Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty was presented with the Silver Star Award for her outstanding contribution to international humanitarian causes, particularly for increasing HIV/AIDS awareness.
Leader of Britain's House of Commons Jack Straw presented the award to the 31-year old actress at a gala dinner held at the Durbar Court of Britain's Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in London on Saturday night, as part of the celebration of the 20th anniversary of election of Keith Vaz, NRI leader, Labour MP and former minister for FCO.
In her brief acceptance speech, Shetty, the winner of last Celebrity Big Brother show, said Vaz played an important role when she was racially abused by some of the contestants. "He screamed the loudest," she acknowledged.
Lauding the work of Vaz both for the Asian community and the society as a whole, Straw, who was the Guest of Honour, said, "Keith has worked assiduously as an ambassador for New Britain. Keith represents everything that is good in our party."
Straw, Campaign Manager for Gordon Brown before he was unanimously elected leader of the Labour party to succeed Prime Minister Tony Blair, said Vaz, as a member of the campaign cell, played a key role in ensuring Brown's unanimous choice.
Observing that Britain had undergone a change for the better during the last 20 years, Straw said "now we celebrate diversity in this country and we judge the people by what they can offer and not by the colour of their eye, hair or skin."
The glittering function at Durbar Court and earlier a unique tabla performance at the imposing Locarno Suite by Zakir Hussain was attended by leading dignitaries including G P Hinduja, President of the Hinduja Group, Sir Gulam Noon, chief of Noon products, Naresh Goyal, Chairman of Jet Airways, leading NRI entrepreneur and hotelier Joginder Sangar, leading NRI hotelier in the USA, Mike Patel, Lord Navnit Dholakia, Deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords, Abubakr Abdulla Al Quirbi, Foreign Minister of Yemen, NRI industrialists G S Gujral, Rami Ranger and actor Upen Patel.
Describing him as "a great friend and an able colleague," Blair, in a message, congratulated Vaz on his achievement in reaching 20 years in the House of Commons.
"He can be rightly proud of his record as the first Minister for the ethnic minority communities, as well as the vital role he has played as an active Member of Parliament. His regular contributions, whether through thoughtful debate or well chosen parliamentary questions are of the greatest value. His recent appointment to the Privy Council is a suitable recognition of his work inside and outside the House."
Echoing the sentiments, Brown, Chancellor of the Exchequer, said "I would like to congratulate Keith on his contribution to Parliament and to the country over the last 20 years. Since his election in 1987 as one of the first group of ethnic minority MPs in nearly 70 years, he has worked tirelessly both for the constituency of Leicester East and the wider community."
Vaz raised over 50,000 pounds through auctions for the Silver Star Appeal charity at the dinner. The amount would be utilised for providing a Mobile Diabetes Assessment Unit which will travel to local community centres, schools, workplaces and other organisations in the Leicester region.
The unit will provide tests for all those who may wish to have one and will promote culturally sensitive health care.
Yemen Foreign Minister Al Qirbi was also presented with an award for his contribution to improving the British-Yemeni relations.
Mike Patel received an award on behalf of US Congressman Charles B Rangle for his outstanding contribution to minority rights in the US.