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5 Indian Americans Honored as 2012 Outstanding Achievers

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Global Organization of People of Indian Origin Connecticut Chapter (GOPIO-CT) celebrated its sixth anniversary at the Italian Center of Stamford, on April 28. Five Indian Americans were honored by the organization for their achievements and contributions at an Awards Banquet.

Mr. Vivek Maru, Dr. Faquir Jain, Ms. Chandra Prasad, Ms. Neena Singh and Ms. Malika Bhandarkar. Dr. William "Vijay" Pinch were honored with a Friend of India award.

"The award selection is a rigorous process conducted by an independent committee which evaluates all nominations and we are glad we select the best possible candidates every year," said GOPIO-CT President Shailesh Naik.

The evening's program included a cocktail reception, awards ceremony, entertainment by local performers, dinner, dance and live music. "Every year we gather together to celebrate the achievements of some fine, distinguished individuals from our community, to congratulate them and let them know that we are proud of their achievements in their careers and day today life and we would love to emulate and show them as role models to our next generation," Naik added

Mr. Vivek Maru is Chief Executive officer of Namati, an international organization that tests the potential of legal empowerment through innovative interventions and research.  Namatis' work seeks a better understanding of the impacts of legal empowerment and to create the most effective mechanisms for achieving them.  Mr. Maru graduated from Harvard College, magna cum laude, and Yale Law School.  He has served as senior counsel in the Justice Reform Group of the World Bank and clerked for Hon. Marsha Berzon on the ninth Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals, among his many accomplishments.  Mr. Maru is recognized in the category of Social Entrepreneur.

Dr. Faquir Jain, professor in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at the University of Connecticut was recognized in the category Applied Science and Research.  He is involved with design and fabrication of microelectronic/optoelectronic devices and ICs.  He has collaborated to form Biorasis Inc. to commercialize a minimally invasive glucose sensor for real time, continuous glucose monitoring.  

Ms. Chandra Prasad is a multi-talented writer whose work has received praise in Booklist and USA Today.  She created the popular career guide "Outwitting the Job Market" and has written scores of articles on diversity and the workplace.  She has published several books and is currently developing a novel for young adult readers.  Ms. Prasad is recognized in the category of Arts and Letters.

Ms. Neena Singh was recognized for her community service here and in India. She has volunteered in many non-profit activities - helping visually impaired senior citizens; tutoring under-privileged teens; cooking and serving in soup kitchens; and raising funds for local charities and for project - Pingalwara in Amritsar, a home for the underprivileged and mentally challenged. Neena is co-President of the PTA of the Greens Farms Academy and co-Leader of the Girls' Scout Troop and is active in community building activities in Wilton and Stamford.  

President's Young Person Award went to Ms. Malika Bhandarkar, an accountability expert who influences decision makers at all levels to amplify the message "Women Count for Peace".  With a Masters in International and Development Economics from Yale in 2005, Ms. Bhandarkar joined President Clinton's Tsunami Recovery Office at the United Nations in New York.  Malika and her team work in post-conflict countries, at the invitation of governments, with national Ministries and civil society organizations, to build responsive accountability systems that monitor  and enhance gender equality and women's empowerment.  She is about to embark on a 10-country pilot initiative to further set and implement new standards and practice.

Friend of India Award was given to Dr. William "Vijay" Pinch, professor of History and Chair of the History Department at Wesleyan University.  Dr. Pinch's principal areas of research and teaching are South Asian history, religion and history, and maritime world history.  Dr. Pinch was born in India.  He is author of numerous book chapters, essays and reviews as well as articles.  He has published three books:  Warrior Ascetics and Indian Empires, Peasants and Monks in British India and Speaking of Peasants; Essays in Indian History and Politics in Honor of Walter Hauser

Over the last six years, GOPIO-CT, a chapter of GOPIO International has become an active and dynamic organization hosting interactive sessions with policy makers and academicians, community events, youth mentoring and networking workshops, and working with other area organizations to help create a better future.

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