GOPIO.CONNECT participates in NRI NGO Meeting held in NEW YORK – March’05


 A meeting to provide a platform for networking of NRI NGOs to develop common action-oriented plans was convened by the American Indian Foundation (AIF), Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO.Connect) and India Development Coalition of America (IDCA) in New York on 19th. Hosted by the AIF at its office in Manhattan, the meeting was attended by seventeen delegates representing thirteen organizations in the New York Tri-State area, namely, AIF, IDCA, GOPIO.Connect, the Kerala Center, Pratham, ASHA for Education Stamford, Association for Human Development, Friends of Seva Mandir, The George Foundation, Helena Kaushik Womens College in India, Share & Care Foundation, ASHA-New York and Heart and Hand for Handicapped


AIF Executive Director Pradeep Kashyap, welcomed the participants. After giving a brief summary of AIFs activities, Kashyap stressed how the NGO Network can be used as a platform for building awareness among NRIs, cooperation between different NGOs and also to achieve convergence among common programs.


Bhamy Shenoy, an activist of Pratham and IDCA moderated the brain-storming session on two objectives: 

(1)  Gathering information about NRI NGOs involved in developmental activities in India and

(2)  Providing opportunities to NRIs to get involved  in developmental activities particularly for those who are getting ready to retire or those who have already retired.


ASHA-Stamford representatives Periakaruppan Chidambaram and Suniti Maheswari initiated the discussion. Dr. Surendra Kaushik founder of Helena Kaushik Womens College pointed out that there is a new trend in countries with large NRI/PIO populations where the government is expecting NRIs/PIOs to contribute to Indias development. For example, the UK government is expecting NRIs to take greater interest in Indias development activities as UK cuts developmental funds to India. Dr. Thomas Abraham, Chairman of GOPIO suggested that IDCA could take up activities which affect all NGOs such as Government of India regulations including Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) or free custom clearance for donated goods for NGOs. This work will provide wider exposure for the good work done by various NGOs and NRI activists, and support the adoption and implementation of development and educational policies benefiting the poor in India.  Dr. Abraham George, President of the George Foundation suggested preparation of position papers on various topics concerning developmental activities in India. D.P. Ahuja of AIF informed the gathering that they were several attractive projects for helping the handicapped and requested the participating organizations to review them.


Dr. Abraham George moderated the session on band-aid vs. systemic change in developmental activities. Pratham activist Srikant Lanka initiated the topic and discussed synergies with respect to the long-term goals that need systemic change.  Dr. George advocated the use of land and cultivation as a means to long-term and systemic change in India as the vast majority of people in rural India were untouched by developmental programs and their major skills were limited only to cultivation.  Some ideas were discussed to tap the resources of multi-national companies (MNCs) working in India to support programs by NGOs in India.


Dr. Thomas Abraham initiated and moderated the session on how to generate synergies through a networking platform for NRI NGOs.  A magazine for India development activities was proposed by IDCA activist Dr. Srinivasa Rao. A web-based magazine will be debuted to provide information on ongoing  activities of various NGOs. The meeting also decided to organize a one-day meeting of all NRI NGOs working in India to present their activities to the larger Indian community. This conference will be organized in New York City in September 2005.


The meeting passed a resolution pertaining to the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) and charitable donation of goods by NRI NGOs for Indias developmental and educational activities. The participants felt that the current procedures of Indias Ministry of Home Affairs and the agency handling FCRA clearances were unnecessarily long, time-consuming, secretive, bureaucratic and costly, thereby discouraging necessary development and educational aid flows to the motherland. The meeting urged the Government of India to encourage overseas Indians to finance Indias development by immediate simplification of rules, regulations and procedures relating to FCRA so as to expedite FCRA approvals through a streamlined fast track mechanism for acceptance of funds by the applicant organizations and their affiliates, branches, and subsidiaries in India. The group also urged the Government of India and its Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Commerce, the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Ministry of External Affairs to create a coordinating group to draft simplified and donor-contributor friendly rules and procedures to streamline custom clearance for goods that are shipped by overseas Indians and other support groups to India for charity, humanitarian or developmental purposes. The new rules and procedures should lead to a quick, duty-free, hassle-free, and friendly release of goods to the intended private, nonprofit beneficiary/recipient person, institution, organization or government body such as schools and colleges, clinics and hospitals.


GOPIO.Connect can be reached at and IDCA can be reached at