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Indian American Kerala Cultural and Civic Center
This is the internet version of the Kerala Center News letter. Vol.2, 2010



KERALA CENTER HONORS PROF. P. SOMASUNDARAN AND SREEDHAR MENON
AT ITS 20TH ANNIVERSARY



Prof. P. Somasundaran being honored by the Kerala Center.
From L. to R.: Dr. Thomas Abraham, Prof. Somasundaran and Dilip Verghese

Sreedhar Menon being honored by the Kerala Center.
From L. to R.: Joyan Mathew and Sreedhar Menon

20th Anniversary Cake cutting ceremony
From L. to R.: E.M. Stephen, Dilip Verghese, Celin Chummar and Sreedhar Menon

Kerala Center Malayalam School children singing Indian and American national anthems



Columbia University professor Dr. P. Somasundaran and philanthropist Sreedhar Menon were honored during the 20th anniversary celebrations of Indo-American Kerala Cultural and Civic Center, Elmont, New York on Saturday, May 1, 2010. Attended by nearly 150 people from across the New York Tri-state, the event was a way of celebrating the achievements and contributions of Kerala Center over the past two decades. Started on a small scale with the initiative of a few far-sighted Indian American leaders, the Center has earned a world recognition for its many contributions to the Indian community in the United States including hosting GOPIO meetings, and formation of National Indian American Association Senior Citizens (NIAASC) and South Asian Council for Social Services (SACSS).

The compere for the program was Kerala Center Trustee Thambi Thalappillil who said that the Kerala Center is proud that two of its members Dr. Somasundaran and Mr. Menon were accorded great honor recently. The event began with students of Malayalam Language School at the Center leading the audience in singing the national anthems of both countries, the United States and India. This was followed with cake cutting ceremony by Celin Chummar, Prof. Somasundaran and Mr. Menon.

In his welcome address, the founder president of the Center Mr. E.M. Stephen, who currently serves as Centers’ Executive Director, said that it was a small beginning 20 years back and the Center has now become a civic and community center not only for the Kerala community but for the whole Indian community. In this regard, Stephen pointed out the existence of a Malayalam school at the center and other civic and community related activities at the Center. NIAASC has its office at the Kerala Center. Malayalam writers’ forum Sargavedi provides forum for all writes at its weekly meetings at the Center. Since the last one year, India Homes has a program for senior citizens every Thursday at the Center. Stephen appealed to the community to support its various activities and to the media to provide more exposure on the issues of the community. He urged everyone to actively participate and enable the Center to explore new and challenging ways to respond to the emerging needs of the community.

Dr. Thomas Abraham, a Trustee and a member of the Board of Directors of Kerala Center, while introducing Prof. Somasundaran, described him as one of the global leaders in engineering and applied sciences and has been recognized world over for his work in colloids and surface science. Dr. Somasundaran is member of the National Academy of Engineering and has been recognized by several other national academy of science and engineering in different countries. Dr. Somasundaran was inducted as Padma Shree by President of India in March 2010 for his contributions in the field of science and engineering.

In his speech, Dr. Somasundaran thanked the Kerala Center for honoring him and said, "This honor by my own community is very special to me." He attributed his success to his late father, the Indian freedom fighter. “My father silently inspired me to work hard to climb the tallest mountain, and said when you get there, lend a helping hand to another trying to climb up, but without expecting any thing in return as per the old Sanskrit saying "Nishkama Karma." Further, Dr. Somasundaran attributed his success to his 100 plus students and post doctoral scholars who did top rate work and to the community which raised him. Dr. Somasundaran said how Science and Engineering could help us become better tenants on this planet for our children and grandchildren as well as for making cancer treatment using nanotechnology as innocuous for treating headache with Aspirin. “The main question is whether scientists have the will to separate the fluff from the reality, …and whether the policy makers and the politicians have the courage to withstand the heavy intense lobbying efforts.”

Prof. M.T. Anthony introduced philanthropist Sreedhar Menon, who had helped and contributed substantial funds for Jagdish Bhagwati Chair for Indian Political Economy at Columbia University and India program at University of Pennsylvania. Menon also contributed to Shanti Bhavan run by the George Foundation and was the largest contributor to the Kerala Center. In March 2010, India Abroad honored Mr. Menon with India Abroad Award for Lifetime Service to the Community 2009 Award.

Describing the foresight and dedication of a few leaders, which has helped the Kerala Center evolve into a forum for people of all backgrounds to participate and share a common vision for the Indian American community, Menon said that the Kerala Center should expand its activities by developing new programs for the whole community. “Kerala Center should organize a brainstorming session to indentify future activities and programs.” Menon further said he had contributed to the educational activities and to the Kerala Center since all these surpass all us. He also called upon the community to contribute to such projects.

Several media and community leaders felicitated Kerala Center including Dr. Joy T. Kunjappu of Brookyn College, Author and Psychotherapist Dr. A.K.B. Pillai, Jose Kadapuram of Kairali TV, Sunil Easo of Asianet TV and Saji Abraham of India Press Club.

Kerala Center also honored those married couples who celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary in the last one year. NYIT Dance Group and teachers of Kerala Center’s Malayalam School entertained the audience with brilliant dance performances throughout the anniversary celebrations. And the evening concluded with a delicious traditional Kerala Meal.