This year the award went to the American couple who have dedicated their lives to teaching and writing about India at a time when not many international scholars considered the nation important.

Professors Lloyd I Rudolph and Susanne H Rudolph first visited India in 1956. They returned again and again, not because their careers revolved around the country but because they fell in love with it.

Author Anita Desai -- who has thrice been shortlisted for the Booker Prize and has won India’s highest literary honour, the Sahitya Akademi Award -- was honoured with the India Abroad Lifetime Achievement Award 2011. Booker Prize-winning author Sir Salman Rushdie attended the event just to salute the legend.

The evening ended with the much-anticipated India Abroad Person of the Year Award 2011. No one needed to be told why Preet Bharara -- who has in the past year sent some of the biggest names on Wall Street to prison and nailed notorious arms traffickers like Viktor Bout, numerous drug traffickers and terrorists -- was the unanimous choice for this year’s honour.

He captivated the audience with his speech as he joined the list of luminaries that makes up the India Abroad Person of the Year roster -- then Iowa state legislator Swati Dandekar (2002), Indicorps co-founder Sonal Shah (2003), captain of the silver medal-winning US gymnastic team at the Athens Olympics Mohini Bhardwaj (2004), then US Congressman and current Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal (2005), PepsiCo Chairperson and CEO Indra Nooyi (2006), acclaimed filmmaker Mira Nair (2007), Fareed Zakaria, host of CNN’s Fareed Zakaria GPS and now editor at large of Time magazine (2008), Nobel Laureate Dr Venkatraman Ramakrishnan (2009) and South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley (2010).

India’s Ambassador to the US Nirupama Rao led the guests of honour, which included among others diplomats Ambassador Vijay Nambiar, Ambassador Hardeep Singh Puri, Ambassador Lakshmi Puri, Ambassador Prabhu Dayal and Manjeev Singh Puri, legendary actress Madhur Jaffrey, Oscar winner Megan Mylan, distinguished dancer Astad Deboo, Natwar Gandhi, Chief Financial Officer, District of Columbia, oncologist Dr Dattatreyudu Nori, Junoon helmsman Salman Ahmed, celebrity chef Floyd Cardoz, comedian Hari Kondabolou and novelist Rajesh Parameswaran.

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