“It was again a celebration not just of the accomplishments of our awardees, but also a tribute to a strong and vibrant Indian-American community that has excelled in almost all areas,” Dr. Thomas Abraham, Founder President and chairman of GOPIO International, who is also a Trustee of GOPIO-CT and chairman of the Awards Committee, said, in his opening remarks, while setting the tone for the 13th annual Gala and Awards Nite.
Organized by The Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO)-Connecticut Chapter in the Ballroom at the Sheraton Stamford Hotel on Saturday, July 27th, 2019, the event honored six distinguished Indian Americans for their achievements and contributions to the greater good of the larger society. The theme for the banquet this year was titled ‘A Better Tomorrow, Green Carpet Gala’ with emphasis on environmental balance and social justice.
Welcoming everyone, GOPIO-CT President Anita Bhat said, “Our mission at GOPIO-CT has been to, actively participate in the local community through involvement in community events and providing advocacy on issues important to Indian Americans. This lofty goal of providing services and a political voice to the local Indian population has evolved into an exemplary community service organization thanks to the tremendous support of our local Indian community.”
Bhat described the many flagship events the organization conducts every year. “We take pride in serving at local soup kitchens, addressing important issues through speaker series, participating in local walkathons, celebrate Diwali festival, India’s Independence Day, Cricket matches, organize Health Series, recognize high achievers and our scholarship program funds many students’ education, Bhat added.
The 2019 awardees are: Connecticut State Representative Raghib Allie-Brennan for achievement in Political involvement; Dr. Ravi Dhar is George Rogers Clark Professor of Management and Marketing, Yale School of Management and Professor of Psychology at Yale University for Business Management; Dr. Sathya Motupally, Chief Operating Officer (COO), Doosan Fuel Cell America for Engineering; Dr. D.R. Nagaraj, Principal Research Fellow at Cytec Solvay for Applied Sciences and Dinyar Wadia, Principal of Wadia Associates for Architecture. In addition, GOPIO-CT President’s Award for a young professional was presented to Dr. Asha Kapur Shah, Associate Hospital Epidemiologist and Associate Director of Infectious Diseases at Stamford Hospital.
India’s Consul General from New York Sandeep Chakravorty, in his address, thanked GOPIO for playing a major role in cementing US-India relations and appealed to lawmakers including Senator Richard Blumenthal who was in the audience for their support to promote bilateral relations.
“India has a special relation with Connecticut since Indian companies are setting up their office in Connecticut as Infosys opened its Technology and Innovation Hub in Harford,” said Consul General Chakravorty.
Consul General Chakravorty also complimented the Indian American community for its achievements in education, income level, economic standing and contributions to the American society. Chakravorty invited the community to attend public the reception for Prime Minister Narendra scheduled to be held in Houston on September 22nd.
Senator Richard Blumenthal said that there are bilateral issues between the US and India which need to be resolved. A previous Friend of India award recipient from GOPIO-CT, Senator Blumenthal said that US-Indian relations would emerge stronger.
Norwalk Mayor Harry Rilling said that Norwalk Public Library would have an India collection of books which will be launched on September 15th at the library.
Prominent among those who had attended and spoke at the annual gala included, Connecticut State Senator Tony Hwang and CT State Assemblymen Dr. Prasad Srinivasan. Echoing similar sentiments, Connecticut Assemblyman Dr. Prasad Srinivasan, in his eloquent speech highlighted the need for Indian Americans to come together, stand united and work for the greater good of the larger American society. Senator Hwang congratulated GOPIO for bringing the community together. New Canaan First Selectman Kevin Kevin Moynihan said that New Canaan was happy to have Indian Americans who have made outstanding contributions to the society.
The sold out and much anticipated event was attended by over 250 guests from across the state of Connecticut and New York, including community leaders, elected officials, and honorees and their families. The gala included a cocktail reception, dinner, music, and eloquent speeches, touching life-stories and inspiring narratives on the lives of the six distinguished honorees. The program was compered by GOPIO-CT’s immediate past president Shailesh Naik and Vice President Bhavna Juneja. The gala began with a mesmerizing Kuchipudi dance ‘Swara Pallavi’ by Roopa Modha. Comedian Dr. Sandip Sen took the stage after the award ceremony with his clean jokes on he community and society at large.
For the fifth year in a row, GOPIO-CT Scholarship for College Tuitions were given to four young students from Connecticut towards their higher education. The scholarships were presented to Rahul Katre who graduated from The Academy of Info Technology and Engineering, Stamford; Rishabh Sahu, who graduated from Stamford’s Westhill High School; Annwesha Roy Chowdhury who is enrolled at the Norwalk Community College and Anne Jordan Nanai who graduated from Greenwich High School.
The GOPIO-CT executive committee consists of Anita Bhat, President; Santosh Gannu, Exec. Vice President; Bhavna Juneja, Vice President; Prasad Chintalapudi, Secretary; Gayatri Mahesh, Jt. Secretary; Viresh Sharma, Treasurer; and Shelly Nichani, Immediate Past President. Board of Trustees are: Shailesh Naik – Chair; Dr. Thomas Abraham – Secretary and Comptroller; Srinivas Akarapu, Neelam Narang, Varghese Ninan, Sanjay Santhanam and Anita Bhat- Ex-Officio. The Scholarship Committee has Shelly Nichani (Chair), Pradeep Govil, Bavna Juneja and Viresh Sharma as its members. Board Members are: Meera Banta, Louella D’Silva, Jaya Daptadar, Ritu Johorey, Rajneesh Misra, Udaya Neelam, Beena Ramachandran and Ramya Subramanian.
After the award ceremony Miss India Connecticut Alka Marala and Mamatha Puttaswamy performed Bollywood dances following which the audience joined in.
Over the last 13 years, GOPIO-CT, a chapter of GOPIO International has become an active and dynamic organization hosting interactive sessions with policy makers and academicians, community events, youth mentoring and networking workshops, and working with other area organizations to help create a better future. GOPIO-CT – Global Organization of People of Indian Origin – serves as a non-partisan, secular, civic and community service organization – promoting awareness of Indian culture, customs and contributions of PIOs through community programs, forums, events and youth activities. It seeks to strengthen partnerships and create an ongoing dialogue with local communities.