Ellis Island awards for six Indian Americans, one Indian

May 8th, 2008 - 11:42 am ICT by admin  

By Parveen Chopra
New York, May 8 (IANS) Six Indian Americans, including three doctors and three entrepreneurs, have been chosen for the Ellis Island Medal of Honour for 2008, given to US citizens of diverse origins for their outstanding contributions to their own ethnic groups, their countries of origin and to the US. Conferred by the National Ethnic Coalition of Organisations (NECO), the annual awards this year will honour over 100 people at a ceremony May 10 at Ellis Island here.

One Indian national, Samir Chaudhuri, is also among the two to get the medal in a special category for contribution internationally. Chaudhuri is the director of the Child in Need Institute, founded in 1974 to achieve sustainable development among poor communities in Kolkata.

The six Indian Americans to receive the medal are Sampat S. Shivangi, obstetrician-gynaecologist; Dhiraj H. Shah, retired radiologist; Bhupendra Patel, ophthalmic plastic and facial cosmetic surgeon; and entrepreneurs Mukesh Patel, Nadadur Vardhan and Pamela Kwatra.

Shivangi is being commended for his contribution to strengthening Indo-US relations and philanthropic work in India and the US. Based in Jackson, Mississippi, he was appointed adviser to the US secretary of health and human services by the Bush administration.

Active in the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI), Shivangi was instrumental in obtaining the first ever large US congressional grant for the study of diabetes among the ethnic Indian community, which suffers a high incidence of the disease.

Shah is being recognised for humanitarian service. A past president of Jaina (Federation of Jain Organisations in North America), he has been chairman of Jaina’s World Community Service programme since 1990. The group provided relief to victims of the Gujarat earthquake, the 2004 tsunami and Hurricane Katrina.

A resident of upstate New York, Shah told IANS: “My life’s motto is what Lord Mahavir said: One who serves the needy, sick and poor really serves me.”

Bhupendra Patel is associated with the University of Utah School of Medicine. His expertise is in the management of disorders involving eyelids, periorbital tissues, lacrimal system and facial bones including fractures.

Mukesh “Mike” Patel is president of Diplomat Hotel Company in Atlanta that operates many hotels and related businesses in travel, insurance and real estate. He was instrumental in founding the Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA) in 1989 and has served as its chairman in 1998-99. In 2000, he was appointed by the Clinton administration to serve as a commissioner on the White House Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

Vardhan is president of Nadadur Vardhan Inc, an entertainment consulting firm in Los Angeles. A financial consultant, he has been building bridges between the film industries in the US and India.

Kwatra runs Kripari Marketing and PR, a small media and marketing agency in New Jersey. Associated with many community organisations, she has initiated or participated in numerous social and community service projects, some not confined to the South Asian community.

She told IANS: “When you are bestowed the highest honour like the Ellis Island medal, the bar is raised. So I expect more from myself, need more time to volunteer at different projects.”

Past recipients of the Ellis Island medal, which is recognised by the US Congress, include six former US presidents, Nobel laureates and leaders in industry, education, arts, and sports.

Ellis Island, situated in New York Harbour, was once the main entry point for immigrants to the US.

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