Dubai: A UAE-based Indian businessman and philanthropist has become the only GCC recipient of India’s top honour for its vast expatriate population across the world.
Siddharth Balachandran, executive chairman and CEO of Buimerc Corporation Limited, has won the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award (PBSA)—2023 for business and community welfare, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has announced.
He is among 27 winners of the PBSA, the highest honour conferred on overseas Indians. It is conferred by the President of India as part of the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) Convention on Non-Resident Indians (NRIs), Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs) or an organisation or institution established and run by NRIs or PIOs in recognition of their outstanding achievements both in India and abroad.
Hailing from the South Indian state of Kerala, Balachandran, 46, is also one of the youngest PBSA recipients from the UAE so far.
Commenting about his achievement, Balachandran said the announcement of the award has “infused a lot of energy in me and validated whatever little I have done.”
“I am very happy and honoured to receive this recognition from my motherland. I have treated it as a motivation, a new infusion of energy so that I can make even more of a positive impact in the community,” he told Gulf News.
He further said that he would be accepting the recognition on behalf of all the organisations he has been associated with. “Though I am getting the award, a huge number of people have worked for all these institutions. It is always a team effort.”
Balachandran also credited his achievements to the ‘magic of Dubai.’ “I was lucky to be here at the right time. All the opportunities that I found here … it is the Dubai magic.”
Having arrived in the UAE in 2002, Balachandran rose in ranks from being an employee to the owner of a diverse business conglomerate headquartered in Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC).
Balachandran has also been associated with several social and philanthropic organisations in the UAE.
He is a founding member and the current chairman of India Club, Dubai and one of the patron governors of the Indian Social and Cultural Centre, Abu Dhabi.
He is also a member of the board of governors of People of Indian Origin Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PIOCCI), GCC, and that of Indian Business and Professional Council (IBPC), Dubai.
He is a patron of Al Jalila Foundation, Smart Life Dubai, KMCC Dubai, Dubai Autism Centre, Science India Forum UAE, Abu Dhabi Centre for Special Needs, and a supporter of Al Noor Training Centre for Special Needs, Rashid Pediatric Centre for Special Needs and Senses Residential and Day Care for Special Needs.
Balachandran is a patron of over half a dozen charitable organisations in India and is also a director of the Chinmaya International Residential School in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu. As a business tycoon, he has become the single largest individual shareholder of Bombay Stock Exchange among other similar achievements.
Balachandran said he always believed that earning and giving are the two sides of the same coin and always found a balance in doing business and conducting charitable activities. He said he was grateful for the great support from his family including his wife, two children, parents and parents-in-law. “I feel blessed for the opportunities to integrate ourselves with various charitable organisations in the UAE and India.”
The Indian missions in the UAE congratulated Balachandran on his achievement.
Taking to Twitter, the Indian Embassy in Abu Dhabi said: “Appreciate your philanthropy, entrepreneurship and social contributions. You are an inspiration!”
Meanwhile, the Indian Consulate in Dubai tweeted: “Heartiest congratulations to Mr. Siddharth Balachandran for being awarded the distinguished Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award 2023 for his outstanding achievements and contributions in the field of business and community welfare. A warm congratulations to all #PBSA winners.”
Balachandran would be flying to Indore in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh where the PBSA awards would be conferred to the winners during the valedictory session of the PBD Convention.
According to MEA, a Jury-cum-Awards Committee, with the Indian Vice-President as the chairman and the External Affairs Minister as the vice-chair and other distinguished members from various walks of life considered the nominations for the PBSA 2023 and unanimously selected the awardees.
The 17th edition of the PBD Convention is scheduled to be held from January 8—10. A large delegation of Indian expats in the UAE including 200 students and around 100 workers would be attending the Convention.