Dr. Anil Kulkarni, professor of surgery, recently received the ‘Hind Rattan’ (Jewel of India) Award from the Non-Resident Indian Welfare Society of India, an organization under the umbrella of the Indian government.
For the last 33 years, 25-30 Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) around the world are recognized with the prestigious award for their professional work, achievements and progress in international programs. The award is granted at the Society’s annual congress in New Delhi, held in conjunction with national Pravasi Bharatiya Divas celebrations and on the eve of India’s Republic Day Celebrations. The award ceremony is attended by senior members of the government of India and of the Supreme Court of India.
This year, all of the award recipients were from the science/health sciences and medical professions and came from over a dozen countries.
“I was excited when I learned I was going to receive the award and wondering why did they select me? It is nice to have recognition from our peers and homeland,” Kulkarni said, adding that from Houston, UH President Dr. Renu Khator is a past recipient of this award.
Kulkarni’s area of research is immunonutrition – the study of the preventive and therapeutic aspects of nutrition in optimal immune system functioning. An international leader in this field, he collaborates with researchers around the world and sponsors international students at McGovern Medical School to pursue research.
“The government wants to support NRIs to come back to India and be a part of ongoing progress. I already have one collaborative exchange program in India, and I will be able to pursue more with the support of the Society,” he explained.
There are 27 to 30 million of Indians who are now citizens elsewhere, and 3 million of those live in the United States, Kulkarni said.
Born in Miraj, Maharashtra, India, Kulkarni came to the United States in 1970 to pursue his education and career. “My wife came here as a postdoctoral fellow and I followed my wife,” he said, adding that he first joined the Medical School in 1979 and has been a U.S. citizen since 1988.
“As India’s 13th century philosopher and poet Saint Gyaneshwar said, I feel that ‘I was born in India, but the whole world is my home.’”
-Darla Brown, Office of Communications, Medical School