President Biden this month honored an Indian American with the nation’s highest honor for citizens in public service.
Krishan Vavilala distinguished himself for his leadership in Indo-American cultural exchange in both Houston and the country at large.
The Third Annual Presidential Lifetime Achievement Awards Event on Dec. 4, sponsored by the U.S. governmental service organization AmeriCorps, recognized citizens with outstanding character, work ethic, and dedication to their communities. Vavilala was named a “changemaker and global humanitarian” at the ceremony.
“I am deeply touched by this unexpected honor, which is truly a recognition of the contributions of the Indians in Houston, ” Vavilala said, according to GG2.net.
US Air Force veteran Dr. Sonia R. White both hosted the event and presented the award to Vivilala on behalf of the president. The award contained a signed proclamation from Biden along with a medallion.
“Your dedication to serving your nation deserves the respect, admiration, and commendation of the United States Congress,” keynote speaker and 18th District Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee said in the Citation of the Congressional Certificate of Recognition.
A retired electrical engineer, Vavilala founded the Foundation for India Studies (FIS) in 2005, a Texas-based nonprofit that promotes visibility of India’s contribution to the world. Non-violent and peace activists Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi both inspired Vavilala to launch is non-profit.
FIS’s efforts include instituting and expanding the India Studies program at the University of Houston in 2006 and more recently at Texas Southern University earlier this year. FIS was also recognized with the 2019 Mary Fay Barnes Award for Excellence for their “Indo-American Oral History Project” which recorded the life stories of first-generation Indian immigrants to Houston.
In congratulating Vavilala, Houston mayor Sylvester Turner stated in a message that the award identifies individuals who serve without seeking recognition for their efforts.
“For this, your kindness and generosity are deserving of this award. The City of Houston is pleased to honor you and thank you for your dedication to the betterment of this world,” Turner said in the message.
Vavilala has been recognized by a multitude of organizations for his service work, including the Indo-American Chamber of Commerce of Greater Houston, the Indo-American Press Club and the India Culture Center of Houston.
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