Judge Alka Sagar became the first Indian-American female federal judge in the US when she was sworn in August 21, 2012 as U.S. Magistrate Judge for the Los Angeles Western Division Court. Judge Rupa Goswami, meanwhile, marks another milestone for the Indian community as she became the first Indian female appointed to the bench in California by California Gov. Jerry Brown to the Los Angeles County Superior Court in July, 2012.
The reception was held at the L.A. Hotel Downtown with current SABA-SC president Puneet Kakkar kicking off the evening after guests were treated to an open bar and appetizer buffet line catered by Manohar’s Dehli Palace with music by DJ Vikram Dhillon.
Congratulatory speeches highlighted the night, including those from both honorees.
“I just want to change the lens on that a little bit. Let’s put gender and ethnicity aside for a moment,” Judge Gandhi said. “Let’s talk about some other facts of these workers. Facts that sometimes get overlooked. Judge Goswami and Judge Sagar, have a combined 38 years of public service in the United States Attorney’s office.”
“I don’t think I would have been able to pursue this path if it hadn’t been for the support and the encouragement I received from my family and my mother in particular who always led me to believe that there is no such thing as failure, that success will always follow you if you work hard and do your best.” Judge Sagar said in her speech.
The night took a trip down memory lane when Judge Goswami’s mother, Shila Goswami, took the stage, recalling the older Sagar’s influence on Goswami’s decision to become a lawyer despite the obvious hurdles of being a woman of color.
“One day, she said, ‘Mom, you know there is a very successful Indian lawyer,” narrated the elder Goswami. “’I said, ‘What? What is her name?’ ‘Alka Sagar.’ ‘Of course! She is a big Punjabi girl! Can you handle that Rupa?”
Judge Goswami closed the night, recalling her roots in rural Ohio and how her brother once explained his reason for rooting for the Cincinnati Bengals was not because they were Bengali, but because Indian leaders such as Mahatma Gandhi exude the humane spirit of helping the underdogs. “I do believe that South Asians, because of our history of colonialism, and our experience being a multicultural society, understand diversity in a way that I think very few in the world can understand. We are predominantly a Hindu nation, and we happen to have the largest Muslim population in the world,” Judge Goswami said.
“We are a multilingual, multicu-ltural, multiethnic, multireligious country. And if we can do that halfway across the world I’m certain we can build that here in America as well.”