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…and here is my speech at the start of the event:
Take a look at the picture on the screen; some of you who are longtime, loyal readers of India Abroad will recognize that as the very first issue of our paper. That was in 1970, nearly forty years ago.
When you look at the contents you will recognize how much some things have changed in one way and how they remain the same in other ways.For example, that was the year that the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty was signed by 43 countries, but notably not by India. And, you will remember that event started a long period of estrangement between India and the United States which was turned around completely recently, again hinging on the nuclear issue.
1970 was also when the north tower of the World Trade Center was completed and thus could claim to be the tallest building in the world. And forty years later, not far from where I stand today and speak to you, a reconstruction effort is going on that same site.
1970 was also the year that the US and World economy was starting recover from the 1969 recession, and a similar effort is under way as I speak.
India Abroad has been reporting and analyzing and interpreting the tumultuous events of the past four decades, the first three decades under the able guidance of its founder Gopal Raju and the last ten years under ours.
The India Abroad Person of the Year Award is now in its eighth year and a glance at the winners over these years will tell you how far India and America and the relationships between our two countries has evolved and how rich and diverse is the talent that Indian Americans bring to this country.
Swati Dandekar, who was the first winner, was an Iowa State Representative; Sonal Shah, who was the next winner, was a social activist and has, as we predicted, gone on to bigger things in government; Mohini Bhardwaj, who won the following year, completed the unbroken run of women award winners.
It took Bobby Jindal to break that run of women awardees but women returned in the following two years: Indra Nooyi, the PepsiCo chief, in 2007 followed by Mira Nair, the filmmaker in 2008.
Fareed Zakaria, the journalist, was the winner last year.
See what a rich diversity of talent Indian Americans bring to life in America: Social activists, political leaders, business leaders, and creative professionals like filmmakers and novelists and journalists!
Who will be the winners this year? What talents will they showcase? What new directions will they get us to think in their acceptance speeches?
I, for one, can’t wait to hear.
Thank you for coming today and enjoy the evening.