THE KERALA CENTER PRESENTS
THE 2023 ANNUAL AWARDS
New York, Nov 1, 2023
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Indian American Kerala Cultural and Civic Center, Inc. (The Kerala Center) celebrated its 31st Annual Awards Dinner at the Center’s auditorium in Elmont, NY, on Saturday, October 28, 2023. The Center honored eight individuals who made notable contributions in their professions and to society with their selfless dedication.
This year’s honorees were: Dr. Shyam Kottilil (Baltimore, MD) --Lifetime Achievement Award; Sajeeb Koya (Pickering, Ontario, Canada) - Entrepreneurship; Dr. Anna George (Long Island, NY) - Nursing; Dr. Shelby Kutty (Baltimore, MD) - Medicine; Ajay Ghosh (Trumbull, CT) - Media and Journalism; Lata Menon, Esq. (Mississauga, Ontario, Canada) - Legal Services, Jayant Kamicheril (Reading, PA) - Pravasi Malayalam Literature; and Gopala Pillai (Dallas, Texas) - Community Service.
Keral Center Awardees 2023 – Ajay Ghosh, Dr. Shelby Kutty, Sajeeb Koya, Dr. Shyam Kottilil, Dr. Anna George, Gopala Pillai, Lata Menon, and Jayant Kamicheril
The program commenced with the American and Indian National anthems sung by Riya Roy and Bincy Cherian. President Alex K. Esthappan welcomed everyone and provided a brief description of the activities and goals of the Kerala Center. New York Senator Kevin Thomas and Nassau County Legislator Carrie Solages said felicitations and presented the awards. These dignitaries were introduced by Dr. Thomas Abraham, Chairman of the Trustee Board and Award Committee member.
Sen. Thomas, a prior awardee himself, praised the Kerala Center for honoring individuals who excelled in their professions and served the society with dedication. Legislator Solages remarked that students of Indian and Malayalee descent made him a better student and that helped him to go to George Town University. He also remarked that there is nothing wrong with loving the country of our origin while loving the USA.
Dr. Madhu Bhaskaran, the chairman of the Award Committee and Board of Directors, in his speech explained the process of selecting the awardees.
Noopura School of Dance students performing classical dances at the event
A Lifetime achievement award was presented to Dr. Shyam Kottilil for his outstanding contributions in the field of virology and scientific research. In his keynote speech, he explained the successes and failures of managing the COVID outbreak and how to prevent future outbreaks which will certainly happen sometime in the future. Dr. Kottilil was introduced by Sarah Stephen, a member of the Kerala Center youth forum, and Sen. Thomas presented the award.
The award for entrepreneurship went to Sajeeb Koya, the man behind the LED Façade lighting that lights up Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world. Sajeeb and his team are proud to be part of this project which owns 2 Guinness World Records. His company 3S International, Inc., which has its headquarters in Pickering, Ontario, Canada, has executed numerous vibrant Architectural and Media Façade LED projects all over the world. In his speech, he said that his goal is to complete 100 such projects all over the world. Sajeeb was introduced by Justin George, a member of the Kerala Center youth forum, and Sen. Thomas presented the award.
The award for Media and Journalism went to Ajay Ghosh, Chief Editor and Co-Publisher of The Universal News Network (www/theunn.com). He serves as Media Coordinator for the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) and ITServe Alliance. Ajay was the founding President of Indo-American Press Club, and is Secretary of its Board of Directors. In his speech, he pointed out that it is very difficult to be a truthful journalist in today’s world. Mr. Ghosh was introduced by Jose Stephen, a member of the Kerala Center, and Sen. Thomas presented the award.
The award for community service went to Gopala Pillai who has served as the President and Board Member of several organizations in Texas and Detroit, and has been with the World Malayali Council from1995 as its Secretary, President and Chairman. Through these organizations he has been able to provide many services for the good of society. In his speech, he encouraged our youth to get involved in public service. Mr. Pillai was introduced by Joel Thomas, a youth forum member of the Kerala Center, and Legislator Solages presented the award.
The award for outstanding achievements in Medicine went to Dr. Shelby Kutty, a physician-scientist and academic leader, serving as the Helen B. Taussig endowed professor and director of pediatric and congenital cardiology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He also chairs the analytic intelligence program at Johns Hopkins and is one of the world’s preeminent experts on multimodality cardiovascular imaging. Dr. Kutty was introduced by Dr. Benzy Thomas, a founding patron of the Kerala Center, and Sen. Thomas presented the award.
The award for contributions to Pravasi Malayalam Literature went to Jayant Kamicheril, a recipient of Kerala Sahithya Academy award for 2022 for his book “Oru Kumarakom Karantay Kuruthamketta Likhithangal”. Jayant was introduced by Manohar Thomas, coordinator of Sargavedi at the Kerala Center, and Sen. Thomas presented the award.
The award for excellence in Nursing went to Dr. Anna George, current president of the Indian Nurses Association of New York (INANY). She is a Nurse, a nurse practitioner, human rights advocate, and a social activist. She is a leader who transformed the nursing professional organization INANY into a professional entity that is concerned about uplifting its member nurses to higher education and quality care, improving the health of the community, and stepping up to lead for the well-being of the society at large, intervening in social and humanitarian crises. In her speech, Dr. George pointed out that nurses are part and backbone of every Malayalee family and the Kerala community. Anna was introduced by Jessy Joseph, a benefactor of the Kerala Center, and Sen. Thomas presented the award.
The award for legal service went to Lata Menon, Esq. an accomplished Barrister and Solicitor and active community member, who has become a recognized name in the legal community in Ontario as well as the Indian states of Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Kerala, where she practiced as a lawyer before immigrating to Canada. Ms. Menon was introduced by Attorney Alex Paradiyil, a youth forum member of the Kerala Center, and Legislator Carrie Solages presented the award.
The ceremony was attended by leaders of many community organizations including FOMAA and FOKANA. As part of the Award Ceremony, a souvenir was released by the souvenir committee consisting of P.T. Paulose and Jose Kadapuram, by giving a copy to U. A. Naseer.
Awardees with Dignitaries and Kerala Center Officials
James Thottam and James Mathew were the chairman and vice chairman respectively of the Award Dinner. Board members Abraham Thomas, Mathew Vazhappally and John Paul coordinated the event. The MC for the program, Daisy Stephen Palliparambil, impressed everybody with her outstanding performance.
A houseful audience at the Awards Banquet
The songs sung by Bincy Cherian, Tahseen Mohammed, Sibi David, Toni and Heera, and Indian classical dances performed by Noopura School of Dance made the awards night a colorful one. Secretary Raju Thomas concluded the ceremony with a vote of thanks to honored guests, awardees, sponsors, audience, and everyone who worked so hard to make it a successful event. With delicious dinner, catered by Cotilion, the 2023 Award Night came to a delightful conclusion.
The Kerala Center is a non-profit and tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization serving Keralites and the Indian American community in the tri-state New York area. It was inaugurated in 1993. In the last 31 years, the Kerala Center has honored over 200 individuals of Keralite descent who excelled in their profession and/or made great contribution to the larger society.