• 24 Jun, 2024

Justice Frank Seepersad Conferred with Pravasi Bharatiya samman Award

Justice Frank Seepersad Conferred with Pravasi Bharatiya samman Award

Justice Frank Seepersad Conferred with Pravasi Bharatiya samman Award

Justice Frank Arthur Seepersad was on January 10 afternoon conferred with India’s highest civilian award given to an Indian in the diaspora, the Bharatiya Pravasi Samman that was initiated by the BJP government of Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee. It is an honor given to Indians or an organization based overseas who (or that) has distinguished themselves in service or in achievement. The awardee is selected by a panel of eminent government and non-government members based in India. The ceremony is held every two years since 2015, prior to which it was held annually since January 2003.


This year’s 27 recipients were chosen by a jury-cum-awards committee chaired by the vice-president with the External affairs minister S Jaishankar as the vice-chair of the panel, whose other members are drawn from various walks of life. 
Justice Seepersad, called to the judgeship some 15 years ago as the youngest judge at the time, was honored for community welfare and achievement. He follows in the footsteps of former prime ministers Basdeo Panday, Kamla Persad-Bissessar , Dr Lenny Saith, Winston Dookeran, and the National Council of Indian Culture. This was the 17th edition of the honor that started in January 2003. January 9th and 10th were selected for a diaspora program because it coincided with the date in 1914 when Mohandas Gandhi returned to India from Durban, South Africa to wage the struggle for Indian’s independence that occurred in 1947.   


The President of India, Shrimati Droupadi Murmu, conferred the award to Justice Seepersad and twenty-six other diasporans that included the President of Surinam and President of Guyana. President Murmu said that the Indian Diaspora has become an important and unique force in the global system. She noted that it has grown in strength to some 32 million and into an energetic and confident community in every region of the globe and is making stellar contributions to world affairs in leadership positions and development. 

The awards ceremony was held in Indore, India following speeches the day before by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Presidents Santokie and Ali of Suriname and Guyana respectively.. Justice Seepersad, joined on the trip to the land of his fore-parents by his mother Champa, wife Camille, daughter, Amanda, sister Carol Seepersad-Maharaj. Several other nationals of Trinidad, Guyana , and Surinam graced the occasion. 

Dr Vishnu Bisram

Dr Vishnu Bisram is Guyanese born who received his primary and secondary education in Guyana and tertiary education in the US and India. He is a fourth generation Indian. His great grandparents from both his mother and father’s sides were born in India -- Gurbatore from Ghaizpur, Amru from Azamgarh, Sau from Chapra, Mangri from Mau, Bhuri and Bhura Singh from Bharatpur, among others. They all came at different times to then British Guiana (1880s and 1890s) to work on sugar plantations as indentured laborers. After serving ten years, they were freed laborers. They remained on the colony rather than returned to India, married and had children. They used the savings from indentureship to purchase landholdings to cement their ties to their adopted land. They were not given free land. Vishnu Bisram is ninth of twelve children of Gladys and Baldat, rural farmers, she also was a seamstress and he a taylor and they attended to a kitchen garden as well. Vishnu attended the St Joseph Anglican (called English) primary school from 1966 to 1972. In 1972, he passed the annual nationwide Common Entrance exam winning a scholarship place to attend the government Berbice High School in New Amsterdam, some 17 miles from his home village of Ankerville, Port Mourant. He declined the placement scholarship and opted instead for the private Chandisingh High School to which his family pad to pay a tuition. He entered for eight subjects at the Cambridge University Exam in 1977. Vishnu migrated to the USA in 1977 to further his studies. He enrolled at the City College of City University of New York September that year at age 17, studying Bio-Chemistry and also completing a major in Political Science. After his BSc in Bio-Chem, he pursued graduate studies in International Relations earning a MA. He went on to complete multiple post graduate degrees including doctorates in Economics, Sociology, History, Political Science and Educational Administration. Dr Bisram taught for over forty years in various subjects in the US. He also served as a newspaper reporter and columnist for over four decades and is a well-known pollster in the Caribbean region. He is a specialist on the Indian diaspora traveling extensively around the globe to research and write about Indian communities. He published countless articles on various subjects in the mass media, journals, and books. He also organized international conferences on the Indian diaspora and presented papers at many conferences. He was a guest lecturer at universities in Mauritius, India, Fiji, South Africa, Guyana, Trinidad, Suriname, USA, and other countries. He is a well regarded political analyst on American and Caribbean politics. He makes him home in Guyana, Trinidad, and America and travels frequently to India.