Indians Around World Vote on Top Non-Residents

New York, NY. Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who is the best Indian of them all? I wondered this very thought last week when I attended a press-conference in New York City in preparation forThe Light of India Awardsvote selection announcement coming soon to the Waldorf Astoria.   In short, overseas Indians are voting on their favorite representatives in six categories from the arts to commerce.   For me, a non-Indian, I wondered how many of them I even knew?


Did you know that the president and CEO of MasterCard, Ajay Banga, is an Indian-American?

The Light of India Awards, an initiative ofRemit2India, is a simple concept for Non-Resident Indians (NRIs): You loved their ideas, followed their journey, respected their vision – now help honor them by choosing among them the best.   Remit2India is a Western Union-like company that owned by the Times Group in India that allows over a million NRI’s in 23 countries around the world to send money home.

And the categories are: Business, Corporate, Politics, Arts & Entertainment, Science & Technology, and Journalism & Literature.

Sapnna Vats and Gudeep Suri of the Times Group of India explained the Light of India
Awards at the NYC press conference. Photo Credit: Vijay Shah, Freelance U.S. Media.

At the press conference I spoke to Gurdeep Suri, U.S. Country Manager for TimesofMoney Group, who told me:

India has always been shining especially on the strength of the ‘light’ that the NRIs have spread far & wide.   These Awards are a platform to recognize excellence of the Global Indian community across different fields. It emphasizes the critical role that this community has played both in terms of its contribution to India & the world.

LikeAmerican Idol, the Light of India Awards has a jury.   The polling is being validated by the mega firm KPMG.   The Times Group of India believes this event will become an annual platform to constantly honor this elite community.   Non-Resident Indians are encouraged to votehere.

I carefully reviewed the nominees are realized I know so little about one of the world’s biggest powers.   I challenge my readers to go head-to-head with me on Indian culture!

Business.Non-resident Indian nominees for the Light of India Awards in Business are Promod Sharma,Naveen Jain, Mukesh Majmudar, andVinod Khosla.

Naveen Jain is a philanthropist, entrepreneur and technology pioneer.
He serves as co-chair of Education & Global Development of the X Prize
Foundation focused on finding entrepreneurial solutions to global challenges
in education, poverty, agriculture, health, and clean water.

Corporate.   Ajay Banga is the current President and Chief Executive Officer of MasterCard.   The other contenders include Arun Sarin (Vodafone), Dinesh Keskar (Boeing), Francisco D’souza (Cognizan), and Vikram Pandit (Citigroup).

Dr. Vikram Pandit moved to the U.S. at 16 and is now CEO of Citigroup.

Politics. Political leader being honored includes Canadian Ruby Dhalla, Iowa State SenatorSwati Dandekar, Ameya Pawar – and, of course,Bobby Jindal.

Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana was born in Baton Rouge and attended
Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar, having turned down both Harvard and Yale.

Science & Technology. Nominees include the father of the Pentium chip,Vinod Dham, as well as Narasimha Chari, Shiladitya Sengupta, andVivek Kundra, the first Chief Information Officer (CIO) of the United States who was appointed by President Obama.

Arts & Entertainment. Nominees include Anglo-Indian comedianRussell Peters, actorSunil Nayar, British-Indian comediansSanjeev BhaskarandMeera Syal, and the inspiringMira Nair.   I wrote about her the first time I met herhere.   Mira debuted her first feature film,Salaam Bombay!in 1988.   As founder of Orphans International Worldwide (OIWW), I am deeply impressed that Mira has used the proceeds of this film to establish an organization for street children, called the Salaam Baalak Trust in India.   Her other films of note includeKama Sutra: A Tale of LoveandMississippi Masala.

Literature & Journalism.   Nominees include Canadian writerM.G. Vassanji, Indian-American authorsJhumpa LahiriandChitra B. Divakaruni, poetVikram Seth, and of course, the iconicSalman Rushdie.

Salman Rushdie is author of eleven novels including Satanic Verses
and serves as Honorary Professor in the Humanities at M.I.T.

As theIndia Timeswrote on the importance of the Indiandiaspora:

Over the years, the Indian community abroad has contributed significantly not only to their country of residence but also to the Indian economy back home.   Worldwide, Indians are recognized as the most valued ethnic community in terms of their intellectual capital.   Their efforts in infusing capital, ideas and international practices have also contributed significantly to the Indian economy apart from keeping alive the Indian traditions and culture far and wide. Indians today have done the country proud through their contribution in various fields like art, science, technology and politics the world over.

The Awards will be announced April 22 at a black-tie event here in New York with the Indian Ambassador to the U.S, the Hon. Mrs.Meera Shankar, as the Chief Guest.

Aroon Shivdasani of the Indo-American Arts Council in NYC led the press conference.
Photo Credit: Vijay Shah, Freelance U.S. Media.

Key corporate partners to the event include Sony Entertainment Television, Asia as the Exclusive Television Partner, Etihad Airways as the International Travel Partner, as the online partner, Comcast and Goa Tourism as Associate Sponsors.

I often write on corporate social responsibility (CSR) in the U.S. and believe it is vital for multinational companies to give back to society – so often these multi-nationals are bigger than countries themselves.   I have written on the good things being done by MetLife, theCushman Groupof MorganStanley SmithBarney, NBC’sBrian Williams, andGoldman Sachs.   My hat is tipped to Remit2India and the Times Group of India for their lead in CSR in South Asia.

I look forward to being there and will report inThe Huffington Postwhat transpires as the names of the winning Non-Resident Indian thought leaders and global citizens are announced.   I am excited to be able to educate myself further on this dynamic nation and its cultural emissaries.   I am sure Dr.Sanjay Guptawill be nominated next year!


Note: Many of the stories of Jim Luce published in The Huffington Post have subsequently run on the pages

Originally published April 14, 2011 in The Daily Kos.


About Jim Luce: Thought Leaders & Global Citizens

View all posts by Jim Luce: Thought Leaders & Global Citizens
Jim Luce: Thought Leaders & Global Citizens
Jim Luce ( writes and speaks on Thought Leaders and Global Citizens. Bringing 26 years management experience within both investment banking and the non-profit sector, Jim has worked for Daiwa Bank, Merrill Lynch, a spin-off of Lazard Freres, and two not-for profit organizations and a foundation he founded. As Founder & CEO of Orphans International Worldwide (, he is working with a strong network of committed professionals to build interfaith, interracial, Internet-connected orphanages in Haiti and Indonesia, and creating a new, family-care model for orphans in Sri Lanka and Tanzania.

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