Filmmaker Mira Nair conferred with Person of the Year award

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New York, Mar 31 (UNI) Noted filmaler Mira Nair has been honoured with the Person of the Year(2007) Award by India Abroad, the largest newspaper catering to Indians and other South Asians in North America.

The award, instituted by the New York-based weekly in 2002, was given to her over the weekend to recognise the 50-year-old arvard-educated filmmaker's contributions to the field over the past several years.

Accepting the award which is pressented annually, Nair expressed her gratitude for those who had inspired her. She was particularly thankful to her mother, who had encouraged her in the chosen field.

Salaam Bombay, Mississippi Masala and Monsoon Wedding were among her widely acclaimed films.

Nair arrived in New York after a weeklong trip that had taken her to locations in Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Canada, to receive the award from Indra Nooyi, chairperson and CEO of Pepsico.

She reflected her journey from her native Orissa to Hollywood, where she is considered a topnotch director.

Giving the award to her, Nooyi, who herself was chosen as the weekly's Person of the Year (for 2006), said, ''After all, the Indian-American community is my extended family; India Abroad is its mirror and voice.'' Ajit Balakrishnan, publisher of the weekly owned by rediff.com, praised Nair and other winners in various categories as well as the Indian-American community at large for their achievements.

''We gather to celebrate a community, increasingly, and justly, famed for its achievements across a vast spectrum of activity, and to honor those Indian-Americans who are deemed to be the first among these equals,'' Balakrishnan said.

Youth Achiever Award for the year was given to Somdev Dev Burman, the 24-year-Indian who has become the first desi to win the prestigious US collegiate tennis title. He is a distant relative of music composer Rahul Dev Burman.

The award for Community Service went to Dr Navin Shah, who helped pioneer a revolutionary ambulance service in India. Dr Joy Cherian, the first Indian-American to be appointed to a high US government position, received the Lifetime Award for Service to the Community.

Dr Renu Khator, president and chancellor of the University of Houston, was given the publisher's Special Award for Excellence. The former provost of the University of South Florida, she left India as a young bride 35 years ago.

Also honoured on the occasion were a couple, who teach economics at Columbia University. Jagdish Bhagwati and Padma Desai, the couple, are considered experts on the Russian economy and free trade respectively. They received the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Previous winners of the Person of the Year award were Bobby Jindal (current governor of Louisiana) in 2005; Mohini Bhardwaj (captain of the American team that won the Olympic silver in Athens) in 2004; Sonal Shah (co-founder of nongovernmental organization Indicorps, which bridges the gap between the Indian-American youth and India) in 2003; and Swati Dandekar (an Iowa state lawmaker) in 2002.

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