Upendra J Chivukula, the first-generation Indian-American elected to the New Jersey legislature in the United States, was felicitated by an estimated 500 Indians and other South Asians at a function held on March 1.
This is the fourth time in a row that Chivukula is getting elected to the state assembly.
Among those present were Senator Frank Lautenberg, Congressman Frank Pallone and state Senator Bob Smith.
The occasion was also a fundraiser for the Democratic Party to which Chivukula belongs. About $50,000 were collected at the fundraiser whose venue was Royal Albert's Palace function hall in Fords Township.
Chivukula, an Andhra Pradesh native, was elected from the 17th District of Somerset in New Jersey in the November (2007) elections. The state legislature term is for two years.
Chivukula, a resident of Franklin Township, was first elected to his current position in 2001. He is currently the only South Asian American in the New Jersey state assembly.
"I am grateful for and humbled by the growing support of my community," Chivukula said, adding, "It also is an indication of the increasing awareness and engagement of the community in the political mainstream."
He further said that he was delighted at the growing empowerment of South Asian Americans in all aspects of American life -- political, business and cultural.
"A driving force in my work as a member of the Democratic Party for over 10 years, and as a four-term member of the state legislature, has been to inspire and help South Asians increase their involvement at the grass-roots level, be recognised for their professional and cultural accomplishments and receive greater opportunity for leadership in state government. It is gratifying to be part of what I consider to be exciting and challenging times for South-Asian Americans," he added.
Bharat Patel, Treasurer for the Campaign Committee of Chivukula for assembly, was delighted at the turnout and diversity of the attendees at the victory celebration.
"Upendra is an outstanding representative for the party in general, and for the issues and concerns of South Asians in particular," he said, adding, "He is tireless in advancing the interest of the state, his constituents in the 17th District and of the South Asian-American community. He deserves our whole-hearted support."
Others honoured on the occasion were Piyush Patel, Summit Research Labs as Indian Businessman Private Sector 2008; Ronak Shah, Flagship Properties, Young Entrepreneur 2008; Bina Menon, Kalaanjali School of Dance & Music, Cultural Icon 2008; Nitin Gurjar, Tiranga, Indian-American Journalist 2008.