Bahrain, Jan 8: Gulf Daily News associate editor Soman Baby has been selected for this year's Pravasi Bharatiya Samman, the highest award instituted by the Indian government for overseas Indians. Indian President Prathibha Patil will confer the award on him during the concluding session of the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD 2009), the largest conference of overseas Indians, in Chennai, tomorrow.
PBD, which opened last night, is being organised by the Overseas Indian Affairs Ministry in partnership with the Tamil Nadu state government and the Confederation of Indian Industry at the Chennai Trade Centre. It will continue until tomorrow.
Mr Soman, who has been with the GDN right since its inception in 1978, is one of the 15 overseas Indians selected from all over the world for the award by an eminent jury in recognition of their outstanding achievements.
He is also the Global Chairman of the World Malayalee Council.
"The last 30 years of my life on this beautiful island is a gift that I value most and this award is a recognition that I accept in all humility on behalf of all the Indians in Bahrain," said Mr Soman.
"I would therefore like to dedicate this award to the Indian community in Bahrain and to the Ruling Family, government and people of Bahrain."
Being a journalist has been a blessing and working for the GDN an even greater blessing, said Mr Soman.
"Being a journalist gave me access to people from all walks of life and enabled me experience first-hand the rich tapestry of socio-cultural harmony that the Indian community - as the largest expatriate community in Bahrain - has nurtured and contributed to the economic and social fabric of Bahrain," he noted.
"I feel immensely proud that being a part of the Indian community in Bahrain, I was able to play a small role in developing bridges of friendship between the people and the governments of Bahrain and India.
"The award is thus, also a tribute to this longstanding friendship between both nations, and acknowledges the Indian community in Bahrain and the flag bearer of the Indian community in Bahrain, Balkrishna Shetty, the outgoing Indian Ambassador, who has been a great friend and an inspiring leader."
Soman said his association with the GDN is not one that he can classify as just an employer-employee relationship.
"Being in the GDN has given me an indelible identity which I will forever cherish," he added.
"For this, I thank the GDN chairman Anwar Abdulrahman, who first recruited me in 1978, and all my colleagues who have played a great part in shaping my career and all my friends and well-wishers who have enriched my life in Bahrain. I feel truly blessed and humbled."
Soman is also the author of Shukran Bahrain, which outlines the highlights of his 25 years' life in Bahrain and the progress achieved by Bahrain over the years.
PBD is the annual flagship event of the Overseas Indian Affairs Ministry and aims to connect more than 25 million Indians living outside the country with India's economic and social development.