Mumbai, Maharashtra, India, Saturday, June 22, 2013 -- (Business Wire India)
Achievements in Politics, Public Service, Genius, Civil Liberties, Lifetime
Service heralded at India Abroad Person of the Year Awards
In a year of countless accomplishments, India Abroad for the first time chose
two Indian-American icons as its India Abroad Person of the Year.
United States Congressman Dr Amerish ‘Ami' Bera, only the third Indian
American to be elected to the United States Congress, was honoured as the India
Abroad Person of the Year for Political Achievement 2012.
USAID Administrator Dr Rajiv ‘Raj' Shah, the highest-ranking Indian American
in the Obama administration, was honoured as the India Abroad Person of the Year
for Public Service 2012.
The awards were presented by Preet Bharara, the first Indian-American US
Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and the India Abroad Person of
the Year 2011.
The tenth annual India Abroad Person of the Year Awards gala, was a glittering
event at The Pierre, the iconic Taj-owned hotel, in New York City.
Hosted by Columbia University Chief Digital Officer Sreenath Sreenivasan -- who
will shortly take over as Chief Digital Officer of the famed Metropolitan Museum
of Art -- an unprecedented 13 awards were presented in eight categories during
Four India Abroad Special Awards for Achievement 2012 were presented to the
community's brilliant young performers: Deepika Kurup, Nithin Tumma, Rahul
Nagvekar and Snigdha Nandipati.
Deepika was adjudged America's Top Young Scientist last year for her
cost-effective water purification system and was a stellar attraction at the
White House Science Fair.
Nithin won the prestigious Intel Science Talent Search 2012 for unlocking
potential pathways to breast cancer treatment.
Rahul was the National Geographic Bee champion while Snigdha ensured the desi
domination of the Spelling Bee as the fifth consecutive Indian-American champ.
The India Abroad Award for Lifetime Service to the Community 2012 was presented
to Dr Sambhu N Banik, the community's go-to person for all events, political,
social or cultural.
Dr Romesh Wadhwani, the self-made billionaire founder of the Symphony Technology
Group who is donating 80 percent of his wealth to charitable causes via his
Wadhwani Foundation and The Giving Pledge, and Dr Natwar Gandhi, who brought the
District of Columbia back from the brink of financial ruin as its chief
financial officer, were awarded the India Abroad Lifetime Achievement Award
Dr Marshal Bouton, who has just retired as President of the Chicago Global
Council on Global Affairs, was presented The India Abroad Friend of India Award,
which is awarded to Americans who enhance America's relationship with India.
Dr Bouton has been a life-long champion of a better American relationship with
India, rooting for India, regardless of the climate in Washington, DC.
Valarie Kaur, whose grandfather first arrived in the United States 100 years ago
this year, was the winner of the India Abroad Gopal Raju Award for Community
Service 2012, named after India Abroad's late founder Gopal Raju.
In 2012, with the shootout at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin, her work as
filmmaker and interfaith activist came full circle.
Kaur became the face and voice of a rising generation of Sikh Americans who
stepped up to tell the community's stories to a nation that needed to hear them.
She had much in common with the winner of the India Publisher's Special Award
for Excellence 2012, Amrit Singh.
The senior legal officer for National Security and Counterterrorism, Open
Society Justice Initiative, Singh has emerged as the voice of the silenced with
her groundbreaking work in the field of human rights law
Singh's report, Globalizing Torture: CIA Secret Torture and Extraordinary
Rendition, received widespread attention in the international media for its
close look at the global torture network. It shook the world with the disclosure
of the names of 54 countries that were party to this.
India Abroad Publisher and Rediff.com Founder, Chairman and CEO Ajit
Balakrishnan presented the award, which had earlier been won by the likes of
astronaut Sunita Williams and Pulitzer Prize-winning writers Jhumpa Lahiri and
Dr Siddhartha Mukherjee.
As a newspaper, India Abroad, which Rediff.com has owned since April 2001,
speaks to Indian Americans across generations; the India Abroad Person of the
Year Awards do likewise.
The winner of the India Abroad Face of the Future Award 2012 was economist
extraordinaire Raj Chetty, who is just 33 years old.
In 2012, the Harvard professor, whose findings had been quoted by President
Barack Obama, received a MacArthur ‘Genius' Fellowship for ‘illuminating the
key policy issues of our time.'
He then became the youngest-ever recipient of the John Bates Clark Medal since
Called the Baby Nobel, the medal is awarded by the American Economic Association
to the best American economist under age 40. Many previous winners of the Clark
Medal have gone on to win the Nobel Prize.
Dr Ami Bera and Dr Raj Shah joined the list of distinguished luminaries that
makes up the India Abroad Person of the Year roster -- then Iowa state
legislator Swati Dandekar (2002), Indicorps co-founder Sonal Shah (2003),
captain of the silver medal-winning US gymnastic team at the Athens Olympics
Mohini Bhardwaj (2004), then US Congressman and current Louisiana Governor Bobby
Jindal (2005), PepsiCo Chairperson and CEO Indra Nooyi (2006), acclaimed
filmmaker Mira Nair (2007), Fareed Zakaria, host of CNN's Fareed Zakaria GPS and
now editor at large of Time magazine (2008), Nobel Laureate Dr Venkatraman
Ramakrishnan (2009), South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley (2010) and Preet
Dr Bera, who has impressed many in his first few months in office, told India
Abroad earlier, “I ran as an Indian American — as a son of parents who
immigrated here from India — and it's the values that our parents raised us
with, the values of a strong sense of family values of working hard, values of
making sure, you've built a solid foundation of education, values of sacrificing
for the next generation to make sure your children are better off than you did."
"These are not just Indian-American values, those are historical American values
as well this country has always built on," Dr Bera, who was trained as a
“Raised with the traditional Indian-American and American values of always
building for the next generation, making sure that we raise our children and
grand-children with more opportunities than we had, and it's exciting when I am
speaking to that next generation and you can see that excitement in their eyes,
that ‘Hey, if he can go to Congress, maybe, I can.' And, if in some ways, we
can inspire the next generation to run for office, we would have accomplished a
lot," the Congressman said.
Dr Shah, who was also trained as a physician, made just as big a mark by turning
USAID on its head.
He hit the ground running with the massive earthquake in Haiti in 2010, and has
kept up the gruelling pace since then, breathing new life into the organisation.
“I am just thrilled to see the huge progress that this community has made with
leaders in politics, in media, in community service, in so many other walks of
life," Dr Shah said.
"I think that is appropriate because it's a community that has a lot of
knowledge, some financial success, the ability to give back and a strong ethic
of responsibility that plays out in so many different examples around our
Inspired to a life of public service after visiting slums in Mumbai as a child,
he emerged, in the words of then US secretary of state Hillary Clinton, as the
‘transformational leader' that USAID had been waiting for.
He once prompted President Barack Obama to declare, ‘Every time I meet him, I
realize that I was an underachiever in my 30s.'
Judge Srinath Srinivasan, the first Indian American to be appointed a federal
judge, led the guests of honour, which included among others diplomats
Ambassador Asoke Kumar Mukerji, India's Permanent Representative to the United
Nations, Manjeev Singh Puri, Deputy Permanent Representative to the United
Nations, Dr Devyani Khobargade, India's Deputy Consul General in New York, and
Prakash Gupta, First Secretary at India's mission at the UN, legendary actress
Madhur Jaffrey, Sonny Mehta, arguably the most influential publisher in the book
world, authors Gita Mehta, Suketu Mehta and Rajesh Parameswaran, Oscar winner
Megan Mylan, oncologist Dr Dattatreyudu Nori, singer Falu, comedian Hari
Kondabolou among many others.
The event's sponsors include Wells Fargo, Incredible India, Wal-Mart, the
American University of Antigua, Applecore Hotels, The Trehan Foundation, The
Pierre, State Farm, Amrita Singh, Sufi Wines, Kalani Builders, Bharati
Vidyapeeth among others.
About India Abroad
India Abroad is the oldest and most widely circulated weekly newspaper serving
the Indian Diaspora, published from New York, Chicago, Dallas and Los Angeles.
It is owned by Indian Internet leader Rediff.com
The Awardees at a glance:
India Abroad Person of the Year 2012: US Congressman Dr Ami Bera, USAID
Administrator Dr Raj Shah
India Abroad Award for Lifetime Achievement 2012: Dr Romesh Wadhwani and Dr
India Abroad Publisher's Special Award for Excellence 2012: Amrit Singh
India Abroad Award for Lifetime Service to the Community 2012: Dr Sambhu N Banik
India Abroad Face of the Future 2012: Dr Raj Chetty
India Abroad Gopal Raju Award for Community Service 2012: Valarie Kaur
India Abroad Friend of India Award 2012: Dr Marshal Bouton
India Abroad Special Award for Achievement 2012: Deepika Kurup, Nithin Tumma,
Rahul Nagvekar, Snigdha Nandipatti
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