Long Beach, CA: Samir Shah in High School category and Aditya Gurbani in the Middle school category were declared the top winners at the silver jubilee function of Indian American Heritage Foundation. Samir Shah was presented a check of $2500 and a revolving trophy in a glittering ceremony at Hilton Hotel, Long Beach.
The award for the first place winner in high school category has been instituted by Sanjiv Chopra in memory of his father Kishan Gopal Chopra while the revolving trophy “Profiles in Excellence” has been funded by Ashok Madan & family in memory of Ashok’s parents, Thakar Singh and Shanti Rani Madan. Ashok Madan and his wife Manju presented the trophy to the winner. Aditya Gurbani received a check for $500 and a revolving trophy instituted by Dr Awtar Singh in memory of his late wife, Teji Singh.
The second place winner in high school category, Manan Shah got $1500 while the third place winner, Lakshmi Prathivadi got a check of $1000. The next five winners, Kavya Singampalli, Sridevi Korand, Praneet Mylavarapu, Shane Patel and Vaidehi Buch, each got $500 as the cash award. The second place winner, Manan Shah also won the Outstanding Achievement Award in community service and was presented with a check and revolving trophy instituted by Dr Rajesh Kadakia in memory of Maniben Manilal Kadakia. Kavya Singampalli won top award in Visual & Performing Arts and got cash award and revolving trophy instituted by Kumar Jawa of India Sweets and Spices, in memory of his father, Jiwan Dass Jawa.
Praneet Mylavarapu won the Outstanding Achievement Award in Math, Science and Technology instituted by Dr Mani Bhaumik in recognition of the “most important numeral zero invented in India”, and Vaidehi Buch won the Outstanding Achievement Award in Sports instituted by Jack Khangura in memory of his wife Rajinder Khangura.
Vaidehi also received revolving trophy for excellence in sports instituted by Dr M.C. Gupta of Corona in memory of his father Shri RBL Gupta. Dr Rajesh Kadakia was personally present with his wife and mother to present the award and trophy for community service. Other sponsors who came to attend the annual event and to present awards and encourage the young winners included Harbhajan Samra, who was given the title of “King of Okra” in the US by the New York Times and Simran Singh, an IT manager for Chase bank.
In the junior high school category, the second place winner was Saahil Shah while the third place winner was Devika Chandramohan. The fourth and fifth place winners were Pranati Pillutla and Anish Sinha respectively. Pranati Pillutla, the fourth place academic award winner also bagged Visual and Performing Arts award instituted by Mollie Rachna Singh in honor of “Teachers, parents and family.”
Rabinder Singh Bhamra of Jus TV Network came from New York to see the process of recognizing and rewarding the youth. He spoke about investing in our youth and honoring young people for excellence is a great example of investment in our young people. Ramesh Murarka, India West publisher, spoke about his experience of organizing similar awards function for over eight years for the graduating students in Northern California. He complemented Inder Singh and his team for organizing the event for twenty fifth consecutive years. Niraj Baxi, formerly president of National Federation of Indian American Associations, who took over responsibility for two years from Murarka, spoke about his experience and praised Inder Singh for his continued commitment in organizing the event.
The Indian American Heritage Foundation has been recognizing the achievements of Indian Youth, graduating from High and Middle Schools in Southern California for the last 24 years. The Foundation is the leading Indian American organization in the USA to publicly recognize, reward and celebrate excellence of the community’s best and brightest graduating students in Southern California.
The Foundation started with eight scholarship awards and now eighteen scholarships are given – eight academic excellence awards ranging from $2500 to $500 in the high school category, five ranging from $500 to $100 in the junior high/middle school category, four of $500 each for Outstanding Achievement Awards in math and science, sports, community service, visual and performing arts in high school category and one of $250 in visual and performing arts for the middle school category.
To qualify for the awards, the applicants needed to have a GPA equal to B or higher, have at least one parent of Indian origin, and be a graduate from a Southern California school. For high school category, GPA and SAT were evaluated at 70 percent while extra-curricular activities and quiz on India and Indian Americans were each evaluated at 15 percent. Samir Shah had a perfect score in ACT, Manan Shah had 2370 while Sridevi Korand and Praneet Mylavarapu, each had 2340.
The annual event has been made possible with the committed support of some well meaning people from the community including Ashok & Manju Madan, Dr Awtar Singh, Dr M.C & Usha Gupta, VJ & Simi Singh, Dr C. R. Viswanathan, Harbhajan Singh Samra, Jagdish Khangura, Kumar Jawa of India Sweets & Spices, Dr M.L. Bhaumik, Mollie Rachna Singh, Dr Rajesh Kadakia, Sanjiv & Renu Chopra, Dr Satinder-Ranjit Bhatia, Uma-Avadesh Agarwal and VJ Singh. This year, BU Patel and Jimmy Sandhu also became co-sponsors and supported the event. All the sponsors were introduced through a Power Point presentation by Simmi Singh and Ranjit Bhatia, both sponsors along with their spouses.
In the entertainment program, Ruhani Patel sang a light classical bhajan. Applicant Shane Patel and his Bhangra team of Gagan Grewal, Damini Trehan, Ritwik Trehan and Simrann Sidhu captivated the audience while Kavya Singampalli who has already done arrangteram, gave an excellent performance.
Three Americans, Corinne, Zena & BreAnn presented three Bollywood style items and won the hearts of the audience.
Inder Singh, Foundation president thanked all the sponsors who provided necessary funding for the continuity of the awards program. He particularly thanked the panel of judges who undertook the grueling task of evaluating the applicants. He praised his “working Crew” — team of volunteers — who have been working hard to make the event a success. He said, “An individual, howsoever brilliant, intelligent and smart, would find it difficult, if not impossible to match the collaborative efforts of an effective team and he is blessed with a team which has been providing selfless service for the cause of our youth.” His team included Abdulgani Shaikh, Ashok Madan, Deepi Singh, Dr Mallappa Yerasi, Ajoy Dube, Kewal Kanda, Amrit Bhandari, Dilip Butani, Ajmer Singh, Rajinder Dhunna and Yash Singh.
Heritage Award Winners
High School Category: Samir Shah, Manan Shah, Lakshmi Prathivadi, Kavya Singampalli, Sridevi Korand, Praneet Mylavarapu, Shane Patel, Vaidehi Buch
Visual & Performing Arts: Kavya Singampalli
Community Service: Manan Shah
Math, Science & Technology: Praneet Mylavarapu
Sports: Vaidehi Buch
Middle School Category: Aditya Gurbani, Saahil Shah, Devika Chandramohan, Pranati Pillutla, Anish Sinha
Visual & Performing Arts: Pranati Pillutla
India Post News Service