Abu Dhabi Awards: B R Shetty
ABU DHABI // For his role in setting up one of the Abu Dhabi’s foremost medical institutions, pioneer Bavaguthu Raghuram Shetty was awarded the highest distinction in the emirate, the Abu Dhabi Award.
“It was like a feather in my crown, the highest civilian award in Abu Dhabi,” said the man who is better known as B R Shetty. “I’m so grateful and honoured that I am blessed with this, and that’s why I am doing so many things to contribute to this country.
“My contribution may be next to nothing, but at least it’s a drop in the ocean.”
Along with nine other distinguished Emiratis and residents, he was given the award by Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, in 2005 – the inaugural year of the Abu Dhabi Awards.
Since receiving the honour a decade ago, he said he has made an effort to give back to the community, including initiatives in public health and sport, both in the UAE and abroad.
“Money can’t buy this,” he said of his award and being recognised by UAE leaders. “Only their benevolence and the people’s blessing.”
From the Indian coastal town of Mangalore, Mr Shetty arrived in the UAE 42 years ago to work as a pharmaceuticals salesman, eventually going on to build NMC Healthcare and remittance chain UAE Exchange, two of the most successful businesses in the country.
Today, NMC Healthcare serves more than two million patients a year, with the company’s shares being traded on the London Stock Exchange and worth nearly Dh9 billion.
Describing work as “worship” and admitting to working no less than 15 hours a day, Mr Shetty has received broad recognition for his work.
He has dozens of trophies and plaques on display in his office – awarded for his business accomplishments and social work.
Among them all, he said his Abu Dhabi award is the most prestigious.
“This is something unique,” he said. “You can’t compare it to any other award.”
In 2009, when he was awarded India’s fourth highest civilian honour, the Padma Shri, by former president Pratibha Devisingh Patil, Mr Shetty was proudly wearing his Abu Dhabi award on the jacket of his suit.
“The president of India asked ‘What is this?” he said. “I said, ‘This is from Abu Dhabi’. Proudly I said it.” Held every two years, nominations for the 2015 edition of the awards close on June 27, and can be made by mail or at one of 100 nomination centres.
A mobile awards team will also set out to seek nominations from the public.
All Emiratis and UAE residents can nominate an individual for an award.
A shortlist is then devised by a select committee and presented to Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed for final approval.
A firm date has yet to be announced for the awards ceremony, which is expected to take place in December.
When asked if he would nominate anyone, Mr Shetty said choosing someone was not a clear-cut process.
“It’s not easy to just nominate anybody,” he said.
“It’s not about the money one makes. It’s about one’s involvement in the community.
“You should have a sense of belongingness to Abu Dhabi, and you should be contributing from day one in the initiative you have taken.”