Ramesh Shah Receives Bharatiya Pravasi Samman Award for Community Service
HOUSTON: In January 2017, Ramesh Shah received the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award (PBSA) from President Pranab Mukherjee, the highest honor conferred on overseas Indians by the Government of India in recognition of achievements both in India and abroad.
The PBSA is a lifetime achievement award for Ramesh Bhai, who has been actively engaged in the Indian community since he moved to the United States in 1970. He been involved in Houston, working together with the community to set up the Gujarati Samaj, the India Culture Center and supporting many other organizations and leaders.
In recognition of this award, Ramesh Bhai is being honored Saturday, Feb. 18 at India House. The event is cosponsored by India House and the Consulate General of India.
Recently, Ramesh Bhai is best known for his work with Ekal Vidyalaya—working to provide education to the millions in tribal India, who have little access to education. Ekal Vidyalaya originally operated from his home. He is now the global coordinator for Ekal Vidyalaya, where he travels worldwide to advocate Ekal’s mission ranging from Denmark to New Zealand. Additionally, with his other brother Dinesh, Ramesh Bhai is also active in Hindu Swayam Sevak Sangh.
Ramesh Bhai was one of the co-founders and the first president of the Gujarati Samaj of Houston. In fact, he is currently fundraising for the organization’s community center.
Ramesh Bhai was one of the leaders behind Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s historic speech and community reception at Madison Square Garden in September 2014. His behind the scenes efforts are legendary; he worked tirelessly to bring the community together, raise money and recruit volunteers. He has a personal magnetism that attracts others to set high standards and meet them!
Service is a part of his family. Ramesh Bhai grew up in Gabat, a small village in Gujarat, and remembers his father paying for a pipeline from the river that would assist local farmers to irrigate their crops. While it was good for his father’s grain business, Ramesh Bhai remembers that his father personally cared for the farmers and village people on a human level.
For many, Ramesh Bhai is a favorite friend and neighbor. He is the first person they call in a difficult situation. He has been a community resource in times of emergencies, helping the community navigate difficulties in immigration, accidents, and family crisis. He has block-walked for political campaigns around the US and in India. And he is willing to fight for justice. In 2010, Ramesh Bhai drafted a petition to the Indian Overseas Ministry and led a silent hunger strike to protest the unfairness of the renunciation certificate rollout.
His wife Kokila shares in the award as she has opened her heart and home to take care of hundreds of people in Ramesh Bhai’s gallant service adventures. He has inspired his children and many other young people to selflessly serve locally and in India.
In addition to his devotion to service, Ramesh Bhai is an avid movie goer. Those that have played antakshari with Ramesh Bhai know that he has watched his share of movies in college and has a wicked memory for old songs.