M.R. Rangswami, founder of Indiaspora, has been honored in Washington, D.C., with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the U.S. China Education Trust, at its inaugural event on March 17th. “The best years are still ahead of me,” said the Indian American venture capitalist, who founded Indiaspora in 2012.
“This is a lifetime achievement award. But I feel like I’m just getting started,” Rangaswami told the media shortly after the event, which was held at the Mayflower Hotel in the nation’s capital.
“I wish I had started the ‘giving back’ part of my journey earlier than I did. It is the most gratifying phase of life,” he said, adding: “Indian Americans need to get more engaged in their communities and politics. We need to also be role models and give more than our fair share to help others who are not as fortunate.”
Indian American philanthropist and entrepreneur Frank Islam introduced Rangaswami at the dinner, noting that he had founded the Sand Hill Group in the San Francisco Bay Area’s Silicon Valley. Founded in 1997, Sand Hill is one of the first software “angel investing” firms.
Islam also noted that Rangaswami in 2007 founded the Corporate Eco-Forum, a by-invitation-only membership organization for Global 500 companies that demonstrate a serious commitment to the environment as a business strategy. Today, the Forum has 70 members. He remarked on Rangaswami’s humble career beginnings at a manufacturing company in the U.S. “That job was not at the top of the totem pole – in fact, it was near the bottom,” said Islam.“For a first meeting, it was very productive,” he said.
James Chao, founder of Foremost Maritime Corporation, was also honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award. His daughter, former Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao, accepted the award on her father’s behalf.
USCET was founded by former U.S. Ambassador Julia Chang Bloch in 1998 to promote U.S.-China Relations. This was the first year the organization gave out lifetime achievement awards.
Rangaswami was reported to have told the media that the event was designed to begin a U.S./China/India dialogue, which cohesively examines the relationship between the three countries, “going beyond borders and shipping lanes,” he explained.
“We have so many shared values,” said Rangaswami, who founded Indiaspora with the aim of catalyzing the Indian American community to make an impact both in the U.S. and India. He noted that both countries are looking to get more of its citizens into the middle class. “It opened a new window for Indiaspora to look externally for other diaspora organizations to partner with,” he said. “This is the first time there has been a discussion like this.”
Prior to the awards ceremony, USCET brought together former Ambassador Nicholas Platt – who has served in Pakistan, the Philippines and Zambia – and former Indian Ambassador Thomas Pickering – who has also served in Russia, Israel, El Salvador and Nigeria – for a panel discussion on the development of India and China as global economic powerhouses. International security expert Ashley Tellis – who formerly served as a special advisor to the U.S. ambassador to India – joined the discussion, along with Wu Xi, the deputy chief of mission from China to the U.S.