Winnipegger earns Jewel of India Award

Johar honoured at 42nd convention of non-resident Indians at the Constitution Club of India in New Delhi


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Returning to his home country to accept the Jewel of India Award was the last thing Jaideep Johar thought would happen as a result of casual conversations on Facebook.

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Returning to his home country to accept the Jewel of India Award was the last thing Jaideep Johar thought would happen as a result of casual conversations on Facebook.

“I’ve never experienced something like that in my life,” the 52-year-old Winnipegger said.

“You’re in front of people and dignitaries. The people I met there, they were all world-renowned scientists, professors, doctors, who are doing very good work all over the world.”


Jaideep Johar is devoted to community work.

A day before India’s Republic Day — held every Jan. 26 to mark the anniversary of its constitution, which was enacted in 1950 — Johar was honoured at the 42nd convention of non-resident Indians at the Constitution Club of India in New Delhi.

The annual event is hosted by the NRI Welfare Society of India, whose objective is to strengthen the emotional bonds between India and non-resident Indians around the world. The award recognizes Indians who are making a difference in their communities.

He discovered he was to receive the award out of the blue from a connection on Facebook, Deepak Singh, a cultural ambassador of India, whom he had never met. It began with a birthday greeting.

“I used to wish him ‘Happy Birthday’ every time, after four or five years he replied to me… We started a conversation,” Johar explained.

The two talked about Johar’s career and volunteer activities; Singh asked him to send a write-up of what they had discussed.

Johar, who was born and raised in Bhopal and Indore, had joined the merchant navy when he was 18, and by 26 he was certified as ship captain in Glasgow, Scotland. He spent several years sailing around the world for national and international companies, often accompanied by his wife Narinder. In 2005, the family moved to Vancouver, where Johar worked for BC Ferries before joining Transport Canada, based out of Winnipeg, in 2008. He also listed his volunteer work in the write-up to Singh.

In December, Singh sent Johar a message on WhatsApp, advising him he had been selected to receive the Jewel of India (Hind Rattan) Award.


Jaideep Johar receives a Hind Rattan award at the 42nd International Convention of NRI at the Constitution Club of India, Sansad Marg, New Delhi, in January.

“I didn’t believe it,” he said. “I started looking into it… So, what normally happens is they select people all over the world who are of Indian origin who they think are doing something good for society — an immigrant who has done something better somewhere else,” he said.

After discovering the award was legit, Johar told his wife, and they started looking at flights from Winnipeg to India. It was a tough decision for the family to attend; not only because the last-minute flights carried a hefty price tag, but because both Johar and Narinder needed to take time off from work and from their studies to attend the ceremony.

“I asked them (the event organizers) whether I could get my parents there and they said yes. So that was something big for me,” said Johar, adding that his father was especially proud to watch his son receive a national award.

Johar is devoted to community work. He is chairperson of the Winnipeg Public Library Board, and is a volunteer for Folklorama, with Narinder and their children Harsh, 22, and Sage, 14, who were recently chosen to serve as ambassadors for the Punjab Pavilion.

Each year he participates in the Winnipeg Pride Parade and he is an active member of the Global Citizen movement that contributes to defending the planet against global warming and defeating poverty.

The family is also on their own journey of reconciliation and learning about Indigenous culture.

“I like to feel connected,” he explained. “If I can contribute in any way, I want to, because I feel that society and the world have been so great to me and have given me a chance to do all of those things… I feel very proud of contribute.”


Jaideep Johar (second from the end on the right) with his wife, Nirinder (right) and his parents at the 42nd International Convention of NRI at Constitution club of India, Sansad Marg, New Delhi in January,.

“And for our kids too,” echoed Narinder. “They should learn and get connected. My parents did so much for our community in India, and I want to give this to my kids.”

Twitter @ShelleyACook

Shelley Cook

Shelley Cook
Columnist, Manager of Reader Bridge project

Shelley is a born and raised Winnipegger. She is a proud member of the Brokenhead Ojibway Nation.


Updated on Monday, March 20, 2023 2:05 PM CDT: Fresh photo added.

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