Tuesday, September 25, 2007

So is the message "Sunita achievied despite a being of Gujarati origin"?

...so, the news tells me that Sunita Williams is a celebrity in India! She has won the Prestigious Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Vishwa Pratibha Award. Great! But before we talk about it any further, a brief life history of this successful astronaut.

Born: Euclid, Ohio
Father: Dr. Deepak Pandya, Indian
Mother:Bonnie Pandya, Slovenian
  • Needham High School, Needham, Massachusetts, 1983.
  • B.S., Physical Science, U.S. Naval Academy"U.S. Naval Academy, 1987.
  • M.S., Engineering Management, Florida Institute of Technology, 1995
Marital Status: Married to Michael J. Williams, a Federal Police Officer
Occupation: Commander, US, Navy
Recent Achievements:

- Unprecedented 3 spacewalks in 9 days
- Cumulative total of 29 hours, 17 minutes in four spacewalks, highest spacewalk time for a woman.

Now these sure seem to be commendable achievements. But to put things into perspective, as the Vishwa Gujarati Samaj (VGS) claims this award is conferred "to well-known Gujaratis recognizing their lifelong services/contribution to the cause of Gujarat".

If the point is to recognize people who have served Gujarat, where does Sunita William's marathon fit in? Or if it is to recognizes her achievements, why was it not given to the person who has achieved the same feet earlier? Because she is not a Gujarati? From what I see, the only thing that connects Sunita to Gujarat is her father who was a practicing doctor there before moving to the US and she owes the plaudits and accolade not to her perseverence, but to her father.

For our own sake, why don't we refrain from quoting one's origin (place or community) as a reason for conferring an accolade to someone? It appears to send a specious message to the world, "Sunita could break the space walking record despite being a Gujarati." Would you like that tag on you Sunita?

Sources: Wikipedia

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