Mookhesswur Choonee, Former Mauritian Minister for Arts and Culture, was awarded the prestigious Bharatvanshi Gaurav Samman for this year 2023 on Friday, 13th January for serving the Indian diaspora.
The annual award, given by Antar Rashtriya Sahayog Parisad (ARSP), or Indian Council for International Co-operation, is conferred to people in the Indian diaspora who serve selflessly to other members of the community and the Indian society.
Mookhesswur selflessly worked for the Indian community in Mauritius for around 50 years, during which time, he promoted culture and helped people move out of poverty.
As the award is conferred, the awardee received a trophy with a citation and a hefty cheque of Rs 1,00,000 as the honor.
Choonee in turn gave the funds to the ARSP Organization to keep doing its public service work and research on the Indian diaspora.
The award ceremony was held in the auditorium of ICCR at Azad Bhawan in the heart of New Delhi, the Capital of India. It was a valedictory session after which a forum on the use of Indian languages abroad and project India’s soft power was conducted.
Dr Vishnu Bisram, based out of Guyana, received the honorary for his huge service to the diaspora in Guyana.
Both the distinguished personalities are popular and respected by the Indian policy makers. They have also organized several conferences of the Indian diaspora.
The Bharatvanshi Gaurav Samman is the highest Indian award conferred by a NGO to PIOs and NRIs (OCI) or an organization or institution, established and functioned by ARSP, the organization founded in 1967. It is given as an honor for outstanding achievements and or service to India and or other countries and or the Indian diaspora.
Till now only eight persons have received the award and Choonee is the 9th recipient of it. Apart from him, the late Sir Anerood Jugnauth, the former President and Prime Minister of Mauritius, is the only Mauritian to have received this award. Choonee was honored for his selfless service to the Indian diaspora, along with the French and English ones as well in many countries apart from Mauritius, and also for carrying out charitable activities. He was honored for his commitment to community welfare of the Indian diaspora, promoting culture, and advancing causes of the diaspora.
Choonee’s profile was read and was said to be one more reason for his recognition and honor. Post Graduated from the prestigious Institute of Medical Education and Research- Chandigarh and the Mauritius institute of Education, he worked as an educator, got elected as member of parliament, a minister for 3 terms, and the ambassador. His experience and intellect as an international relations expert are hugely respected and while he has also written extensively on the diaspora.
Choonee and Dr Bisram were special guests for the Friday afternoon’s program. India’s Minister of State for External Affairs, Shri Murlidaran, lauded both the awardees for their efforts made for the diaspora showing the hope that the awards will be seen as an encouragement to others to pursue selfless service to their communities.
Choonee concluded his speech with an emotional moment, wherein he sung a line of famous Girmitia song “Kalcutta se chutal jahaj”, after which everyone gave a standing ovation.