Five Indian Americans honored at GOPIO-CT

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GOPIO-CT 2017 awardees, scholarship recipients with GOPIO Officials and dignitaries

Five Indian Americans were honored at the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin – Connecticut Chapter in the Ballroom at The Hilton Hotel in Stamford, CT on Saturday, July 8; these include Ila Paliwal, Draupathi Nambudiri, Rupendra Paliwal, Alpa Ladani and Nitesh Banta.

Ila Paliwal was honored for her contributions in the field of Performing Arts as she is a classically trained Indian vocalist, songwriter and producer based in New York, who released her album NAVARATNA in 2015 at the Carnegie Hall; NAVARATNA’s executive producer is A.R. Rahman and it celebrates India’s secular and festive spirit.

In 2015, Ila also released a video called HOLI, celebrating the Indian ancient phrase Vasudev Kutumbakam, her music focuses on spreading the message of Unity in Diversity and she is involved with her Family’s Charitable Foundation.

“May this award given to me today be an inspiration to the younger generation,” she said in her acceptance speech.

Nambudiri was honored for her accomplishments in the field of Medicine and Health Care as she is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College and currently serves as the Chair of the Department of Psychiatry at Stamford Hospital.

She has been practicing psychiatry for over 30 years and has been an active clinician, leader, mentor, and educator over the course of her career.

Nambudiri also holds Board Certifications in Addiction Psychiatry, General Psychiatry and Psychosomatic Medicine.

“May the Lord grant me the grace to serve the neediest, and be able to dedicate my life to serve the country,” she said in her acceptance speech.

Rupendra Paliwal was honored for his accomplishments in the field of Education as he currently serves as provost and vice president for Academic Affairs at Sacred Heart University.

He has also served as the vice president for strategic planning, special assistant to the president for strategic planning, associate dean of the Jack Welch College of Business (WCOB), interim dean of the WCOB, associate dean for Academic Affairs and associate professor of finance.

He was a senior officer of the National Stock Exchange of India before he came to Sacred Heart University.

“It is very special for me to be in the company of so many distinguished persons,” he said, dedicating the award to his family.

Captain Ladani is a distinguished 20-year Veteran of the Connecticut Army National Guard and was deployed in a number of different capacities in Iraq, Afghanistan, Germany and Bahrain.

Recently, Captain Ladani served as the Executive Officer for Forward Support Base, Headquarters Resolute Support in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Her awards include the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, NATO Medal and Iraq Campaign medal with 2 Campaign Stars.

Captain Ladani currently works as the Senior Program Manager of Emergency Planning for the Boston Public Health Commission’s Office of Public Health Preparedness.

“Your efforts show that you are working to have our community integrated with the mainstream world,” she said, applauding the GOPIO.

Banta was given the GOPIO-CT President’s Young Professional Achiever Award, he is a Harvard alumni and was selected for the well-known Forbes 30 Under 30 List in the New Venture Category.

Banta is an active angel investor and is the CEO and co-founder of B12 which has been recognized as the hottest emerging startup by Nasdaq at the Founders Forum, he is also a participant in the AI Xprize.

In 2012, Banta co-founded Rough Draft Ventures, a student-run venture initiative where each student entrepreneurs can receive up to $25k to fund their new start-up and won the Rising Star Award for B-12 in October last year.

This was also the third year where GOPIO-CT gave out their Scholarship for College Tuitions and they were given out to; Praneetha Desu from Indiana University, Vivek James from the University of Pennsylvania, Arjun Ahuja from the University of Connecticut and Ruhi Patel from Norwalk Community College.

The event was attended by over 250 guests and amongst them were Congressman Jim Himes, Stamford Mayor David Martin, Norwalk Mayor Harry Rilling, Connecticut State Senators Tony Hwang, Toni Boucher and Richard Blumenthal, CT State Assemblymen Dr. Prasad Srinivasan, Consul General of India Riva Gangulay Das, Founder President of GOPIO International Dr. Thomas Abraham, President of GOPIO Anita Bhat and CEO of TV Asia H. R. Shah.

“The Indo-US relationship has been strengthened by who you are; your accomplishments. Though you are only 1% of the US population, you have excelled in education, income level, economic standing and contributions to the society, you are the model for all other immigrant communities,” said Gangulay Das as she described the partnership and collaboration between the two nations.

“The evening is a celebration – a celebration not just of the accomplishments of our awardees, but also a tribute to a strong and vibrant Indian-American community in Connecticut,” said Abraham.

“This country is the greatest nation in the history of the world because of our diversity. We have become a great nation because of your contributions. We have welcomed talent, energy and dedication. There is no greater example of this than our relationship with India; two great democracies on earth. Our nation faces biggest challenge to rule of law today than ever before,” said Blumenthal.

GOPIO-CT is a chapter of GOPIO International and it has become an active and dynamic organization hosting interactive sessions with policy makers and academicians by hosting community events, youth mentoring, networking workshops and working with other area organizations to help create a better future, over the last 11 years.

GOPIO-CT promotes the awareness of Indian culture, customs and contributions of PIOs through community programs, forums, events and youth activities and it seeks to strengthen partnerships and create an ongoing dialogue with local communities.