Pepsico CEO and Chairperson-designate Indra Nooyi, astronaut Sunita Williams, now orbiting the earth, novelist Salman Rushdie and community leader Swadesh Chatterjee were honoured by weekly India Abroad for their achievements in various fields and services to the community.
Nooyi, who now heads the second largest beverages company, was chosen Person of Year 2006 for her achievement in the corporate sector which has brought prestige to the community.
Accepting the award at a gala function hosted by the India Abroad, Nooyi spoke about the joys and challenges of belonging to two lands -- India which gave her heritage and the United States where she made her career.
The highest-ranking Indian in corporate America also acknowledged the contributions made by her family — her mother, husband and daughter — that enabled her to scale incredible heights in a foreign land that she made her own some 29 years ago.
The award was handed over to her last night by Raj L Gupta, chairman of Rohm and Haas which, like Pepsi, a Fortune 500 company.
Sunita Williams was conferred the India Abroad Publisher's Award for Excellence. She was in space when she heard that she was being honoured.
The award was accepted on her behalf by her parents, Deepak and Bonnie Pandya from Publisher Ajit Balakrishnan.
Pandyas fondly remembered the achievements of 'Suni' (pronounced Sunny), saying they always knew she was going places.
The audio-visual of her acceptance speech which was recorded last week was played. She thanked Indian Abroad and a video of India as it looks from space was shown.
Rushdie was awarded the first India Abroad Lifetime Achievement Award for his stellar corpus of work and for his tireless encouragement to young writers.
Accepting the award, Rushdie spoke about the challenges that a writer faces. He received the award from another eminent novelist Bharati Mukherjee whose well known works include "The Tree Bride," and "Leave It to Me" and author Suketu Mehta.
Swadesh Chatterjee was honoured with Community Leader Award for his "unstinting efforts" in uniting an often-disparate Indian-American community and uniting it in support of the Indo-American civilian nuclear deal.
The award was conferred by a promising young lawmaker from Ohio Jay Goyal.
In his acceptance speech, Chatterjee praised the various community organisations that rallied behind him in pushing the nuclear deal on Capitol Hill.