BY JYOTHSNA HEGDE
Atlanta, GA: The Gandhi Foundation of USA (GFUSA), along with Indo-American communities of Georgia, friends and well-wishers organized a felicitation banquet to honor and felicitate Subash Razdan, in celebration of him receiving the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman 2013 Award, the highest award conferred by India for NRIs. Razdan currently serves as the chairman and co-founder of the Gandhi Foundation of the USA. Consul General Ajit Kumar and close to 450 community members were present at the event held at the Ashiana Banquet Hall in Global Mall, Norcross on Friday, February 22, 2013.
Atlanta’s awardees Veena Rao, editor and publisher of NRI Pulse Newspaper, recipient of Bharat Gaurav Award 2013, Kusum Khurrana, President of the World Hindu Council of America, Atlanta Chapter; Regional Vice President of Ekal Vidyalaya and the Treasurer of the Hindu Society of Atlanta, recipient of Hind Rattan Award 2013, and Dr. Narayanan Komerath, Professor of Aerospace Engineering at Georgia Tech who received the 2013 Bharat Gaurav Award from the India International Friendship Society were recognized at the event.
Subash Razdan, was among a distinguished group of 15 award winners this year, recognized in the field of public service. The award was conferred to Razdan by the President of India Pranab Mukherjee on January 9 as part of the three day Pravasi Bharatiya Divas convention from Jan 7 -9 in Kochi, Kerala. The award ceremony is held annually since 2003 to celebrate the contribution of the overseas Indian community in the development and service of India. The date Jan 9th was chosen in honor of the Mahatma – It was the day in 1915 when Mahatma Gandhi — perhaps the greatest pravasi returned to India from South Africa to lead India’s struggle for freedom and independence. Razdan is also the recipient of the prestigious 2003 Ellis Island Medal of Honor, that celebrates outstanding service to America by immigrants. He has also been cited in the U.S. Congressional Record for his advocacy of Indo-American issues and relations.
Starting with the social hour, the festivities began with a welcome speech by Antony Thaliath, who has worked closely with Subash on various community projects, such as 1996 Olympic Games, NFIA, Gandhi Foundation, to name a few. Awardee Veena Rao, in her acceptance speech, thanked all her supporters and the vibrant Atlanta Indian American community. “There can be no award bigger than the love of the community we serve!” Rao said. Kusum Khurrana and Dr N. Komerath were unable to make it to the event.
A video presentation of Razdan’s felicitation by President Pranab Mukherjee on Jan 9th 2013 at the concluding session the 13th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) in Kochi was aired for the audience. Antony Thaliath, Gita Kotecha and Nagesh recognized Subhash Razdan’s contributions to the Indian community. Kruthi Dance Academy presented a vivacious dance tuned to popular Bollywood numbers.
“Kashmir is the jewel crown of India and Subash (with roots from Kashmir) is the crown of Atlanta community” said Global Mall owner Shiv Aggarwal, as he introduced the Mayor of Sandy Springs, Mayor Eva Galambos. Razdan was exultant as Mayor Galambos said that the City of Sandy Springs and its City Council had declared Feb 22 as “Subash Razdan Day”.
Madhu Tata introduced Consul General Ajit Kumar. The Consul general congratulated Razdan and talked about Subash’s initiative and incessant lobbying in bringing the Consulate to Atlanta. A gracious and articulate speaker, Raj Razdan fondly reminisced their years together when Razdan walked out of his well-paying job because he chose not to work for “lallaji”, had Raj at the Gandhi Statue in the middle of night to make sure the cement was set before its inauguration, his trip to Jerusalem which Raj believes changed his perception towards life. “He came home a very changed man” Raj said. His motto is live, laugh and love, she concluded.
Razdan’s friend from his IIT Delhi days, Rajesh Anand too shed light on their college days and noted that Razdan’s unique quality is that he inspires loyalty from people around him. The Gandhi statue project team member Greg Pridgeon described Razdan as the “Renaissance Man”.
Member of ELUC, Board member of GRTA, and real estate magnet Narender Reddy brought with him, a congratulatory message for Razdan from Governor Nathan Deal. President of IACA, Kaushal Tripathi recalled the times Razdan sold samosas to raise funds for IACA all the way to him making a huge difference in the organization and the community.
A complete community man, associated with a numerous organizations, Razdan received felicitations from prominent members and leaders of various associations such as AACC, NACA, GCC from Dr. J Tan, L Wong, M Pierson, W Lazarus. Leaders from the Olympics team, BAPS Mandir, and NFIA, Rev. Y Farhat, Jayant Patel, V Mehta also joined the band of admirers. Razdan was also presented with a gold coin from Gold Line with his face on one side and the title of the award on the other.
An overwhelmed Razdan thanked and acknowledged all the people who supported him in his journey. He thanked Antony Thaliath, Shiv Aggarwal, Gita and Bharat Kotecha and Madhu Tata for organizing the event. He also dedicated the award to those who worked with him with a special mention to Vinod Patel of Gujarati Samaj and late Giriraj Rao, who he said mentored and guided him. Recalling his early days where he was the photographer for an IACA event, and his friend was one of guests Razdan walked the crowd through his trials and triumphs. “It was humbling to be chosen to deliver the acceptance speech on behalf of all the recipients” he said about the Award ceremony in Kochi.
With origins from Kashmir, Razdan was born in Ahmadabad, Gujarat. He is Civil and Environmental engineer from IIT Delhi and holds an MBA degree from GSU. He has been associated with various organizations including India American Cultural Association (IACA), Asian American Chamber of Commerce of Georgia, National Federation of Indian Associations (NFIA), Kashmiri Overseas Association, Georgia Chamber of Commerce, Economic & Employment Commission for Cobb County and Governor’s Census Count Committee. In 1996, he served as attache for India’s contingent of athletes to the Olympic Games held in Atlanta. Razdan accompanied then President Bill Clinton on his historic trip to India in March of 2000. Razdan has served as an advisor to the Coca Cola Company’s Procurement Advisory Council. In 2008, he was co-writer of the India-Georgia (USA) Friendship Resolution, which serves as a model for ongoing business and civic relations between India and an American state of Georgia.
The jam-packed room and heartfelt congratulatory messages from leaders across the city stood testament to Razdan’s sincere service to the community. They worded it differently but everyone agreed that Razdan’s award was indeed a well-deserved recognition for his dedication to causes he believed would make a difference. His “won’t take no for an answer” was commended by all.