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Sulata Sarkar, recent Nobel Peace Prize nominee comes from a distinguished background of freedom fighters, lawyers, and various other leaders. She has a background steeped in social work and other cultural activities that make her a very strong candidate for this award.
Since her move to California in 1973 until now, Sarkar has contributed tremendously to the Bay Area community. In 1974, she coordinated the Pacific Film Archive’s Film Festival and founded Prabasi, a Bengali cultural organization. In 1978, Sarkar worked tirelessly to raise funds to build the Hindu Temple and worked tirelessly until 1986 when the temple was inaugurated. She coordinated the temple’s Grand Opening project, traveled to India to furnish the temple, and arranged a concert by sitar player Ravi Shankar to raise funds for the inauguration. Later, in 1981, Sarkar also started a group called Asramika, an educational and cultural association to promote peace. In 1984, she worked with the Indian Consulate of San Francisco to organize a trade and fashion show in the World Trade Center of San Francisco. More recently, in 2010, Sarkar started a program called Charity Begins at Home to send families of domestic helpers to achieve higher education within Kolkata, India. Some of these scholars have graduated recently, one as a Ceramic Engineer and another with a Bachelor Arts degree.
In 1998, Sarkar was awarded the “Lifetime Achievement Award” from the Indian Association, for her various cultural activities in California and for assisting with the education of poor children.
Though many of Sarkar’s achievements involve preserving and spreading Indian culture in the United States, some of her social work involves other issues. For example, from 1987-1997, Sarkar spent a great deal of time helping to support a recently orphaned family friend. By providing financial aid, trauma counseling, and moral support, she helped him become a successful medical doctor. During this time she also wrote many letters to the First Lady at the time Hillary Clinton, to advocate for human and juvenile rights. Other aspects of her social work involved providing financial aid for poor students in Calcutta to continue their education, and fundraising for Tomorrow’s Foundation, an organization that provided education for slum children.