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'I Can't Do This on My Own,' Says Indian-American Liaison

Jigar Shah said building stronger ties between Parsippany government and people of Indian descent will take a community effort.

Who is Parsippany-Troy Hills' official liaison to the township's Indian-American community?

Some know Jigar Shah as a father, uncle and businessman. Many know him as a hardworking volunteer for the local Republican Party. Still others recall a bit of scandal: Shah was named in allegations regarding possible—but never proven—absentee voter fraud during the 2011 GOP primary. 

He won't say much about that.

"Let’s set the record straight," said Shah. "I was never investigated for anything. People who say otherwise are not being truthful."

Speaking of his new volunteer position for the town, the 55-year-old is much more vocal, sharing his excitement to serve as a link between Mayor James Barberio's administration and Parsippany's burgeoning Indian-American population. His new job is a people-focused job, and as such, Shah agreed to talk with Patch and introduce himself to his neighbors.

Tell us about your background. 

I came to Parsippany in 1974, at the age of 16. I left for a brief time to attend Montclair State University and came back to Parsippany afterwards. Then I opened up my Indian retail grocery, import/export, and wholesale distribution businesses. At the peak of my businesses, I owned two Indian retail grocery stores and was distributing Indian groceries nationwide. I ended up selling these businesses in late 2001 to spend more time with my children.

Currently, I am the principal of our family business, Veerprabhu Export House, based in Mumbai, India. My brother and I export Indian food products to importers worldwide.

Why does the Indian-American community need a liaison?

The Indian-American community is the fastest growing and second largest cultural community in town. We contribute so much to Parsippany, but never had a voice in Town Hall. I’m happy the mayor made this decision to appoint a special liaison for the Indian-American community in town.

What are your goals in the position?

My goals are to be a direct connect for all Indian-Americans throughout Parsippany  who have any concerns/issues/problems they are seeking to resolve. I plan on achieving these goals by working hard, making sure I make the time to speak to every Indian-American family in Parsippany.

That's a big job. How do you plan to get into people's doors?

I have great relationships with all the Indian temples in town and all the small business owners. I look forward to working with everyone to help bridge the culture—I can’t do this on my own. This opportunity is not just about me, it’s about all of us. 

Are you being paid for the job?

No. I am volunteering. 

What makes you the best person for the job?         

To be honest, there are probably many qualified individuals for this job. However, I think the mayor chose me because I am nonjudgmental and I have a desire to help people. In addition I have great relationships with people of both cultures. Many people remember my Indian grocery business. Over the years  I built up relationships with many families of both cultures. We had nearly 200 people come to the proclamation event. Out of the 200 people, at least 100 of them if not more I’ve known for more than 20 years on a personal level.

I’m just excited to help out Parsippany and the Indian-American community. 

ChrisP February 25, 2013 at 10:23 PM
When did he move back to Parsippany? He said he was in Parsippany and left for a brief time. What is that brief time? What has he done to help the Indian community? Why we have Milin Shah (Mayor's hand picked candidate for council), Amil Shah (Milin Shah's brother) on the Board of adjustment and now Jigar shah (Milin's Uncle) all in politics chosen by the Mayor? I think it is insult to the Indian community that Mayor does not see anyone in the Indian community worthy of this appointment other than these Shahs.
Tushar R February 25, 2013 at 11:06 PM
I'm very happy that we (Indian-American community) has a representative who understands our needs. I look forward to learning how to help out!
Tom Kenol February 25, 2013 at 11:30 PM
Agree with you Tushar. Hey 'ChrisP' - Check your facts before you make absurd comments. An Indian-American is the Chairman of the Planning Board - Casey Parikh, and another Indian-American is a member of the Zoning Board in addition to Amil Shah. 'ChrisP' aka another fake alias from "TeamGreed". The Mayor is reaching out to the Indian Community in town - Good for him. The Indian-American Community fully supports Jigar - Did you see the article that talked about the 200 people that attended the proclamation? The Indian-American Community also fully supports Milin Shah - Were you at the Campaign Kick-Off where Milin impressed a room of 200+ people with his kick-off speech? Enough with the negativity my friend.
M Jarrett February 26, 2013 at 02:43 AM
Psst, hey Jigar. Gonna let you in on a little secret. You were not chosen because you are nonjudgmental and have a desire to help people. Ha, what a farce! Jigar, you were strictly chosen because the struggling Mayor wants you to do for him what you did in the 2011 county absentee voter fraud scandal, you know what got you supoenaed, questioned but not charged. Oh and hey Jigar, there is a big bonus for you -- you would not only be helping the ethically-compromised Barberio and his cousin Vinny, but also YOUR council candidate NEPHEW Milin. You know, the nephew the mayor -- through divine intervention -- converted from Democrat to Republican just in time for the primary.
W. Yang February 26, 2013 at 03:14 AM
"Let's set the record straight.... I was never investigated for anything". It already sounds like Jigar has lots to hide. Another bang up hiring job by the Mayor.
Alan C February 26, 2013 at 03:34 AM
Welcome to the club Jigar, all hardworking Parsippany residents and taxpayers don't have a voice with Barberio in town hall. That is life with the incompetent Barberio at the helm.... no progress until he has to fight to keep his job. Jigar shouldn't feel his community is being singled out. The mayor ignores you like the rest of us until it suits him.
Conservative 7 February 26, 2013 at 04:26 AM
Barberio, accomplishments in office, Over $3,000,000 in attorney fees Empty commercial buildings and increasing tax rates Chief of police payout of over $500,000,which the Mayor negotiated A pay out of a $250,000 lawsuit for bulling a clerk Appointed of Indian liason 3 months prior to his election. The same Jigger Shah investigated for absentee ballot scandal. Only to manipulate the Indian vote! Running mate Vinnie Ferrera who likes bullying little girls and making racial comments about Indian girls. Milin Shah who is the reborn again Democrat. Who taunted for the elcetion of Barrack Obama with his uncle Jigger Shah. Please see attached: https://my.barackobama.com/page/event/detail/gpg925 http://www.politickernj.com/tags/milin-shah
Patty Taylor February 26, 2013 at 02:35 PM
I want to know why the indian community is entitled to a "voice" but no other culture in this community has that luxury. Where is the Irish liaison? Good move on the mayor's part - now he will have all of the indian votes come election day. You are very transparent Mr. Mayor! Tushar - what are your needs exactly? And why do you feel that your needs are so much more important that you deserve a liaison? To me, this is discrimination at its best!
Sick of the Bull February 26, 2013 at 02:47 PM
Jigar already sounds like a politician, kinda like Nixon, "I am not a crook" or Clinton, "I did not have sexual intercourse with that girl"....The lies start off small...
Tom Kenol February 26, 2013 at 02:59 PM
You are right Sick&Tired - every culture should have a liaison and I hope the Mayor does start a committee and appoints an Italian, Irish, Hispanic, etc so our Community can begin coming together. But, this is a move in that direction.
Sick of the Bull February 27, 2013 at 12:54 AM
Why on God's green Earth do we need a Indian liason.....seriously folks....a liason for what purpose? C'mon Hispanic residents of Parsippany, where is your liason? How bout us White folks, we seem to be paying for most of their kids schooling since they are stacked to the ceiling in tivoli gardens, just to name one complex. And by the way this is not a heresay statement.
lenard T February 27, 2013 at 04:36 AM
This appointment is a joke. Mayor time to pack your bags and take this guy with you.
Bridget Cazzetto May 06, 2013 at 01:15 PM
Absolutely ridiculous.

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