Community Service Awards

Each year SASA recognizes a non-academic friend of South Asia for his/her significant contributions to advancing our understanding of South Asia in a tangible way.  Recipients of the Exemplar Service award to date include:

Navin Doshi & Pratima Doshi


2017, Mrs. Pratima and Mr Navin Doshi




Gunjan Bagla

Gunjan Bagla


2013, Mr. Gunjan Bagla
Amritt Ventures

Gunjan Bagla is the founder and managing director of Amritt Ventures, a consulting firm assisting U.S. and India based companies wanting to do business with one another.  A graduate of Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, Gunjan is president of the IIT Alumni Association.  He is a sought after public speaker and maintains a very successful US-India business blog.  He is the author of Doing Business in 21st Century India and publishes frequently in publications such as the Harvard Business Review, Dataquest, Bloombert BusinessWeek, etc.  Since 2010 Gunjan has been an invaluable member of the SASA board of directors.

Mr. Dhiren Mehta

Mr. Dhiren Mehta

2012, Mr. Dhiren Mehta
Pratham USA

Mr. Mehta is the Southern California president of Pratham USA.  Pratham began by providing pre-school education to the children in the slums of Mumbai.  Today it is the largest educational organization in India reaching 2.4 million children in 21 states.


Mr. Ron Somers

Mr. Ron Somers

2011, Mr. Ron Somers
U.S.-India Business Council

As President of the U.S.-India Business Council, Ron is critically positioned to advance U.S.-India economic relationships and strengthen bilateral cooperation and understanding.




Navneet Chugh


2010, Mr. Navneet Chugh
The Chugh Firm

Navneet Chuch is the Managing Partner and founder of the The Chugh Firm, a law firm specializing in corporate, tax, immigration, litigation and mergers & acquisitions.  He is also chairman of India Journal, a major newspaper for the Southern California Indian community.  He has served as president of the Southern California chapter of TiE (The indus Entrepreneurs), and is on the board of Asia Society of Southern California, Pratham Southern California and American India Foundation.  He has provided consulting services to SASA.


Anil & Chitra Deshpande


2009, Anil and Chitra Deshpande
Park Square Homes

Anil Deshpande and his wife Chitra, reached out the the University of Central Florida, Orlando, with an initial donation of $100,000 to initiate UCF’s Indian Program, a series of seminars and workshops catering primarily to American individuals and corporations interested in learning about Indian culture.  Secondarily, Indians wanting to reconnect to their roots are also beneficiaries.  The India Program was one of the sponsors of SASA’s third annual conference at UCF. 

Ms. Neena Bansis State Bank of India (California)

Ms. Neena Bansis
State Bank of India (California)

2008, Ms. Neena Bansil,
State Bank of India (California)

Ms. Neena Bansil, CEO of the State Bank of India (California) has been a consistent supporter of scholarship about Asia, beginning with contributions to Asian Studies on the Pacific Coast (2006) and extending through to the founding of the South Asian Studies Association.  Without the consistent support and encouragement of supporters like Ms. Bansil and the State Bank of India (California), SASA would never have gone beyond the planning process.