Six Indian Americans to be honored with the Ellis Island Medal of Honor

Includes entrepreneur Narpat Bhandari.

By Deepak Chitnis

WASHINGTON, DC: Six Indian Americans will be honored as recipients of the 2014 Ellis Island Medal of Honor, a prestigious honor given to immigrants who come to America and establish themselves as leaders of their respective communities and industries.

Narpat Bhandari (courtesy of LinkedIn)
Narpat Bhandari (courtesy of LinkedIn)

The six desi recipients for this year are Narpat Bhandari, Samir Desai, Dr. Arun Pramanik, Dr. Ketki Sharadkumar Shah, Yash Paul Soi, and Abdul M. Suleman. The six were listed as among the more than 100 honorees of this year’s round of Ellis Island Medals of Honor, and will accept their awards at a grand ceremony on May 10, held by the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations (NECO), in New York.

Bhandari is an entrepreneur and philanthropist, based in Silicon Valley. He is currently the CEO and County Director of Global School, a firm that “is committed to providing each student an exemplary American educational experience with strong values, while focusing on Holistic Development, Creativity and Entrepreneurship.” He is also a charter member and the co-founder of The Indus Entrepreneurs (TIE), which was started in 1992. He is also the founder and CEO of Vanguard Systems, where he was from 1993-2008, and the co-founder and former CEO of Aspen Semiconductor Inc., where he spent the years of 1985-1988.

Over the course of his career, Bhandari has accumulated over 30 patents and papers to his name; his most well-known creations is the I2L microprocessor and bi-polar technologies, both of which are critical components of modern digital devices. He and his wife also founded the Bhandari Foundation in 1994, which supports a chaired professorship on India at UC Santa Cruz, as well as educational ventures in his home state of Rajasthan.

Samir Desai (courtesy of LinkedIn)
Samir Desai (courtesy of LinkedIn)

Bhandari holds a B.S. degree from the Birla Institute of Technology, which he graduated from in 1961, and an M.S.E.E. in electronics from Purdue University, which he earned in 1963. He was formerly a visiting professor at Purdue, Northeastern University, the University of California’s Berkeley Extension School, and the University of Southern California, as well as a trustee at UC Santa Cruz for 12 years.

Desai is the founder and CEO of Aditi, a Boston-based firm that “consults and advises in the areas of organizational development, strategy and financial structures for young emerging organizations as well as those who want to have a dynamic growing organization.” He has been with the company since its inception in 1997; before that, from 1985-1999, he was the founder, CEO, and Chairman of System Resources Corporation, an IT firm that contracted with the federal government. Desai is a graduate of the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda, with a B.S. in mechanical engineering, and holds an M.S. in industrial engineering from the Illinois Institute of Technology.

Dr. Arun Pramanik (courtesy of LSU)
Dr. Arun Pramanik (courtesy of LSU)

Pramanik is a neonatologist and a professor of pediatrics at Louisiana State University (LSU) Health Shreveport. He earned his M.D. from Nagpur Medical College, and trained at the Christian Medical College in Vellore and New Delhi. He also completed an internship at the Nagpur Medical College, and did his fellowship at the University of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. He is currently the international editor for the Journal of Perinatology, and was formerly the chief of neonatology and director of neonatology post-doctoral fellowships at LSU Health Sciences Center, also in Shreveport.

Reportedly, Pramanik also works for the World Health Organization (WHO), where he works to fight infant mortality around the globe, and is has been active for many years in the American Association of Physicians of Indian origin (AAPI).

Yash Paul Soi (courtesy of NRI Today)
Yash Paul Soi (courtesy of NRI Today)

According to India-West, Shah is currently the clinical director of an outpatient program in New York City that oversees some 3,000 patients and 40 professionals. She has over 25 years of experience in the medical field, accrued in both the US and India, and is also an active member of AAPI. Her practice also does extensive work in India, providing medical care and education for underprivileged people around the country, and also provides disaster relief.

Soi is the co-founder of the Federation of Indian Associations, the largest non-profit organization servicing the Indian communities of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. He is also the vice-chair of the organization’s board of trustees. Soi previously spent 31 years working for New York City’s Environmental Protection Department, reports India-West, and holds an M.S. in management and industrial engineering from Columbia University.

Abdul Suleman (courtesy of Interior Design Network)
Abdul Suleman (courtesy of Interior Design Network)

Suleman is the President and CEO of Equinox Hotels, a hotel development and management firm. Suleman immigrated to the US in 1968 to attend Brigham Young University, where he earned a degree in chemical engineering and then proceeded into the hospitality sector. He managed several Hyatt properties in Minneapolis, Michigan, and California, before becoming a part of Equinox and helping it grow into one of the country’s leading hotel businesses.

He has also been a part of several community outreach programs in northern California, including the Rotary Club, the Boy’s Club, the San Francisco Conventions and Visitors Bureau, and the California Hotel and Motel Association. Suleman is also an advisory board member of Oakland Community College, and a member of the hospitality management advisory committee at Ferris State College, according to India-West.

[This story was updated on 4/9/13.]

One Comment

  1. Andre’ Pienaar

    Abdul is an amazing entrepreneur and personable gentleman. I will never forget his wonderful mannerisms. Meeting a stranger who devoted so much favor on me and my family with nothing to gain but friendship makes for a formidable man. His grace and unpretentious nature is testimony to the success he has enjoyed. I wish we him and his family all the best health and joy for the future.

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