Thank you Maya and Dina for presenting me with the Lotus Award tonight, and to the Executive Board of CHI for selecting me to be this year’s award recipient. I would also like to congratulate Manjul Bhargava on being honored tonight. Most importantly, I want to thank all of you for coming out on a Sunday evening to support this great cause.
I have been asked to be the honoree for different charities in the past and always declined. I really don’t like being the center of attention but made an exception in the case of CH. I think there were a few reasons, but the most important is the tireless effort and total devotion I have seen consistently exhibited by the CH committee members: Maya, Dina, Kavita and Lavina, as well as so many others. I have greatly enjoyed working with them and the Benefit Chairs over the past year, and know that the money we have raised tonight will benefit greatly the children we all want to help. I have also been very impressed by how CH engages the next generations – through CH2 and CH3 – to get involved through fundraising events that raise the consciousness of our kids while binding them more closely together.
So why the focus on children and why tonight’s theme of Educate India. We all lead such comfortable lives here in the U.S. that one might ask why not just focus on charities closer to home. Well, to start with, I think one of the things I love most about this country is the desire to look outwards to help those less fortunate. The idea that building walls can shut out problems is something that Donald Trump may believe, but fortunately most people don’t think that way. Any one of us in this room could have been born into a very different circumstance, including being a poor child in India. Ultimately, we are all interconnected as human beings and those children we help lift out of poverty will become part of our global community for decades to come.
Growing up in Hong Kong, my father always stressed the power and independence that would come from a great education. I never thought I would go to Cambridge University and Harvard Business School, and end up working at an amazing firm like Blackstone. Everyone here understands how important being educated is as we all strive to ensure our children get the best education they possibly can. As you will hear later, it costs just $160 to educate an Indian child for a year and change their life permanently :- That’s less than 50 cents a day, just think about that for a moment. These children that we are trying to help come from such poor backgrounds, and the cost of improving their lives is so low, that I can’t think of a more impactful area to direct charitable donations.
The other reason to help educate these children in India is because we can. I always tell my children that they will lead much happier lives if they constantly remember how fortunate they are and help those who have not been as lucky. For those of us who have seen the difficult lives these children lead in India, giving to this cause is a way to do that. It makes me feel so proud to see how the people in this room have rallied together behind CH tonight, and I hope you all feel as good about it as I do.
I’d like to end my remarks by acknowledging my beautiful wife Anjali and my kids Kabir, Aleesha and Rehan who are here. I feel blessed in so many ways but none more than when I look at my family who make me happier than anything else. I also want to thank my dear friends who made the effort to be here tonight. We have almost no relatives in New York and you have become our extended family here. Thank you all and have a wonderful evening.