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Two 2011 Diaspora Awards for Indian Americans

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February 2011
Two 2011 Diaspora Awards for Indian Americans At the Diaspora Conclave (Pravasi Bharatiya Divas) in Delhi last month, a baroness and a governor general were among the 15 recipients of the 2011 awards, along with Indian Americans Rajiv Shah and Ashook Kumar Ramsaran. U.S.-raised Shah is administrator of the United States Agency for International Development. Ramsaran, a Guyanese-born entrepreneur, is executive vice president of the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin. Both have been active in forging closer ties between India and its diaspora.

This year’s focus at the meet was northeastern India, whose economic progress is still lagging compared to the other regions. Among the diaspora initiatives announced was the decision to merge the OCI (Overseas Citizenship of India) and PIO (Person of Indian Origin) cards. Once the new card becomes available, applicants will be entitled to a lifetime visa, noted Vayalar Ravi, Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs. The program to extend voting rights to non-resident Indians was making progress, according to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who also announced the opening of five new Indian Cultural Centers. These will be in the United States, Canada, Saudi Arabia, France and Australia.

The governor general was Sir Anand Satyanand (of New Zealand), who came as the chief guest, and the baroness was Dr. Sandip Verma, a businesswoman who is a member of Britain’s House of Lords. The other awardees at the 2011 conclave were Professor Veena Harbhagwan Sahajwalla (of Australia), dancer Lata Pada (of Canada), Mohammad Munir Nazir Hassan Ansari (of Israel), Tan Sri Dato Ajit Singh (of Malaysia), Mano Selvanathan (of Sri Lanka), Dr. Mohiaddin Syed Karimuddin (of Saudi Arabia), the Indian Community Benevolent Forum (of Qatar), Mohan Jashanmal (of the United Arab Emirates), Upjit Singh Sachdeva (Liberia-based diplomat), Saleh Wahid (of the Netherlands) and Harindrapal Singh Banga (of Hong Kong).

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