Successful Auckland businessman Bhav Dhillon joins the elite company of eminent New Zealanders of Indian origin such as Rt. Honourable Sir Anand Satyanand, the former Governor General of New Zealand, Sukhi Turner (Mayor of Dunedin) and Judge Ajit Swaran Singh (Manukau District court Judge), and Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi (Member of Parliament) – to be honoured with Indian government’s highest Indian diaspora award – Pravasi Bhartiya Samman (Overseas Indian Award).
The President of India Ram Nath Kovind conferred the award on Dhillon on Wednesday, January 23 – the final day of the three-day biennial diaspora conclave of India (Pravasi Bhartiya Diwas) – in a state ceremony at Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh.
The award is given to acknowledge significant contributions made by global citizens of Indian-origin in the specific areas including better understanding abroad of India, support to India’s causes and concerns in a tangible way and building closer links between India, the overseas Indian community and their country of residence.
Dhillon is honoured in the category of excellence in business and services to the Indian diaspora.
"Getting Pravasi Bharatiya Samman award is a tremendous honour and privilege. “It is one of the highest honours a member of the Indian Diaspora can receive and I am humbled and grateful to have been given this award," Dhillon says.
"I have had the pleasure of working closely with so many members of the diaspora here in New Zealand, and with both the governments over a number of years. The relationship between our two great countries is getting stronger each day as we trade more and share more cultural ties,” Dhillon says.
“It is an absolute privilege to be able to work to bring together our two great nations and help members of the Indian diaspora in every possible manner,” Dhillon says.
The award puts Dhillon in the elite league of eminent global citizens of Indian-origin to have received this prestigious award including Satya Nadella (CEO, Microsoft) Lord Meghnad Desai (British economist and Labour politician), Lord B. C. Parekh (political theorist and Labour member of the House of Lords), Shashi Tharoor ( Renowned Author, former career international diplomat and Indian politician), Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi (New Zealand Member of Parliament) Sam Pitroda, Prof Jagdish Bhagwati (Economist, Professor of Law and Economy at University of Columbia), and Prof C. K. Prahalad (Management Guru, rated as world's most influential business thinker).
About Bhav Dhillon
Dhillon is the managing director of CEMIX, the iconic Kiwi-brand that has been in New Zealand for over three decades, and is a market leader in manufacturing and innovation of construction products, with a nationwide presence. Cemix has been part of the Deloitte Fast50 in 2011 and a finalist in the Green Ribbon Awards.
Dhillon is the Chair of There's a Better Way Foundation which works alongside NZ Police, Auckland Council and other like-minded organisations for creating pathways for positive change among kiwi youth at risk of gang culture and drugs.
Dhillon is also passionately involved in the India-NZ relationship and is on the Board and Treasurer of India NZ Business Council and has accompanied the Prime Minister twice on his trips to India.
Since 2017 Dhillon has been appointed by the President of India as the Honorary Consul of India, overseeing Kiwi-India diaspora issues in Auckland, Northland and Waikato region apart from assisting the office of the Indian High Commission on bilateral relations, trade and welfare of Indian international students in the country.
He is Publisher/Managing Director of the Indian community’s only English language weekly newspaper The Indian Weekender.
On the community front, he is the Chairman of the iconic Kiwi Indian Hall of Fame Honours, which has created a special niche for being the biggest formal event of the Indian community whereby celebrating the role models within the Indian community in a manner that also highlights the aspirations and vibrancy of this fastest-growing immigrant group in New Zealand.
About Pravasi Bhartiya Divas
Pravasi Bhartiya Diwas is the biggest diaspora engagement event held biennially by the government of India to connect with its 31 million strong diasporas from all around the world.
The biennial conglomeration, traditionally held on January 9 – the date to mark the return of Mahatma Gandhi to India from South Africa and starting a non-violent freedom struggle against the British colonial rule - brings a large number of world leaders, business leaders and enthusiastic delegates of Indian-origin from all around the world together on one common platform.
This year the event has grown many times in size and participation, bringing home at least ten times more global delegates as the government had postponed the event to January 21-23 to coincide with two mega events of Indian calendar – Kumbh Mela and Republic Day.
Kumbh Mela – poised as one of the significant symbols of the Indian culture – holds the enviable recognition of being the most significant peaceful assembly of spiritual and religious followers of Hinduism bringing together around 150 million people over the period of festival spanning over a month.
Republic day is undoubtedly the biggest non-religious event of the Indian national calendar signifying India’s complete independence from all sorts of affiliation to the foreign rule and celebrated through a magnificent display of India’s military power – considered vital for the maintenance of India’s independence.
The new schedule of the diaspora conclave had made the desired impact on the size and magnitude of the event.