New York, Mar 3: Upendra J. Chivukula, the first-generation Indian-American elected to a state legislature in the US, has been felicitated by an estimated 500 Indians and other South Asians. VIPs present among those at the meeting held on March 1 in neighboring New Jersey, where Mr Chivukula was successful in getting elected for the fourth time in a row, were Senator Frank Lautenberg, Congressman Frank Pallone and state Senator Bob Smith.
The occasion was also a fundraiser for the Democratic Party to which Mr Chivukula belongs. About 50,000 dollars was collected at the fundraiser whose venue was Royal Albert's Palace function hall in Fords Township. Mr 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. Mr 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,'' Mr 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's gratifying to be part of what I consider to be exciting and challenging times for South-Asian Americans,'' he added.
Mr Bharat Patel, Treasurer for the Campaign Committee of Upendra J. 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,'' Mr Patel said and added, ''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; Shafqat Khan, Pakistanis for America.
The others in the list include Pakistani American Community Activist 2008; Dr. Sudhir Parikh, Publisher, The Indian American, Philanthropist, 2008; John Lau, Businessman, Chinese-American Businessman 2008; Sunil Nayak, hotelier, Indian-American Community Activist 2008; Kurus Elavia, Gateway Group One, Indian-American Businessman Public Sector 2008; Ravi Shenoy, Shenoy Engineering, P.C. Indian-American Professional 2008.