Eight Indian-American women honoured in US

Madhulika Guhathakurta (Photo: Facebook)
Madhulika Guhathakurta (Photo: Facebook)

Eight Indian-American women have been honoured in the US in recognition of their achievements.

The women belong to diverse fields ranging from politics and business to civil rights activism and astrophysics.

Immigration lawyer Sheela Murthy, vice chairwoman of the Asian American Hotel Owners Association Jagruti Panwala and NASA astrophysicist Madhulika Guhathakurta were among the awardees.

Other honourees were Maryland Delegate Aruna Miller, Manisha Gaekwad from Florida; Ann Ramakumaran, founder and CEO of a tech company Ampcus Inc; and Suman Raghunathan, executive director of the racial justice and civil rights group South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT).

They were honoured at the inaugural American Bazaar Women Entrepreneurs and Leaders Gala.

Mahendra Tak, a trailblazer for Indian-American women in many fields, was honoured for her contributions in the areas of politics, art and culture. One of the first Indian American women to serve in the United States military, she is also among the first Indian-American women fund-raisers to make a mark nationally.

In her acceptance speech, Tak talked about the distance Indian Americans have travelled politically in the past three decades. “Now, all the women in this audience will appreciate this: when the Washington State legislature meets next, it will have three Indian American women: two in the Senate and one in the House,” she said. “Isn’t that amazing?”

Astrophysicist Guhathakurta, who was born in Kolkata, is one of the most prominent Indian-Americans in NASA.

Murthy, an alumnus of the Harvard Law School, exhorted the audience consisting mostly of women to think positively.

“I look at being a woman, being an immigrant, and a person of colour as the three biggest attributes – rather than looking at them as three strikes against me – looking at them as three biggest attributes that helped make me unique and special and different,” she said.

Dozens of prominent women entrepreneurs from across the country, executives of Fortune 500 companies, political and thought leaders, and leaders from the non-profit world attended the Women Entrepreneurs Forum and Leaders Gala.