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Judge Sri Srinivasan, India Abroad Person of the Year 2013

Srikanth Srinivasan, the first South Asian origin federal judge in the United States, is the India Abroad Person of the Year 2013.

Judge Sri catapulted into greatness when, as an Assistant to the Solicitor General, he became the first Indian American to argue before the US Supreme Court in November 2002. He went on to serve as Principal Deputy Solicitor General before becoming the first South Asian American to be nominated as a federal judge in the DC Court of Appeals, America’s second highest court.

He was not only confirmed 97-0 by the US Senate in May 2013, the first confirmation to this court in seven years, but also instantly earned the buzz of a US ‘Supreme Court nominee-in-waiting.’

Much like his confirmation, the India Abroad editors’ decision was also unanimous.

Judge Sri formally accepted the highest honor of India Abroad, the oldest and most widely circulated news weekly for the Indian-American community on Friday evening at a glittering ceremony at The Pierre in New York City, the iconic US flagship of the Taj Hotels.

The India Abroad Person of the Year Awards honored 11 achievers in eight categories.

Arogyaswami J Paulraj, professor emeritus at Stanford University, was the recipient of the India Abroad Award for Lifetime Achievement 2013.

The India-born and educated Paulraj transformed the Indian Navy’s sonar system before coming to Stanford at age 48 and revolutionizing wireless technology; his technology is at the heart of current high speed WiFi and 4G mobile systems.

The evening also recognized the contributions of those who had dedicated their lives to building acceptance, tolerance and spaces of belonging, so that the community could play to its myriad strengths and flourish.

Kumar Barve, who was elected to the Maryland House of Delegates in 1990 becoming the first Indian American to be elected to a state legislature, was awarded the India Abroad Award for Lifetime Service to the Community 2013. Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, in an exclusive message prepared for the evening, said, “As our first Indian American state legislator and the longest serving, Kumar is a paradigm of public service. Over the last two decades, Kumar has dedicated his life to making Maryland a better place to live, work and play, all while mentoring the rising generations of new leaders coming up through the legislature here in Annapolis.”

Anuradha Bhagwati, a former Marine who took on the world’s most powerful military through her Service Women’s Action Network to end sexual harassment in the military, won the India Abroad Publisher’s Special Award for Excellence 2013.

US Representative Niki Tsongas, who serves on the House Armed Services Committee and the Military Personnel Subcommittee, said in a citation prepared for India Abroad. “Her efforts have helped lead significant reform on behalf of the men, women and families impacted by these terrible crimes.”

US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who has stood by Bhagwati, in a special video citation, said, “She (Anu) has taken on the issue of sexual assault in the US military and has taken it directly to the chain of command… She knows that until there is transparency and accountability justice can’t be done and she believes that these men and women who serve in our military deserve justice.”

Bhagwati received her award from India Abroad Publisher and Rediff.com Founder, Chairman and CEO Ajit Balakrishnan.

The India Abroad Face of the Future Award 2013 went to Manu Prakash, an assistant professor at the department of bioengineering at Stanford University and the force behind revolutionary innovations like the Foldscope, a 50 cent microscope that has a resolution equivalent to many in laboratory and can fit in a child’s pocket; a $5 chemistry set; and an insect vector that can revolutionize the way data about mosquitoes is collected. This year India Abroad honored two people in some categories. The awards were not shared; they recognized the tremendous individual contributions of the winners.

The India Abroad Gopal Raju Award for community Service 2013 went to Mallika Dutt and Deepa Iyer. Dutt is the co-founder of Sakhi for South Asian women and founder, president, and chief executive officer of Breakthrough, an international human rights organization that aims to make violence against women and girls unacceptable. She has succeeded in bringing human rights activism out of academic circles into drawing room conversations with campaigns like the Bell Bajao initiative.

Iyer, who stepped down last year after serving as executive director of South Asian Americans Leading Together for over a decade, galvanized the pioneering civil rights organization and the community’s voice by taking the South Asian voice in the United States to Washington, DC. Under her, the organization stood at the forefront of the community’s fight in the face of the post-9/11 backlash of hate crimes, racial profiling and civil rights infractions.

Rising stars of the community Arvind Mahankali and Sathwik Karnik won the India Abroad Special Award for Achievement 2013. Arvind was honored for his win at the Scripps National Spelling Bee 2013, while Sathwik was the winner of the National Geographic Bee 2013.

As Indian Americans expand their footprint in America it is also important to recognize those who -- though not Indian by origin -- contributed to deepening the understanding of India outside the subcontinent.

In recognition of this, the India Abroad Friend of India Award 2013 went to Sankritist Sheldon Pollock and filmmaker James Ivory.

Pollock is the Arvind Raghunathan Professor of South Asian Studies at Columbia University and has dedicated his life to preserving the language. He helms the Murty Classical Library of India, which is working on making great Indian literary works of the past accessible through translations; and the Ambedkar Sanskrit Fellowship Program at Columbia, which aims to establish an endowment to fund graduate studies in Sanskrit for students from historically disadvantaged communities.

Ivory’s association with India began nearly six decades ago when he made two documentaries about India and deepened with the six features he directed in India and his lifelong partnership with producer Ismail Merchant, the Merchant Ivory Productions. His films like The Householder, Shakespeare Wallah and Heat And Dust are still cherished.

This was the 11th year of the India Abroad Person of the Year awards, a pioneering effort to recognize Indian-American achievement that has in the past honored achievers like Nobel Laureate Venkatraman Ramakrishnan; PepsiCo chief Indra Nooyi; astronaut Sunita Williams; music conductor Zubin Mehta and Grammy-nominated musician Vijay Iyer; USAID administrator Raj Shah; lawmakers like US Congressman Ami Bera, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal; Olympic gymnast Mohini Bhardwaj; US Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara; writers Anita Desai, Salman Rushdie, Jhumpa Lahiri, and Siddhartha Mukherjee; and filmmaker Mira Nair.

Among the audience this year were Ambassador Dyaneshwar Mulay, India’s Consul General in New York; Ambassador Vijay Nambiar, United Nations Secretary General’s special advisor on Myanmar; Dr Vivek Murthy, President Obama’s nominee to be the new US Surgeon General; Vijay Seshadri, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 2014; Sonny Mehta, publisher and editor-in-chief at Knopf; Mohanlal, one of India’s finest actors who is filming his new movie Peruchazhi in the US; Indian contemporary dancer-choreographer Astad Deboo; writers Suketu Mehta and Amitava Kumar; Oscar winner Megan Mylan; Raju Narisetti, senior vice president and deputy head of strategy at News Corp; actress Madhur Jaffrey; fashion designer Bibhu Mohapatra, among others.

About Rediff.com

Rediff.com (NASDAQ: 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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