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Home > News > Report

Indra Nooyi is India Abroad Person of the Year

A Correspondent in New York | March 24, 2007 08:31 IST

Indra Nooyi, CEO and chairperson-designate of PepsiCo, the world's second largest beverages company, was chosen as the India Abroad Person of the Year 2006, on March 23 at a gala event held at the Roosevelt Hotel, New York City.

In her acceptance speech, Nooyi, spoke about the joys of belonging to two lands -- India which gave her her heritage and America to which she owed tremendously for her future.

The highest-ranking Indian in corporate America also acknowledged the contributions made by her family -- her mother, husband and daughter -- that enabled her to scale incredible heights in a foreign land that she made her own some 29 years ago.

The award was handed over to her by Raj L Gupta, chairman of Rohm and Haas, like Pepsi, a Fortune 500 company.

The presentation of the India Abroad Person of the Year award to Indra Nooyi was the culmination of a grand evening that saw three other awards being conferred on people who have made an incredible mark in various endeavours.

The evening, hosted by Columbia University Professor Sreenath Sreenivasan, began with the publisher of India Abroad (a subsidiary of India in the United States) Ajit Balakrishnan extolling the virtues of the Indian-American community.

Lauding their contribution in heralding India in the consciousness of the developed world, Balakrishnan, founder and CEO,, also said it was a great time to be in India, where you can see palpable change.

India was the place to be, he exhorted a glittering array of Indian-American lawmakers, top executives, showbiz personalities, writers and other high-profile people.

The first award of the evening was the first Community Leader Award 2006, which was conferred on activist Swadesh Chatterjee by promising young lawmaker from Ohio Jay Goyal.

Chatterjee was chosen for the award for his unstinting efforts in uniting an often-disparate Indian-American community and powering it behind the India-US nuclear bill.

In his acceptance speech, Chatterjee gave credit to the various community organisations that rallied behind him in pushing the nuclear deal on Capitol Hill.

Novelist Salman Rushdie was chosen for the first India Abroad Lifetime Achievement Award for his stellar corpus of work, and for his tireless encouragement to young writers.

Rushdie, who attended the event sans his wife Padma Lakshmi, in his often-witty acceptance speech, spoke of the joys of being a writer.

The Lifetime Award was conferred on him by eminent novelist Bharati Mukherjee (The Tree Bride, Leave It to Me, The Holder of the world, Wife, etc) and Suketu Mehta, the author of Maximum City.

Astronaut Sunita Williams, who is currently orbiting the earth on the International

Space Station, was conferred the India Abroad Publisher's Award for Excellence. Her parents Dr Deepak and Bonnie Pandya received the award from Publisher Ajit Balakrishnan. The Pandyas, from Massachusetts, spoke proudly of Suni (pronounced

Sunny), as she is fondly known, always knew where she was going.

Williams had recorded her acceptance speech last week in an audio-visual in space, which was played out before an awe-struck audience.

This is the fifth year of the India Abroad Person of the Year awards.

The inaugural India Abroad Person of the Year award in 2002 was conferred on Iowa legislator Swati Dandekar.

In 2003, Sonal Shah, co-founder of NGO Indicorps, which bridges the gap between Indian-American youth and India through field trips to the country, was chosen the India Abroad Person of the Year.

In 2004, gymnast Mohini Bhardwaj, captain of the American team that won the Olympic silver in Athens that year, was chosen as the India Abroad Person of the Year.

And in 2005, United States Congressman Bobby Jindal, only the second Indian American to be elected to the US Congress, was the India Abroad Person of the Year.