Award recipients with Ramu Damodaran and Kerala Center officials. Honorees in the front row, from left: Dr Santosh Mathew, Gracy Varghese, Dr K M
Abraham, Dr Mani Menon, Professor Murali Nair and Raju Mylapra
Kerala Center honors six
At its annual banquet, the Elmont, New York-based Kerala Center honored six people for their achievements or serv- ice to society.
Ramu Damodaran, deputy director, outreach division, department of public information, United Nations, was the chief guest.
He quoted Adi Shankaracharya, who said the real test of liberation is what one does after that. ‘We have multiple identities like
religion, community, state, nation, and now global; however,
none of these identities inhibit or lessen the other,’ he said.
He listed innovation, enterprise, assimilation, caring and
communication as traits Malayalis could be proud of. Sreedhar
Menon, venture capitalist and the Kerala Center’s founder
grand patron, introduced Damodaran. Thambi Thalappillil,
president, Kerala Center, delivered the welcome speech.
The keynote speaker was Dr Mani Menon, the Rajendra and
Padma Vattikutti Distinguished Chair in Oncology and director
of the Vattikutti Urology Institute at Henry Ford Health System
in Detroit. He was one of the six honoraries, for his contributions to medicine. Speaking on robotic surgery, one of his specializations, Menon said it is like playing a video game. Among
the honors he has received the Dr B C Roy Award from the president of India in 2008.
Dr K M Abraham, honored in the applied sciences category, is
a research professor at the Northeastern University Center for
Renewable Energy Technology, Boston, and president of E-
KEM Sciences, a lithium battery consulting company. His work
helped to make possible the first-ever practical rechargeable
lithium battery with long cycle life, the development of gel poly-
mer electrolytes which form the basis of lithium-ion polymer
batteries, and invention of the ultra-high energy density lithi-
um-air battery, being developed worldwide for electric vehicle
and other applications.
Dinyar S Devitre, a former senior vice president and chief financial officer, Altria
Group, Inc, one of the world’s largest tobacco companies, joined the board of Pratham,
which he described as a ‘superb organization
doing ground breaking work’ in educating
underprivileged children in India.
Devitre held a number of assignments
with Philip Morris International. From 1998
to 2001, he was executive vice president at
Citigroup, and group head of Citibank’s
Global Consumer Bank for Europe, Middle
East and Africa. He has served as a director
on corporate boards including Western
Union, Altria Group, Kraft and SABMiller.
His nonprofit board memberships include
the Asia Society, the Lincoln Center and the
Brooklyn Academy of Music.
‘We are delighted to welcome Dinny to our
Board,’ said Arvind Sanger, chairman,
Pratham USA. ‘With his extensive experience serving on both nonprofit and for-prof-it boards, Dinny will be a valuable asset to