A Liberal Democrat peer and a multi-millionaire businessmen have been named as the British recipients of this year’s Pravasi Bharatiya Samman award at the 2015 Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (Non-Resident Indians Day) event held in Gujarat.
Lord Raj Loomba and Professor Nathu Ram Puri, founder of the Purico Group, were felicitated alongside 15 other overseas Indians who have made exceptional contributions to developing relations between India and their adopted countries.
Born and raised in India, Lord Loomba first moved with his family to the United Kingdom in 1962, building up a multi-million pound fashion business – the Rinku Group – from a market stall in Widnes, Manchester.
He is perhaps best-known for his charitable venture the Loomba Foundation which works to support widows and their children around the world. The charity was inspired by Loomba’s own experiences – his mother was widowed when he was just 10 years old leading to difficult times for the family.
Professor Nathu Ram Puri
Professor Puri – like Lord Loomba, born in the Punjab and who built his business from scratch – is also renowned for his charitable work. The Purico Foundation for Education in India offers scientific scholarships to gifted Indian students and operates the Indian Institute of Advance Research in Gujarat.
The 2015 Pravasi Bharatiya Divas Samman awards were handed out by Indian Vice President Hamid Ansari, who spoke of the special significance attached to this year’s awards.
“This year marks the centenary of Mahatma Gandhi’s return to India from South Africa, following which he took on the mantle of leadership of perhaps greatest non-violent struggle for independence against the colonial yoke.
“Gandhi ji was also, unquestionably, the greatest Pravasi Bharatiya of all.”
Mr Ansari added that the government was doing all it can to better facilitate involvement in India by NRI’s.
“Relationships, even emotional ones, are not a one-way street. Overseas Indians have expectations aimed at facilitating and intensifying their involvement with India.
“The Government of India, and the State Governments, have acknowledged the validity of these sentiments and taken or initiated steps to attract, assist and promote a deeper and multifaceted relationship, which is mutually beneficial and long lasting.
“We in India attach highest importance to issues of interest and concern to the overseas Indians”, Mr Ansari said.
Other notable recipients of the Samman award include Indo-Australian Hindu language teacher and cultural activist Mala Mehta; Dr Rajaram Sanjaya, an India-born, Mexico-resident scientist who was the recipient of the 2014 World Food Prize; Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Dr Nandini Tandon, a scientist, venture capitalist and expert in biotechnology and sustainability.