Fifteen people who have done outstanding work in their field of work were honoured with Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Awards by India's Vice-President Hamid Ansari at the valedictory session of the 13th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) at Mahatma Mandir in Gandhinagar. The awardees included the president of a country to the CEO of a software giant to a novice community worker. Other awardees included a member of parliament from New Zealand, a judge from Seychelles, and an eminent scientist from Mexico. All awardees are people of Indian origin who have done exemplary work in their fields and contributed towards fostering friendly relations between the country they live in and India.
Ashraf Parakunmummal (40), a community worker in UAE, who helps families by sending bodies of their kin who die in the UAE to their homeland, was awarded, along with Guyana president Donald R Ramotar, Microsoft CEO Satyanaraya Nadella (who was not present), and Mala Mehta, an educationalist from Australia.
Also awarded were Dr Rajaram Sanjaya, a scientist from Mexico; Kamaljit Singh Bakshi, a member of parliament in New Zealand; philanthropist from Oman, Rajmal Parakh; Justice Duraikannu Karunakaran from Seychelles; former member of parliament from South Africa, Essop Goolam Pahad; social worker Bharat Kumar Shah from UAE; industrialist Mehta from Uganda; Prof Nathuram Puri from the UK; Lord Raj Loomba from the UK; scientist Kamalesh Lulla from the USA; and venture capitalist Nandini Tandon from the US.
Vice-President Ansari said that overseas Indians have knowledge and resources to reinforce India's effort in niche areas. “They are in virtually every country and region of the world. Some, particularly in recent times, have gone voluntarily; the ancestors of others were victims of circumstance; compulsions of livelihood propelled many others,” he said.
Ansari said overseas Indian's profession ranged from blue collars workers to men and women of science, doctors, engineers, IT professionals, business persons, entrepreneurs and investors.
He said that India today was on the cusp of change, in the process of actualising the expectations of its vast population for a better life. “In this endeavour, an important role can be and must be played by the overseas Indians. They have knowledge and resources to reinforce the effort in niche areas; they also have the experience of other lands where similar efforts were pursued successfully,” he added.
The awardees were:
1. Mala Mehta from Australia
2. President Donald Rabindernauth Ramaotar from Guyana
3. Dr Rajaram Sanjaya from Mexico
4. Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi from New Zealand
5. Rajamal Parakh from Oman
6. Duraikannu Karunakaran from Seychelles
7. Essop Goolam Pahad from South Africa
8. Bharat Kumar Jayantilal Shah from UAE
9. Ashraf Pellarkunnmal from UAE
10. Mahendra Nanji Mehta from Uganda
11. Nathuram Puri from the United Kingdom
12. Satyanarayan Nadela from USA
13. Kamlesh Lulla from the US
14. Nandani Tandon from US
15. Lord Raj Lumba from the United Kingdom