About the Award

Sardar Patel Award:
A Genesis

Birth of an Idea: An opportunity was presented to Mr. Lalchandbhai Gaglani by Dr. Barindra Desai, President, Sardar Patel Memorial Society of North America, to show the highly acclaimed movie íSardarí in Southern California and to raise a fund for a charitable organization. A thought came to the core group of what was later to be the Sardar Patel Award Association (SPAA) to hold a seminar on the life and contributions of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel at UCLA under the auspices of the Navin and Pratima Doshi Chair. Prof. D.R. SarDesai expanded the thought into a proposal to create a Sardar Patel Fellowship at UCLA for a Ph.D. student in history or political science addressing modern India, and thereby perpetuating the memory of and thus a true tribute to Sardar Patel. After much discussion, Vice Chancellor Kumar Patel suggested to have an annual award in the name of Sardar to be awarded at an annual event, for the best doctoral dissertation on any aspect of Modern India - social sciences, humanities, education, or fine arts from any U.S. university. Such a prestigious Sardar Patel award would appreciably raise the level of interest and initiate research in Studies of India in the U.S. and thereby contribute to a deeper and better understanding between the two countries. It was estimated that an endowment of $250,000 would be sufficient to generate an annual income to confer an award of $10,000. The award could be established in the History Department, in which the Doshi Chair was housed. The members of the core group were excited with this unique opportunity and thought that the goal of fundraising was reachable. This idea was then presented to UCLA by Prof. SarDesai and was accepted by the Chair of the History Department Professor Brenda Stevenson.

Dream Realized: In March of 1999, it was decided to have a grand celebration of the inception of the Sardar Patel Award at UCLA by showing the movie 'Sardar' followed by a banquet. October 31st 1999, the 124th birthday of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, was decided for the program. The first fundraising event at Gaylord Restaurant on May 2nd with Mr. Ukabhai Solanki as the guest of honor became a grand success. Spirited and moving speeches by Dinkar Shah, Naresh Patel, Jitu Mehta, Sumant Patel, Jayendrabhai Bhatt, Geeta Mehta, Amit Desai and a clear and articulate presentation of the concept by Dr. D.R. SarDesai touched the hearts and minds of friends. The generous contribution of Mr. Solanki triggered the enthusiasm of the attendees and over $100,000 was pledged. Thanks to several fund raising events arranged by various committee members and individual efforts of many the target of $250,000 has almost been reached. During these months a large number of the Sardar Patel Award Association have worked hard to raise the money and to organize this event today. Our special guest Mr. Rajmohan Gandhi has agreed to come from India to grace this occasion. All through this process Mr. Lalchand Gaglani has remained a guiding force, starting with a vision, organization, coordination and perseverance. Prof. D.R. SarDesai has been the brain and the backbone of the entire project. Without his vision, knowledge, wisdom, hard work, organizing capacity, and vast experience this dream would not have been realized.

Vision of the Future: This establishment of the Sardar Patel Award is a humble attempt in line with several contributions made to centers of learning by the Indian American community. One such was recently initiated by Navin & Pratima Doshi in Southern California by a generous donation to UCLA. These are the initial bricks for the India Center we would soon want to build at UCLA.

By Dr. Vikram Kamdar