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Friends of Sardar Patel Association

Friends of Sardar Patel Association {FSPA} Annual awards
$10,000 to Dr. Rebecca Whittington at UCLA
Sardar Patel award was created at UCLA from endowment of $250,000 from FSPA

Los Angeles, April 27, 2019 A.Gary Singh

On Saturday, April 27, 2019 UCLA Center for India and South Asia (CISA) and Friends of Sardar Patel Award Association (FSPA) jointly organized their Annual Award ceremony where a $ 10,000 Cash Award to winning scholar who did research work pertaining to India. This year the award was given to Rebecca Whittington for her Dissertation titled Tug-of-Ear, a study on the Play of Dialect in Modern Bengali and Tamil Literature.

Board of Directors and Executive Committee members of FSPA


Mr. Harkishan Vasa, FSPA President, on behalf of FSPA founding members presented special recognition plaques to : Prof Akhil Gupta-CISA director, Sumita Mitra-Asst Director CISA, Dr. Vandana SarDesai, VP/Secretary FSPA, Arvind Patel, VP, CFO FSPA, and Founding President of FSPA Late Ukabhai Solanki.

Dr. Arnold Kaminsky delivering Dr. SarDesai memorial Lecture Rebecca Whittington receiving $ 10,000 award check from FSPA president Hark Vasa & Prof Akhil Gupta CISA Director The Mayor of City of Cerritos, Naresh Solanki presented a proclamation towinner Rebecca Whittington.

In 1999, FSPA raised a donation of $250,000 to confer an annual award of $10,000 at Doctoral level from Universities in North America. This year’s award marks 19th annual award of $10,000 FSPA organization has 16 founding families as charter members, 9 Directors, and Executive Committee headed by President Harkishan Vasa, VP/Secretary Dr. Vandana SarDesai, VP/CFO Arvind Patel, VP/Public Relations Subhash Bhatt and several others in a support role. At UCLA, CISA Director Prof Akhil Gupta and Asst Director Sumita Mitra are providing necessary resources to select the winner and organize the event at UCLA.

Event on April 27 th at UCLA

The program was attended by about 100 invited guests at UCLA J W Alumni Center. Mr. Harkishan Vasa , President and Dr. Vandana SarDesai VP/Secretary of FSPA started the event with few moments of silence in Memory of Late Ukabhai Solanki(AGE 74), The Founding President of FSPA, and Late Stanley Wolpert(AGE 91) American Historian who taught at UCLA for 5 decades.
This was followed by a presentation on the history of the award, FSPA organization, and information on past 20 winners. FSPA presidents were Uka Solanki for 4 years, followed by Dinker Shah for
4 years, followed by Jitu Mehta for 6 years, and Harkishan Vasa since last 5 years.

16 FSPA founding members of FSPA are:

Navin and Pratima Doshi, Vikram and Anjana Kamdar, Jitendra and Meena Mehta, Gordhan and Saroj Patel, Naresh and Rama Patel, Bhupen and Surbala Randeria, Dinker and Aruna Shah, Uka and Nalini Solanki, Lalchand and Nalini Gaglani, Anil and Geeta Mehta,Uday and Shobhana Patankar, Kumar and Shela Patel, Sumant and Chandrika Patel, Damodar and Bhanu Sardesai ,Virendra and Urvashi Shah, Harkishan and Kusum Vasa

Prof. Akhil Gupta gave details of process of selecting the winner. The$10,000 award was presented to winner Rebecca Whittington by President Harkishan Vasa and Prof Akhil Gupta. The winner gave details of her Dissertation work which was followed by Q and A with audience. The Mayor of City of Cerritos, Naresh Solanki presented a proclamation towinner Rebecca Whittington.
A tribute to Late Ukabhai Solanki, who died suddenly in Sept 2018, was presented by his daughter Jyoti Solanki that was followed by various speakers including, Dharam Dav Solanki, Naresh Solanki, Mihir Pandya – CSULB, Harkishan Vasa, Navin Doshi, Dinker Shah, Sumant Patel and Bhupen Randeria.

Under annual Professor Damodar SarDesai Memorial Lecture series, Dr. Vandana SarDesai introduced Dr. Arnold Kaminsky of Cal State Long Beach University, who presented detailed lecture on Propaganda and Political Warfare in South Asia: India and Anglo-American relations during WW II. That was followed by Q and A with audience.

FSPA President Harkishan Vasa gave vote of thanks and introduced the new Executive committee led by incoming President Jyoti Solanki Kelly.

All attendees had a lunch with Founding Members, Members of Board of Directors. Delicious Gujarati style lunch was arranged with Pradip Dalal of Utsav Event.

. FSPA President Hark Vasa presenting a plaque of Honor to Late Ukabhai Solanki's family
The sponsors for the event were: Uka and Nalini Solanki Family ,Irma and Ushakant Thakkar, Bhanu and Vandana SarDesai ,Navin and Pratima Doshi ,Dr. Bharat and Ninna Patel, Sonal and Govind Vaghashia, Mahesh and Usha Wadher Harkishan (Hark) and Kusum Vasa, Subhash and Geeta Bhatt, Dinker and Aruna Shah, Ashok and Sarla Desai, Sumant and Chandrika Patel, Bhupen and Surbala Randeria, Vikram and Anjana Kamdar, Vinod and Niru Dave, Arvind and Mrudula Patel

About The Sardar Patel Award at UCLA

In 1999, in conjunction with the celebration of Sardar Patel's 124t h birthday the Sardar Patel award was created at UCLA from endowment of $250,000 from FSPA. The award was in recognition of Sardar Patel, an important man in India's history. Sardar Patel was a scholar, lawyer and supporter for people's rights. He was extremely vocal and worked diligently against the British atrocities against farmers and those in need. Though  his largest contributions in India's History was during India's Independence movement, where he worked alongside Mahatma Gandhi, another important man in India's history. He is known for orchestrating the unification of many kingdoms in India. Through his untiring efforts towards the unity of the country brought success. Due to the achievement of this massive task, Sardar Patel got the title of 'Iron Man'. He is one of the prestigious leaders of the world who became immortal by uniting a scattered nation without any bloodshed.

The establishment of the prestigious Sardar Patel Award was a humble attempt in line with several contributions made to centers of learning by the Indian American community throughout the United States with the desire of appreciably raising the  level interest and initiate research in the studies of India in the United States with the intent of contributing to a deeper and better understanding between the two countries. The other desired side effect of the establishment of the Sardar Patel Award is to continue to encourage similar investments throughout the United States in the Indian American community. The annual $10,000 award was created to encourage and honor the best doctoral dissertation on any aspect of modern India which involved social sciences, humanities, education and fine arts at any U.S. University or academic institution awarding the Ph.D