NEW YORK: An Indian-American woman judge here has become the first recipient of a US public service award in recognition of her contributions in the field of law.

Queens Senior Assistant District Attorney and newly elected Civil Court Judge Ushir Pandit-Durant was honoured with the 'South Asian Public Service Award' by the Office of Immigrant Affairs under Queens District Attorney Richard Brown.

The award was given to Pandit-Durant coinciding with the commemoration of Diwali by the office of the Queens District Attorney.
"It is fitting that Senior Assistant District Attorney and Judge-Elect Pandit-Durant to be the first recipient of our office's South Asian Public Service Award as she personifies the determination, strength and vitality of the Indian heritage," Brown said in a statement.

Pandit-Durant and her family emigrated from India to the US when she was 10 and "went on to excel at school and in her legal career," he said.

Earlier this month she became the first South Asian-American elected to a judgeship in Queens County. In presenting the award, Brown said, "Diversity is one of America's greatest strengths. Leadership comes in all races and ethnicities...It is important in public service to have a diversity which reflects the makeup of the community that we serve. It helps to enhance credibility, confidence and trust and better serve our community."

Pandit-Durant attended New York Law School and in 1987 joined the Queens District Attorney's Office. Following assignments in the Criminal Court and Supreme Court bureaus, Pandit-Durant was transferred to the Special Victims Bureau, where she investigated and tried difficult cases with the most vulnerable victims, the statement said.

A 15-year veteran appellate attorney, Pandit-Durant was elected to the New York City Civil Court and in January next year she will join the honored ranks of the judiciary. "With her diverse experience, strong work and moral ethics, and her indomitable spirit and compassion, Pandit-Durant will make a distinguished addition to the bench," the statement said.
LONDON: An Indian-origin structural engineer who helped build Europe's tallest building, the Shard in London, was part of a reception hosted by Queen Elizabeth II to Buckingham Palace on Monday.

Roma Agrawal, 29, joined a group of other female engineers at a reception hosted by the 89-year-old monarch to encourage more women to take up the profession. "We need to break the stereotype of an engineer and show young girls it's a fun career," Agrawal said in advance of the event on Monday.

An official told Britain's Sunday Times, "In part, this is born of personal experience. As a young woman serving in the Auxiliary Territorial Service, the queen learnt vehicle maintenance skills that have stayed with her to this day".

"She got her hands dirty, enjoyed it and would encourage young people today to have the same experience. And at a time when there is a big industry push for more girls to become involved in engineering, the queen would wholeheartedly support that," he said.

The queen's support comes as a report published this week is expected to reveal that Britain lags behind other nations in the status it gives to the profession. Only six per cent of registered UK engineers and technicians are women, the lowest number in Europe; just 15 per cent of UK engineering students are female.