Girish Pandya Receives Lifetime Achievement Award from the ICC

STAFFORD: Girish Pandya was honored to recently receive a Lifetime Achievement Award from the India Culture Center at the occasion of the 76th Indian Independence Day celebration which was part of the year-long “Azadi ki Amrut Mahotsov” promotion developed by the Govt. of India and held at the Stafford Civic Centre on August 21. The award was presented by Indian Consul General Aseem Mahajan

Girish Pandya was born in the midsize railway town of Dohad located on the border of Gujarat with Madhya Pradesh, in August 1931. His father was an agricultural graduate doing mechanized farming since 1928 and was awarded the “PadmaShri” award by the Government of India, for being a pioneer in hybrid corn seed production. He was an ardent patriot and spent the last 25 years of his life as the General Secretary of Indian Farmers Association in New Delhi.

In 1941 and 1942, Girish was very fortunate and blessed to live in Sevagram Ashram, Wardha, with “Bapu” Mahatma Gandhi, for two summer vacations.  Netas after netas, continuously poured into Sevagram to pay a visit to Gandhiji for deliberations on the imminent Quit India Movement to be launched soon.

After graduation in agriculture in 1952, Girish was selected by the Govt. of India and the Rockfeller Foundation to promote better understanding and brotherhood between the two countries via a new cultural exchange program called IFYE.  He came to the US in 1953 and stayed in Ohio and Kansas for a little less than a year. He and the group were privileged to meet Vijayalaxmi Pandit, then the President of the United Nations General Assembly at the UN. After returning to India, he gave many talks and speeches to school and radio audiences as well as in rural areas to increase a better understanding between the US and India. He served his local community as the President of Taluka Farmers Association as well as the President of Rotary Club of Dahod.

His old desire to get higher education in the US, brought him back with wife and children in 1961 to do graduate work in Engineering at Texas A & M University and at Penn State University. He worked at Dow Chemical for years till his retirement.

Since his childhood, he had a strong desire to serve all his countrymen & the mankind at large. He saw that opportunity, in serving the Objectives and broad Mission of ICC, Houston. He accepted to work as a Treasurer of ICC in 1980, a VP in 1981 and a President in 1982.

He was fortunate to serve the ICC (was founded in 1972), as a Treasurer and Vice-President, which helped him with organizing, planning, leading and executing the required tasks as the President He was fortunate to serve the ICC, as a Treasurer and Vice-President.

Girish was elected as the President of the Board of Directors of the India Culture Center in 1982. They raised funds to build a large hall on the ICC’s first property. They hosted the Ambassador of India K.R. Narayanan, who later became the President of India, and gave a very inspiring speech, which helped raise $13,000 for the proposed India House.

The main objective of his 1981-82 tenure was to generate more interest in the community and offer them several opportunities for participation. The Board arranged seminars, picnics, lectures, celebration of national holidays, cooking demonstrations, youth parties and Indian flag hoisting ceremonies. They even introduced a new ICC radio program, co-sponsored programs arranged by other associations, and provided a home for bi-weekly pooja’s of the Hindu Worship Society.

In 1984, the Gujarati Samaj of Houston, a partnering organization of the ICC, elected Girish as their President. He invited one of leading saints of India, Morari Bapu, for a nine day “Ram-Katha” discourse, a first time in USA which allowed the committee to raise enough funds to buy 10 acres of land for $170,000. A couple of years back, the GSH sold this land for $3.2 million to pay loans from the construction of the GSH Event Center. He was elected to serve GSH as Chief Trustee of the Board, for 6 different years and was privileged to preside over 13 General Body meetings.

Lately during his services to ICC, he worked as an election Officer for 5 years, 3 years as a Trustee and last year as a Chief Trustee. He gets his strength by working as a volunteer for his motherland India, as well as the USA, the country where he now lives and enjoys, the fruits of freedom. And he thanks his loving wife Tanman of 67 years and their children Smita Mehta, Dr. Amit Pandya, and Rajiv Pandya for their support.