India honours prominent Indo-Fijian

A prominent New Zealander of Indo-Fijian origin was among 13 persons from various parts of the world honoured by the Indian government last week.

Dr Satendra Singh of Auckland received the ‘Pravasi Bharatiya Samman’ from Indian President Pranab Mukherjee on the final day of the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas held Kochi in the South Indian State of Kerala on January 9, 2013.

This is the highest award conferred by the Indian government on Non-resident Indians and Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs) and institutions run by them for their contribution in serving the Indian diaspora and enhancing India’s image in different parts of the world. The Award carries a citation and a medal.

The Indian government also presented the Award to Rajkeswur Purryag, President of the Republic of Mauritius, who was the Chief Guest at the event this year.

The Award recipients

Following is the full list of recipients of the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award 2013:

Ashok S. Vaswani from Guinea (community service); Bava Haji Pandalingal from Abu Dhabi (service to the Indian community); Gilbert Moutien from Reunion Island (business) Professor Gurusharan Singh Chatwal from Germany (science); Ismail Ebrahim from South Africa (business); Mohammed Karuvanthodi from Saudi Arabia (business); Dr N R Kumar from the US (healthcare); Patricia Maria Rozario from UK (music); Dr Rasik V Joshi from Mexico (literature); T S Ravindra Menon from Malaysia (community service); Rajkeswaur Purryag from Mauritius (leadership); Dr Satendra K Singh from New Zealand (community service) and Subhash Razdan from the US (public service).

Dr Satendra Singh is the fourth person from New Zealand to receive the high honour. His predecessors are former Dunedin Mayor Sukhi Turner (2004), Auckland District Court Judge Dr Ajit Swaran Singh (2008) and Sir Anand Satyanand (2011).

Yanktesh Permal Reddy, Chairman of the Reddy Group, has business interests in New Zealand, Fiji and other countries in the region. He received the Award in 2010 for his contributions to business and community in Fiji.

The Indian pride

Dr Singh was still in India at press time and hence could not be contacted for comments. However, we reproduce hereunder a part of an article that he wrote for Indian Newslink (India’s Diamond Jubilee Independence Special) in our August 15, 2007 issue.

“My paternal connection goes back to Kandhai and Kesari Singh who left Rajasthan in 1896 and settled down in Fiji. My grandchildren are now sixth generation Indians, who have India instilled in their hearts, although born and raised in a foreign country.

“I tell them how my distant forefather was a close friend of Mahatma Gandhi. India has made significant contributions to Fiji, from human and material resources to assisting the country in salvaging its ailing sugar industry.

“Fiji has a long list of people who are alumni of Indian schools and colleges,” he said.

Enduring relations

The Fiji Community of Auckland has always maintained a close relationship with India, double dipping with contacts through the high commission in Suva and Wellington, in hosting artists as well as special guests.

President extols

Mr Mukherjee said that the Indian diaspora had made India proud through significant contributions to the development of the nations which they have chosen to make their homes.

“It is a matter of pride for every Indian that today there are at least five Heads of States or Heads of Governments and over 70 senior political leaders such as Deputy Heads of State, Speakers and Ministers in various countries who can trace their roots to India,” he said.

The picture appearing here (courtesy of Press Information Bureau of the Indian Government) shows President Pranab Mukherjee with the winners of the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award in Kochi, Kerala on January 09, 2013, Dr Singh is at extreme left, while Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi is seventh from left.

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