Toronto – Leaders in various fields of endeavor, including business, health sciences, the arts and media, from around the world were recognized at the first Global Gujarati Award gala May 25, held in the Greater Toronto Area.
Organizers said 332 attendees came, including a number of elected officials, to felicitate the winners at the event hosted by the Global Gujarati Network founded by Vipul Jani, an Indo-Canadian journalist and founder of Gujarat Abroad, (2001-2015), the oldest Canadian Gujarati newspaper. The awardees included Indian-American founder and Chairman of Parikh Worldwide Media, Padma Shri Dr. Sudhir Parikh, from New York; renowned Indo-Canadian writer M.G. Vassanji; Siddharth Randeria, actor, director and producer from India; C. B. Patel, founder of Asian Business Publications from the U.K.; Canada’s High Commissioner to India Nadir Patel; Dr. Vikram Shah, founder, chairman and managing director of Shalby Hospitals, India; Dr. Darshini Vikram Shah, director at Shalby Hospitals; Sunil Nayak, entrepreneur and philanthropist from the U.S.; Rizwan Adatia from Mozambique, chairman of the COGEF Group of companies, a global retail/wholesale grocery chain; and Haren Sheth of Surati Sweet Mart of Canada, an Indian-food and snacks production chain.
Messages of support and praise for the Gujarati community and the Global Gujarati Network, were read out from Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and India’ Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as well as several other luminaries, including the Chief Minister of Gujarat Vijay Rupani, Canadian Leader of the Opposition Andrew Scheer; India’s High Commissioner to Canada Vikas Swarup and his Canadian counterpart Nadir Patel, India’s Consul General in Toronto Dinesh Bhatia, and Canadian Member of Parliament Yasmin Ratansi of the Liberal Party, who also presented the awards at the ceremony. Also present in the early part of the event, was the longest serving Indo-Canadian MP, Deepak Obhrai of the Progressive Conservative Party.
“This is an award whose time has come,” was a feeling expressed by several speakers, including Indian High Commissioner Swarup, who in his video message, noted that Gujaratis had excelled in various fields around the world and are an inspiration to a new generation. Each of the recipients present, gave a brief speech upon being presented the award. Some of those who could not make it, sent video messages, thanking organizers for the recognition.
A video on Dr. Parikh’s life was played outlining his entrepreneurial and philanthropic achievements, as well as his involvement in strengthening U.S.-India relations. Parikh Worldwide Media brings out five periodicals, a magazine and a journal, and recently acquired a television channel, ITV Gold. Dr. Parikh runs 22 allergy and immunology clinics in the tri-state area, and has been involved with strengthening U.S.-India relations for decades, particularly the U.S.-India Civil Nuclear Cooperation deal. He also supports several notable charities.
“Of all the awards I have received, the most important is the Gujarati award because it is given by my brothers and sisters,” Dr. Parikh said in his speech upon being presented with the award. He noted how Gujaratis own one-third of the hospitality industry in the U.S. and the wealthiest businesses in India were run by Gujaratis. “My humble request to every Gujarati is to keep re-inventing yourself every five, ten years. And also, let’s come together to help India through our philanthropy.”
“The contributions to civil society made by people from the international Gujarati community are indeed noteworthy and significant,” MP Ratansi said in her letter to the gala organizers, adding, “Having visited Gujarat during the Vibrant Gujarat celebrations, I saw firsthand the dynamism of the community and its business acumen.”
“I am thankful to the award recipients, who are all high achievers in their respective sectors and countries for putting their faith in me, for coming to Canada from all over the world,” said Jani in his speech, and his statement in the glossy souvenir handed out to attendees. “There is a lot that we can be proud of. Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Patel, Dr. Vikram Sarabhai, Tata, Ambani, Adani, Modi, Premji, the list is endless … It is time to let the world know what Gujaratis have done and what we are capable of doing,” Jani added.
Entertainers who performed at the event included The Tabla House, Infusion Artistry, and Spandan Dance Vrund. The event was emceed by Amin Dhillon and Jaymin Thakkar.