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Interview: Echoing voice of Indians abroad

Only woman Pravasi Samman awardee, Dr Kale talks to Vibhuti Agarwal.

india Updated: Jan 08, 2006 20:57 IST

She echoes the "strong voice" of the Indian Diaspora. She is Dr Pratima Kale, the only woman recipient of the prestigious Pravasi Bharatiya Samman.

"The talents visible in India are a sign of prosperity and the Indian Diaspora is the nation's strong voice. I'm moved emotionally and intellectually to be part of such a wonderful social order," Dr Kale notes.

Hailed for her pragmatic vision of life and knowledge, Dr Kale will be honoured with the award on the last day of the 3-day mega conclave at the International Convention Centre in Hyderabad.

Kale, the President and CEO of the International Institute of Rural Reconstruction (IIRR), a-Philippines-based NGO known for community-based rural development programmes, was born and bred in Mumbai and completed her studies from SNDT Women's University. In 1970, she received a PhD in Sociology of Education from the University of Wisconsin.

"I left home in the mid-60s to discover the different facets of life. Thereafter, I got involved with the Ford Foundation in India, worked with UNICEF for 14 years, did research assignments at the International Council for Educational Development in Connecticut and worked as Regional Director for Asia and Pacific at Save the Children. It is difficult to answer when people ask me about my home as I live all over the world," says a proud Kale.

The outstanding social reformer has come to attend the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas meet for the first time in four years and feels honoured to be nominated for the esteemed award. The Indian Embassy in Philippines recommended her name for her marvellous contribution in the social arena worldwide.

She states, "Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has undertaken a bold initiative by inviting people from all over the world. The government, by weeding out different issues pertaining to the Diaspora and setting agendas has started a communication chain. I feel extremely proud to be a part of this network."

Fascinated by the ethnicity and tradition of this multi-lingual nation, Dr Pratima reveals that though her children have grown in the United States, they are truly Indians at heart. "My children are very much acquainted with the Indian mores and pay a visit every year to this culturally-rich nation."

Sitting in one corner of the auditorium, Dr Pratima Kale observes the niceties of the jumbo event with an eagle's eye: "I'm an Observer of the entire affair. There are different groups out here, having their own separate interests and trying to impress individual viewpoints on others. It's interesting for me as I got a chance to learn about the MOIA.

"The Ministry is definitely making efforts to identify issues and define agenda. There are of course, many shortcomings, but that is part of the process. The government has to work towards addressing these issues and find ways to resolve them."