Indian expats honoured with Pravasi Bharatiya Samman

This post was originally published on 11 January 2015.

Two expatriates from UAE were among 15 prominent Non-Resident Indians who received their home country’s highest honour on Friday.

An Indian social worker in the UAE who has helped repatriate nearly 2,000 dead bodies from here, and another who boosted Indo-UAE relations in business and championed the cause of the community, were among 15 prominent Non-Resident Indians who received their home country’s highest honour on Friday.

Thamarassery Palorakunnummal Ashraf and Bharatkumar Shah received the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award along with Microsoft CEO Satyanarayan Nadella, Guyana President Donald Rabindernauth Ramaotar, and other experts in various fields.

The awards were conferred on them by India’s Vice-President Hamid Ansari at the valedictory function of the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, the largest convention of NRIs, in Gujarat on Friday.

Helping in the last journey

Ashraf, who runs a workshop in Ajman, has helped sent home dead bodies of people from over 35 countries, without receiving any payment for the service. Ashraf realised the plight of grieving families in completing the formalities to repatriate their loved ones’ bodies when he saw two youngsters crying in front of their father’s corpse without knowing what to do.

The painful incident he witnessed at Kuwaiti Hospital 14 years ago changed his life. From that day onwards, Ashraf has thanklessly spent days and nights supporting bereaved families by arranging the last journey of their lost ones. From filling up the forms in various departments to arranging the embalming and flight tickets, he helps out without expecting anything in return.

Already a recipient of recognitions from various expatriate organisations and Indian media houses, Ashraf has also inspired a book and a movie. UAE-based Malayalam writer Basheer Thikkodi wrote the book Paretharkkoraal on Ashraf’s life, based on which famous scriptwriter-cum-director TA Razak is making the movie.

An inspiration

Known as Bharatbhai among community members, octogenarian Shah is the chairman of Al Mustaneer Trading Company in Dubai. Listed among 100 Super Rich and 100 Most Powerful Indians in the region, Shah was ranked number 48 in the Forbes list of Top Indian Leaders in the Arab World 2014.

He is described as an inspiration to all those who think of giving up in the face of repeated failure with his story of hardship and suffering being a remarkable example of determination and of repeatedly rising up after every fall.

The entrepreneur-cum-philanthropist from Gujarat is known for his staunch “Indianness” he carries though he left the motherland at the age of 15 to pursue his studies. After his initial years of struggle in Yemen, he landed a job as a clerk in a shipping firm in 1949 where one of his co-workers was the late industrialist Dhirubhai Ambani.

Later he shifted his base from Yemen to Saudi Arabia and from there to the UAE. The entrepreneur in him saw Shah climbing the ladders in the retail sector and eventually launching his own business.

A founding member of the Overseas Indians Economic Forum Dubai and the Gujarati Samaj, Shah is currently the NRI Cell Convener of the Indian Business and Professional Council Sharjah. Shah’s community standing has seen him actively campaign for the rights of the Indian expatriates, especially the underprivileged. A veteran expat, Shah has contributed in cementing the bond between the Indian and Emirati communities and boosting the trade between the two countries.

Source: Yahoo Maktoob

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