INDIA-WEST - SEPTEMBER 29, 2000
By VANDANA MAKKAR India-West Staff Reporter.
Fremont, CA Philanthropist Dr. Nilima Sabharwal, Cardiologist, Dr. Kanu Chatterjee and musician Pt. Swapan Choudhary were among the winners at the Indo-American Chamber of Commerce's Annual Awards Banquet, held at the Marriott Hotel here Sept. 24.
Chief Guest at the event included Indian Parliament Member Vijay Goel, Fremont Mayor Gus Morrison, and Berkeley Mayor Shirley Dean.
Guest of Honor Consul General R.M. Abhyankar and key-note speaker Naren Bakshi, founder of Versata Xpede, were also welcomed by ICC president Kumar Batra.
In his address, Bakshi spoke of his personal experience creating a start-up company, the obstacles and benefits that come with being an entrepreneur, and the importance of working together as a community.
Bakshi noted that Versata Xpede began in his home with only two employees. The company has since expanded to a multimillion-dollar enterprise with more than 550 employees.
He also stressed the importance of "the five 'P's: passion, persistence, people, pragmatism, and profits." These five things, according to Bakshi, are vital to a start-up company.
Bakshi offered his advice to entrepreneurs both young and not so-young. He himself was in his 50s when he started Versata, much to the chagrin of his wife, he noted.
He commented that the Silicon Valley is "one place where failure isn't punished." He elaborated by saying that Silicon Valley entrepreneurs are encouraged to keep trying until they get it right.
Bakshi emphasized that, although the Indian Amnerican community is extremely successful it must take care of all its needs. If it is to become a complete success.
By this, Bakshi meant that Indian Americans must give aid to those in the community who are most in need of it.
Bakshi closed his speech by commenting that "the future is bright", as can be seen by the current success of South Asians in America.
Parliament member Vijay Goel addressed the audience in Hindi, and was both humorous and nationalistic. He indicated that a connection with India should remain important to business people in the U.S.
As this was the first time the banquet was held in Fremont, Mayor Gus Morrison spoke proudly of the Indian Community's contributions to the city and its diversity.
Berkeley Mayor Shirley Dean also gave thanks to the Indian community for what it has added to life at UC Berkeley and the commerce on the city's University Avenue.
Dr. Nilima Sabharwal was the evening's first award recipient. Sabharwal, a pathalogist at Kaiser in San Jose, received the award for her charitable work with the organization Home of Hope,Inc., which she helped found. The organization sends aid to orphaned and destitute children in India, and raised over $ 40,000 in its last fundraiser alone.
In her acceptance speech, Sabharwal emphasized the fact that most Indian American children live extremely carefree, insulated lives. Children in other countries, she said, are not nearly as lucky, and it is important to help them.
The award for Outstanding Professional Achievement went to Dr. Kanu Chatterjee, a professor of medicine and Lucie Stern professor of cardiology at UC San Francisco.
Chatterjee told the audience about his humble beginnings as a refugee from Bangladesh, and the sacrifices his father made to help him become a doctor. This struggle he added, gave him great pride in his father and his family.
Chatterjee also thanked his wife and those in America who helped him achieve his success. Pandit Swapan Choudhary, renowned tabla maestro, received the award for Outstanding Contri- bution to the Arts and Music.
Chaudhary recounted how, as a young man, he had wanted to become an economist. He, too, thanked his father for giving him the opportunity to become a professional musician.
Choudhary emphasized the importance of music in the lives of young people, as he said, music brings inner peace."
Bina Chaudhari, founder of the Cultural Itegration Fellowship, received the award for Life-time Achievement. Due to illness, Chaudhari was unable to attend the ceremony, but sent an accept- ance speech via her longtime friend, Helen Desai.
The final award of the evening was given by ICC President Kumar Batra, as a "special recognition."
Each year, the president chooses one member of the ICC board of directors, as the recipient of this special award.
This year the award went to former ICC President, and wife of the current president,Manjul Batra.
In her feisty acceptance speech, Batra thanked her husband, but did not seem entirely surprised by his selection. She asked the audience for their help with her organization, the Business and Professional Women of America.
Batra also expressed her strong support for the Equal Rights Amendment, which would give women access to the same professional benefits as men.
Other highlights of the evening included a traditional folk dance by "Rang Rasila," chorographed by Vandana Shah Patel, and dance music by D.J.Bhangra Blasters.
Authentic Indian cuisine was catered by Gaylord's Restaurant of the Bay Area.