BENGALURU: Among the Pravasi Bharatiya Awardees that marked the culmination of 2017 Pravasi Bharatiya Divas were – Dr Bharat Haridas Barai, Mahesh Mehta and Ramesh Shah - the organizers of the Madison Square Garden event of Prime Minister Narendra Modi that firmly marked the arrival of the first time PM in the international arena.
The three men were part of the five men committee that was involved in over-seeing Modi’s first US trip in 2014. Dr. Barai, a Chicago-based physician and an old friend of Narendra Modi, received the Award for “Community Service”. Mahesh Mehta, founder of Vishwa Hindu Parishad-America and Ramesh Shah, the President of the Overseas Friends of BJP (OFBJP-USA) received the award also for “community service”.
Another awardee from the US Dr. Sampat S Shivangi is a very prominent Republican Hindu American from Mississippi. In 2014, Shivangi was appointed as the Chairman of the Mississippi department of Mental Health, making him the first Asian to occupy the top health post in the southern American state.
The event marked a grand arrival of PM Modi, who as the Gujarat Chief Minister was denied visa to the US owing to the 2002 Gujarat riots. The New York’s Madison Square Garden event attracted a crowd of nearly 20,000 people, claimed to be the largest audience to be drawn by a world leader at the venue. Many others waited for him at the Times Square to watch his addressed beamed lives on giant screens.
Among the awardees were five Indian-origin government officials including – Portugal’s Prime Minister Antonio Costa, Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs in the US Department of State Nisha Desai Biswal, Member of European Parliament from the UK Neena Gill, British Member of Parliament Priti Patel and Mauritius Finance Minister Pravind Jugnauth. They were recognized for their contribution to Public Service and Public Affairs.
Three organizations – Atwerp Indian Association, Singapore Indian Association, Social and Cultural Centre Abu Dhabi were also facilitated.