The cities of Champaign-Urbana presented Professor Pallassana R Balgopal, professor emeritus in social work at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, with the Champaign-Urbana International Humanitarian Award in the human rights category.
Along with Professor Balgopal, the local chapter of Asha for Education set up by Indian students at the University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign was presented an award for their dedicated service for educating underprivileged children in India.
Irfan S Ahmad, a Pakistani-American, received a Humanitarian Relief Organisation Award.
The awards honor individuals whose work has contributed significantly to international understanding, cooperation, friendship and development.
The awards also recognise the richness of Champaign county's international contributions, concerns and commitments in a variety of arenas, including agriculture, hospitality, humanitarian relief, human rights, research/education, and trade and business, a statement from the award committee said.
The citation to Professor Balgopal salutes his services, saying "your devotion to international human rights has been an outstanding way to demonstrate your dedication. It is with great pleasure that we honor you and present you with the Champaign Urbana International Humanitarian Award".
For nearly 50 years Professor Balgopal has taught and practised social work internationally in the United States, India, Germany, Russia, the Netherlands, and Singapore. Prior to his arrival in the US in 1960, he was engaged in social work in India, in various institutional contexts,
He held academic appointments at Michigan, Tulane, Maryland, Houston, and Illinois. A respected social work educator, researcher, and practitioner, his work focuses on ethnic minorities, immigrants, refugees, and Asian families in the United States.
A founding member of the Asian-American Studies Program at the University of Illinois, he has several books to his credit, including Social Work Practice with Immigrants and Refugees, a work that focuses on the major immigrant groups who have come to the United States since 1965.
Recently, with his wife Shyamala, he established the Balgopal Lecture on Human Rights and Asian Americans, providing a permanent fund to support an annual lecture. The lecture will be assembled and published every four years, and will explore the marginality and oppression experienced within Asian American communities.
He actively participated as an advisor with the World Health Organisation's Global Programme on AIDS by providing training and counseling in many Asian and European countries.
He has been a central figure in advocating the construction of a Hindu temple in the Champaign-Urbana community.
Immediately after tsunami, he visited the affected areas in India in 2004 with a team of relief workers, and, as a social worker, organised culturally appropriate relief efforts for the victims.