In addition to the Federation of Indian Associations of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut (FIA-Tri-state), four Indian Americans received the coveted Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award on January 9, India’s highest honor for a non-resident Indians. President Ram Nath Kovind conferred the awards during the 16th edition of the annual Pravasi Bhartiya Divas convention, which was held virtually this year.
The recipients of the award this year include Dr. Sudhakar Jonnalagadda for medicine; Dr. Arvind Phukan for environment technology; Nilu Gupta for promoting Indian culture; and Dr. Mukesh Aghi for business. Aghi, who is the president and CEO of the U.S.-India Strategic Partnership Forum, also delivered the acceptance speech on behalf of the awardees. “Absolute honor to receive this award. It is a team effort, and more importantly, it signifies the importance of U.S.-India relations. We have tremendous opportunity under Biden-Modi administration to further enhance this partnership which not only the two countries benefit but the world,” said Aghi, who launched the USISPF with a focused commitment to creating the most powerful strategic partnership between the U.S. and India.
Jonnalagadda, president of the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin, said in a statement: “In recognizing me, the government has recognized all the medical professionals who have been in the forefront fighting Covid, including those who have laid down their lives at the services of treating patients infected with the deadly virus. This award will strengthen the medical fraternity to recommit our efforts, skills and talents for the greater good of humanity. Congratulations to all of my co-awardees.”
Jonnalagadda assumed office as the 37th president of AAPI July 11, 2020, with a commitment to “make AAPI stronger, more vibrant, united, transparent, politically engaged, ensuring active participation of young physicians, increasing membership, and enabling that AAPI’s voice is heard in the corridors of power,” stated a press release.
Phukan is the president/founder of Core Professional Group for the Brahmaputra, an NGO working for the mitigation of flooding and riverbank erosions in the Brahmaputra River in Assam; a former professor of civil engineering at the University of Alaska-Anchorage; and the CEO/founder of Phukan Inc. Consulting Engineers, which specializes in civil, structural, geotechnical, and environmental engineering projects. The company has successfully completed various projects throughout Alaska, from Ketchikan (Southern part of Alaska) to Barrow (northern part of Alaska).