The Indian American Kerala Cultural and Civic Center (The Kerala Center) celebrated its 31st Annual Awards Dinner at the Center’s auditorium in Elmont, NY, on Saturday, October 28, 2023. The event was organized to honor 8 individuals who have contributed immensely to their professions and to society with their selfless dedication.
The 2023 awards list included Dr. Shyam Kottilil (Baltimore, MD) for Lifetime Achievement Award; Sajeeb Koya (Pickering, Ontario, Canada) for Entrepreneurship; Dr. Anna George (Long Island, NY) for Nursing; Dr. Shelby Kutty (Baltimore, MD) for Medicine; Ajay Ghosh (Trumbull, CT) for Media and Journalism; Lata Menon, Esq. (Mississauga, Ontario, Canada) for Legal Services, Jayant Kamicheril (Reading, PA) for Pravasi Malayalam Literature; and Gopala Pillai (Dallas, Texas) for Community Service, as per the release.
During the event, President Alex K. Esthappan welcomed everyone and provided a brief description of the activities and goals of the Kerala Center. New York Senator Kevin Thomas and Nassau County Legislator Carrie Solages felicitated and presented the awards, who were introduced by Dr. Thomas Abraham, Chairman of the Trustee Board and Award Committee member.
Sen. Thomas, a prior awardee himself, heaped praise on the Kerala Center for honoring individuals who excelled professionally and served society with dedication. Legislator Solages remarked that students of Indian and Malayalee descent made him a better student, helping him to go to George Town University.
Dr. Madhu Bhaskaran, the chairman of the Award Committee and Board of Directors, in his speech, explained the process of selecting the awardees.
A Lifetime achievement award was presented to Dr. Shyam Kottilil for his outstanding contributions in the field of virology and scientific research. In his keynote speech, he explained the successes and failures of managing the COVID outbreak and how to prevent future outbreaks which will certainly happen sometime in the future.
The award for entrepreneurship went to Sajeeb Koya, the man behind the LED Façade lighting that lights up Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world. Sajeeb and his team are proud to be part of this project which owns 2 Guinness World Records.
The award for Media and Journalism went to Ajay Ghosh, Chief Editor and Co-Publisher of The Universal News Network. He serves as Media Coordinator for the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) and ITServe Alliance.
The award for community service went to Gopala Pillai who has served as the President and Board Member of several organizations in Texas and Detroit and has been with the World Malayali Council since 1995 as its Secretary, President, and Chairman.
The award for outstanding achievements in Medicine went to Dr. Shelby Kutty, a physician-scientist and academic leader, serving as the Helen B. Taussig endowed professor and director of pediatric and congenital cardiology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
The award for contributions to Pravasi Malayalam Literature went to Jayant Kamicheril, a recipient of the Kerala Sahithya Academy award for 2022 for his book “Oru Kumarakom Karantay Kuruthamketta Likhithangal.”
The award for excellence in Nursing went to Dr. Anna George, current president of the Indian Nurses Association of New York (INANY). She is a Nurse, a nurse practitioner, a human rights advocate, and a social activist.
The award for legal service went to Lata Menon, Esq. an accomplished Barrister and Solicitor and active community member, who has become a recognized name in the legal community in Ontario.
The ceremony was attended by leaders of many community organizations and was made lively with outstanding performances of songs and classical dance by the Noopura School of Dance, followed by a delicious dinner at the 2023 Awards Night.
The Kerala Center is a non-profit and tax-exempt organization serving Keralites and the Indian American community in the tri-state New York area, inaugurated in 1993. The Kerala Center has honored over 200 individuals of Keralite descent for their great contribution to the larger society, in the last 31 years.