By – Poornima Koonath
Keeping up with the ongoing tradition, this year too United India Associations (UIA) recognised individuals who had excelled in the field of academics, sports and social service. 25 young Indian Australians from across Sydney were recognised for their excellent performance in the HSC, a no mean feat. These students have worked hard all year, burnt the midnight oil to achieve scores that would help them pursue a career of their choice and realise their dreams. In a world that is so overtly competitive it is very difficult to get that winning edge and stand proud – these are the excellent among the excellent. Academic success has always been very important to in the Indian community, be in India or outside India. Indian parents always aspire for their children to score the best marks possible and pursue careers in the fields of medicine, engineering and law – the most sort after courses by the all high achievers and courses that have some of the highest asking ATARs. The HSC years are daunting, stressful and frightening. One’s own expectations coupled with the expectations of the ones parents can at times have detrimental effects on the psyche of these young 17 year olds. To circumvent these and to come up on top is indeed a commendable feat. The cream of the crop included Aashray Narula, Keertana Avalur Venkateshwar, Devansh Shah, Piyush Pius, Neha Dave, Anandita Soundappan, Prasanth Parasu, Dave Mohan Anand, Rohan Balani, Angad Bedi, Harjot Singh Grewal, Syam Iyer, Mansi Gupta, Adithya Sridhar, Mahima Mandal, Shivani Kaushik, Aman Sanghvi, Sachin Kinger, Chandni Suresh, Yashas Bhatt, Judy Vinmini Kennedy, Jaiparteek Singh, Saahil Jotsingani and Nihal Almeida. Of these students, Aashray Narula who scored the highest ATAR and was enrolling into Combined Law was awarded $ 1000 and another $1000 was shared between Keertana Avalur Venkateshwar and Devansh Shah who were the highest ATAR scoring students enrolling into Medicine. Arjun Nair, who has proudly represented Australia in the U19 Cricket World Cup was honoured for excellence in the field of Sports.
The date chosen for this very special event was very apt – 24th January. With 26th January right round the corner, the celebration was multifold. The event was attended by the dignitaries that included A/Consul General of India, Dr Vinod Bahade, Senator Lee Rhiannon, Damien Tudehope MP, Dr Hugh McDermott MP, Councillor Gardipe Singh, Councillor Susai Benjamin and Councillor Raj Datta. In his welcome speech the President of UIA, Mr Kennedy, thanked his team for their hard work and dedication. The dignitaries present expressed pride in the success of the high achievers as they represent the future of Australia and are the torch-holders to a progressive Australian society. One of the highlights of the evening was the on-the-stage painting by sisters Mili and Khushi Dakshin. The transformation of the white canvas from ‘blank to brilliant’ in 8 minutes was indeed breathtaking!! These paintings were donated to the Tamil Manram for them to use to raise funds for the Chennai flood affected people.
Various members from the community were also recognised for their contribution in their respective fields. Sonia Gandhi, Director Gandhi Creations and IABCA, event management specialist with over 10 years of experience in strategic marketing and end to end event management services in both government and corporate services across the Asia Pacific region was honoured with the Outstanding Person of the Year award 2015 Australia. A very worthy recipient indeed!!! Dilip Chopra, past Vice President of UIA and former Councillor of Hornsby Council was honoured as the Senior of the Year 2015 for his continued work and support to the Seniors in the community. And the young artist, Mili Dakshin who has contributed in her own way by using her painting prowess to raise much required funds for the Nepal earthquake relief, NSW bush fire victims, SEWA Australia and Ekal Australia was very rightfully honoured as the Community Person of the Year 2015.
The General Manager of Westpac, Ross Watts was given a special recognition for not only his invaluable support of UIA and the Indian Australian migrant community but also the recent efforts by Westpac to raise valuable funds for the Chennai Flood Relief. The event was sponsored by Westpac, Best and Less Travel, Money Gram, Sunlegal, Bank of Baroda and Jet Airways. The entertainment for the evening was provided by the very talented Pallavi Wardhan.