Children's Hope India [ Images ] Inc hosted its 20th annual gala, titled The Black and White Ball, at a decorated Pier 60 in New York on October 21.
CHI, a non-profit organization seeking to help poor children in India, was started 20 years ago at a kitchen table by five professional women out of which three -- Dina Pahlajani, who thought up this idea, Lavina Melwani and Radha Vanjani -- are still active.
The highlight of the evening was a silent auction, the items ranging from a painting by West Bengal [ Images ] Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee [ Images ], VIP Daily Show with John Stewart tickets, to swimming lessons.
Emcee Tinku Jain, who hosts a television programme called Namaste America, and her husband Ajit Jain, who runs Berkshire Hathaway's re-insurance business, sponsored the Lotus Award presented to Dr Swati Piramal, who heads the Piramal Foundation and is also a Padma Shri recepient.
After opening remarks by CHI President Kavita Lund, Prabhu Dayal, India's consul general in New York, opened the evening for the awardees.
A video of how the collected funds have been used was screened. It included the effect CHI has had on 184 villages housing over 50,000 people near Karjat, Maharashtra [ Images ], through its mobile medical unit.
In this, CHI has partnered with the Light of Light Trust.
Dr Chitranjan S Ranawat, the other recipient of The Lotus Award sponsored by Poonam and A J Khubani (chief executive officer, Telebrands of Fairfield, New Jersey), works to improve orthopedic joint replacement surgery for the poor in India.
Dr Panchapakesa Jayaraman, also a Padma Shri winner, won the Making a Difference Award.
In 1980, he and his wife established the US branch of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan.
A special mention was made of Rattan and Gul Samtani, staunch supporters of CHI who are members of its advisory board.
Meera Gandhi, who heads The Giving Back Foundation, a CHI partner, spoke about its grant to CHI and join plans to combine efforts to help women and children.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton [ Images ] lauded the CHI in her message: 'We look forward to joining organizations like Children's Hope India as you continue your efforts to ensure every child has the opportunity to live a healthy and fulfilling life.'
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said, 'Over the last two decades, this organization has supported a worthy mission and I applaud the members of Children's Hope India for their commitment to youth.'
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg [ Images ] also sent a statement: 'New Yorkers are known for their charitable spirit and dedication to giving back to their communities, and together with organizations like Children's Hope India, we are working to make a difference in the lives of those who need it most.'
Image: Derek O'Brien (centre), quiz whiz, member of the Indian Parliament from Bengal and key Trinamool Congress [ Images ] party strategist, at the event