The Indian government last night honoured Minister for Diversity, Inclusion and Ethnic Communities Minister Priyanca Radhakrishnan with the ‘Pravasi Samman Award’ at the 16th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 2021 held virtually in Delhi on January 9, 2021.
Priyanca Radhakrishnan being conferred the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award on January 9, 2021 in New Delhi (pictured below or India’s President Ram Nath Kovind and External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar (Screenshot)
The Award, announced online at about 1 am NZT, came with the background of accolades, appreciation and gratitude towards the Indian Diaspora, expressed by the President, Prime Minister, External Affairs Minister and other dignitaries participating through the virtual online platform.
Ms Radhakrishnan, who is also Minister for Community and Voluntary Sector and Minister for Youth, became the first Minister of Indian origin from New Zealand to receive the honour. She was the fifth person from this country to be presented with the ‘Pravasi Samman Award,’ since its inception in Year 2003.
In his Valedictory Address delivered just before the presentation of the Samman Awards, India’s President Ram Nath Kovind said that India has one of the largest Diaspora populations in the world, accounting for more than 30 million people.
President Ram Nath Kovind: “Proud of the Indian Diaspora” (Screenshot)
“Known as the ‘model minority,’ Diaspora Indians have an impressive presence in the fields of Science and Technology, especially ICT & Medicine, Entrepreneurship, Trade & Commerce, Academics, Art and Literature & Sports. Some of you have reached leadership positions in administration and politics. You have spread the soft power of India and made your mark on the global stage. Your continued emotional attachment to India, its culture and traditions makes all of us very proud of you,” he said.
India: Pharmacy of the World
In his earlier Address, Prime Minister Narendra Modi outlined India’s capable response to Covid-19 pandemic and said that there was “no other example of this kind of democratic unity against the Virus.”
“Despite dependence on critical things like PPE kits, masks, ventilators or testing kits, India developed its capabilities not only to become self-reliant but also started exporting many things. Today, India is among the countries with the least fatality rate and fastest recovery rate. As ‘The Pharmacy of the World,’ India is helping the world and the entire world is looking at India as the country prepares to embark upon the largest vaccination programme in the world with two Indigenously developed vaccines,” he said.
A Resplendent Diaspora
In her Award Acceptance Statement, Ms Radhakrishnan acknowledged the work of the wider Indian Diaspora across the world.
“In 2018, as a new MP, I attended the first PIO-Parliamentary Conference in New Delhi, organised by the Indian Ministry for External Affairs. It was a Conference that brought together local and central government politicians of Indian origin from around the world. I acknowledge the achievements and skills of the Indian Diaspora, including our own Kiwi Indian communities across Aotearoa New Zealand,” she said.
Diversity and Inclusion
She said that her government values diversity – of thought, experience and skills – and inclusion. It is important that those in Parliament and in Government reflect and understand our increasingly diverse nation – and that people from diverse backgrounds and walks of life see themselves reflected in their decision-makers, she said.
“It is possible to do so because New Zealand is a strong democracy with a political system that is accessible and transparent,” she said.
Quoting a Maori proverb, Ms Radhakrishnan said, ‘Ehara taku toa I te toa takitahi, engari he toa takitini,’ which translates to ‘Success is not one’s own, but the work of many.’
“We stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before us and anything I have achieved is because of those who have broken moulds and ceilings before me. I acknowledge them and I will do my best to ensure that their legacy continues for those who follow me. While I may be the first person of Indian origin to be appointed a Minister in New Zealand, I am confident that I won’t be the last,” she said.
Ms Radhakrishnan said that New Zealand and India have a longstanding and warm relationship that dates back to the 1800s.
“Both nations have much to offer one another and I look forward to a growing relationship based on mutual trust that advances our shared interests,” she said.
About Pravasi Bharatiya Divas
‘Pravasi Bharatiya Divas’ is a three-day Conference attracting more than 3000 members of the Indian Diaspora across the world. It began in Year 2003, which was attended by the then Ombudsman Sir Anand Satyanand (who later became Governor General and a ‘Samman’ Awardee) and Dr Rajen Prasad (who later became Chief Families Commissioner and Labour MP). Between 12 and 15 persons from the Diaspora, resident in various countries were selected for the honour every year.
In 2019, it was made a biennial event and hence the number of Samman Awards increased to 30 recipients.
Yuva Pravasi Bharatiya Divas
Delivering the Keynote Address at the ‘Yuva Pravasi Bharatiya Divas,’ at which she was the Special Guest on Friday, January 8, 2021, Ms Radhakrishnan spoke about the challenges faced by young people all over the world and the efforts made by the New Zealand government to promote youth welfare through special projects and programmes in this country.
“It was a privilege to attend and speak at the Yuva Pravasi Bharatiya Divas. The event focused on bringing young achievers from India and across the globe together. It signalled the beginning of the 16th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas Convention. I addressed attendees in my capacity as the Minister for Youth.
‘Yuva Pravasi Bhartiya Divas,’ is held as a part of the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas every year, under different themes. Indian Newslink carried a detailed report of this event on Saturday, January 9, 2021. The Report can be read here.
About Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award
The Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award is the highest honour conferred on overseas Indians. Presented by the President of India as a part of the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas held for the Indian Diaspora comprising People of Indian Origin and Non-Resident Indians, the Award recognises the outstanding work done by PIO and their organisations or associations. The Awardees are usually chosen by a Committee headed by the External Affairs Minister (earlier by Overseas Indian Affairs Minister).
An External Affairs Ministry notification said that this year’s Award winners were chosen unanimously by a Jury and Awards Committee.
“The Awardees represent the vibrant excellence achieved by our diaspora in various fields. Several countries have been represented for the first time among the awardees. Dr Mukesh Aghi, one of the awardees and President & CEO of US-India Strategic Partnership Forum, delivered the acceptance speech on behalf of the awardees,” the notification said.
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