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Global Indians Illuminate Fifth Avenue at Light of India Awards

More than 300 of New York’s crème de la crème from the business, finance, and entertainment communities converged at the second annual The Light of India Awards.

Jim Luce

New York, N.Y. More than 300 of New York’s crème de la crème from the business, finance, and entertainment communities converged at the second annual The Light of India Awards, an initiative created by Remit2India and presented by The Amrapali Group. I was excited to attend the first at the Waldorf Astoria on Park Avenue last year and even more delighted to attend the second at the Taj Pierre Hotel on Fifth Avenue.

Guests at Second Annual Light of India Awards at the Taj Pierre Hotel.

The awards ceremony is a platform to honor the excellence and exemplary achievements of Indians living abroad in the categories of Business, Corporate Leadership, Education, Science & Technology, Literature, and Arts and Entertainment. An extravagant blue carpet welcomed the likes of celebrities such as Arun Sarin, Narendra Patni, Professor Jagdish Bhagwati, Dr. Shashi Tharoor, Amitav Ghosh, Padma Lakshmi, Lisa Ray, Sendhil Ramamurthy, Pooja Batra, Sabeer Bhatia, and Siddhartha Mukherjee, just to name a few.

Avijit Nanda, President of TimesofMoney Group, enjoys the Light of India Awards.

The Light of India Awards are presented by the TimesofMoney Group’s Remit2India. Avijit Nanda, president of the group, told me:

“These awards are our humble initiative to acknowledge the contributions of the global Indian community in making India the emerging superpower. These leading lights have lit the global skyline with their beams of brilliance.

Papa CJ, one of India’s leading stand-up comedians, performed at
Light of India Awards. Funny! Photo:

The chairman of The Amrapali Group, Dr. Anil Kumar Sharma, added:

“It is great to see so many leading luminaries excel and build the profile of India globally. The Amrapali Group is glad to be associated with these leading lights and hopes to work together in further enhancing the global image of India and its people.

Author and Indian Member of Parliament Dr. Shashi Tharoor with his son.

As Americans we are familiar with Bollywood and would expect there to be an award for entertainment, but with the Indian Diaspora adding more and more brilliant leaders into North America, arts, education, medicine and business, the categories for awards were expansive.

The breadth of achievement of Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) is phenomenal:

Excellence in Business Leadership
Jury Award: Bharat Desai, founder of Syntel
People’s Choice Award: Gurbaksh Chahal, Chairman & C.E.O. of Radium One

Excellence in Technology
Jury Award: Pradeep K. Khosla, Dean, College of Engineering Carnegie Mellon University
People’s Choice Award: Sabeer Bhatia, Co-Founder of Hotmail Service

Excellence in Medical Sciences
Jury Award: Siddhartha Mukherjee, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Columbia University

Siddhartha Mukherjee, Assistant Professor of Medicine at Columbia University.

Excellence in Corporate Leadership
Jury Award: Anshuman Jain, Co-C.E.O. of Deutsche Bank
People’s Choice Award: Padmasree Warrior, Chief Tech. Officer of Cisco Systems

Excellence in Education & Academics — Deans & Presidents
Jury Award & People’s Choice Award: Renu Khator, President, Univ. of Houston

Renu Khator, President of the University of Houston, accepts Light of India Award.

I chatted extensively with Renu and found her to be particularly intelligent and captivating.

Mohanbir Sawhney, Professor of Technology at Kellogg School of Management, accepts
Light of India Award for Academics (People’s Choice). Photo:

Excellence in Education & Academics- Scholars & Professors
Jury Award: Soumitra Dutta, Professor of Business & Technology INSEAD
People’s Choice Award: Mohanbir Sawhney, Director, Center for Research in Technology & Innovation, Kellogg School of Management

Excellence in Literature & Journalism
Jury Award: Amitav Ghosh, author
People’s Choice Award: Indu Sundaresan, author

Lisa Ray, actor and host of ‘Top Chef’ Canada, with fiancé Jason Dehni.

Excellence in Arts & Entertainment
Jury Award: Padma Lakshmi, host of ‘Top Chef’ America
People’s Choice Award: Lisa Ray, actor & host of ‘Top Chef’ Canada

Arun Sarin, Former CEO of Vodafone, receives Lifetime Achievement Award from Dr. Shashi Tharoor. Photo:

Lifetime Achievement Awards
Study in Global Economics: Jagdish Bhagwati, Columbia Univ. Professor & Economist
Business Leadership: Narendra Patni, Founder & C.E.O. of Patni Computer Systems
Global Corporate Leadership: Arun Sarin, Former C.E.O. of Vodafone Group

Geert Boven, Senior VP for The Americas for Etihad Airways presents Lifetime Achievement Award to Narendra Patni, CEO of Patni Computer Systems. Photo:

Geert Boven, Etihad Airways’ Senior Vice President Americas, said:

“The men and women honored here tonight are true pioneers and leaders in their professional spaces, paving the way for Indians living abroad with their talent, motivation and innovation. Etihad Airways is proud to continue our support of these distinguished Indian figures via our role as the international airline partner of The Light of India. The Indian community is truly a driving force behind the success of our business, both as welcomed guests and as strong pillars of our workforce.

Finally, three special awards were presented in the Grand Ball Room of The Pierre:

Amrapali Young Achievers Award
Gurbaksh Chahal, Chairman & CEO of RadiumOne

Power of Influence Award in Education
Satish K. Tripathi, President, University of Buffalo

Power of Influence Award in Technology
Ajay V. Bhatt, Co-inventor of USB Technology

The Light of India Awards is an initiative of Remit2India, the pioneer in online money transfers, and is the chosen destination for thousands of NRIs across the globe. Part of the esteemed Times Group, Remit2India has over the years created a mark for itself both with customers as well as the industry. With its pioneering technology and unmatched reach, Remit2India now allows NRIs across 24 countries, to conveniently and safely send money to any bank and any location in India.

Actor Sendhil Ramamurthy and Pooja Batra co-emceeing the awards show. Pooja is the former Miss India and UB Group Brand Ambassador. Photo:

The Awards are presented each year by The Amrapali Group. Focusing on Greater Noida, Indirapuram and other East Delhi locations, the Amrapali Group has completed projects spread over more than 100 acres. What makes the Amrapali group stand out is its steadfast dedication to quality and efficient service. Established by Mr. Anil Sharma, a civil engineer from IIT Kharagpur and a former government employee, Amrapali is run by a group of highly competent engineers and over 50 professional and 150 supervisory-grade employees.

I’ve been so impressed with Evolve Entertainment’s coordination and planning of the last two Light of India Awards, and I’m looking forward to see what Sapnna Vats and her team have in store for next year’s event.

Originally published in The Huffington Post, Aug. 2, 2012.

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Jim Luce
Jim Luce
Raising, Supporting & Educating Young Global Leaders through Orphans International Worldwide (, the J. Luce Foundation (, and The Stewardship Report ( Jim is also founder and president of the New York Global Leaders Lions Club.


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