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Indian-American Community Comes Together and Celebrates Success of its Members at New England Choice Awards

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WALTHAM, MA—More than 380 entrepreneurs, corporate executives, philanthropists, educators and community leaders came together on Friday to celebrate the success of its members at New England Choice Awards 2017 gala that was held in the Grand Ballroom of Westin Hotel in Waltham, MA.

“The community coming together and celebrating the success of its members in diverse fields raises the spirits and energizes us all to do more,” said philanthropist Desh Deshpande, who was the chief guest and gave out the awards. “This was an amazing evening to see the depth and breadth of talent and achievements of award winners.  Our community has come a long way and we all have much to look forward to as the next generation grows up.”

The awards gala was presented by INE MultiMedia in collaboration with INDIA New England News, the region’s oldest and largest online, print and video magazine serving the South Asian community. BMW of Sudbury, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, Dharani Group of Restaurants, Lahey Health and a number of community supporters joined New England Choice Awards gala as key sponsors of the event.  Other supporting and community sponsors included Alankar Event Planners & Decorators, Boston Sound and Light Co., Art of Memories, Ameriprise/Mahadev Group, Asian Art Gallery, Indian-American Forum for Political Education, Motwane Foundation, Shah, Dixit & Associates PC and Care.com.

To view the NECA event in pictures, please click here or on the  image below:

“I have never seen so much shared joy in any event before. A feeling of oneness as we were all one big family gathered to celebrate our own and those who have contributed to our community,” said Dr. Manju Sheth, president of INE MultiMedia and creator of NECA. “In celebrating the winners ,we were celebrating everything that we have overcome as immigrants. Congratulations to the winners and thanks to the community for their support.”

Dr. Dinesh Patel, one of the pioneers of arthroscopic surgery in the world and an Associate Clinical Professor of Orthopedic Surgery at Harvard Medical School, said Indian Americans have excelled in all fields in United States by hard and sustained work.

“Unearthing and respecting such jewels of crown —men, women , young and seniors—w ould inspire many, especially second generation and that is what I am seeing thru NECA awards for last two years and hopefully this continues with bigger bang next year and years to follow,” said Dr. Patel. “Indian Americans from all strata and interests came to attend the annual award function —well organized , well-orchestrated , great entertainers and full of vibrancy .The founders Dr. Manju Sheth , Upendra Mishra and their team should be complimented for instituting historical activity like NECA.”

In addition to Dr. Sheth and Mishra, other core team members of NECA included: Anu  Chitrapu, Senior Vice President at Bank of America; Mandy Pant, Academic Research Director, Intel; and Anupendra Sharma, Senior Investment Partner at Siemens Venture Capital. Other members of the judging committee were: Gauri Banerjee, Co-Founder and President, SAHELI; Manisha Bhatt, Senior Attorney, Greater Boston Legal Services and Woman of the Year 2017; Ashish Cowlagi, President, India Society of Worcester; Dr. Dinesh Patel, MD, Associate Clinical Professor of Orthopedic Surgery, Harvard Medical School; Venkat Srinivasan, Founder, Rage Frameworks, Philanthropist and Vice Chair, America India Foundation; and Praveen Tailam, President, TiE-Boston.

The evening was also packed with a powerful and inspiring poetry, entertainment and dance.“Teri Khwahishon Ka Suraj” poem was especially written for NECA by Sunaiyana Kachroo and recited live by her. Ashish Shetty, a vice president at Goldman Sachs with passion for stand-up comedy, presented a comedy segment. The event included a spectacular dance performance by first ever Mrs. India Worldwide and scientist Namita Dodwadkar and her husband Nandish Desai, who together presented a Bollywood salsa performance.

“It was truly a community affair,” said Upendra Mishra, publisher of INDIA New England News and producer of the event. “Our core team, judges, sponsors, winners and the event attendees all contributed to success of a memorable event.”

NECA’s core organizing team ( from left to right): Anupendra Sharma, Anu Chitrapu, Manju Sheth, Mandy Pant and Upendra Mishra

Eight Indian-American achievers and two non-profit organizations received New England Choice Awards at a black-tie gala on Oct. 27 at Westin Hotel in Waltham. In addition, the husband and wife team of MITHAS founder George Ruckert and New England’s Kathak dance pioneer Gretchen Hayden Ruckert were honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Here is the list of other recipients:

Academics

Anantha P. Chandrakasan (Photo: Patsy Sampson)

Anantha P. Chandrakasan

The Vannevar Bush Professor and Dean of School of Engineering

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Chandrakasan was recently appointed Dean of MIT’s School of Engineering. Prior to this, he served as head of MIT’s largest academic department and spearheaded a number of initiatives that opened opportunities for students, postdocs, and faculty to conduct research and explore entrepreneurial projects. Since joining the MIT faculty in 1994, Chandrakasan has produced a significant body of research focused largely on making electronic circuits more energy efficient.

His early work on low-power chips for portable computers helped make possible the development of today’s smartphones and other mobile devices. More recently, his research has addressed the challenge of powering even more energy-constrained technologies, such as the “internet of things” that would allow many everyday devices to send and receive data via networked servers while being powered from a tiny energy source.

Artist of the Year

Sandeep Das

Sandeep Das

Tabla Maestro and Grammy Winner

Mr. Das’s collaboration with Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble “Sing Me Home” earlier this year won the Grammy in the Best World Music Album category. mr. Das, who had been nominated for Grammy twice before, has played tabla with the likes of the late Pandit Ravi Shankar, and has been associated with legendary cellist Yo-Yo Ma and The Silk Road Ensemble since 2000.

In 2009, Mr. Das founded Harmony and Universality through Music, known as HUM, which provides a common platform in India for artists of the highest caliber from across the world to share their music, tradition and heritage and facilitate an interaction among them. Mr. Das, who settled in Boston about four years ago, teaches students tabla at his home, and maintains strong connection with his roots in India.

Art & Culture: Organization

Hindi Manch

Promotes Hindi through various cultural and theater activities

Hindi Manch, founded by Preetesh Shrivastava, has been one of the most active organizations on the New England socio-cultural scene over the last 10 years, hosting engaging and entertaining programs to pass on the heritage of Hindi and related languages like Urdu, Bhojpuri, Awadhi, etc. to the next generation through literary sittings, theater, cultural and musical events.

Hindi Manch, a non-profit organization, even had a singing competition before the movie SING made it ‘the thing’ to have singing competitions. At the core, Hindi Manch aims to bring together those who know or want to know about Hindi. This organization welcomes people from all religion, region and languages.

Business and Entrepreneurship

Zenobia Moochhala

Zenobia Moochhala

Co-founder of Care.com

Ms. Moochhala is co-founder of Care.com, one of the very few publicly-traded companies founded by an Indian-American woman in the United States. She is recognized as one of Boston Business Journal’s “40 under 40”, a “Pinnacle Award Emerging Executive” by The Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, and the recipient of the “Asper Alumni Entrepreneurship Award” from Brandeis University.

As Co-Founder and Senior Vice President at Care.com, Ms. Moochhala is responsible for growing the company’s global footprint, as well as the full scope of consumer marketing initiatives. Today, Care.com is the world’s largest online destination for finding and managing family care, providing a sweeping array of services to support the 24 million members across more than 20 countries and approximately 1.2 million employees of corporate clients who have access to the company’s services.

Community Service

Girish Mehta

Founder

Indian Circle of Caring: Focusing on senior Indian-Americans

Mr. Mehta is founder and executive director of Indian Circle of Caring USA, which this year celebrated its 10th anniversary. Indian Circle of Caring, a non-profit organization, has undertaken a drive to inform, educate and empower the Indian-American community about the need for timely and thoughtful preparation of Health Care Proxy and Living Will.

Indian Circle for Caring is a grass root movement started in 2007 by Mr. Mehta and a few individuals to respond to an unfulfilled  need to help community members as they may be going through emergency or urgent situations such as serious sickness, hospitalization, family crisis, accident or death / bereavement.

Healthcare Pioneer

Rakesh Jain in his lab (Photo: Harvard Gazette)

Rakesh Jain

Professor at Harvard Medical School and director of tumor biology laboratory at Massachusetts General Hospital and recipient of the National Medal of Science

Mr. Jain is one of only five living U.S. scientists to be a member of the National Academy of Science, National Academy of Engineering and National Academy of Medicine. He was honored with National Medal of Science by President Obama. He is A. Werk Cook Professor of Radiation Oncology (Tumor Biology) at Harvard Medical School and Director of Edwin L. Steele Laboratory for Tumor Biology at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Mr. Jain is regarded as a pioneer in the area of tumour micro-environment and widely recognized for his seminal discoveries in tumor biology, drug delivery, in vivo imaging, bioengineering, and bench-to-bedside translation. These include uncovering the barriers to the delivery and efficacy of molecular and nano-medicines in tumors; developing new strategies to overcome these barriers; and then translating these strategies from bench to bedside. He has received more than 75 awards from engineering and medical professional societies/institutions.

Leadership

Latha Mangipudi

New Hampshire State Representative

Ms. Mangipudi is serving her 2nd term in the New Hampshire House of Representatives. By profession, she is a Speech Language Pathologist and has worked in health care and human services at various hospitals and health care providers in Nashua, NH.

She has served on Criminal Justice & Public Safety Committee, is a member of Nashua Interfaith Council and a member of board of director of New Hampshire  Mental Health Association and New Hampshire Charitable Foundation. The issues that Ms. Mangipudi is most interested include education and health services.

Non-Profit  Organization

Gujarati Association of New England (Gurjar)

Gujarati Association of New England, popularly known as Gurjar, is a non-profit community organization, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.

Founded in 1977, is organizing year-round, educational and entertaining cultural events such Youth Program, Diwali, Navratri,  Spring/Summer Mela, Scholarship, Charity fund-raising, grand-parents club, Drama, Musical concerts, and Poetry recitals, among others  for more than 10,000 Gujarati speaking families in New England.

Philanthropy

Ramesh Motwane

Ramesh Motwane

Motwane Foundation is donating a large sum to Northeastern University and his alma mater in India

Boston entrepreneur Mr. Motwane, whose general contracting firm Eastern Contractors Inc. remained on the largest Indian-American-owned companies list in the United States for four years, has donated 40 percent of his assets to Northeastern University in Boston and 40 percent to his alma mater in India: Gandhidham Civil Engineering Institute, now known as Tolani Motwane Institute.

Mr. Motwane came to the United States in 1971 and did odd jobs. He worked as a machinist and as a numerical programmer. Then, he joined Northeastern University and received a bachelor’s degree. He also joined NU’s Master’s program, but soon after completing one semester he got a full-time job and never went back. Motwane is donating 40 percent of his assets to Northeastern University, and he sits on the university’s board of directors.

Youth Award

Sonika Vaid

Sonika Vaid

Ms. Vaid is an American Idol finalist. Massachusetts-native Vaid finished in 5th place on the 15th Season of American Idol. She is of Indian descent and her parents immigrated to the U.S. when she was a child. She began singing at the age of three.

Ms. Vaid graduated from Weston High School in 2013. Prior to entering Idol, she was studying biology and a regular performer at a local park near her home for special events.  Vaid sang “Look at Me” by Carrie Underwood at her audition in Denver, Colorado and received high praises from the American judges, earning a golden ticket to Hollywood. Since American Idol, Sonika Vaid has opened at festivals and concerts across Massachusetts, and sang the opening National Anthem at a Red Sox game in Fenway Park.

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