Dev Patel to get Asia Game Changers Award

dev patel webNEW YORK: Popular Indian-American actor Dev Patel of Slumdog Millionaire fame is among the celebrities to be awarded at Asia Society’s 2017 Asia Game Changers Award for using celebrity to place a spotlight on India’s poor.

Asia Society has announced the 2017 Asia Game Changers. The awards, now in their fourth year, recognize those making a transformative and positive difference for the future of Asia and the world. Awardees Will Be Honored at Awards Dinner and Celebration at the U.N. on November 1.

This year’s nine honorees include a young woman using rap music to fight a trauma in Afghanistan, a trailblazing CEO changing urban life in China, a Hollywood star building bridges between India and the world, and an environmentalist who puts his life on the line to stop deforestation in his native country.

His Highness the Aga Khan, spiritual leader to the world’s 15 million Ismaili Muslims, will receive the Asia Game Changer Lifetime Achievement Award.

“In a world of challenges, it is important to honor the dreamers and leaders, those who take action and those who inspire us to build a better world,” said Asia Society President Josette Sheeran. “This year’s Game Changers have each made a significant difference through a unique vision, perseverance, and courage.” Honorees are nominated and selected by members of the Asia Society’s global network.

The 2017 awardees are: Asia Game Changer Lifetime Achievement Award: His Highness the Aga Khan (Global) Founder, Aga Khan Development Network for using philanthropy to lift millions of Asia’s most vulnerable; Sonita Alizadeh (Afghanistan) Rapper and activist for using rap music to empower the girls of Afghanistan; Jean Liu (China) President, Didi Chuxing for revolutionizing transportation in China, Aisholpan Nurgaiv (Mongolia) Eagle huntress for breaking gender barriers at a remarkably young age, Leng Ouch (Cambodia) Environmental activist for risking his life to expose an environmental calamity; Sesame Workshop (Global) Nonprofit organization for proving that learning can be fun – and have a profound impact – anywhere in the world; Wu Tong (China) Musician and composer for showing that musical virtuosity knows no bounds, Tadashi Yanai (Japan) Founder, UNIQLO; Chairman, President and CEO, Fast Retailing for making philanthropy fashionable.

The honorees will attend the Asia Game Changer Awards Dinner and Celebration at the United Nations on November 1. The evening will feature a performance from Wu Tong.

Previous Asia Game Changers include ICICI Bank CEO Chanda Kochhar; Alibaba founder Jack Ma; comedian and activist Aasif Mandvi; Acumen CEO Jacqueline Novogratz; Xiaomi founder and CEO Lei Jun; documentary maker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy; architecture icon I.M. Pei; education activist Malala Yousafzai; film director Zhang Yimou, among others.

Garth Davis, the director of the award-winning 2016 film Lion, had a ready answer for why he cast Dev Patel as the main character. “He … didn’t want to be typecast as the funny Indian,” Davis said. “He wanted to play a ‘real’ role.”

In less than a decade, the 26-year-old Patel has emerged as a full-blown movie star, delivering acclaimed performances in an impressive range of films and television shows. But his work has done more than just entertain. It has also built bridges of understanding between India, a country so frequently reduced to stereotype, and audiences in the West.

“I want the world to embrace stories from India,” the British-born Patel has said. Indians, he has also noted, “are appreciative that we’re spreading stories from their culture to an international audience.”

In addition to his film work – to be continued this year with the release of Hotel Mumbai, a drama centered on that city’s 2008 terror attacks – Patel has also turned his attention and star power to philanthropy. His lionheart campaign has raised over $250,000 in support of India’s millions of homeless children.

Prakash M Swamy

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