India Abroad celebrates Indian-American triumph at glittering event

India Abroad celebrates Indian-American triumph at glittering event

Achievements in Politics, Public Service, Genius, Civil Liberties, Lifetime Service heralded at India Abroad Person of the Year Awards

MUMBAI, India--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- 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 the evening.

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 2012.

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 1947.

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 Bharara (2011).

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 physician, added.

"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 country."

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 Natwar Gandhi

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

About Rediff.com

Rediff.com (NAS: REDF) is one of the premier worldwide online providers of news, information, communication, entertainment and shopping services to Indians worldwide. Founded in 1996, Rediff.com is headquartered in Mumbai, India with offices in New Delhi, India and New York, USA.

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