15 people honoured with Pravasi Bhartiya Samman



New Delhi: President Pratibha Patil on Sunday conferred 'Pravasi Bhartiya Samman' awards to 15 eminent overseas Indians, including Governor General of New Zealand Sir Anand Satyanand, for their pioneering role in enhancing India's image globally.

Patil gave away the awards here at the valedictory session of the ninth Pravasi Bhartiya Divas -- India's annual event to connect with its diaspora that begun here on Friday.

Satyanand, 66, is New Zealand's first Governor-General of Indian and Pacific ancestry. He had a long career as a lawyer, judge and ombudsman before taking up the job in August 2006.

Patil while complimenting Satyanand's contribution said the country was proud of his achievements. Satyanand has been honoured for his outstanding contributions in public life.

In October last year, a New Zealand radio presenter has stirred controversy by calling Satyanand a "large, fat man". Later, the presenter had to quit.

The other Pravasi Bharatiya Samman awardees included Veena Harbhagwan Sahajwalla from Australia, Lata Pada from Canada, USAID administrator Rajiv Shah, British Minister Sandip Verma, leading Sri Lankan Industrialist Mano Selvanathan, Netherlands-based philanthropist Saleh Wahid and former foreign service officer of Malaysia Dato Ajit Singh.

The final day of the three-day event also marked 96th anniversary of homecoming of Mahatma Gandhi. The father of the nation had come back to India from South Africa on January 9, 1915.

PTI