Harbinderjit Singh Dhillon, a prominent Sikh in Indonesian political activism for more than two decades, was conferred the Bintang Mahaputra (Star of Mahaputra), the second highest decoration awarded by the Indonesian government.
According to Sikhnet.com, Indonesian President Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo presented the award to Dhillon at the State Palace in Jakarta to mark Indonesia’s 70th Independence Day. Harbinderjit, 70, popularly known as HS Dhillon, had served in senior government positions, especially in agriculture and poverty alleviation.
In 2011, he was made the special envoy to the Indonesia president for poverty alleviation under the administration of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. He was also a member of the national economic committee from 2010-2012. He headed the coordinating agency for national poverty alleviation in 2001.
“My great grandfather was a farmer in Punjab, who migrated to Medan decades back. Plantation runners were much in demand by the Dutch in Indonesia then. But unlike in Malaysia, where the bulk of plantation workers were Indians deported by the British, here they were mostly locals,” he was quoted in the story, ‘HS Dhillon, A Fearless Campaigner’.
The Mahaputra award is akin to India’s Padma Bhushan. It entitles him to be cremated at Kalibata, the National Heroes Cemetery, similar to the US’ Arlington National Crematory.