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One of the Pravasi Samman winners is a physicist from Vijayawada roots.

Growing up in a remote village close to Vijayawada, Chennupati Jagadish had no access to electricity at home, thus when night fell, his sole source of light for studying was the flickering flame of a kerosene lamp.

Jagadish, an accomplished physicist and neurotechnologist currently residing in Australia, said on Sunday that only “fair access” to people and “openness” in society could create such unexpected scenarios as he reflected on his lowly origins.

Jagadish, one of the 27 winners of the 2023 Pravasi Bharatiya Samman—the highest India’s honour for Indians living abroad—called the honour a “humbling experience.”

The highest civilian honour bestowed by Australia is the Companion of the Order, and Jagadish, who is presently the President of the Australian Academy of Science, was the first person of Indian heritage to earn it in 2016.

What is the likelihood that an Indian boy from a small town will one day lead the Australian Academy of Science? On the outskirts of the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas conference on Friday, Jagadish said, “It is almost zero, but you can make it one.

Jagadish confirmed that a culture that transcends cultural divides is also responsible for the success story he portrays.

When asked if he felt that a stigma had been placed on India’s plurality, he responded that the country’s strength has been its commitment to “unity in variety.”

“You are aware that in India, we talk about diversity and oneness. Therefore, people are the same everywhere. I can say this having worked with individuals from more than 30 different nations. The sameness of human nature, he declared.

“We can open the doors for everyone by staying positive and providing opportunities to every individual, regardless of how they look, what gender, caste, or religion they belong to,” said Jagadish, a distinguished professor at the Department of Electronic Materials Engineering at Australian National University.


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