Meet UAE expats who bagged the top NRI honour
Dubai - The award honours the exceptional and meritorious contributions of NRIs in their chosen field or profession.
Published: Tue 29 Jan 2019, 8:53 PM
The three UAE-based winners of the prestigious award for non-resident Indians (NRIs), Pravasi Bharatiya Samman, have pledged to continue working for the neediest members of the community. The award honours the exceptional and meritorious contributions of NRIs in their chosen field or profession.
Dr Zulekha Daud, founder and chairperson of Zulekha Healthcare Group; Surendar Singh Kandhari, chairman of Al Dobowi Group and head of the Sikh Gurudwara in Dubai; and social worker Girsh Pant bagged the award at the 15th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) convention in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh.
Khaleej Times caught up with the three winners on the sidelines of a special recognition ceremony organised by the Indian Business and Professional Council (IBPC) on Monday.
'I wish to conduct more research to find cure for cancer'
Dr Zulekha Daud, Founder and chairperson of Zulekha Healthcare Group
Dr Zulekha Daud said receiving the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman was extra special. "I have received many awards in my life, but nothing has been like receiving the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman. The experience in Varanasi was very good. We were looked after very well."
The renowned physician-turned-entrepreneur plans on organising more awareness campaigns, especially towards the cure of breast and colorectal cancer. "We want to continue our research in these allied fields and do more original work that raises awareness towards the prevention of breast cancer."
The group has launched special educational initiatives, especially for women in Nagpur, India. Dr Daud said she wishes to expand these initiatives. "We are looking forward to doing more in education." The healthcare group is also planning several events in line with the UAE's Year of Tolerance.
'I would like to serve the community till the end of my days'
Surender Singh Kandhari, Chairman of Al Dobowi Group and head of Sikh Gurudwara in Dubai
Surender Singh Kandhari said he has done enough for himself and now wishes to serve "all members of the community till the end of my days".
"When I heard about the award, I was really humbled and honoured. I felt that all the hard work we've been putting to help the community is being recognised. Servitude is in the very ethos of our community."
He said that this year, the Gurudwara will organise special events every month in honour of Guru Nanak Devji's 550th birth anniversary. The Gurudwara has planned community service activities every month, which started in December 2018 and will run until November 23 this year. The Gurudwara will continue to distribute thousands of free meals to its visitors every day. "We distribute approximately 1,500 meals per day. On special days and weekends, we distribute over 55,000 free meals to everyone."
'I have made a lifelong commitment to help those who need it most'
Girish Pant, Social worker and Dubai-based businessman
Girish Pant has been working to provide refuge to distressed individuals in the UAE. He said he has helped over 400 people since he began social work in 2011. "I want to thank the government of India and the diplomatic missions in the UAE, without them this journey would not have been possible," he said.
Pant first engaged in social work in 2011 when he tried to rescue sailors whose vessel had capsized off the UAE. "One sailor's body was never found. I helped his family, and from that point on, I kept getting calls from other stranded seafarers and distressed individuals."
He has helped repatriate hundreds of workers and individuals during the course of the UAE amnesty scheme in 2018. His work also covers stranded workers and victims of visa fraud.
"I have made a lifelong commitment to support men, women and children who are in need."