Stars Shone as Archie Panjabi Hosted Pratham USA’s Annual Gala

Pratham USA believes all children have the right to an education. Credit: prathamusa.org

Pratham USA believes all children have the right to an education. Credit: prathamusa.org

“Every child in school and learning well.” Pratham USA’s motto speaks to the millions of children in India that are hungering for the education both in an out of the classroom. The organization, which was founded in 1994, runs “pre-schools, community libraries and remedial learning programs [that] reach hundreds of thousands of children every year.” Its four-year-old Read India campaign aids more than 100 million Indian children in the areas of reading, writing and basic math. On Oct. 5, 2011, 400 guests attended the annual tri-state gala at the Pierre Hotel in New York City to honor Archie Panjabi, the foundation’s new ambassador and raise funds for the charity.

You may know Archie from “The Good Wife,” as sly and layered investigator Kalinda Sharma, a role that helped her nab an Emmy in 2010. You may also remember her from “Bend it Like Beckham,” as sister Pinky, and other projects like “A Mighty Heart” alongside Angelina Jolie and “A Good Year” with Russell Crowe.

Archie Panjabi, Pratham USA's latest ambassador. Credit: prathamusa.org

But her exciting career aside, it is her interest in education that brought her to Pratham. “Living most of my life in the West, but having spent some of my childhood in India, I feel very close to India. Education and helping children is very special to me. My mother devoted her entire working life to helping disadvantaged children and from a very young age I could see how that could help transform a life,” she said. “[And] one big aspect of being a celebrity is, I feel, everyone has a responsibility. Even if it is just to lend your voices to create awareness.”

And lend voices they did. Reshma Shetty, of “Royal Pains,” agreed with Panjabi’s sentiment, “I think if you’re in the public eye and your example will help other people, I think it’s our duty. We’re so blessed, why not pass the blessings on?”

Shetty and Panjabi were among many celebrities at the lavish gala, including “Good Wife” co-star Matt Czuchry, who came to lend support. “[Panjabi’s] connection to India is very specific, very organic,” he stated.

He wasn’t the only person to whom this cause was important. Model Ujjwala Raut, a mother herself, stated, “I’m able to be here not because of anything else but because I was educated very well and you get to choose your path in life and get so much more exposure.”

Other guests included “Royal Pains” co-star Jill Flint, Samrat Chakrabarti and Neelu Sodhi of “Outsourced,” Pooja Kumar of “Chuck” and model Vjjwala Raut. Philanthropists, businessmen, young and old alike gathered in gorgeous South Asian attire and enjoyed dinner and dance to raise money for the children back home.

Chakrabarti couldn’t help but take in the diversity in the room. He said, “It’s a Wednesday night in New York City and so many people are here to support this organization.”

Kumar added, “Not all of us can go to India and try to do something so it’s great that Pratham has been able to put this event together…Try to give back a little.”

With a total $1.1 million raised, those at the event certainly gave back.

“This organization is doing what it was saying it was doing,” said Panjabi. Indeed, it is.

Sonam Hajela is a contributing writer to Divanee.com.