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NRI agriculturist to be honoured at PBD

Indian-origin entrepreneur Eliyahu Bezalel started as a shepherd in Israel and went on to become an award-winning agriculturist.

india Updated: Jan 06, 2006 18:46 IST
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India

Indian-origin entrepreneur Eliyahu Bezalel, who started as a shepherd in Israel and went on to become an award-winning agriculturist, has been selected to receive the prestigious Pravasi Bharatiya Samman for 2006.

Bezalel, who in 1955 left his village of Chendamangalam in Kerala for Israel at the age of 25 maintains strong sentimental links with his motherland, which he says, "taught him the spirit of co-existence."

"I am proud to be an Indian. My children and grandchildren call themselves Cochinis and Indians with pride saying they come from a culture which is tolerant to all faiths and where their forefathers did not feel any kind of anti-Semitism," Bezalel said.

The highest civilian honour bestowed by India on non-resident Indians took him by surprise.

Bezalel, who made the Negev desert in Israel bloom and won the best exporter award from former Prime Minister Levi Eshkhol in 1964, has also taken pains to share his expertise in the area of horticulture with Indian farmers who have been trying to replicate it in recent years.

The Israeli parliament (Knesset) rewarded him with the Kaplan prize in 1994 for his contribution.

Bezalel's farm is a major attraction among Indian agriculturists and politicians with former Prime Minister HD Devegowda, agriculture minister Sharad Pawar and agriculturist MS Swaminathan being some of the key figures who visited it during their trips to Israel.

He has also been to several places in India to give lectures and to teach techniques in horticulture since 1971.

First Published: Jan 06, 2006 09:05 IST