Indian ambassador Dr Deepak Mittal along with Qatar's former Prime Minister and Interior Minister HE Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa al-Thani presented Dr Thomas with the award.
Former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Energy HE Abdullah bin Hamad al-Attiyah and Qatar Airways Group CEO HE Akbar al-Baker congratulated Dr Thomas through video messages screened at the function.
The event was attended by a number of Qatari dignitaries who included HE Mohamed al-Rumaihi, Former Minister of Municipality and Environment; Sheikh Abdulla bin Ali al-Thani, advisor in the Amiri Diwan; Sheikh Dr Mohamed bin Hamad al-Thani, director of Public Health at the Ministry of Public Health; Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser al-Thani, former deputy director of the Traffic Department; Major Sheikh Nasser bin Abdullah al-Thani, Traffic Department; and Salem al-Jaber, former ambassador to South Africa.
The Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award is the highest civilian award given to non- resident Indians who have made significant contribution towards better understanding of India abroad, philanthropic and charitable work, eminence in one’s field of work, welfare of local Indian community among others.
The award is generally presented by the President of India on the occasion of Pravasi Divas. However, due to the current Covid-19 pandemic situation, the award ceremony this year was held virtually on January 9.
Accepting the award, Dr Thomas said: “I am deeply honoured and humbled by this award. I dedicate this award to the Indian community in Qatar as well as to my Qatari friends who were instrumental in helping me carry out several activities here in Qatar and back in India. While this award recognises my activities, it would not have been possible without the great support I received from the Indian community, Indian embassy as well as the Qatari leadership and I am immensely indebted to all of them.”
Several Indian community leaders were also present on the occasion. They included some of the recipients of the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award in the previous years. Dr Thomas is the 6th recipient of the award from Qatar.
Speaking at the event, Dr Mittal highlighted the distinguished career of Dr Thomas in Qatar, spanning over 38 years. “He has worked tirelessly and selflessly for the community here in Qatar and in India. He has also worked for furthering the relations between Qatar and India and the presence of several dignitaries today from the Qatari fraternity is a proof of his service for both Indian and Qatari communities. It is also recognition for the Indian community in Qatar as well as a recognition of the support he has received from the leadership of Qatar.”
HE al-Rumaihi said: “We congratulate Dr Thomas for this award and we consider him as one of us here in Qatar. He has served the community with high quality of medical treatment and he is a well-known person for the members of the community."
HE al-Attiyah, in his video message, recollected his long association with Dr Thomas and highlighted how the community and the country benefitted from his services. ICC president P N Baburajan, while delivering the vote of thanks, highlighted the services of Dr Thomas, especially during the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic situation in Qatar.