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Young Achievers

Young Achievers Award of the Indo-American Society

Many Indians particularly from Mumbai have made their mark in Unites States of America. As a result the Indo-American society based in Mumbai has remained a very active organization and it is very efficiently run by various enthusiastic people, particularly, its current President, Mr.S. Ramadorai and Vice President Mr. Arun Vakil. One of the important program that they organize annually is ‘Young Achievers Award’ to be given to any young person and honoring him for his outstanding achievements. This award has become very prestigious and honorable.

For the year 2002, the Indo-American Society selected Lt. Nawang Kapadia for the first posthumous award for the young achiever on the award night on December 15th 2002 at Hotel Oberoi poolside in Mumbai. It also happened to be, by coincidence the 25th birthday of Lt. Nawang Kapadia.

There was a glittering function with leading names from advertising and film-world present. At first, we as a family felt little hesitant to participate in such a joyous and glamorous function that Bipasha Basu, Raveena Tandon of the film fame and many other leading models of Mumbai, sportsmen like Harsh and Ashok Mankad, etc. would be present. But as we entered the hall there was a warm reception in the presence of US Consulate General, Mr. Angus Simmons and his wife.

After the usual fanfare, various awards were given. When we went up to receive the award for Lt. Nawang Kapadia, there was a pin-drop silence and everyone listened with rapt attention, as I spoke, briefly regarding the bravery of Lt. Nawang, the role of Indian army in Kashmir and about the brave Gorkha soldiers of the Indian army.

The audience of glitterati celebrities listened with rapt attention. In fact I thanked the organizers that even in midst of such fanfare and glittering function a brave solider of Indian army was remembered and the city of Mumbai, through Indo-American Society was honouring him. There was thunderous applause as the award was given and I dare say that everyone in the audience, even from the glamorous world certainly received some knowledge about the role of the Indian army that day. In fact, my statement, that we are able to enjoy this lovely function near Oberoi poolside in such esteemed company, only because our soldiers are sitting on the border and guarding us. Otherwise this curse of terrorism and enemy would have reached right till our shores.

There were many who came to talk to us regarding soldiers, Kashmir, borders and about Nawang. It was as if this world was thirsty for such knowledge and the minute they had the opportunity, they started grabbing it with both hands.

As we went down, Geeta who was with Lt. Katiyar, a friend of Nawang, saw the famous film actress Raveena Tandon going into a coffee shop. Wanting to take an autograph of hers, they approached her. She instantly recognized Geeta walking towards her, got up and came rushing and said ‘Yes Ma’m, can I do something for you?’ she said very warmly, and Geeta said smilingly, “ Lt. Katiyar wants an autograph”. She said “That’s all, tell me what I can do for the army, what I can do for the country and people like you”. She exchanged telephone numbers and later phoned our family to inquire about things to be done.

Around same time we had a letter from Maj. Gen. Randhir Singh, GOC of 25 Infantry Division and one of the Godfathers of Nawang. It read that in Rajouri district (which he commanded) many people were displaced due to shelling in the border areas and with approaching winter their plight was rather sorry. They needed warm clothes and blankets and can the warm city of Mumbai help them ?

Geeta organized this through Indo-American Society and 9 members of the Society including Pradeep Madhavji, their past President, donated many woollen clothes to be sent to Rajouri. The other friends who’s donated woollens were Ms. Sumanta Batra, Mr. Ishan Raina, Dr. S. K. and Mrs. Laila Punshi, Mrs. Pahlaj Bajaj, Mr. A. V. Chotai, Ms. Statira Ranina, Ms. Uma Nevalia, Mrs. Manjari Raikar, Ms. Suchitra Narayan, P. K. Gazdar and Mrs. Nerissa D’souza. These clothes were collected by jawans deputed by Gen. Randhir Sinh and were distributed to various needy families at Rajouri.

This little incident and event certainly went on to show that people want to know about Kashmir and the army, they want to help and if approached correctly, then memories of soldiers like Lt. Nawang Kapadia, can certainly act as catalyst to promote nationalism and understanding about our army.