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GOPIO NEWS
February 25, 2010
A Publication of the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO)
Issue: IX-1 February 25, 2010
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In This Issue
GOPIO CONCLUDES SUCCESSFUL CONVENTION 2010 IN NEW DELHI
THE PROPOSED TAX FOR NRIs IS TOO HARSH
PRAVASI BHARATIYA DIVAS (PBD) 2010 A GREAT SUCCESS
INDIA GOVT. ISSUES DIRECTIVES ON TOURIST VISA
FULL HOUSE ATTENDANCE AT PBD NANOTECHNOLOGY
NRI REAL ESTATE ISSUES DISCUSSED AT PBD SEMINAR ON JAN. 7TH
GOPIO INTERNATIONAL AND CHAPTER NEWS
NRIs/PIOs ACHIEVE
NEWS OF INTEREST TO NRIs and PIOs
GOPIO LIFE MEMBERSHIP AND CHAPTER FORMATION
EDITORIAL BOARD
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GOPIO CONCLUDES SUCCESSFUL CONVENTION 2010 IN NEW DELHI

 

 

The Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO International) concluded its very successful Convention 2010 in New Delhi held from 5th January through 6th January,2010 in conjunction with Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 201 (PBD2010). GOPIO's Convention 2010 was held at The Habitat Centre in New Delhi while its Community Service Awards Banquet was held at the Ashoka Hotel. The conference was formally inaugurated on January 6th at 2:00 PM by Parliamentarian Etienne Sinatambou who is the Deputy Speaker of Mauritius National Assembly.

 

The inauguration session started with a welcome by K. N. Gupta, Convention Chair and President GOPIO, New Delhi (India) and Lord Diljit Rana, President of GOPIO International (UK), with greetings by Inder Singh, Chairman, GOPIO International (USA). Following the traditional Lighting of the Lamp, Deputy Speaker Sinatambou, delivered the keynote address and spoke on the Indian Diaspora as being one people sharing the same heritage and values.

 

Photo below left: GOPIO 2010 Convention Inauguration - From L. R. Mauritius High Commissioner to India Mookhesswur Choionee; GOPIO Exec Vice President Ashook Ramsaran; Deputy Speaker of Mauritius National Assembly Etienne Sinatambou; GOPIO Chairman Inder Singh; GOPIO President Lord Diljit Rana; GOPIO Regional Vice Pres (Europe) Raj Loomba. Photo below right: Book titled "Colonial Emigration, 19th- 20th Centuries - Proceedings - Vol-III"  by Dr Leela Sarup is being released at the GOPIO Convention. From L. to R.: Ashook Ramsaran, Lord Diljit Rana, Dr. Sarup and Prof. Mohan Gautam

GOPIO Convention 2010 inauguration and conference sessions 

Photo Above: Two conference sessions at the GOPIO Convention.

 

Executive Committee and General Council Meetings

On 5th January, GOPIO held its Executive Committee Meeting at which several operational and procedural matters were discussed and decisions reached. Included in the discussions were evaluation and assessment of GOPIO events and activities of the past year and plans for the year 2010, including several international confenences being planned. The Executive Committee Meeting was chaired by GOPIO President Lord Diljit Rana. This was followed later on 5th January and continued on 6th January by GOPIO General Council Meeting chaired by GOPIO Chairman Inder Singh. GOPIO Council & Chapter Reports were presented by Raj Loomba, Regional Vice President (Europe); Sunny Kulathakal, Regional Coordinator (Middle East); Birjinder Sodhi, President GOPIO Berlin, Germany; K N Gupta of New Delhi; Lady Shruti Rana, Women's Council (UK); Dr Markandey Rai (Nairobi, Kenya); Jay Banerjei (Toronto, Canada); Umesh Chandra (Australia); Munish Gupta, Media Council (USA-India); J P Gautam, Co-Chair, Media Council (India); Deo Gosine - Co-Chair, Business Council (Trinidad-USA).  Dr. Piyush Agrawal, Regional Vice President (North America) sent his report for North America region.

 

GOPIO Meeting with PM's Principal Secretary T.K.A. Nair

On 5th January, executives of GOPIO International met with Mr. T.K.A. Nair, Principal Secretary to India's Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh. The meeting took place in the office of Mr. Nair with PMO Director Sudhakar Dalela also participating in the discussions. The meeting was requested by GOPIO International to discuss issues of interest and concern to the global membership of GOPIO and the global Indian Diaspora. The GOPIO delegation included: GOPIO Chairman Inder Singh, GOPIO President Lord Diljit Rana and GOPIO Exec Vice President Ashook Ramsaran.

 

Topics of discussion included: PIO card for people older than 4 generations; voting rights of NRIs; property scams against NRIs and PIOs; facilitating NRIs/PIOs contribution to India's needy, its development, education of the rural poor, and increase in trade and educational opportunities. PIO issues included: GOPIO's leadership initiative for a PIO memorial and museum at the Bhowanee Depot in Kolkotta where Indian laborers were housed from 1838 through 1920 while waiting for emigration to plantations in colonies abroad.

 

GOPIO Convention 2010 Resolutions were given to Mr. Nair at the meeting. GOPIO International looks forward to a separate meeting being scheduled with Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh to further discuss these issues. It is anticipated that the meeting with the Prime Minister would be in March.

 

GOPIO Conference on The Global Indian Diaspora

On 6th January, GOPIO held three conference sessions on topics related to current, critical  issues of interest and concern of the global Indian diaspora.

Conference Session 1 dealt with "India's Emerging Economy and The Diaspora"and it was chaired by former GOPIO Chairman Dr. Thomas Abraham, and Co-Chaired by Deo Gosine, Co-Chairman, GOPIO Business Council (Trinidad-USA). Speakers included: Dr George Abraham (USA); and Mahyendrah Utchana (GOPIO, Mauritius). Sunny Kulathakal, GOPIO Regional Coordinator (Middle East), made the concluding remarks.

 

Conference Session II was on "Family Issues in the Global Indian Diaspora" and was chaired by Lady Shruti Rana (UK),Chairperson GOPIO Women Council, and co-chaired byProf Chandershekhar Bhat of GOPIO Academic Council (Hyderabad, India). The speakers included: Judge Ajit Swaran Singh (New Zealand); Raj Loomba, CBE (UK); Pavit Mattewal (Attorney, Punjab, India); and Anil Malhotra (India). Dr. Markandey Rai (Nairobi, Kenya) made the concluding remarks.

 

Conference Session III focused on "Enhancing Intra-Connectivity and Liaison with the Global Indian Diaspora" and was chairedProf. Mohan Gautam (Chairman GOPIO Accademic Council, Netherlands) and co-chaired by Umesh Chandra (Australia). Lord Bhikhu Parekh (House of Lords, UK) was the keynote speaker. Other speakers included: DrLeela Sarup (Mauritius); Dr Peggy Mohan (Trinidad-India); and J. C. Sharma (former Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs, India). Harish Bajaj (GOPIO Regional Vice President, New Zealand) delivered the concluding remarks.

 

Book Releases

During the 6th January GOPIO Conference at the Habitat Centre and at the GOPIO Community Service Awards Banquet, the following books were released:

         "Colonial Emigration, 19th- 20th Centuries - Proceedings - Vol-III"  by Dr Leela Sarup

         "The Indian Diaspora: Historical and Contemporary Context: Essays in Honour of Dr Chandrashekhar Bhat"  edited byLaxmi Narayan Kadekar, Ajaya Kumar Sahoo, Gauri Bhattacharya

         "India, NRIs and the Law"  by Anil Malhotra

 

GOPIO Community Service Awards & Banquet with Chief Guest Minister Vayalar Ravi

On the evening of 6th January, GOPIO held its Reception and Community Service Awards (CSA) Banquet with the Presentation of GOPIO Community Service Awards at the Ashoka Hotel. GOPIO COMMUNITY SERVICE AWARDS were established to recognize and honor NRIs and PIOs who have provided significant community and public service or done philanthropic work for the Indian Diaspora and/or to India.

 

The Chief Guest was Honorable Vayalar Ravi, Minister, Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs, with Guest of Honor Dr Lenny Saith, Minister in the Office of Prime Minister of Trinidad & Tobago. Former Governor M M Jacob, an advisor to GOPIO for the last 20 years, was also in attendance. GOPIO President Lord Diljit Rana spoke on recognition of those "who have contributed to the Indian Diaspora causes and to the countries of their adoption as well as to India". GOPIO Chairman Inder Singh echoed those sentiments and added that "these individuals have added a special glitter to the Diaspora and the resurgence of India".

 

Photo below: A festive atmosphere at the Awards Banquet: From L. to R. Viresh Sharma, Meena Sharma, Lord Bhikhu Parekh, Dr. Thomas Abraham, Minister Lenny Saith, Ashook Ramsaran, former Governor M.M. Jacob, Dr. Jagat Motwani and K.N. Gupta. Photo middle: Convention participants with former Governor M.M. Jacob

GOPIO Convention 2010 Awards Banquet 

Photo above: GOPIO Community Service Awards (CSA) Banquet. Award recitptients with dignitaries and GOPIO officials. From L. to R. - GOPIO Founder President and Chairman Emeritus Dr Thomas Abraham; GOPIO President Lord Diljit Rana; GOPIO Exec Vice President Ashook Ramsaran; CSA Recipient Dr Jagat Motwani; CSA Recipient Ramesh Gupta; ; CSA Recipient Rajendernath Ramnath: Dep PM of Trnidad & Tobago Hon Dr Lenny Saith; MOIA Min Vayalar Ravi; CSA Recipient Issac John; Former Governor M M Jacob.

 

GOPIO Community Service Awards were presented to: Rajendernath Ramnath (The Netherlands); Datuk Vinod Shekhar (Malayasia); Lachmandas Pagarani (Dubai); Dr Prabhakar (Kerala, India); Ramesh Gupta (USA). Special recognition awards were given to Dr Jagat Motwani (GOPIO founding life member, former Secretary General and Chair of GOPIO Academic Council - USA) and to Issac John, journalist (UAE).

 

GOPIO International Executive Vice President Ashook Ramsaran emceed the gala event while GOPIO Media Council Chair Munish Gupta concluded with vote of thanks.

 

GOPIO Passes Resolutions

The concluding session of GOPIO 2010 Convention titled "Resolutions & Wrap-Up", was chaired by former GOPIO Chairman Dr Thomas Abraham. Encouraged by GOPIO's successful handling of the issues and concerns of the membership by GOPIO over the years, the level of participation and enthusiasm from the conference attendees became very high and lively. The session provided a forum to the attendees to express themselves and bring their concerns to the attention of the conferees.  There were several important and relevant resolutions presented to the conferees for discussion and deliberation. All these ideas, concerns, and issues will be addressed through various avenues at the disposal of GOPIO. For immediate action and that involved some action on the part of the Government of India, a set of 17 resolutions out of the 26 presented during the session were selected by Chairman Inder Singh, President Lord Diljit Rana, and Executive Vice President Ashook Ramsaran in close collaboration with Resolution Committee Chairperson Dr. Piyush Agrawal. After careful examination and deliberations of the issues, the following resolutions were adopted on 6th January, 2010:

 

         TOWARD MORE PEACEFUL COEXISTENCE OF PIOs IN MULTI-ETHNIC SOCIETIES

         HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS IN MALAYSIA

         PROTECTION OF RIGHTS OF TAMILIAN POPULATION IN SRI LANKA

         TERRORISM: SAFETY OF LIFE & PROPERTY

         GOPIO REPRESENTATION IN PM'S GLOBAL ADVISORY COUNCIL

         INVESTMENTS IN PROPERTIES & DISPUTES

         ENCOURAGING NRIs & PIOs TO INVEST IN INDIA

         PRICE DIFFERENTIATION FOR PIOs FOR HOTELS & ARCHEOLOGICAL SITES

         DISPARITIES AMONG VARIOUS STATES FOR LAND USE & TITLE TRANSFER REGISTRATION FEE

         MARRIAGE ABUSES

         VOTING RIGHTS FOR INDIAN CITIZENS LIVING OUTSIDE INDIA

         NRIs/PIOs & FAMILY PROPERTIES DISPUTES

         PENSIONS of RETIRED NRIs/PIOS

         OCI CARDS & VISAS

         RECENT RESTRICTIONS ON MULTIPLE ENTRY TOURIST VISAS

         DISPARITY IN ADMISSIONS PROCEDURES FOR NRI STUDENTS

         GOPIO INITIATED VOLUNTARY SERVICE

For complete resolutions, visit http://www.gopio.net/.

 

GOPIO Representation at PBD2010 Session

GOPIO representation was quite evident and substantial at Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 2010 (PBD2010) Concurrent Session VI - Future of PBD: The Road Ahead which was held on January 9, 2010. The session rationale:The Pravasi Bharatiya Divas has strengthened the dialogue of overseas Indians and India over the years. Suggestions have been translated into concrete actions. An infrastructure of diverse platforms has been established to engage with the Diaspora on different matters of their concern. Questions posd: What still remains to be done? How can the institutional infrastructure be strengthened and made effective? Which are the areas that still need to be addressed? This Concurrent Session reflected on the achievements of the PBD and solicited ideas for its future.

 

Panelists were Inder Singh, Chairman of GOPIO International (USA); Lord Diljit Rana, President of GOPIO International (UK); Ashook Ramsaran, Executive Vice President of GOPIO International (USA); Mayhendrah Utchana, President of GOPIO (Mauritius); Jean Regis Ramsamy, President of Organisation for Diaspora Institution (Reunion Islands) and Rajindre Tewari, Country Coordinator of GOPIO (Netherlands). The session was chaired by former ambassador T P Sreenivasan.

 

In addition, GOPIO played a major role in initiating two other sessions, i.e. Harnessing Nano Business: Diaspora Collaboration and  NRI Real Estate Issues (see separate reports below).

 

The discussion focused on an evaluation and assessment of PBD to date, its successes and achievements while pointing out areas where it may be lacking and improvements are recommended. Considerations included attendance, relevance, value and appeal, interest and convenience, venue location and annual dates, inclusion in the planning process and responsiveness to diaspora inquiries. It was the overwhelming consensus that the regional PBDs have been very successful and should be regular events.

 

Photo below:GOPIO Meeting with Australian High Commissioner to India. From L. to R. GOPIO Exec Vice President Ashook Ramsaran; GOPIO President Lord Diljit Rana; Australian High Commissioner Peter Varghese; GOPIO Chairman Inder Singh; GOPIO Chair of Media Council Munish Gupta. Photo middle left: Concluding Panel Discussion on nanotechnology at PBD 2010, From L. to. R. Dr. Thomas Abraham, Dr. Santiosh Mukherjee, Dr. Ajay K. Sood, Dr. T. Ramasami and Dr. G. Sundararajan. Photo middle right: Inder Singh, Ashook Ramsaran and Lord Diljit Rana.

GOPIO Participation in PBD2010 and GOPIO Banquet 

Photo above: Minister Vayalar Ravi speaking at the Awards Banquet. Seated on the head table are from L. to R.: Ashook Ramsaran, Lord Bhikhu Parekh, Minister Lenny Saith, Lord Diljit Rana, Inder Singh, former Governor M.M. Jacob and K.N. Gupta

 

 

GOPIO Meets with Australian High Commissioner on Student Attacks

On 7th January, executives of GOPIO International met with Australian High Commissioner Peter Varghese at the Embassy of Australia in New Delhi to voice concern and discuss the continuing problem of targeted attacks on Indian students in Australia. The GOPIO delegation included: GOPIO Chairman Inder Singh; GOPIO President Lord Diljit Rana; GOPIO Exec Vice President Ashook Ramsaran; and GOPIO Chair of Media Council Munish Gupta.

 

High Commissioner Varghese informed GOPIO International of the many steps being undertaken by the Australian government to resolve the problem. These include increased police attention to the matter, more stringent sentencing by judges, more information being disseminated to the Australian publicans well as more information to those in India planning to attend vocational schools in Australia. High Commissioner Varghese stressed that Australia welcomes qualified students to pursue higher education studies in Australia and would take all necessary steps for their safety. He also recommends that potential students and their families in India not be duped by hyped claims being made by agents for vocational schools in Australia.

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For more information on GOPIO Convention 2010 and Resolutions, contact: Lord Diljit Rana, President of GOPIO International at president.gopiointl@gmail.com or GOPIO Executive Vice President Ashook Ramsaran at ramsaran@ao.com

 

THE PROPOSED TAX FOR NRIs IS TOO HARSH
 

The proposed tax code for NRIs is too harsh for several reasons as follows:

 

All NRIs do not earn a lot of money. Most of the NRIs are employed in private sector without any job guarantee. For many of them, the disposable income they get is hardly sufficient for them to maintain themselves in the country in which they work. They struggle to save little money and that is because they follow the roots of their culture and are not indulgent in their living habits.

 

Most of them have aged parents in India and buy a house for the parents to live. Taxing such house property at the very high rates being proposed by the Government of India, treating them as rented, valued at market rate, etc is very harsh treatment of NRIs. For various reasons India is unable to provide help to senior citizens and provide them with a safety net. NRI children provide their parents who are seniors with that help by providing them shelter in their old age. Parents do not pay any rent and in that event the concept of notional income fails. No one believes that the Government of India wants the parents to be sent out to the road but the proposed tax would certianly contribute to that effect.That NRI support for their aging parents should not be affected so as to affect the well being of the seniors they are trying to help.

 

The fact is that NRIs have contributed a lot for the growth of the country directly and indirectly. Industrialist NRIs contribute by direct investment. Salaried NRIs do so by various small ways. The expansion in the construction industry, especially for residences, is to a very large measure due to their buying residential property in India. In fact, it has contributed to the very large increase in prices of houses/flats which contributed to India's GDP. The new measures will have an adverse effect on the construction industry.

 

To attract even small investments in India from NRIs, the government wisely initiated the brilliant concept of Overseas Citizen of India. It encouraged them to buy property in India without imposing taxing conditions that are now being proposed to be imposed. It will not be right to penalize them retrospectively.

 

Hence, NRIs should continue to get the exemptions which they get now. It would be too harsh to tax them at the highest slab. It will be too harsh to evaluate on the basis of current market value which is heavily inflated. Evaluating at market value is merely speculative. The owner does not have that cash on hand and it is not right to set the notional value so high.

 

The very concept of applying market value which is not realized until the property is sold is itself wrong. There is no income when the property is not sold or rented out. Other tax laws such as taxing capital gains take care of that once the property is sold. It is highly wrong to use the concept of market value for any purpose except when the property is sold. How can one pay tax when there is no income. Notional income is no income and is not tangible.

 

Shown below is copy from an e-mail received

Beware of new tax code which would be effective from 1st April 2011 hitting all NRIs specifically as follows:

 

a) Interest income flat 20%

 

b) Capital gains tax- flat 30% with out any basic exemption limits

 

c) Income from Mutual funds - flat 30%

 

d) Presumptive rental income on property values @ 6% either rented or not,

 

No more NRIs are needed for MOTHER INDIA !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

INDIA'S NEW TAX CODE TO ADVERSELY AFFECT NRIs

 

The 48-year-old Indian Income Tax Act is being replaced by a new Direct Tax Code effective April 1, 2011. The provisions of the new Tax Code will have a substantial adverse impact on NRIs who own property and stocks. In the case of property, elimination of tax deductions and the presumptive rate of taxation will adversely impact potential investors.

 

The new Direct Tax Code is expected to tax:

 

1. Income (including Non-Resident Ordinary interest) at a flat rate of 20 per cent without even the shelter of the basic exemption limit.

 

2. Hitherto fully exempt long-term capital gains on equity and equity mutual funds at a flat rate of 30 per cent.

 

3. Aggregated capital gain income at a flat rate of 30 per cent. (Indian residents, however, will pay 30 per cent tax on capital gains only if such gains are above    Rs 25 lakh. This tiered system of tax is not available to NRIs under the Direct Tax Code.)

 

Under the Direct Tax Code, most NRIs and investors in property will pay heavy price for buying property in the motherland. They will pay tax on the higher of the actual or 'presumptive rent' for let out or deemed let out properties. (Presumptive rent, a new concept under the Direct Tax Code, has been fixed at 6 per cent of the rateable value stipulated by the local authority. Where no rateable value has been fixed, 6 per cent shall be calculated with reference to the cost of construction or acquisition of the property.)

 

For example, a tenant pays rent of Rs 25,000 per month on a property that costs Rs 1 crore (Rs 10 million). The annual rent of Rs 300,000 is 3% of the property cost. Under the new Tax Code, the landlord will have to pay tax as if he is receiving Rs 600,000 (6 per cent of a Rs 1 crore). If the property lies vacant, tax will still be payable for the presumptive rent. Currently, one of the key attractions of India is a tax-friendly capital market system. If this is taken away, there is no gauging the extent of collateral damage that will take place.

 

PRAVASI BHARATIYA DIVAS (PBD) 2010 A GREAT SUCCESS
 

The Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA) in partnership with the Government of NCT of Delhi and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) organized  the 8th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas Convention (PBD 2010) from 7th - 9th January 2010 at Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi. The event was inaugurated by Prime Minister Hon Dr. Manmohan Singh, and President Hon Pratibha Patil delivered the valedictory address at the concluding session of the three-day gathering of PIOs and NRIs from all over the world.

 

The forum also provided an opportunity not only for the Indian Diaspora to take investment decisions in the country but also to resolve the issues relating to their private property.

  

Two seminars one on Nano-technology and the other on property-related issues of overseas Indians were held on January 7. The nano-technology seminar brought together scientists, technologists, policymakers and entrepreneurs from India and abroad on a common platform. The focus of the seminar was on applications of nano-technology in agriculture, energy and healthcare and how to mobilize the Diaspora resources.

 

The seminar on property related issues of the overseas Indian community discussed institutional arrangements to safeguard their properties in India as well as the modalities for credible investment avenues in the real estate sector.

 

The conference was inaugurated by the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh on January 8 and Lord Khalid Hameed of Hampstead CBE DL was the chief guest.

 

THIRTEEN NRIs/PIOs CONFERRED PRAVASI BHARATIYA SAMMAN AWARD

 

The concluding session President Pratibha Patil conferred the prestigious Pravasi Bharatiya Samman award to 14 distinguished members of the Indian Diaspora for their achievements in life and contribution to the welfare of the Indian community and enhancing India's image overseas. The awards were presented at the valedictory function of the third and concluding day of the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 2010. The following are the award recipients:

 

Mohinder Singh Bhullar, a successful businessman in Brunei Darussalam, is instrumental in the formation of the Indian Chamber of Commerce in Brunei Darussalam. He has assisted the Indian community in that Southeast Asian nation and has acted as a bridge between India and Brunei Darussalam.

 

Yanktesh Piramal Reddy, an Indian origin businessman in Fiji, has promoted tourism to India in a big way from the entire south Pacific region. He has also worked relentlessly for the protection of the interests of the Indian community in Fiji.

 

Dr. Ruby Umesh Pawankar has focused on the furtherance of India-Japan medical collaboration for a number of years. Recognised in Japan and worldwide for her outstanding contributions to science, she is the first Indian and first woman to be nominated as president of World Allergy Organisation.

 

Suresh Kumar Virmani, a successful engineer, entrepreneur and businessman, is a founder member of the Indian Cultural Association in Oman. He has worked relentlessly for the welfare of the expatriate Indian community in Oman and has helped establish a number of Indian schools in Oman.

 

Pravin Jamnadas Gordhan, finance minister of South Africa, has distinguished himself as commissioner of the South African Revenue Service. He was a political activist who took active part in the anti-apartheid movement of that country, organising and leading student movements.

 

Tholisah Perumal Naidoo is a publisher, journalist and founder of the Indian Academy of South Africa in Durban. He has been promoting Indian culture in South Africa for the past 25 years

organising regular events like the Tyagaraja Music Festival and Festival of India and introducing the Nataraja Golden Peacock Award for Indian classical dances there.

 

Rajni Kanabar is a philanthropist who initiated the Tanzania Heart Babies project wherein Tanzanian children suffering from congenital heart defects are sent to India for open heart surgeries. Over 1,300 surgeries were performed in the last 27 years with the support of the Indian High Commission in Tanzania, Air India and Narayana Hrudayalaya in Bangalore.

 

Deepak Mittal, an industrialist and financial expert, has successfully set up and operated many large state-of-the-art Indian joint ventures in Thailand. His efforts led to expanded trade between India and Thailand. He has also been involved in charity and social activities for the welfare of people in Thailand including the Indian community.

 

Lenny Krishendath Saith is minister in the Prime Minister's Office in Trinidad & Tobago. A strong advocate of bilateral ties between India and Trinidad & Tobago, he has consistently promoted the cause of the Indian Diaspora in that Caribbean nation.

 

Dr. Azad Moopen is a physician turned entrepreneur who manages one of the largest healthcare networks in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries. His group conducts free

health camps for Indian labourers in remote locations in the GCC countries. He has also worked for the welfare of the Indian community in the United Arab Emirates.

 

Mani Lal Bhaumik is a scientist, author, educator and philanthropist whose books and lectures at prestigious institutions has significantly contributed towards a better understanding of the cultural and spiritual heritage of India. He sponsors an annual award for Indian children in California who excel in science and mathematics and has worked for the welfare of the Indian community in the US.

 

Ashok Kumar Mago has worked actively for the promotion of Indo-US political and economic ties through his association with a variety of boards and commissions in the past. He is chairman of the Indo-American Political Forum in Dallas, which seeks to educate youngsters to participate in the political process.

INDIA GOVT. ISSUES DIRECTIVES ON TOURIST VISA
  

The Government of India has issued new directives for Tourist Visa. The new rules do not apply to foreign nationals with business, employment, Medical, diplomatic visas or have OCI/PIO cards.

 

The Government has issued following instructions to ensure proper use of all categories of the Tourist Visa: In respect of foreign national holding Tourist Visas with a multiple entry facility, there should be gap of at least two months between two visits to India on such a Tourist Visa.

 

If any foreign national is required to visit India again within a period of two months of his/her last exit, such foreign national should obtain special permission from the Indian Embassy/Consulates concerned. Such re-entry within the stipulated gap of two months may be permitted only in emergency situations. In all cases a confirmed itinerary and documentation in support of emergency will be required.

 

In all cases the foreign passport must have at least 2 blank pages.

 

All such requests will be considered on merits of each case by the Indian Embassies/Consulates abroad.

 

In all such cases, the foreign national should register himself/herself with the FRRO/FRO concerned within 14 days of arrival. An endorsement to this effect will be made on the visa sticker.

 

Miscellaneous Consular fee of US$25 + US$13 (As service charges of the Travisa) will be charged for making the endorsement in the valid foreign passport.  The application has to be submitted at M/s Travisa.

 

Full details can be seen at www.mha.gov.in.

FULL HOUSE ATTENDANCE AT PBD NANOTECHNOLOGY CONFERENCE

 

As part of the PBD, The Department of Science and Technology organized a Nanotechnology Conference. It was proposed by Dr. Thomas Abraham (Founder President and Chairman Emeritus of GOPIO), a leading nanotechnology industry/market analyst and President of Innovative Research and Products, Inc. (Stamford, CT, USA).

 

The theme of the conference was Harnessing Nano Business: Diaspora Collaboration. It covered 'Current Trends in Nano -Technology,' 'Strategizing Nano - Technology' and the role of 'NRIs and PIOs in Research & Development in Nanotechnology in India.' It was held on January 7th, one day before the official inauguration of PBD. The program started with welcome remarks by Dr. Deep Kapuria, Chairman, CII National Committee on Robotics & Chairman & Managing Director of H9i-Tech Gears. The keynote address was delivered by Prof. Ajay K. Sood of the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. Minister of Science and Technology Dr. Prithviraj Chavan delivered the Inaugural Address.

 

The speakers in the first session on 'Current Trends in Nanotechnology R&D' included Prof. Subra Suresh, Dean of the School of Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge, MA) and Dr. Santosh Mukherjee, Chief Architect & President of San-Lab, Santech International in New Jersey, USA.

 

In the session on Strategizing Nano Technology, speakers were Dr. Thomas Abraham, President, Innovative Research and Products Inc. (Stamford, CT, USA); Dr. G Sundararajan, Director, Advanced Research Center for Powder Metallurgy & New Materials (Hyderabad) and Dr. Giriraj Nyati, CTO-Blank Optical Media & VP for Corporate R&D, Moser Baer India Ltd.

 

The conference ended with a panel discussion chaired by Dr. T. Ramasami, Secretary, Department of Science and Technology. Panelists included all the speakers from the morning session. Several recommendations were passed at the concluding session which included to organize more such meeting interactive session to involve NRIs and PIOs in the nanotechnology R&D and business promotions in India.

NRI REAL ESTATE ISSUES DISCUSSED AT PBD SEMINAR ON JAN. 7TH
 

Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 201 (PBD2010) on Thursday, 7th January 2010 at held a session titled "Seminar on Property-related issues of overseas Indian community". The session was well attended and the interaction with the audience very participatory as this is a subject that is of critical interest to a very significant number of NRIs. There has been a growing number of scams against NRI's/PIO's property, whether it a hereditary, residential, or commercial.  One of the reasons for these scams is that the NRIs are at a great disadvantage that they are less able to contest court cases in India. The civil case takes 15-20 years and for a criminal case the plaintiff need to be present on every court date in India which is impossible for any NRI. This session brought out many of these issues and the legal experts in the panel and addressed these issues with focus on how the NRI's can use the Indian legal system in a timely manner to resolve their property issues.

 

GOPIO played a prominent role in this session. GOPIO had taken up this issue since January 2008 at the GOPIO Convention held in New Delhi and sensitized the Government of India by holding a full conference session at its Convention 2008 in Chennai titled "NRI's/PIO's  Property Scams and Legal Ramifications". In addition, GOPIO assisted in providing suitably qualified speakers for the PBD2010 session, including Mr. M. M. Maheshwari (New York, USA) and Ved Prakash Sharma, President Delhi Bar Association, both of whom were participants at the GOPIO 2008 Convention session in Chennai. GOPIO Convention 2010 also approved GOPIO RESOLUTION #12: NRIs/PIOs & FAMILY PROPERTIES DISPUTES, as well as GOPIO RESOLUTION #6 "INVESTMENTS IN PROPERTIES & DISPUTES".

 

The session was fully subscribed. It started with remarks by Minister Vayalar Ravi followed by Justice A.R. Lakshmanan, former Chairman, Law Commission of India. GOPIO was represented by Mr. Manmohan Maheshwari, Co-chairman of GOPIO Council on Real Estate Issue. Other speakers included Prof. Sreedhar Kavil of St. John's University in New York; Prof. BImal N. Patel, Vice Chancellor of Gujarat National University; representative from Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) and real estate developers as well as senior police and land revenue officers.

 

The session brought out a lot of issues faced by NRIs in their real estate investments.

 

GOPIO is still receiving feed back from NRIs on this issue. Please send your comments to Dr. Subash Sharma, Professor and Interim Chair, Department of Economics, Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Carbondale, IL 62901, Tel: 618-453-5082, E-mail: sharma@siu.edu or Mr. Manmohan Maheshwari at wari@yahoo.com.
GOPIO INTERNATIONAL AND CHAPTER NEWS

 

 

GOPIO HEALTH COUNCIL PROGRAM INITIATED, SEEKS COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT

 

GOPIO HEALTH is a global initiative of GOPIO International's Health Council. The council is developing a framework to implement a plan "To Improve the Health and Wellbeing of People of Indian Origin".

 

"A serious health crisis faces the future of the Indian Diaspora. Several studies indicate that diabetes, heart disease and other chronic diseases are on the rise among people of Indian origin globally. Greater attention is needed for increasing awareness, promoting prevention and managing chronic diseases," said Sangeeta Ahuja, Chair, GOPIO Health Council.

The goals of this initiative are to increase awareness of major health Issues affecting PIOs and NRIs, promote preventive/holistic practices, share Information to manage chronic diseases and support research on PIO health issues.

GOPIO HEALTH will focus on Cardiac Health/Metabolic Syndrome, Diabetes/Pre-Diabetes and Stress Management. The health Initiative will start a grassroots movement for change and organize an Annual Health Summit. 
     

GOPIO Health Council seeks your support and suggestions as well as looking for volunteers for the various initiatives from the Council. For more information or to get involved in this Initiative please contact the Chairperson Sangeeta Ahuja, Tel: 203-329-9744, at sangeetaahuja@gopio-ct.org or the Co-Chair Vivian Rambihar at vrambihar@rogers.com.

 

GOPIO TORONTO TAKES OFF

 

The Toronto Chapter of the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO) was launched in December 2009. Those present at this meeting were Jay and Molly Banerjei, Vishnu Sookar, Thomas Cannivady, Uttam Chakrabarti, Rutosh Chakrabarti (youth), Maxim D'Mello, Shai Abraham and Adit Kumar. Also making a special appearance was Dr Vivian Rambihar, leading Cardiologist who is the Co-chair for GOPIO's Health Council.
Jay Banerjei told that he had attended GOPIO's international convention in January 2009 and 'got a feel of the culture of GOPIO'. He said he was impressed with the camaraderie and goodwill he experienced there and 'left that meeting with a clear understanding of where GOPIO was going'. That experience, he said, coupled with the encouragement of the main group in the USA, influenced him to pull together a Toronto Chapter.


Banerjei said that Gopio Toronto "would give people here a global link to the international Indian community and serve as a platform to advocate issues facing Non Resident Indians (NRI's) and People of Indian Origin (PIO's)". He said the organization is open to anyone who considers himself/herself a person of Indian Origin and is not restricted to people born in India.
GOPIO Toronto is inviting individuals and organizations to join the group and provide inputs. The organization plans to meet and formalize itself with a management board consistent with GOPIO's constitution.


For more information on the Toronto Chapter or to join, call Jay Banerjei at 647-273-1119 or email: jay@jaybanerjei.com.

 

AUSTRALIAN REGIONAL GOVT. APPOINTS GOPIO-BRISBANE PRESIDENT UMESH CHANDRA AS COMMUNITY LIAISON OFFICER TO LOCAL INDIAN STUDENTS

 

The Bligh Government has appointed local Indian community leader Umesh Chandra as liaison officer to Queensland's Indian student population. Multicultural Affairs Minister Annastacia Palaszczuk said Mr Chandra's appointment was part of a whole-of-government effort to support the State's 20,000 Indian students.

 

"Umesh Chandra is well-respected in Queensland's Indian community, and he'll play a key role in our engagement strategy with the local Indian community," she said.

 

"We want to use his standing to ensure that Queensland's Indian students know they can count on the support of the Bligh Government. "This is about sending out a very clear message that Queensland is a safe and welcoming place for Indian students.

 

"They make a tremendous contribution to the State's cultural and economic life, and I want to assure all Indian students and visitors to Queensland that they're welcome here."

 

Mr Chandra is President of the Global Organisation of People of Indian Origin (GOPIOQueensland), Publisher of the Brisbane Indian Times and Vice-President of the Federation of Indian Communities in Queensland.

 

Ms Palaszczuk said the appointment of a community liaison officer was first raised by local Indian community leaders. "The Bligh Government will continue to work closely with Queensland's Indian community," she said. "Queensland will hold a third roundtable this year to ensure that the Government is doing everything it can to support the State's Indian student population. "Police and education authorities will continue working together to ensure Queensland's Indian students are getting all the support they need."

 

GOPIO-CT HOSTS DINNER RECEPTION AND GREET AND MEET SESSION WITH STAMFOR MAYOR PAVIA

 

Stamford Mayor Michael Pavia and his wife Maureen were honored at a dinner reception organized by GOPIO Connecticut at the Hampton Inn in Stamford, CT on Friday, January 29, 2010. Also attending were Lt. Governor Michael Fedele and his wife Carol, as well as several key members of the Pavia administration - Police Chief Robert Nivakoff, Laurie Auchubon, Director of Economic Development, Ernie Orgera, Director of Operations, and Michael Larobina, Director of Legal Affairs. Bobby Valentine was one of the celebrities who took time out to attend this reception for Mayor Pavia.

 

Speaking to a packed audience, Mr. Pavia touched on a variety of issues and priorities, including "making Stamford one of the friendliest places to work and live in." He said that he and his team were committed to make Stamford the "engine of economic growth in the region." At the same time he is committed to making Stamford a "more compassionate city - a city that cares." He praised the Indian-American community for contributing to the vibrancy of Stamford and its outstanding success in all walks of life. "I look forward to working with you to ensure that it is easy to conduct business with the city of Stamford," he said.

 

He said he was impressed by the vibrancy of GOPIO Connecticut and "the warmth and hospitality of the local community."

 

Lt. Governor Michael Fedele in congratulating Mayor Pavia said a "fresh breeze was blowing through Stamford,"and recalled the progress and changes in the city since the time he and his family moved here over two decades ago.  He said "the city is in good hands" and that the state would continue to "support the economic progress of the Stamford in every way."

 

Welcoming Mayor Pavia, Lt. Governor Michael Fedele, and members of the Mayor's administration, Shailesh Naik, President of GOPIO-CT said "we are indeed honored that you and Maureen could be with us today to share your vision and meet with members of the local community. We look forward to an ongoing dialog with your office." Sangeeta Ahuja, who chaired the event said "this evening with Mayor Pavia is part of GOPIOConnecticut's commitment to create an ongoing dialogue between the community and local leaders and officials." She also thanked Mrs. Maureen Pavia for organizing "Night of a Thousand Stars" on inauguration night to promote and raise awareness for the performing arts in Stamford.

 

GOPIO-CT Reception for Stamford Mayor Michael Pavia 

Photo above: Stamford Mayor Michael Pavia and Connecticut Lt. Governor Michael Fedele with some of the members of the executive board of GOPIO-CT. Left to right, Ravi Dhingra, Shamla Sharma, Shailesh Naik, Lt. Governor  Fedele,  Carol Fedele, Mayor Pavia, Maureen Pavia,  Sangeeta Ahuja, Shelly Nichani and guests. Missing Ritu Johorey and Prakash Chakravarti.
 
In the moderated Q&A session that followed, Mr. Pavia said that "he had made diversity in the educational system and at all levels of his administration an important priority." As to his vision of Stamford over the next four years, Pavia reiterated his mission of "making Stamford the engine of economic growth in the region," while at the same time being "a city that cares, a diverse, multi-ethnic city that welcomes all who call Stamford home."

 

Contact: Shailesh Naik, President, GOPIO-CT, visit www.gopio-ct.org.

 

GOPIO HOLLAND TO HOST FORUM ON SPIRITUALITY, SCIENCE AND BUSINESS

 

GOPIO of Holland is organizing a forum on "Sprituality, Science and Business" to be held onSunday March 28, 2010. The issues to be deliberated and the questions to be answered include: Is spirituality only meant for elderly or very religious people? Does a spiritual approach to your working life affect your performance or that of your family or organisation you work in? How does spirituality and entrepreneurship relate to each other? Many questions for those who already know the answers but still need to discuss its practicality or for those who are not yet able to grasp this matter. GOPIO encompasses people with various backgrounds but who all value the concept of spirituality: one of our respected U.S. members Dr. Manik Bhaumik is well known for his publication on spirituality and science. He recently received a Bharatya Samman award from the President of India.

 
We also have our own Dutch scholars on spirituality in practice. Therefore, we have requested Dr. Sharda Nandram, Associate Professor of the Nijenrode University and a very seasoned professional in the field of entrepreneurship to enlighten us on the topic of "Spirituality & Business".

 
The program will be held on Sunday March 28th from 14:00 till 17:30 during the chapter's event. Register at info@gopioholland.nl.

 

US LAUNCHES CENSUS 2010 - ASIAN INDIANS TO BE COUNTED SEPARATELY

 

The 2010 Census is a major effort taking place in the US during the month of March. It is a count of everyone living in the United States and is mandated by the U.S. Constitution. Whether a person is a citizen, legal or illegal immigrant, on diplomatic, tourist or H1-B visa or even has no visa, the law encourages everyone on US soil to respond to the Census questionnaire without reservation or fear. Large majority of people will get the short form with ten questions during March and are expected to return the document by April 1. Those who fail to return the document, the census takers will go door-to-door to count residents.

 

It is imperative that members of the Indian American community check the box titled "Asian Indian" in question 9 on the Census form for correct count of the community population in the US. An accurate count could translate into dollars flowing for services to the Indian community during the next ten years. It could also mean increased number of political appointments at federal, state and city level for Indian Americans. This is truly a chance for the Indian community to be accurately counted as part of the fabric of American life. For more details, read GOPIO Chairman Inder Singh's article, "Census 2010" at http://www.gopio.net/stats/Census-2010.doc.

 

NRIs/PIOs ACHIEVE
 

OBAMA APPOINTS JHUMPA LAHIRI TO ARTS COMMITTEE

 

Pulitzer Prize-winning New York based author Jhumpa Lahiri has been appointed as a member of US President Barack Obama's Committee on the Arts and Humanities, along with five others.

 

"I am proud that these distinguished individuals will serve in my Administration. The arts and the humanities enhance the vibrancy of our society, inspire us and strengthen our democracy," a statement read from the White House. "I look forward to working with them in the weeks and months ahead," Obama said. Besides Lahiri, others appointed to the committee are Chuck Close, Fred Goldring, Sheila Johnson, Pamela Joyner and Ken Solomon. A fiction writer, Lahiri's debut collection of stories, 'Interpreter of Maladies', received the Pulitzer Prize, the PEN/Hemingway Award among other awards. Her novel, 'The Namesake', was turned into a film by Mira Nair starring Kal Penn, who is also currently serving the White House. Lahiri's latest story collection, 'Unaccustomed Earth', continues to pick up literary prizes also.

 

EIGHT INDIAN AMERICAN CEOs IN FORBES LIST

 

PepsiCo chief executive Indra Nooyi topped the list of what Forbes called "Eight Indian-Flavored CEOs", who lead America's corporations with revenues of at least $2 billion. The premier business magazine has chronicled the rise of Indian Americans in corporate ranks in the United States.

 

"The chief executive of PepsiCo would be prominent no matter what. The fact that the current one - Indra Nooyi - is an Indian immigrant makes her all the more noteworthy," Forbes said.

 

"It's not a surprise that we're seeing Indians rise in corporate ranks," Forbes quoted Richard Herman, co-author of a book on migrants to the U.S. titled Immigrant, Inc, as saying in an article

published recently.

 

"Of all the immigrant groups coming in today, Indians are head-and-shoulders above others, and this is partly because of their English language skills and also the advanced education that many of them are bringing to the U.S," Herman said.

 

Of the featured eight, PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi, 53, is part of a growing trend where U.S. companies are being created, or led, by foreign-born individuals who bring in something special, Herman said.

 

Vikram Pandit, the CEO of Citigroup, is the other prominent native Indian in the corner office, he said. Third on the list was Kenya-born Francisco D'Souza who heads Cognizant Technology Solutions, which outsources IT services for its clients in the West. D'Souza, 40, whose grandparents hailed from Goa in India, joined the company in 1994 when it was founded. Within three years, he had gone up the ranks to become director of North American operations.

 

Next came Shantanu Narayen, 46, at the helm at Adobe Systems. The diversified software company's flagship Internet video tool is Flash. "At least one top boss of Indian descent is plotting a growth strategy,"

 

said Forbes of Quest Diagnostics' head Surya Mohapatra, fifth on the list. Also featured were Dinesh Paliwal of Harman International, Jai P. Nagarkatti of Sigma-Aldrich and Abhijit Talwalkar of LSI.

 

Paliwal, a native of Agra, joined Harman, a sound-systems company in Stamford, Connecticut, as chief executive in 2007. Prior to that, he spent 22 years at ABB Group and set up its operations in China and north Asia. Nagarkatti joined Sigma-Aldrich in 1976 as a development chemist, and after heading the company's scientific research business, was appointed COO, in 2004.

 

Talwalkar was appointed chief executive of LSI of Milpitas, California, in May 2005. Earlier, he was at Intel's digital enterprise group. He joined Intel in 1993.

 

SRI LANKAN PIO JAQUELINE FERNANDEZ WINS THE "EXCITING NEW FACE" AT THE MAX STARDUST AWARDS

 

Former Miss Sri Lanka Jacqueline Fernandez from TV anchoring to political reporting to modeling, has done it all and now has finally fulfilled her childhood dream of becoming an actress.

 

The gorgeous star made a big splash with her debut in Sujoy Ghosh's Aladin alongside veteran actor Amitabh Bachchan and Riteish Deshmukh - the results of which won Jacqueline the "Exciting New Face" at the Stardust Awards 2010.

 

Reveals a source "Jacky debuted with Amitabh Bachchan in her first film very few get the opportunity to work with a Bollywood legend this early in their career. Jacqueline has a unique face, very Malaysian yet very Indian. The screen loves her"

 

Jacqueline Fernandez was only too thrilled to receive the honor. Says a gushing Jacky "This is the first award I've received and will cherish it. I will only strive to work harder now."

 

With such an effortless performance and gorgeous face Jacqueline Fernandez managed to make her mark in Bollywood.

 

PADMA AWARDS GO TO NINE NRIs

 

Nine NRIs were chosen for the Padma awards announced at the eve of the India's Republic Day last month. The list includes Nobel laureate Venkatraman Ramakrishnan, Indian American journalist Fareed Zakaria and New York-based hotelier Sant Singh Chatwal, have been given the Padma awards this year for services to India. While Britain-based Ramakrishnan, who got the Nobel Prize for Chemistry last year, has got the Padma Vibhushan - the second highest award - for science and engineering, four have got the Padma Bhushan - the third highest award - and the rest the Padma Shri.

 

Those that have got the Padma Bhushan are Newsweek International editor Zakaria for journalism; Sant Singh Chatwal, hotelier and lobbyist, for public affairs and Arogyaswami Joseph Paulraj, who is also US-based, for science and engineering. Also in the list is Britain Manvinder Singh Bangal alias Vindi Banga for trade and industry.

 

Those receiving Padma Shri are Prof. Ponisseril Somasundaran of Columbia Un viersity for science and engineering and Dr. Sudhir M. Parikh, publisher of News India Times and other publications for social work. The United Arab Emirates' J.R. Gangaramani has got the Padma Shri for social work and Bahrain's B. Raveendran Pillai for trade and industry.

 

INDIA EMPIRE MAGAZINE HONORS 16 NRIs/PIOs

 

The INDIA EMPIRE monthly magazine held the NRI Awards Night at Hotel Ramada Plaza, New Delhi on January 10, 2010. The NRI Awards 2010 theme read "In recognition of Excellence, Purpose and Achievement in the Overseas Indian Community." Sixteen distinguished Overseas Indians from 11 countries received the Awards. The Lifetime Achievement Award went to Dr Lenny Saith, Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister in Trinidad and Tobago. He also acts as Prime Minister of his country in the absence of the substantive holder of the post.

 

The chief guest on the occasion was Mr Vayalar Ravi, Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs.                                           Minister Ravi hailed the success, vision and enterprising spirit of the Indian Diaspora, in general and the Awardees in particular. He encouraged the diaspora to be a part of India's growth story, indicating that areas such as infrastructure, rural development, healthcare and education were important for growth and urged the diaspora to be partners in these areas. Mr Ravi presented the awards.

 

Mrs Sheila Dikshit, Chief Minister of Delhi, was also present. She welcomed the diaspora to the forthcoming Commonwealth Games and said that it was important that the diaspora took back good memories of Delhi, the capital city of the largest democracy in the world. She said that every effort had been made to make Delhi one of the greenest capital cities in the world.

 

The international print magazine writes on NRI and PIOs and related issues. The magazine completed 5 years in September 2009. The publication believes that it is the right time that the Indian diaspora is recognized by way of Awards through a free, frank and fearless medium, independent of the Government.                                          

 

Mr Sayantan Chakravarty, the magazine's Editor and Publisher, announced that the objective of the NRI Awards was to recognize the wealth of Indian talent overseas, to make the awards world class, institutionalize them, and to ensure that the awards functions are held every year, in India on January 10, and also other parts of the world..

 

Awardees for 2010 are as follows:

 

Ms Nishma Gosrani from the U.K. (Most Promising Overseas Indian Female), Mr Jean Regis Ramsamy from ReUnion Islands (Most Promising Overseas Indian Male), Mr Logie Naidoo from South Africa (Community Service in African Region), Mr Mahyendrah Utchanah from Mauritius (Community Service from Africa and Indian Ocean Region), Judge Ajit Swaran Singh from New Zealand (Community Services in Asia Pacific Region), Mr Krishnamurthy Kumar from the U.A.E. (Community Services in the GCC), Mr Harmohan Walia from Australia (Community Dato' Professor Joseph Adaikalam from Malaysia (Business Leadership in South Asia and Far East Region), Dr Rami Ranger from the U.K. (Business Leadership in U.K. and Europe), H.E. Mookhesswur Choonee from Mauritius (Cultural Leadership), H.E. Pundit Maniedeo Persad from Trinidad and Tobago (Excellence in Diplomacy), Mrs Leela Gujadhur Sarup from Mauritius (Academic Leadership), Dr Samir Shah from USA (Excellence in Software and IT), Dr Mani Bhaumik from USA (Excellence in Sciences), Dr Ruby Dhalla from Canada (Political Leadership), Dr Lenny Saith from Trinidad and Tobago (Life Time Achievement).

 

Nominations for the INDIA EMPIRE NRI AWARDS 2011 is open now at www.indiaempire.com.

 

INDIAN AMERICANS ELECTED AS MAYORS IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

 

Prakash Narain, M.D. was elected the new Mayor for the city of Cypress, California on December 14, 2009.  In 2009, Dr. Narain served as Mayor Pro Tem of the city.  Cypress has population of almost 50,000 people of which South Asians comprise 0.2% only.

 

Dr. Prakash Narain has been very active in the community for many years, including serving on the Cypress Senior Citizens Commission for 8 years.  This is his first term on the City Council.  He was elected in November 2006 in his first attempt at public office.  Cypress allows for a maximum of 2 four-year terms on the city council. Narain will be running for re-election to the city council in November 2010.

 

Dr. Narain is a physician with a specialization in internal medicine and geriatrics.  He has been in medical practice at the Leisure World Health Care Center in Seal Beach, California for 22 years.  While serving as a City Council Member, he has continued his medical practice and his affiliation with Los Alamitos Medical Center, in Los Alamitos, where he has served as Chief of Staff and as Chairman of the Governing Board of Directors.

 

Also in December, 2009, Harry Sidhu, an engineer turned businessman, was elected Mayor Pro-tem for City of Anaheim, home of Disneyland. Harry was re-elected as Anaheim City Councilman last year. Currently, he is contesting for the position of Orange County Supervisor.

 

David Dhillon, a third generation Indian American was the first to be elected mayor of a city in California. He was elected mayor three times of city of El Centro, Imperial County. Imperial and Riverside counties formed the Congressional district from where Indian American Dalip S. Saund was elected as congressman of the United Sates. Saund was the first among Asians elected as Congressman in the US.

 

GUYANA'S PRESIDENT JAGDEO APPOINTED TO UN CLIMATE CHANGE POSITION

 

Guyana's President Bharrat Jagdeo has been appointed to sit on a high-level United Nations (UN) Panel set up to address financing for countries battling the effects of climate change. The panel which also includes the Prime Ministers of the United Kingdom, Ethiopia and Norway was established by UN Secretary General Ban-Ki-Moon. Its work is seen as critical to the recently held 15th Conference of Parties (COP 15) of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Copenhagen, Denmark and the follow up one slated for Mexico later this year. Lobbying efforts in Copenhagen last year were fervent and enabled the expansion of the Reduced Emissions on Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) initiative to include countries, such as Guyana, that have low levels of deforestation. The new initiative, REDD+, includes cutting deforestation rates, conservation of forest stocks, sustainable forestry management, and expansion of forest stock. Guyana also succeeded in sealing a Memorandum of Understanding with Norway for the receipt of US$250 million by 2015 in performance-based payments. It represents one of the first attempts between a developed and a developing country to work together to implement a national scale model on how forests can be deployed to address climate change without compromising sovereignty or national development priorities. 

 

SIR V. S. NAIPAUL'S PORTRAIT UNVEILED AT LONDON'S NATIONAL GALLERY

 

A painted portrait of Trinidadian-born Nobel Prize winning writer Sir V.S. Naipaul has been commissioned and unveiled by the National Portrait Gallery in London. The portrait was done by artist Paul Emsley after the Gallery persuaded the Nobel Prize-winning writer to have his portrait painted for the Collection. Naipaul went to England in 1960 to study at Oxford University. His first novel The Mystic Masseur (1957) was followed by A House for Mr Biswas (1961). Naipaul, whose literary themes include exile and displacement, won the Booker Prize with In a Free State in 1971. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2001. Sandy Nairne, Director of the National Portrait Gallery, London, says: "This is a beautiful and mysterious portrait of a great writer, painted by BP winner Paul Emsley. I am very pleased that V.S. Naipaul enters the Collection as a new portrait." Sir V.S. Naipaul is a recipient of India's prestigious Pravasi Samman Award.

NEWS OF INTEREST TO NRIs AND PIOs AROUND THE WORLD
 

INDIA'S NEW TAX CODE TO ADVERSELY AFFECT NRIs

 

The 48-year-old Indian Income Tax Act is being replaced by a new Direct Tax Code from April 1, 2011. The provisions of the new Tax Code will have a substantial impact on NRIs who own property and stocks. In the case of property,

 

Purchase of Immovable Property in India by Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs) - Amendment of the definition RBI/2009-10/ 286 A.P. (DIR Series) Circular No.25 , Dated: January 13, 2010
Attention of Authorized Dealer Category-I banks is invited to clause (c) of Regulation 2 of Notification No. FEMA 21/2000-RB dated May 3, 2000 viz. Foreign Exchange Management (Acquisition and Transfer of Immovable Property in India), Regulations, 2000, as amended from time to time, in terms of which 'a Person of Indian Origin' means an individual (not being a citizen of Pakistan or Bangladesh or Sri Lanka or Afghanistan or China or Iran or Nepal or Bhutan) who (i) at any time, held an Indian Passport or (ii) who or either of whose father or whose grandfather was a citizen of India by virtue of the Constitution of India or the Citizenship Act, 1955 (57 of 1955).

2. Government of India, has notified vide G.S.R.813 (E) in the Gazette of India dated November 12, 2009 [Notification No.FEMA.200/2009-RB dated October 5, 2009] an amendment to clause (c) of Regulation 2 of the Notification referred to above. Accordingly, 'a Person of Indian Origin' means an individual (not being a citizen of Pakistan or Bangladesh or Sir Lanka or Afghanistan or China or Iran or Nepal or Bhutan) who (i) at any time, held an Indian Passport or (ii) who or either of whose father or mother or whose grandfather or grandmother was a citizen of India by virtue of the Constitution of India or the Citizenship Act, 1955 (57 of 1955). A copy of the Notification is annexed.
3. Authorised Dealer Category-I banks may bring the contents of this circular to the notice of their constituents and customers concerned.

4. The Directions contained in this circular have been issued under sections 10(4) and 11(1) of the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA), 1999 (42 of 1999) and are without prejudice to permissions / approvals, if any, required under any other law.

 

MAHATMA GANDHI DISTRICT NAMED NEAR HOUSTON, TEXAS

 

A part of southwest Houston, Texas, home to a large number of South Asians, including Indians, has been officially renamed Mahatma Gandhi district to honor the leader on his 141st birth year.


An ethnic conclave, Hillcroft was renamed this month, fulfilling the seven-year long demand of over 100,000 strong Indian-American population living in the Greater Houston area.


City Mayor Annise Parker announced the change of name along with Consul General of India in Houston, Sanjiv Arora.


Officials of the India Culture Centre has been working relentlessly for renaming the area that is popularly known as "Little India" due to the high concentration of south Asian shops and restaurants.

"Persistence alone paid off in the end as it was just getting no where, till the culture center and business leaders settled for adding the signs designating it a district, a USD 10,000 expense," ICC Spokesperson Manisha Mehta said.


Renaming the Hillcroft area required 75 per cent of commercial property owners on a street to sign a petition in its support, according to the municipal law. Only then the City Council can consider the change of the name. But the community earlier failed to gather required number of signs as it was difficult to agree the non-south Asians there.


The project was proposed during the tenure of former Mayor Bill White as the ICC and Indian merchants in the area wanted to rename Hillcroft Avenue to Mahatma Gandhi Avenue.


It was a moment of joy for the Indian-Americans in Houston as the change in name brings a feeling of recognition and they hope renaming the area would attract more tourists.

 

STRICTER ENGLISH LANGUAGE TEST FOR FOREIGN STUDENTS IN UK

 

Foreign students from India and other countries outside the European region who want to study in Britain will have to sit for a stricter English-language test and will be banned from bringing over dependents if they are studying short courses, the government announced on Sunday.

 

British Home Minister Alan Johnson said the rules, which will be in force with immediate effect, will also restrict the number of hours foreign students can work in Britain.The English language test will be upgraded from the current beginners' English to the intermediate level, the equivalent of a British GCSE foreign language qualification.

 

Students coming to Britain for courses that are under six months in duration will not be allowed to bring in any dependents.Those studying courses that are over six months in duration but not a three-year higher education degree course, can bring in dependents but the dependents will not be allowed to work.In addition, the number of hours a foreign student is allowed to work in Britain is being cut down from the current 20 hours a week.However, the government has decided not to implement a proposal to have students furnish a fixed bond - a returnable deposit - saying it is unworkable.

 

Student visas constitute 30 per cent of all visas granted by the British government and Johnson said the government is keen not to damage Britain's appeal as the world's second most popular destination for higher education - a sector that brings in five to eight billion pounds a year.

 

UK PARTIALLY LIFTS BAN ON STUDENT VISAS FOR INDIA

 

The UK announced a partial lifting of the ban on students visas in North India, sending a wave of relief among thousands of genuine students who are at an advanced stage of enrolling at British universities. Announcing this, the Minister for Business, Innovation and Skills, Mr. Pat McFadden, said, "The suspension was taken in response to a huge surge in applications over a very short period of time."


He added, "I am delighted to be able to announce today that, from 1 March, this suspension will be lifted for all students wanting to study higher education courses, whether foundation degrees, undergraduate or postgraduate." However, he added that the temporary suspension will remain in place for all those wanting to study at lower levels.

 

McFadden said: "But we will continue to keep this under review and will lift it as soon as we can, and once the new 'highly trusted sponsor' system for colleges and other educational establishments across the UK is in place."


Student visas from north India were suspended on February 1, causing concern among thousands of students, their families and also British universities who depend on high fee-paying international students for a substantial part of their revenue.


According to official figures, the direct value of students from India and other non-European Union countries to the UK economy is estimated at 8.5 billion pounds annually.

 

INDIAN AMERICAN PROFESSOR GOPI PODILA KILLED IN SHOOTING AT UNIV. OF ALABAMA

 

Indian born 52-year old chairman of the biology department at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, Dr Gopi Podila, was among the 3 faculty members who were killed in a hail of gunfire at a faculty meeting on February 14, 2010. The two other people killed were Maria Ragland Davis, 50, and Adriel Johnson, 52, described as professors who spent hours of extra time helping students. A colleague, Joseph Leahy, 50, a microbiology professor known for his zesty lectures, remained hospitalized with a head wound. A third member of the department, Luis Cruz-Vera, was released from the hospital over the weekend. Another professor and the department administrator are still in the hospital in critical condition. A colleague with a Harvard Ph.D., Amy Bishop, is charged with capital murder.

 

When Dr. Podila arrived nine years ago to build the university's biotechnology program, colleagues had to struggle to find him vegetarian meals. He and his wife, Vani, quickly became well known in Huntsville's Indian community, arranging performances and, together, choreographing traditional Indian dances. He had two teenage daughters. Dr. Podila was described as an enthusiastic administrator with a research interest in bio-fuels and the symbiotic relationship between fungi and trees. But he was just as interested in human symbiosis, said Joseph Ng, a fellow professor. "He was always encouraging collaborative efforts," Dr. Ng said

 

TAIWAN EASES VISA REQUIREMENTS FOR INDIANS

 

Taiwan has eased its laws to allow visa-free entry to those Indians who hold valid visas of several countries including the United States and the United Kingdom. This ease comes in the wake of a decline in the number of Indians visiting Taiwan last year. The number of visas granted to Indian passport holders by Taipei Economic and Cultural Center last year was only 10,170.There are only three flights a week by China Airlines between Delhi and Taipei, but no Indian airline operates to Taiwan at present.

 

Taiwanese Ambassador in India Wenchyi Ong stated that the Taiwan Visitors Association and Taiwan Tourism Bureau had drawn up attractive tour packages tailor-made for Indian to encourage more visitors. The tourist attractions and island tour programmes are being focused upon by the Bureau and travel agents, keeping in mind Indians' penchant for shopping, said Visitors Association Inspector General Joseph H Ru.The Taiwanese representative also focused on the historic ties between India and Taiwan, including the visits to India by Chinese nationalist leader Chiang Kai-shek, his meetings with Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru as also the controversial plane crash of Subhash Chandra Bose. Wenchyi Ong said that in matters pertaining economic trade between India and Taiwan, there was tremendous potential for bilateral trade to grow.

 

US SKATING COUPLE WINS US NATIONAL SKATING CHAMPIONSHIP ON BOLLYWOOD RHYTHM

 

Meryl Davis and Charlie White performed their Indian folk dance OD at the national figure skating championships gala. They are the winners of this event for the second year in a row. It is on youtube, visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=56_Zs10qQhQ.

GOPIO LIFE MEMBERSHIP AND CHAPTER FORMATION
 

GOPIO is a non-partisan, non-sectarian global organization with chapters in several countries, actively promoting the interests of people of Indian origin worldwide by monitoring and addressing current critical issues of concern, and by enhancing cooperation and communication between groups of Indians living in various countries.

 

GOPIO Individual Life membership is open to all who believe in the mission of GOPIO. The one- time fee is $5,000 for Platinum Life Membership, $2,500 for Gold Life Membership and $1,500 Silver Life Membership and half the amount for each category for those from developing countries and India.

 

GOPIO is looking forward to opening chapters in all major cities of the world so as to network people of Indian origin all over the world. If you do not have chapter in your city, please visit GOPIO website (www.gopio.net)

and get details of chapter initiation (visit http://www.gopio.net/chapter_initiative.htm). Process involves sending a letter of intent to start a chapter by a committee of five people or more.  For more information, contact:

 

GOPIO Chairman - Inder Singh, Tarzana, California, USA, Tel: 818-708-3885, E-mail: gopio-intl@sbcglobal.net

GOPIO President - Lord Daljit Rana, UK, Tel:  +44 28-9807-8787, Email: dsrana@andrashouse.co.uk

GOPIO Executive Vice President- Ashook Ramsaran, Fresh Meadows, New York City, Tel: 718/939-8194, E-mail: ramsaran@aol.com 
 

To become a Life member of GOPIO, one can sign up online at

http://gopio.net/online_membership.htm or fill up the form and send it with a check to: GOPIO International, PO Box 560117, New York NY 11356, USA.

EDITORIAL BOARD

 

Chief Editor: Dr. Thomas Abraham, Founder President and Chairman Emeritus, GOPIO (Stamford, CT, USA)

Editors: Ashook Ramsaran, GOPIO Executive Vice President (New York, USA)

Webmasters: Prashant Gupta (Hyderabad, India) and Abu Thomas (New Rochelle, NY, USA)

Contributors of this issue: Inder Singh (USA), Ravi Dhingra (USA), Ashok Motwani (Mauritius/India), Jay Banerjei (Canada), Bina Mahabir (Guyana-USA)

 
 
GOPIO NEWS welcomes NRI/PIO related stories from all over the world. Be a volunteer correspondent or reporter. Contact Dr. Thomas Abraham, Tel: 203-329-8010, E-mail: gopio@optonline.net.
 

Visit GOPIO's Official site at www.gopio.net or www.gopio.com