On June 7th, the National Federation of Indian-American Associations (NFIA) recognized Dr. Vinod Prakash for his exemplary social service through India Development and Relief Fund. Dr. Prakash, IDRF’s founder and president, accepted the Social Service Award at an event in Vienna, VA. In the 25 years since he founded the organization, IDRF has helped tens of thousands of poor Indians enjoy better healthcare, quality education, honest governance, eco-friendly development, and dignity and rights for women. It has also allowed thousands of donors to fulfill their dream of giving back to India.
At the NFIA’s Asian American & Pacific Islanders Heritage Celebration in Vienna, Dr. Prakash explained how he drew inspiration from his family’s Gandhian philosophy. He recalled, “While many Indian children were – and still are- deprived of education, I received a quality education which enabled me to study at MIT and settle in the US.” He wanted to give back to his homeland, to the people who were less privileged. He was also personally inspired by Swami Vivekananda’s message of “Nar seva narayan seva” (“Service to humanity is service to God.”)
Dr. Prakash reminded the audience that each of them, even those born in the US, has a special connection to India as the land of their ancestors. Serving others is actually a source of joy, rather than a trial, he said: “Whatever I may have given to the community, I feel I have received more in return – in the form of inner joy (aatmasantusti). ” He thanked his family, IDRF staff and volunteers, and NFIA – which is one of the most prestigious Indian-American institutions in the country. An umbrella of local groups, NFIA represents thousands of NRIs from all corners of the US and from India’s diverse ethnic, linguistic, and faith communities.