Dr. Firdos Sheikh receives the award from Shabana Azmi (l). (Courtesy: Indian Academy Awards)

@Siliconeer #Siliconeer #IndianAcademyAwards @IndianAcademyAwards #BrainstormEntertainment #Cineyug @FirdosSheikh #FirdosSheikh #Sacramento #Neurologist – Long-time Elk Grove, Calif., resident and practicing neurologist Dr. Firdos Sheikh was recently in New York to receive an award from Shabana Azmi at the Indian Academy Awards. She recalls her experience and her awe at first hearing about the award. Indian women in America continue to hold their mettle and grow by their glorious accomplishments in diverse fields and have raised the bar of excellence just by their sheer tenacity, commitment and hard work, says Dr. Sheikh.

When I first received that magical call about my award I was speechless. A  sweet voice asked me if I knew how prestigious this award was, that an esteemed panel of judges  selected me as one of the top 10 awardees  in the category of Professional Excellence. I was ecstatic! Not because I was a winner, but because ‘Recognizing Indian American Women Achievers’ and empowering them meant a breakthrough in glorification of the girl child, a subject very dear to my heart. A recognition long overdue, as Shabana Azmi had stated, the time has come.

Every award brings with it, honor, it also comes with a humongous responsibility. It’s the concept of empowerment to empowering, as I believe that no woman is empowered if she does not empower another woman.

Models display Mijwan collection of Chikankari by Manish Malhotra (c) with Shabana Azmi (4th from l). (Courtesy: Indian Academy Awards)

My struggles in America for decades now are far too many to elaborate, hurdles one too complex,  journey too treacherous, challenges unimaginable. If it was not for my Indian upbringing, my parents intellectual, emotional and spiritual training, my heritage, survival instinct, and my ability to have faith in the ultimate goodness of everyone, I like many Indian women would not be a survivor. Having applauded myself in silence for decades, to hear a resonating applause gifted to me by IAA has truly been a moment of indescribable humility and gratitude.

Recipients pose for a photo with their awards at Indian Academy Awards Women Empowerment event in New York, March 26. (Courtesy: Indian Academy Awards)

In earlier days, there was a staunch feeling I’ve experienced while visiting my motherland, India. Everywhere I went, the introduction was, “She is an NRI.” There was nothing more to elaborate then. I always felt it created a divide and sense of detachment. But that was then, things are much different now, and IAA should be given due credit for enabling this shift in their own right.

The girl child has proven time and again that her mettle is her jewel and she wears it well.  This however has never been given due credit in our society. Indian women bring excellence in everything they do and are worthy of recognition.

Dr. Firdos Sheikh (r) with her mother Asifa Mehmood at the IAA event in New York, March 26. (Courtesy: Dr. Firdos Sheikh)

Empowering women by creating their livelihood, showcasing it by the leadership and vision of Shabana Azmi and passion of Namrata Goyal, represent women empowerment. Transforming poverty into a magical world of creativity and panache by Manish Malhotra was an absolutely exotic and exquisite experience. To watch the worlds of poverty and commoners blend into the world of  glamor and talent producing sheer magic  as the Chikankari-clad women walked the ramp, was one of the finest representation of a journey from the woman artisan to the artist.

Poverty suddenly did not seem unfixable. Or painful. Or ugly. That in itself was empowering and  magical. Indians have always applauded talent with a seamless approach and with no barriers. So this evolution and extension to applaud Indian American women in United States is only natural.

Dr. Firdos Sheikh (2nd from r) gets a hug from Shabana Azmi as Nisha Mathur (r) looks on. (Courtesy: Indian Academy Awards)

Indian American women were truly sandwiched between expectations from the two continents. If they not only survived but also succeeded, it was time to applaud and embrace them. I humbly accept this award on behalf of all the unsung heroes, the women who have struggled endlessly and are struggling, the single mothers, working mothers, suffering women all across the world. I applaud you!