The Indian American Kerala Cultural and Civic Center, Inc. (commonly known as the Kerala Center) recently marked its 31st Annual Awards Dinner at the Center’s auditorium in Elmont, NY, with a grand celebration honoring eight exceptional individuals for their remarkable contributions in various fields and their selfless dedication to society.
The evening commenced with a patriotic fervor as Riya Roy and Bincy Cherian rendered stirring renditions of the American and Indian National anthems. The esteemed gathering was welcomed by Kerala Center president Alex K. Esthappan, who acknowledged the presence of distinguished guests, including New York Senator Kevin Thomas and Nassau County Legislator Carrie Solages. These guests played a significant role in felicitating the honorees and presenting them with their well-deserved awards.
Dr. Shyam Kottilil, based in Baltimore, Maryland, was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award for his exceptional contributions in virology and scientific research. In his keynote address, he delved into both the achievements and the shortcomings in response to the COVID epidemic, while also shedding light on strategies to prevent future epidemics.
Recognized for entrepreneurship was Sajeeb Koya from Pickering, Ontario, Canada, the mastermind behind 3S International, Inc., responsible for the LED Façade lighting adorning the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building.
The award for nursing was bestowed upon Dr. Anna George from Long Island, the current president of the Indian Nurses Association of New York (INANY). Additionally, Dr. Shelby Kutty, a distinguished physician-scientist and academic leader at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, was acknowledged for his noteworthy contributions in the field of medicine.
Ajay Ghosh from Trumbull, Connecticut, received accolades in Media and Journalism for his role as chief editor and co-publisher of The Universal News Network. He also serves as a media coordinator for the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) and ITServe Alliance.
Lata Menon from Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, was recognized for her expertise in Legal Services, while Jayant Kamicheril, a Sahitya Academy award winner from Reading, Pennsylvania, received the prestigious Pravasi Malayalam Literature Award. Gopala Pillai from Dallas, Texas, was honored for her commendable commitment towards community service.
Senator Thomas, who had previously received an award, lauded the Kerala Center for acknowledging individuals tirelessly working to better society. Representative Solages expressed his inspiration drawn from Indian and Malayalee peers during his time at George Town University. He emphasized the beauty of loving both one’s home country and the United States.
The awards ceremony also featured P.T. Paulose and Jose Kadapuram, who presented U. A. Naseer with a copy of the souvenir they had meticulously crafted. Dr. Madhu Bhaskaran, the chairman of the Award Committee and Board of Directors, elaborated on the meticulous process of selecting the deserving awardees.
The evening resonated with cultural performances, including soulful renditions by Bincy Cherian, Tahseen Mohammed, Sibi David, Toni, and Heera. Additionally, the Noopura School of Dance showcased enthralling Indian classical dances, captivating the audience.
Secretary Raju Thomas concluded the ceremony with a heartfelt vote of thanks, extending gratitude to honored guests, awardees, sponsors, and the enthusiastic audience.
Established in 1993, the Kerala Center stands as a non-profit organization dedicated to serving Keralites and the Indian American community in the tri-state New York area. Over the last 31 years, the Center has proudly honored more than 200 individuals of Keralite descent who have excelled in their professions or made significant contributions to the broader society.