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Flash, Dash and Panache at First Global Indian Awards; Gala Evening of Recognition and Pageantry in San Francisco.

SAN FRANCISCO, Sept. 28 /PRNewswire/ -- A parade of luminaries that ranged from an actor who plays villains in "Bollywood" movies to a Minnesota senator who predicts that an Asian Indian will someday be elected President of the United States were recognized Saturday night in the Global Indian Awards, a first-of-its-kind event that honors prominent achievers of Indian descent throughout the world.

Nineteen distinguished individuals from several fields of endeavor received statuettes during the black-tie ceremonies at San Francisco's Bill Graham Civic Auditorium. During a night of entertainment, wit and wisdom, honors also went to 23-year-old Purva Merchant, a dentist from India, who won the Thirteenth Annual Miss India Worldwide 2003 pageant from a field of contestants representing 22 countries, including the U.S.

The event, produced by Silicon Valley entrepreneur Ary Sarkar and his San Mateo-based Global Indian Congress, an organization that seeks to unite all Indian communities, drew more than 1500 guests and participants. It was hosted by two of India's leading television personalities, Shekhar Suman, who is known as the "Jay Leno of India," and Archana Puran Singh, an actress and talk-show host.

The awards were interspersed with high-energy Indian dancing and singing, and the entire affair was filmed by Sony Television Asia for future broadcast.

Winning the award for Cultural Ambassador of the Year was actor Gulshan Grover, who has made a career of being the designated "bad man" of Indian films and may soon get wider international recognition for a role in a forthcoming James Bond movie. Grover uses grotesque makeup and heavy voice contortions to scare the wits out of audiences.

His award contrasted with the one to Youth of the Year honoree Satveer Chaudhary, 32, a U.S. Senator from Minnesota, who predicted that Americans of Asian-Indian descent will continue to flex their political muscle and may someday run for the office of president.

Other crowd favorites included debonair actor Anil Kapoor and classical Indian musician Ustad Ali Akbar Khan.

Following the awards, the Miss India Worldwide 2003 pageant featured 22 young women, ages 17 through 24, who wore sparkling designer gowns and wowed the audience with their charm, intelligence and beauty. Among the countries represented were Australia, Canada, Fiji, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Spain, Kenya, South Africa and the United Kingdom.

Crown winner Ms. Merchant is from Pune, India, and is a dentist who works in children's programs. According to pageant director and choreographer Shekhar Rahate, she scored highly with the judges in the talent segment for her unique simultaneous dance and narrative that covered the multiple facets of the Indian woman. First runner-up in the contest was Miss New Zealand, Pooja Chitgopeker, and second runner-up was Miss U.S.A., Meghna Nagarajan.
 Here is the complete list of honorees from the Global Indian Awards:

 * Excellence in Music: Ustad Ali Akbar Khan of San Anselmo,
 California, well-known classic Indian musician and master of the
 sarod, a 25-string instrument related to the guitar.

 * Excellence in Performing Arts: Pandit Swapan Choudhuri of
 San Rafael, California, an eminent tabla player whose musical genius
 and virtuosity have earned him world acclaim.

 * Excellence in Entertainment: Anil Kapoor of Mumbai, India, one of
 India's leading, most versatile "Bollywood" actors.

 * Excellence in Sports: Vijay Amritraj, top-ranked tennis player who
 competed at Wimbeldon 17 years in a row, sports television
 commentator, and entertainment media entrepreneur.

 * Excellence in Literature: Dr. Gurnek Singh, author, religious
 scholar, researcher, and head of the prestigious Professor Harbans
 Singh Department of Encyclopedia of Sikhism at Punjabi University,
 Patiala.

 * Excellence in Media: Munish Gupta, prominent print and television
 journalist, international entertainment media entrepreneur and
 founder of Asian News International (ANI) news agency.

 * Excellence in Journalism: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, medical advisor for
 CNN-TV, host of CNN's "Weekend Houscalls with Dr. Gupta" and
 practicing neurosurgeon at Emory Hospital, Atlanta.

 * Excellence in Design and Architecture: Harshad Patel of Bel Air,
 California, leading architect, Pritzker Prize winner and founder of
 the Design Consortium, listed among the top 25 U.S. architectural
 firms.

 * Excellence in Science: Dr. Mani L. Bhaumik, internationally known
 physicist and fellow of the American Physical Society who helped
 develop the first excimer laser (corneal sculpting) at Northrop
 Corp.

 * Excellence in Medicine: Dr. Harvinder Sahota of Bellflower,
 California, pioneering cardiologist and inventor of the Sahota
 Perfusion Balloon, which allows blood to flow to the heart during an
 angioplasty.

 * Excellence in Psychology: Aruna Broota, much-published clinical
 psychologist, counselor, and professor at the University of Delhi.

 * Excellence in Social Works: Dr. Romesh Japra of Fremont, California,
 cardiologist, publisher of the English-language India Post and
 president of the Indian American Forum for Political Education.

 * Excellence in Philanthropy: Lal Bhatia of Walnut Creek, California,
 president of Carver International Project, which promotes economic
 self-reliance and independence, especially among underprivileged
 youth.

 * Excellence in Technology: Amrit Das, one of the world's leading
 technology entrepreneurs and founder, chairman and CEO of netGuru,
 Inc, headquartered in Orange County, California.

 * Excellence in Sikh Community Service: Surjit Tut, of Sacramento
 County, prominent Sikh leader and owner of a major transport
 company.

 * Entrepreneur of the Year: Vivian Reddy, the guiding force behind a
 South African business empire with diverse interests in energy,
 power, health, casinos, telecommunications, and property
 development.

 * Cultural Ambassador of the Year: Gulshan Grover, international actor
 who is the designated "badman" of India's film industry and the
 recipient of the prestigious BBC Asia Award in 2001.

 * Youth of the Year: U.S. Senator Satveer Chaudhary, at 32, the
 youngest member of the U.S. Senate (D-Minnesota) and only the fourth
 person of Asian Indian descent elected to a U.S. state legislature.

 * Women of the Year: Two awards were made. One was to Punita
 Kumar, who is a managing director of Oppenheimer Asset Management,
 one of the largest and oldest overseas funds focusing on the Indian
 market. Considered an expert in the region, she has been featured on
 Fox News, CNBC and various American periodicals. The second award
 went to Shahnaz Husain, India's undisputed queen of herbal care,
 head of an international salon chain, and relentless promoter of
 Indian Ayurvedic salon treatment products.



CONTACT: Ary Sarkar, founder and president of Global Indian Congress, +1-650-888-9972

Web site: http://www.globalcongress.org/
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