A climate activist, Varshini Prakash was given the coveted Woman of the Year 2021during the annual awards ceremony on Saturday, March 6th . She was chosen for the award for her courage, persistence and energy to inspire to the next generation to join the battle to make the world a better place. Ms. Prakash was on the TIME 100 Next List in 2019 and also made to Forbes magazine’s 30 Under 30 2020.
As per reports, a panel of nine independent judges on Saturday broke from the tradition and chose 27-year-old and she was honored with the award at the 18th annual INDIA New England Woman of the Year Awards ceremony organized virtually.
The organizers of the awards ceremony said, “Ms. Prakash is leading a climate revolution in U.S. politics. Co-founder and Executive Director of the Sunrise Movement, as well as co-author of the book “Winning the Green New Deal: Why We Must, How We Can”, Ms. Prakash has led a youth movement to stop climate change and create millions of good jobs in the process, while bringing The Green New Deal to the attention of millions during the recent election.”
In her acceptance speech, Ms. Prakash said she was surprised to win this honor, and said “the people should lead and the leaders follow” calling upon all of the people to come together to fight against climate change. Only then perhaps leaders will listen and take concrete far-reaching measures, she said.
“It is indeed a very proud moment for the New England community to celebrate these amazing women and their journeys and recognize a young and vibrant leader in Varshini Prakash as the Woman of the Year,” said Praveen Tailam, Chair TiE Global who headed an independent panel of nine judges. “Launching and growing a revolution to address the climate crises through her Sunrise movement is no easy task. Varshini’s courage, persistence, and energy inspire the next generation to join the battle to make the world a better place and create new jobs.”
Mr. Tailam added: “Varshini is a real trailblazer by embarking on a path less traveled, especially from our community. It is upon us to nurture such selfless individuals and elevate the initiatives that affect the entire human race.”
In addition to Mr. Tailam, the right other judges were: Nikhil Bhojwani Co-Founder & Managing Partner, Recon Strategy; Shipra Dubey, PhD, Principal Associate, Harvard Medical School Director, Radiochemistry, Research and Development, BICOR, Radiology Brigham and Women’s Hospital; Vineeta Kumar, President Indian American Getting Involved Group; Santhana Krishnan, Founder, South Asian Art Gallery and Managing Partner, Om Ventures; Revathy Ramakrishna, Co-Founder, Vision-Aid; Preetesh Shrivastava, Founder, Hindi Manch and Preetesh Entertainment, LLC; Meena Subramanyam , Vice President and Global Program Leader, Takeda Pharmaceuticals; Bala Sundaram, PhD, Vice Provost for Research & Dean of Graduate Studies, University of Massachusetts, Boston.
Judges also selected two out of 20 Outstanding Women for Honorable Mentions. “We were entrusted to pick one winner and it was hard. Along with the winner the jury decided to honorably mention two incredible women and in no particular order,” said Mr. Tailam. “Rhitu Siddarth. Rhitu has been bravely providing humanitarian leadership thru her work with UN in many troubled and battled countries like Syria, Sudan, Libya and more over the last 18 years. So proud of you. And Priti Chatter, who quietly and surely make an impact to solving problems that address the immediate needs of billion people.”
Bharatanatyam dance teacher Sridevi Ajai Thirumalai, who has taught over 1,000 students and has developed her own-style of teaching classical dance to Indian-American children, received India New England News Lifetime Achievement Award.
Mandy Pant and Jharna Madan served as emcees of the evening. Tech support was provided by Sraveo. Key sponsors included Boston Group/Sybu Kota, BMW Sudbury/Pranav Gill, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, Alankar Decorators, Boston Sound & Light Company, Dyuti Majumdar Photography.
“I always say that you do not get Woman of the Year award. It finds you. Somehow an independent jury panel finds someone who is right for the role in that moment in time from 20 fantastic and extremely qualified women,” said Dr. Manju Sheth, director hostess of the Woman of the Year awards. “Climate change is currently on everyone’s mind so not surprisingly that Varshini, a leader in climate revolution with her sunrise movement is Woman of the Year 2021. She is perhaps our youngest winner. Congratulations to her. We are proud of her. Congratulations also to Rhitu Siddarth and Priti Chatter for special well deserved recognition as well.”