MUMBAI, India--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Nimrata ‘Nikki’ Randhawa Haley, South Carolina’s first Indian-American and first woman Governor and the country’s youngest, was named the India Abroad Person of the Year 2010 at a ceremony in New York City June 24.
The event saw about 400 of the biggest names in the Indian-American community come together at a venue that celebrates the Indian-American journey – The Pierre, a Taj Hotel. The historic hotel – which stands on Fifth Avenue, overlooking Central Park, and has been featured in films, books and television shows – provided the ideal stage to celebrate the community’s stars.
Since its inception in 2002, the awards presented by India Abroad – the oldest and most widely-circulated Indian-American weekly newspaper, published from five locations in North America, and owned by Rediff.com (Nasdaq: REDF) – have become the most coveted community honor in the country. Celebrating achievements across a wide spectrum, this year, 14 awards were presented in seven categories.
The first award, the India Abroad Special Award for Achievement 2010, was presented to Vijay Balse, who won the American television quiz show Jeopardy’s Tournament of Champions and $250,000; Aadith Moorthy, winner of the National Geography Bee 2010; and Anamika Veeramani, winner of the Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee 2010.
It was followed by the India Abroad Face of the Future Award 2010, an award that recognizes young achievers with immense promise, which went to Foursquare Co-founder Naveen Selvadurai for beginning to redefine social networking.
The India Abroad Publisher’s Special Award for Excellence 2010 -- expanded last year to include more than one winner, to do justice to the growing list of achievers from the community -- followed.
India Abroad Publisher and Rediff.com Founder, Chairman and CEO Ajit Balakrishnan presented this year’s awards to Dr Sheena Iyengar, the blind Columbia Business School professor who changed how we view choice with her book The Art of Choosing; Dr Vijay Iyer, who has conquered a musical genre where possibly no Indian American had gone before – jazz – and earned a Grammy nomination; and Dr Siddhartha Mukherjee, an oncologist and assistant professor of medicine at Columbia University who scooped up a Pulitzer in the general non-fiction category with his debut novel The Emperor of All Maladies – A Biography of Cancer.
The inaugural India Abroad Friend of India Award went to the man who set the tone for the present-day relationship between the two countries: Dr Strobe Talbott, now the president of the Brookings Institution, the well-known Washington think-tank. His friend of 43 years, former US President Bill Clinton congratulated him via a video address recorded specially for the India Abroad Person of the Year Awards ceremony, moments after India’s Ambassador to the US Meera Shankar presented Dr Talbott his award.
Last year too, President Clinton had recorded a video message for the event to congratulate Publisher Sonny Mehta, winner of the India Abroad Award for Lifetime Achievement 2009. Mehta has edited and published Clinton’s memoirs.
In another first, the India Abroad Award for Lifetime Service to the Community 2010 were given not to a person, but to four organizations for their outstanding work in support of South Asian women who are victims of domestic violence: Manavi, the first such organization in the country, Sakhi, Apna Ghar and Maitri.
The India Abroad Award for Lifetime Achievement 2010 was presented to the legendary Madhur Jaffrey – an extraordinary chef (credited with introducing the world to real Indian cooking), a bestselling author and an exquisite actress.
The evening ended with the presentation of the India Abroad Person of the Year Award 2010. Since Haley was away at the Paris Air Show to build South Carolina’s brand as an aerospace hub, she accepted her speech via video.
“I want to thank everyone there tonight and everyone with India Abroad that gave me this tremendous honor,” she said. “I am so very sorry that I can’t be there with you. I am at an aeronautic show in Europe and couldn’t be there, but I could not be more proud that the two people representing me are my parents. They are the ones that got me through this election. They are the ones that taught me what it meant to run with strength and grace. They are the ones who reminded me every day how blessed you were to live in this country. The Indian community has been supportive to me in so many ways and I want you to know that I will NOT stop until I make you proud.”
Her parents Professor Ajit Randhawa and Raj Randhawa accepted the award on her behalf from Nobel Laureate Dr Venkatraman Ramakrishnan, the India Abroad Person of the Year 2009.
The ceremony, hosted by Columbia University Journalism School Professor Sreenath Sreenivasan, was attended by, among others Indian Ambassador to the US Meera Shankar, Minister for Heavy Industries Praful Patel, India’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Ambassador Hardeep Singh Puri, US Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara, celebrity chef Floyd Cardoz who won the TopChef Masters contest last fortnight, author Suketu Mehta among others.
The awardees at a glance:
India Abroad Person of the Year Award 2010: Nikki Haley
India Abroad Award for Lifetime Achievement 2010: Madhur Jaffrey
Friend of India Award 2010: Dr Strobe Talbott
India Abroad Publisher’s Special Award for Excellence 2010: Dr Sheena Iyengar, Dr Vijay Iyer and Dr Siddhartha Mukherjee
India Abroad Award for Lifetime Service to the Community 2010: Manavi, Sakhi, Apna Ghar and Maitri
India Abroad Face of the Future Award 2010: Naveen Selvadurai
India Abroad Special Award for Achievement 2010: Vijay Balse, Aadith Moorthy and Anamika Veeramani
About Rediff India:
Rediff India (NASDAQ: REDF) is one of the premier worldwide online providers of news, information, communication, entertainment and shopping services for Indians worldwide. Founded in 1996, Rediff.com is headquartered in Mumbai, India with offices in New Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad and New York.
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