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Indian American Heritage Foundation


Saumya Gurbani Top India Heritage Award Winner


Indian American Heritage Foundation
Los Angeles
Inder Singh

Saumya Gurbani was declared first place winner in the high school category while Meera Midha took the top award in the middle school category on May 4, 2008 in a glittering ceremony at Crystall Ballroom, Golden Sails Hotel, Long Beach. Saumya got $2000 as cash award instituted by Sanjiv Chopra in memory of his father Kishan Gopal Chopra and a revolving trophy, “Profiles in Excellence” instituted by Ashok Madan & family in memory of their parents, Thakar Singh and Shanti Rani Madan. The second place winner, Neeraj Kohirkar received a check for $1000, while Shivani Thaker got a check of $750. The next five winners, Nina Argade Aditya Chandramohan, Sonal Singh, Sheel Choksi, and Sumita Misra each got $500 as the cash award.

The Outstanding Achievement Awards for Math, Science and Technology went to Saumya Gurbani, for Community Service to Sonal Singh, for Visual & Performing Arts to Sumita Misra and for sports to Roopak Bhatt. Each one of the four winners received a revolving trophy and cash award of $500. The revolving trophy in science has been instituted by Dr. Mani Bhaumik in recognition of the “most important numeral ZERO invented in India,” in Community Service by Dr. Rajesh Kadakia in memory of Maniben Manilal Kadakia, in Visual & Performing Arts by Kumar Jawa of India Sweets and Spices, in memory of his father, Jiwan Dass Jawa, and in sports by Uka Solanki in memory of his brother Bhikhubhai G. Solanki.

In the junior high school category, Meera Midha got $500 as cash award and “Founders” perpetual trophy instituted by Dr. Awtar Singh, philanthropist and businessman, in memory of his late wife, Teji A Singh. The second place winner was Mansi Shah while the next three winners were Gautam Soundararjan, and twin sisters Neera Shah and Nehaley Shah. Mansi Shah received the Visual and Performing Arts award instituted by Mollie Rachna Singh in honor of “Teachers, parents and family.”

All the winners received a coffee table book, “California Dreams – India Shining in the Land of Hollywood,” on Indian Americans in Southern California.

To qualify for the awards, the applicants needed to have a GPA equal to a B or higher, have at least one parent of Indian origin, and be a graduate from a Southern California school. In their evaluation, the youth had 70 percent of their scores based on SAT performances, 15 percent for extra-curricular activities, and 15 percent derived from a quiz on India and Indian Americans given earlier in the evening.

The panel of judges who undertook the grueling task of evaluating the applicants included Arun Nayak, Dilip Butani, Harbir Hayreh, Dr. Lakhbir Singh, Dr. M.C. Gupta, Manjit Singh, Payal, Prakash Pancholi, Raj Pakianathan, Ramesh Bhatt, Raman Chadha, Ranjit Bhatia, Simi Singh & V.J. Singh.

The designated Keynote Speaker Prof. Raman Unnikrishnan, Dean, College of Engineering and Computer Science, Fullerton State University had to leave for India due to family urgency. Dr. Awtar Singh, businessman, philanthropist, and Chairman, Board of Trustees, Indian American Heritage Foundation delivered a very inspiring keynote address.

The guest of honor, Ashok Kumar Sinha, Consul for Community Relations, who recently joined the Indian Consulate in San Francisco, congratulated the organizers for well organized program and for recognizing and honoring excellence among the Indian youth. He also released a book, “Mental, Physical & Spiritual Health” by Gurdip Hari who spoke of living a disease free life by following principles given in his book which was given free to all the attendees with compliments from Munish Makkar of Ambala Cash and Carry in Artesia.

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 21 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 $2000 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.

The annual event has been made possible with the committed support of some well meaning people from the community including Ashok & Manju Madan, Dr. M.C & Usha Gupta, Dr.Awtar Singh, VJ & Simi Singh, Dr. C. R. Viswanathan, Hamilton Brewart of Hamilton Brewart Insurance, Harbhajan Singh Samra, Jagdish Khangura, Kumar Jawa of India Sweets & Spices, Dr. M.L. Bhaumik, Mollie Rachna Singh, Nishat Ahmed, Navin-Pratima Doshi, Dr. Onkar S Marwah, Dr. Rajesh Kadakia, Sanjiv & Renu Chopra, Dr. Satinder–Ranjit Bhatia,, Tilak & Pushpa Dhir, and Uka Solanki. This year, there were three new sponsors, State Bank of India, Dinsh Lakhanpal and Munish Makkar of Ambala Cash and Carry. All the sponsors were introduced through a Power Point presentation prepared by Simi Singh.

The entertainment program was provided by the applicants which included Aditya Chandramohan, Ankit Vij, Devin, Divya Khullar, Divya Patil, Karthik Mysore, Maansi Shah, Neeraj Jain, Neeraj Kohirkar, Reema Mody and Sumita Misra.

Inder Singh, Foundation president thanked all the sponsors who provide necessary funding for the continuity of the awards program and his team of volunteers who have been working hard to make the event a memorable. 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 Prof. Rajen Anand, Abdulgani Shaikh, Ashok Madan, Dr. Mallappa Yerasi, Deepi Singh, Dr. Pammi Bevli, Ajoy Dube, Kewal Kanda, Amrit Bhandari, Dilip Butani, Gurdip Singh and Daljit Singh.





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