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Meet 15 people who sttod out at Pravasi Bharatiya Divas

Last updated on: January 10, 2011 22:35 IST

Meet 15 people who stood out at Pravasi Bharatiya Divas

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India's annual convention -- three-day-long Pravasi Bharatiya Divas -- to connect with its 27-million strong Diaspora in over 150 countries concluded on Sunday with President Pratibha Patil honouring 15 individuals for their achievements and enhancing India's image globally.

The awardees included New Zealand Governor General Sir Anand Satyanand, Canada-based Bharata Natyam dance Lata Pada, Professor Veena Harbhagwan Sahajwalla, director, sustainable materials processing research at the University of New South Wales, Australia, Harindrapal Singh Bangan from Hong Kong-China, Sheikh Mohammed Munir Hasan Ansari from Israel, Upjit Singh Sachdev from Liberia, Tan Sri Dato Ajit Singh from Malaysia, Saleh Wahid from Netherlands, Nilangshu Dey, Dr Mohiaddin Syed Karimuddin from Saudi Arabia, Mano Selvanathan from Sri Lanka, Mohan Jashanmal from United Arab Emirates, Baroness Sandip Verma fro UK., and Ashook Kumar Ramsaran and Dr Rajiv Shah from the United States.

Rediff.com's Sahim Salim and Prasanna D Zore spoke to these awardees on what this recognition meant to them. Here's what they had to say.

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Image: The winners of the Pravasi Bharatiya awards pose with President Pratibha Patil
Photographs: Uttam Ghosh/Rediff.com
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Sir Anand Satyanand, Governor General of New Zealand

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Born and bought up in Auckland, Sir Anand Satyanand was appointed the Governor General of New Zealand in 2006.

He is the first person of Indian origin to be appointed to this post. Satyanand was also the chief guest of the 2011 edition of the PBD.

 


Image: President Patil honours Sir Anand Satyanand
Photographs: Uttam Ghosh/Rediff.com
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Canada-based Bharatnatyam dancer Lata Pada

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Lata Pada is a Bharata Natyam dancer of Indian descent based in Toronto, Canada. She is the founder and director of Sampradaya Dance Academy, the only South Asian dance school in North America affiliated with United Kingdom-based Imperial Society for Teachers of Dancing.

After receiving the award, Pada told rediff.com, "It is an honour to receive such an award. I really appreciate the Indian government's efforts in recognising the accomplishments of its Diaspora."

 


Image: Lata Pada getting her award from the President
Photographs: Uttam Ghosh/Rediff.com
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Prof Veena Harbhagwan Sahajwalla from Australia

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Professor Veena Harbhagwan Sahajwalla, director, sustainable materials processing research at the University of New South Wales, Australia, was given the honour for her contribution in the field of science.

"To share the stage with the Diaspora who have accomplished so much more than me was a very humbling experience. When I was informed that I had won the award, I could not believe it," she said.

"This award is a great opportunity for India and Australia to connect. This award for my work in recycling of waste is a great way to engage with the Indian industrial sector where even India faces lots of challenges," she added.

Harindrapal Singh Banga, whose company the Nobel Group, has over 11,000 employees with 150 offices in 38 countries, including nine in India. He was honoured for his entrepreneurial skills.

Sheikh Mohammed Munir Hasan Ansari from Israel also received the award for his outstanding contribution in the field of community service but was not available for comment.


Image: Prof Veena Harbhagwan Sahajwalla getting her award
Photographs: Uttam Ghosh/Rediff.com
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Upjit Singh Sachdev, a honourary counsel general of India in Liberia

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Upjit Singh Sachdev is a honourary counsel general of India in Monrovia in Liberia. Sachdeva is the first Indian to serve on the board of trustees of the University of Liberia and was appointed by the President of Liberia Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. He was recognised at the PBD for his work in charity and for promoting Indo-Liberia relations.

Sachdeva told rediff.com after receiving the award, "I was an Indian and will always remain one. It was a real honour to receive the award from the President of India. This recognition only goes on to prove that even if you are not in India, your Indianness never dies."

 


Image: Upjit Singh Sachdev getting the award
Photographs: Uttam Ghosh/Rediff.com
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Tan Sri Dato Ajit Singh honoured for improving bi-lateral ties with Malaysia

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Tan Sri Dato Ajit Singh is currently the chairman of the Nam Fatt Corporation in Malaysia. In a career spanning over 30 years, he served in various positions in the ministry of foreign affairs and at Malaysian missions abroad and was elected the first Secretary-General of Association of Southeast Asian Nations. He was recognised at the PBD for improving bilateral relations with Malaysia.

"The award means a great deal to me because it means recognition from a great country from where my parents hail and from a country with which I still have lots of emotional ties. This award is not only an award for me but also recognition for Malaysia, which has one of the largest multi-ethnic populations and one of the largest Indian populations in the world," Singh said.

"The award will also strengthen relations between India and Malaysia. I will be very grateful if I could play a small part in doing so," he added.


 


Image: Tan Sri Dato Ajit Singh getting the award
Photographs: Uttam Ghosh/Rediff.com
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Saleh Wahid recognised for contribution to Indians in Netherlands

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Saleh Wahid was honoured for his outstanding contribution to the Indian community in the Netherlands and philanthropy work in Assam. "I have always worked for the betterment of the society. I have worked before getting this award and I will continue to work after getting it," he said.

"I have been working for 30 years for which I have received Knighthood from the Dutch government. But my intention is not to win awards but to help the needy people," he added.

 


Image: Saleh Wahid getting the award
Photographs: Uttam Ghosh/Rediff.com
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Indian Community Benevolent Forum awarded for helping poor in Qatar

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The Indian Community Benevolent Forum, an organisation in the Middle East, received the hounour for its service to the poor and underprivileged people from the Indian community in Qatar. Nilangshu Dey, the president of the ICBF, said, "We have provided food, medicine, legal aid as well aid for support for repatriation of money to needy Indians. We are really happy that the government of India has recognised our service."

ICBF that comes under the aegis of the Indian embassy in Qatar has reached out to 30,000 Indians over the past 25 years.

They have various help desks that support 70 per cent of the 545,000-strong Indian community in Qatar.

Dr Mohiaddin Syed Karimuddin was also honoured for his outstanding contribution and services to Indian community in Saudi Arabia and social work in India.

Image: Nilangshu Dey, the president of the ICBF
Photographs: Uttam Ghosh/Rediff.com
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Sri Lanka-based entrepreneur Mano Selvanathan

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Mano Selvanathan is the group director of Carson Cumberbatch & Co Ltd Group of Companies, received recognition at the PBD for business achievements and social work with overseas Indians in Sri Lanka. Carson Cumberbatch PLC is the holding company of a diverse group of businesses including oil palm plantations, beverages, investments and financial services, real estate and leisure sectors.

"It is exciting to be here in India and connect with fellow Indians," he said.

Image: Mano Selvanathan getting the award
Photographs: Uttam Ghosh/Rediff.com
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UAE-based businessman Mohan Jashanmali

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Mohan Jashanmali is an entrepreneur whose contribution to the Indian community in UAE has been commendable. He is among the few who have been issued a UAE residency visa that expires in 2999.

"I am humbled that the Indian government chose me for prestigious award. It is great when efforts in the field of business are recognised," he said.

 


Image: Mohan Jashanmali getting the award
Photographs: Uttam Ghosh/Rediff.com
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Baroness Sandip Verma

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Baroness Sandip Verma received an award at the PBD for her contribution in immensely improving the understanding of India in UK through her public life.

"It's an absolute honour to be recognised by the country of my birth. India stays in the hearts of all of us who have gone abroad. I don't think we ever lost touch with our roots," she said.

 


Image: Sandip Verma getting her award
Photographs: Uttam Ghosh/Rediff.com
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Ashook Kumar Ramsaran hounoured for service to Indians in US

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Ashook Kumar Ramsaran has worked towards the benefit on the Indian community in the US. "It is the culmination of hard work that is being recognised by the government of India and it represents the interests of the people of Indian origin and the recognition of their ancestors," he said.

Dr Rajiv Shah was given the honour for his contribution in enhancing the image of India through public service.

 


Image: Ashook Kumar Ramsaran getting the award
Photographs: Uttam Ghosh/Rediff.com
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