtaining several patents and serving in top management and executive roles at Bell Laboratories (a preeminent research and scientific development company responsible for several major telecommunications innovations) and Telcordia Technologies. He also spent two years in Brussels, Belgium as part of International Telephone and Telegraph, where he quickly rose up the ranks before deciding to return to the United States and Bell Labs. In a career brimming with impressive accomplishments, one of his crowning achievements was being appointed by the Governor of New Jersey to serve as Assistant Commissioner of the Office of Management and Budget in the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection from 2006 to 2010.
Dr. Chaudhary left an indelible mark on his community and the causes closest to him, in particular in promoting Indian culture, Hindi, and Hinduism. He viewed the American melting pot as a Garland analogy; in his own words, “flowers of various colors and fragrance, united together in a garland. That you maintain your fragrance and color, and identity, that you bring something that is uniquely yours, that you should continue to hold on to, and share with others. And at the same time, share in what others have brought to this culture.” As the local Indian community in New Jersey grew, Dr. Chaudhary began a program with a local temple, Ved Mandir, to facilitate local parents teaching Hinduism directly to kids and putting on cultural programs, which eventually grew into Self-Realization International (SRI). He was a co-founder and the first President of the Association for the Advancement of Asian Americans (4A), and was elected by the Board of the 80-20 Initiative to serve as the National Coordinator of the Collective Leadership of 80-20 in 2012. He served as Vice-Chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights’ NJ Advisory Committee, as a member of the New Jersey Governor’s Ethnic Advisory Council, and an advisor to the Board of Monmouth Center for World Religions and Ethical Thought. In recent years, he took great pride in his work with the Educators’ Society of Heritage of India (ESHA), which included serving as President and a Board Member of the organization and arranging Hindi StarTalk camps for school-age children throughout New Jersey, and served on the Board of Directors of Hindu American Seva Communities. He was deeply inspired by the Bhagavad Geeta, and authoring his own interpretation titled “Concise Geeta” in his Golden Years was one of his life’s most important works. Dr. Chaudhary’s efforts have been recognized by several local, state, and federal leaders, including a Commendation for Outstanding Contribution from the 80-20 National Asian American PAC in connection with his efforts with the administration of President Barack Obama, a Senate Citation from the State of New Jersey, an Award of Excellence from the Diversity Journal, and recognition from groups including the New Jersey Department of Transportation, the New Jersey Department of Senior Services, the Indian American Forum for Political Education, the Asian American Heritage Council of New Jersey, and the Indian Cultural Society of East Brunswick.
Dr. Chaudhary is survived by his wife of over 50 years, Rajjan; his brothers, Om and Jai; his sisters Maya, Siya, and Mamta; his son, Suneal, and daughter Ranee; his grandson Leo and granddaughter Lila, and countless other family members, friends, colleagues, and community members whose lives he touched and provided inspiration to.
Funeral and cremation services for Dr. Chaudhary will be held on Thursday, February 11. Due to the current COVID restrictions, we are only able to have limited participants in person. However, we will send a separate email with program details and a Zoom link if you would like to pay your respects virtually.
Dr. Chaudhary was especially appreciative of the care that he received from the Summit Medical Group. As such, we request that any charitable donations in his memory be made to the Summit Medical Group Foundation. Donations and condolences to the family may be sent to 22 Jackie Drive, Morganville, New Jersey 07751. If you would like to send flowers to the family, we request that you kindly arrange them through Scott’s Florist in Raritan, New Jersey by calling 908-218-0033 and requesting delivery to the India Funeral Services funeral home.