Srinivasan, Bera Hail Indian-American Achievers

Prakash M Swamy/New York
Srinivasan, Bera Hail Indian-American Achievers

Legal eagle Sri Srinivasan who recently made history by becoming the first US Circuit Court judge of South Asian descent, has praised Indian-Americans as having blossomed over the years as a community contributing to American success in professions ranging from law to media.

Addressing an awards function organised by 'India Abroad' to honour Indian-American achievers yesterday, the Chandigarh-born judge in the US Court of Appeals, the nation's second most powerful court, said that early Indian immigrants were mostly physicians and attorneys.

But, the second and third-generation Indian-Americans have made impressive forays into US mainstream politics, media, movies, advocacy besides carving a niche in the national spelling bee competitions, Srinivasan said.

US Congressman Ami Bera, only the third Indian-American to be elected to the US Congress, was honoured as the India Abroad Person of the Year for Political Achievement 2012.

"I ran as an Indian American -- as a son of parents who immigrated here from India -- and its the values that our parents raised us with, the values of a strong sense of family values of working hard, values of making sure you have built a solid foundation of education, values of sacrificing for the next generation to make sure your children are better off than you," Bera said.

"These are not just Indian-American values, those are historical American values as well that this country has always built on," Bera, who was trained as a physician, added.

USAID Administrator Rajiv Raj Shah, the highest-ranking Indian-American in the Obama administration, was honoured as the India Abroad Person of the Year for Public Service 2012.

Shah, who was also trained as a physician and made just as big a mark by turning USAID on its head, garnered acclaim dealing with the massive earthquake in Haiti in 2010, and has breathed new life into the aid organisation.

"I am just thrilled to see the huge progress that this community has made with leaders in politics, in media, in community service, in so many other walks of life," Shah said.

"I think that is appropriate because its a community that has a lot of knowledge, some financial success, the ability to give back and a strong ethic of responsibility that plays out in so many different examples around our country," Shah said.

Inspired to a life of public service after visiting slums in Mumbai as a child, he emerged, in the words of former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton, as the "transformational leader" that USAID had been waiting for.

Shah once even prompted President Barack Obama to remark, "Every time I meet him (Shah), I realise that I was an underachiever in my 30s."

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