Aasif Mandvi, an Indian American comedian and two Indian entrepreneurs are among Asia Society’s “2015 Asia Game Changers” as per a press release issued here on September 16th.
The list of eight ‘Game Changers’ were recognized for making a transformative and positive difference for the future of Asia and the world.
Indian American comedian, activist and spokesman for Muslims and Asian Americans Aasif Mandvi received one of the honors. Asia Society recognized Mandvi as a ‘Game Changer’ for using comedy to challenge perceptions and work for good. Mandvi initially gained popularity in 2006 as the senior Middle East correspondent on Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” where he seized the spotlight to become a powerful spokesperson for Muslims and Asian Americans.
Originally from Mumbai, Mandvi grew up in England and Florida before moving to New York to pursue acting. As his fame rose, Mandvi challenged stereotypes and provided a voice for Muslim Americans, changing the game in terms of how Asians are viewed on television.
In 2015, he co-wrote, produced and acted in the Web series “Halal in the Family” for the popular comedy site Funny or Die, using the sitcom format to tackle Islamophobia. Outside of acting, Mandvi is an advocate for a number of charity organizations such as Relief 4 Pakistan, Partners In Health and Planting Peace.
Industrial Credit and Investment Corporation of India Bank CEO Chanda Kochhar is the first woman to head an Indian bank and was honored for transforming an industry and empowering the masses, according to Asia Society. She was just 22 years old when she joined ICICI Bank as a management trainee in 1984. By the time she was 47, she was the bank’s CEO. Not only did she make history by becoming the first woman to lead an Indian bank, she also transformed the entire Indian retail banking industry.
Under Kochhar’s leadership, ICICI Bank has achieved great milestones year-after-year by expanding its businesses, leveraging technology to bring value to its urban and rural customers, and partnering with the public and private sectors to create new opportunities. While inspiring many young women, Kochhar has racked up numerous awards and accolades, including the Padma Bhushan, one of India’s highest civilian honors, in 2011; being featured in Time’s “100 Most Influential People in the World” in 2015; ranking 36th on the Forbes “World’s 100 Most Powerful Women” in 2015; and ranking second in Fortune India’s list of “Most Powerful Women in Business” in 2014.
Kiran Bir Sethi, the founder of Design for Change and The Riverside School, was honored for empowering children to change the world. The society said Sethi is the champion of youth volunteerism. Sethi noticed that teachers rigidly stuck to the textbooks and punished students who deviated from the prescribed lesson plan when her son was in school in Ahmedabad. Noticing this issue, she founded The Riverside School in Ahmedabad in 2001 to provide an alternative model which focuses on quality of learning, student well-being and empathy in education.
Sethi used one lesson to have children roll incense sticks for several hours, which led to the children pushing for child labor to be abolished. The teaching methods have resulted in Riverside rivaling India’s top schools on national assessment scores in math, English and science.
In 2009, Sethi expanded on the principles practiced at Riverside to found the “Design for Change” movement with the goal of getting children to drive change in their communities.
The movement to encourage youth volunteerism, which has since spread to more than 300,000 children in 35 countries, is based on a simple model of having kids act on changing problems that bother them.
The “Asia Game Changer of the Year” award went to Philippine boxer Manny Pacquiao. He is a member of the Philippines House of Representatives and was awarded this highest honor for using his sport and fame for good. “This year’s honorees could not be more different from one another,” said Asia Society president Josette Sheeran in a statement. “What they share in common is that they all fight for a better today and inspire the world to do things differently.”
The group of ‘Game Changers’ were selected through a global survey of more than 1,000 leaders. They will be recognized formally for their honors at an Oct. 13 event at the United Nations.