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Issue: VI-18 February 5, 2008
February 5, 2008
A Publication of the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO)
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The Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO) concluded its very successful Convention 2008 in New Delhi from January 6th through January 7th 2008 held in conjunction with Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 2008 at FICCI Conference Room and Hotel Ashoka. The conference was formally inaugurated on January 6th at 3.00 pm by Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment Smt. Meira Kumar.


GOPIO Convention included several intensive meetings and conference sessions, in addition to other related GOPIO events that combined to produce a very comprehensive and successful Convention 2008 that was well attended and produced tremendous positive feedback and interaction among the participants and attendees.


On January 6th, GOPIO held its Executive Committee Meeting at which several operational and procedural matters were discussed and decisions reached. The Meeting was chaired by President Inder Singh and was followed by GOPIO General Council Meeting chaired by Dr. Thomas Abraham, Chairman. GOPIO Council & Chapter Reports were provided by Dr. Piyush Agrawal, Regional Vice President (North America); Zafar Iqbal, Delegate, Washington D.C. Chapter; Ashok Kumar, Delegate, San Jose, California Chapter; Ambassador Krishna Nandoe, Regional Vice President (South America and Caribbean); Sunny Kulathakal, Regional Vice President (Middle East); Noel Lal, Coordinator, Australia (Pacific/Oceania); and for Europe: Sunil Prasad, President, GOPIO-Belgium Conference Report; Rajindre Tewari, President GOPIO-Amsterdam, Netherlands; Birjinder Sodhi, President GOPIO Berlin, Germany.




A well deserved tribute to the late Dr. L.M. Singhvi was the first official session at the GOPIO convention. The tribute session was chaired by Ambassador (Retired) J. C. Sharma, of Anthar Rashtra Sahayog Nyas who was secretary of the High Level Committee on India Diaspora with Dr. Singhvi, Chair of the Committee. GOPIO expressed gratefulness to late Dr. L.M. Singhvi for his outstanding contributions to the Indian Diaspora movement, for his role in the grant of dual nationality to NRIs/PIOs and for his initiative in starting and organizing PBD. The session was attended by Dr. Abhshek Singhvi, MP, son of the late Dr Singhvi and spokesman for India's Congress Party. Speakers included  Dr. Thomas Abraham, Chairman, GOPIO International (USA);  Lord Bhikhu Parekh, House of Lords, (UK);  Raj Loomba, Businessman and Philanthropist (UK);  Ram Lakhina, former Chairman,GOPIO International (The Netherlands) and  K.N. Gupta, President GOPIO India




The conference was formally inaugurated at 3.00 pm. The inauguration session started with a welcome by K.N. Gupta, Convention Chair and President GOPIO India, New Delhi (India), Inder Singh, President, GOPIO International (USA) and greetings by Dr. Thomas Abraham, Chairman, GOPIO International (USA). Following the traditional Lighting of the Lamp, the Chief Guest Meira Kumar, Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment, delivered the keynote address. She also released "Experience Indianness" by Anand Mulloo of Mauritius.  Ashook Ramsaran, Secretary General, GOPIO International gave the note of thanks.




On the afternoon of January 6th, GOPIO held two conference sessions. Conference Session 1 dealt with "Critical Issues Confronting Indian Diaspora" and was chaired by Dr. Jagat Motwani, Author, Writer and Chairman, GOPIO Academic Council, with Co-Chair Dr. Shekhar Tiwary, Co-Chair, GOPIO's Tracing of Roots Committee. Keynote Speaker Hon. Basdeo Panday, Leader of the Opposition and former Prime Minister, Trinidad, reiterated the need to utilize the energy and resources of the global Indian Diaspora while addressing issues of concern affecting many of them. Other speakers and panelists included: Vijay Kumar Sharma, Senior Partner, Arlingtons Sharmas Solicitors (Indian community Issues in Europe); Buddhdev Pandya MBE, Hon Corporate Advisor, British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (Issues of Medical doctors in UK); Datuk Dr Denison Jayasooria of Malaysia, Executive Director, Social Strategic Foundation (Current Issue in Malaysia); Dr. Piyush Agrawal, GOPIO Regional Vice President North America (Community issues in North America).




Conference Session II addressed the "NRI's/PIO's Property Scams and Legal Ramifications", with Moderator & Chair Professor Subhash C. Sharma, Professor of Economics, Southern Illinois University in Carbondale (USA). Session Co-Chair was Yatish Choudhari (USA). Panelists included M. M. Maheshwari (New York, USA); Anjali Sachdev (Seattle, Washington, USA); Subhash C. Sharma (USA); Ved Prakash Sharma (President Delhi Bar Association); Dr. Surat Singh (Doctor of Law -Harvard, Advocate Supreme Court and Delhi High Cour;: Jagdish Vatsa, Advocate Delhi High Court.

GOPIO-2008 Convention - General Council Session and New Life Members

Photo Top: GOPIO General Council Meeting in Session on January 6 at FICCI Conferecne Room in New Delhi. From L. to R. GOPIO Executive VP Lord Diljit Rana, GOPIO President Inder Singh, GOPIO Chiarman Dr. Thomas Abraham, GOPIO Secretary General Ashook Ramsaran, GOPIO Treasurer Haresh Panchal, GOPIO Vice President for North America Dr. Piyush Agrawal, GOPIO Vice President for Caribbean and South America Ambassador Krishna Nandoe and GOPIO Academic Council Chairman Dr. Jagat Motwani

Photo Bottom: GOPIO's New Life Members are inducted at the GOPIO Awards Banquet at the Ashoka Hotel in New Delhi on Janaury 6, 2008. From L. to R.: Lord Diljit Rana (UK), Dr. Mohammed Majeed (USA and India), Balachandran Nair (Dubai and India), Barjinder Sodhi (Germany), Raj Loomba (UK), Dr. Dhani Ram Baruah (India), Dr. Pammi Bevli (USA) and Manoranjan Sinh (India)



On the evening of January 6, GOPIO held its Reception, Entertainment and Grand Awards Banquet with the Presentation of GOPIO Community Service Awards at the Ashoka Hotel. GOPIO COMMUNITY SERVICE AWARDS were established to recognize and honor those 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, while former union minister and governor M. M. Jacob and former Prime Minister Basdeo Panday of Trinidad & Tobago were also in attendance.


"We at GOPIO feel privileged to recognize some NRIs/PIOs who have contributed significantly to the countries of their adoption as well as to India, and have added a special glitter to the resurgence of India," said Inder Singh, President of GOPIO International.


GOPIO Community Service Awards were presented to: Baroness Usha Prasher (UK); PNC Menon (Middle East); Moses V. Nagamootoo (Guyana); Ram Lakhina (The Netherlands); and Dr. Mani Bhaumik (USA). GOPIO's Distinguished Services to the Indian Diaspora Award was presented to former Ambassador and MEA Secretary J.C. Sharma (India). A Special Award was given to Bharat Ranga on behalf of ZeeTV for its Outstanding Reach to NRI/PIO Communities and help in bringing them together.


GOPIO HONOR ROLL: GOPIO honors leaders by inducting to GOPIO Honor Roll for their outstanding leadership and their continued support for GOPIO and Indian Diaspora. This year, Lord Bhikhu Parekh of UK was inducted to the GOPIO Honor Roll.


GOPIO also recognized its new life members: Raj Loomba (UK); Birjinder Sodhi (Germany); Munish Gupta (USA); Dr. Muhammed Majeed (USA and India), Prof. Subhash Sharma (USA), Dr. Pammi Bevli (USA), Balachandran Nair (Dubai), Prashant Gupta (India), Dhani Ram Baruah (India) and Manoranjana Sinh (India).




On January 7, 2008, GOPIO held a very successful and well attended all day Summit on Education with the theme: EDUCATION FOR THE MASSES IN INDIA - ROLE OF NRIs/PIOS.Specifically, the summit deal on the following questions:


       Opportunities in mass education where NRIs/PIOs can be effectively involved?

       Opportunities for senior NRIs who are retiring now, who could be motivated to get involved in schools from their towns/villages - What mechanism?

       Young professionals and younger generation NRIs/PIOs who could volunteer their time during the summer and semesters away - What opportunities and mechanisms?


The Education summit was co-sponsored several other NGOs including the US based Indian Development Coalition, Pratham, America Indian Foundation and GOPIO-Connect. The summit provided a platform to the NRIs and PIOs who could offer mass education to their native land. Speakers included India's Knowledge Commission Chairman Sam Pitroda; Madhave Chavan, Founder Chairman of Pratham; Lord Bhikhu Parekh; CII Advisor Dr. Y. S. Rajan; ZeeTV Chairman Subhash Chandra and Lord Diljit Rana. The Summit convener was GOPIO Chairman Dr. Thomas Abraham. Prashant Gupta, Dr. Srinivasa Rao, Bhamy Shenoi and Vivek Singhal served as co-conveners.


The Opening Session was chaired by Dr. Thomas Abraham, Chairman, GOPIO International. The focus was on how the Diaspora could be involved in the education sector. After the welcome by Inder Singh, President, GOPIO International, The inaugural address was delivered by Pitroda followed by the keynote address by Madhav Chavan, Founder and Chairman of Pratham. Former Governor M.M. Jacob made some remarks on the historic aspects of mass education since India's Independence and emphasized the importance of NRIs' contribution towards mass education.


Session I dealt with "The Need Where NRIs/PIOs Can be Involved" and was chaired by Satvasheela P Chavan of the Shiv Niketan Education Society in New Delhi. Speaker were: Lord Bhikhu Parekh (House of Lords, UK); Dr. Y.S. Rajan (Advisor, Confederation of Indian Industries, India); Amit Kaushik (Director, SRF Foundation and former Director of Elementary Education in the Ministry of HRD and also with UNESCO); Rakesh K. Mittal, (IAS, Secretary of the Dept. of Education, Government of UP). Lord Parekh commented on the least participation in education shown by the country of 1.2 billion. He pointed to the absence of the culture of research in India. He offered some possible solutions such as comprehensive plan in primary education, reasonably marked out spaces, looking at our education system and indicating what is right and what is wrong with it and exchange of teachers, students, scholarships, new educational techniques, equipping libraries etc. Also, the need of the hour seemed to be individual involvement.


AMITY University founder Dr. Ashok Chauhan, a former NRI from Germany, pointed out that our country is famous for the intelligence that the kids are bestowed with. Amit Kaushik of SRF Foundation rightly said, "Attitudes are changing and there is willingness to work with NGOs unlike earlier." A country that has a different culture every 200 kilometers, cannot be dealt in a "uniform fashion" or be covered in a blanket term, would be a "basket case" of a country if education was not taken up seriously says Kaushik.


The lacuna is at the level of analytical research and individual initiatives. Voluntary services is the upcoming arena that is going to throw open the arenas for the needy and the ones those who were ready to help them. As CII advisor, Y.S. Rajan highlighted the availability of resources and world-class work experience with NRIs, these would also enable the Pravasi to give back to their country. Another grey area that was talked about was teacher availability and their training. Parallel education is not a solution though as working with the government, which has already done so much for the cause, is better.


Session II "Meeting the Need and Challenges for NRIs/PIOs to be Involved in Education for the Masses in India" was chaired and moderated by Vivek Singhal (India Development Coalition). Speakers included: Subash Chandra (Chairman ZeeTV) and Ekal Vidyalaya (New Delhi); Yogi Patel (Pratham, USA). Yogi Patel, a 'Pratham' US ambassador, who raises funds for the development of India, shared his own personal experience through a presentation, which displayed how he managed to get out of the vicious circle of poverty and unemployment, with the help of certain individuals who helped him.'


Two interactive break-out sessions followed:


Session IIIA "INVOLVING SENIOR NRIs IN MASS EDUCATION IN INDIA" was chaired and moderated by Prof. Mohan K. Gautam (President and Chancellor, European Univ. of West & East, The Netherlands). Panelists included: Dr. T. A.George (Educationist, Pathanamthitta, Kerala, India); Shankar Venkateshwaran (American India Foundation, New Delhi, India) and Venkat Velagala (PLAN International, New Delhi, India).


Session IIIB "INVOLVING YOUNGER GENERATION OF NRIs IN MASS EDUCATION IN INDIA" was chaired by Prof. Raka Kamal (University of Rajasthan, Jaipur, India). Professor Rupam Saran from Manhattan College re-affirmed the desire to experience a different social system in these kids while they are constructing or re-constructing their Indian connection, it makes sense for the Diaspora to hit on this avenue further. It is their own way of giving back to their parent's homeland. Another speaker was Neal Bharadwaj, a young man who is a college student himself but is actively doing his bit with his organization called Matters of Community (MOC).


Session IV "Reports from Breakout Sessions, Wrap-up and Adoption of Resolutions" was chaired by Dr. Piyush Agrawal (USA Coordinator and Vice President for North America, GOPIO International, USA). Concluding remarks were delivered by Dr. Thomas Abraham (Chairman, GOPIO International). 


GOPIO also passed several resolutions pertaining to improve mass education in India.




The last session of the GOPIO Convention titled "Reports from Breakout Sessions, Wrap Up and Adoption of Resolutions." Encouraged by the past successful handling of the issues and concerns of the membership by GOPIO, the level of participation & 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 25 resolutions presented to the conferees. 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 10 resolutions out of the 25 presented during the session was selected by President Inder Singh and Chair of the Resolution Committee Dr. Piyush Agrawal after careful examination of the issues and was finalized on January 19, 2008.

                                     Photo below: Dr. Piyush Agrawal (left) and Inder Singh (Right)

                                     presents GOPIO resolutions to Minister Prithviraj Chavan

GOPIO presents resolutions to PMODr. Agrawal then arranged an "afternoon tea" meeting with Minister Prithviraj Chavan in the Office of the Prime Minister at his residence on Sunday, January 20, 2008.  Mr. & Mrs. Inder Singh & and Dr. & Mrs. Piyush Agrawal attended the meeting and discussed with Minister Chavan all the 10 Resolutions. 


Minister Chavan assured that he would look into these recommendations and take appropriate action as he has in the past.


On Monday, January 21, 2008, Inder and Piyush met with Mr. Nirmal Singh, Secretary to Government of India in the Ministry of Overseas Affairs and presented and discussed the same set of 10 Resolutions (see dialed text of these resolutions at Secretary Singh also assured to do his best in getting the issues raised on these resolutions appropriately addressed.


The set of resolutions presented to the PM's Office and to the Office of Overseas Indian Affairs were related to these topics:


For more information on GOPIO Convention and resolutions, contact: Inder Singh, President of GOPIO International at or GOPIO Secretary General Ashook Ramsaran at




The Sixth Pravasi Bharatiya Divas was inaugurated with its pomp and glory on January 8th by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at Vigyan Bhavan in New Delhi. This years meet was different which saw the government abandoning its efforts to merely seek investments. It has instead moved to institutionalize co-operation and channelize the rich experience of the Diaspora for the benefit of both the Indians abroad and the mother country.


Prime Minister also announced setting up of a 'Prime Minister's Global Advisory Council of People of Indian Origin' as a platform to draw upon the experience and knowledge of the "best Indian minds". He said the Council would serve as a high-level platform for the Prime Minister to draw upon the experience and the knowledge of the best Indian minds wherever they may be based. Among several other initiatives announced by the PM, the PIO University announced last year is in the final stages, while the Overseas Indian Facilitation Center has been set up with the partnership of CII. An India Development Foundation was mooted to direct overseas Indian philanthropic efforts into human development activities in the country.


Lauding the role of overseas Indian workers, numbering 5 million and remitting half of all transfers in 2006, Dr. Singh launched the Overseas Workers Resource Center helpline, a toll-free number that will provide assistance and grievance redressal to workers abroad. A nationwide skill upgradation program will skill 2 lakh workers for overseas jobs. The Council for the Promotion of Overseas Employment has also been approved, he announced.


Over 1,500 delegates from about 50 countries participated in the event, organized on January 8-9 every year to mark the return of Mahatma Gandhi from South Africa to India, where he led the struggle for freedom some hundred years ago.


Terming the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas a "special day", the Prime Minister said the country took pride in the achievements of the PIOs and noted that "we seek to encourage in every possible way our links and relations with overseas communities of Indian origin." "It is also our sincere desire to benefit from the vast reservoir of technological, managerial and entrepreneurial skills represented by overseas Indian communities," he said.


Singh said the Overseas Indian Affairs Ministry is examining a proposal for setting up the India Development Foundation as a non-profit trust to serve as a "credible institutional mechanism to direct overseas Indian philanthropic propensities into human development in the country".


"The Foundation will assist overseas Indians to contribute to the cause of education, health and rural development in their home village, district or state," he said. Singh also informed the gathering that the government has approved the policy framework for setting up a PIO university in the country for the benefit of children of overseas Indians from across the globe, a proposal which he had announced last year.


Mauritius Prime Minister Navinchandra Ramgoolam, the chief guest of this year's function, said "there is a new vibrancy, vitality, confidence and hope in this country and it is palpable to everyone visiting India." "My plea to Indian Diaspora is to grab this opportunity and get involved with India and one another.... We owe it to this country," he added.


In his address, he paid homage to Mahatma Gandhi who personified the theme of the current PBD. He pointed out that Mauritius had been deeply influenced by India in its emancipation struggle, in which his father had been involved, and Mauritian Indians are proud of their heritage. Many institutions have been set up in the country named after Indian leaders, and the World Hindi Center is headquartered in Mauritius.


"It is a matter of pride for us that the India of our hopes is finally emerging," he stressed, saying that the heartstrings and purse-strings of PIOs resonate in harmony. The Prime Minister suggested that an active desk be set up by India to channel the solidarity of overseas Indians and give concrete expression to their engagement.


Minister of Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi extended a warm welcome to the delegates from over 50 countries, saying that the Ministry had taken several initiatives to promote and sustain a mutually beneficial relationship of India and its Diaspora. A wider range of benefits would be extended to Overseas Citizen of India cardholders, numbering about 2 lakhs.


Bilateral security agreements for short-term workers have been negotiated with several EU countries and Memorandum of Understanding is being inked with Gulf countries for workers' protection and welfare. Social development is the focus of the current PBD, aligning with the priorities of the 11th Five Year Plan. "Pravasi Bharatiya Divas will mark a new beginning of people to people partnership for building a new India," he concluded.


Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit urged overseas Indians to assist in Delhi's development, especially in the transport sector. Nirmal Singh, Secretary, Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs, delivered the welcome address.


The first plenary session on health and education attracted the maximum attendance. The moderator was Prof. Deepak Nayar, a member of the Knowledge Commission and former Vice Chancellor of University of Delhi. In his keynote address, Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Dr. Montek Singh Ahluwalia said "India hasn't seen proper growth in terms of health and education in rural areas. Thus, there is a need to involve the private sector, with non-profit motives." Hemant Kumar Patel, President of the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPIO) said that special priority should be given diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular, maternal health and fetal/child health. GOPIO Chairman Dr. Thomas Abraham asked Govt. of India to reevaluate some of the rules governing FCRA and customs regulations which are becoming big hurdles for NRIs/PIOs and their NGOs to participate in health and education areas. Dr. Abraham listed several other measures for the central government and state governments to make it easier for NRIs/PIOs to participate in the social development sector. Other speakers included Rajashree Birla, Chairperson of Aditya Birla Center; Dr. S. S. Badrinath, Chairman Emeritus of Sankara Nethralaya; Alaljit Singh, Chairman of Max India Group and Dr. Ruby Pawankar of Nippon Medical School, Japan.


Speaking at a working session on Gulf countries the minister of overseas Indian affairs, Vayalar Ravi said that his ministry has already prepared a note on the welfare scheme for Indian overseas workers in the West Asian countries and have sent it to the Union Cabinet for approval. The proposals contained therein relate to the welfare of their families residing in the country also their welfare on their return to India.


The Union minister of state for external affairs, E Ahamed disclosed that a number of agreements and MoUs were underway with Gulf countries. He also shared the roadblocks that the Indian Government faces in implementing some of the plans in view of the varied domestic rules and regulations of the Gulf countries.


Andhra Pradesh minister for energy & coal, minorities welfare, Wakf Urdu Academy, Mohammad Shabbir Ali cautioned the Government against non-conformity with labour agreements. Kerala minister for industries, Elamaram Kareem suggested the constitution of a Core Group and setting up of regional level single window clearance systems for PIO investments and projects


Ravi said that his ministry would take up with the civil aviation ministry about more flights to Gulf countries. The civil aviation minister, Praful Patel said that Kingfisher Airlines would be permitted to fly abroad, apart from Air India and Jet Airways.


Ravi said that his ministry will work on for the implementation of the India Development Foundation for channelising PIO contributions for empowerment of rural women and vocational training, establishment of the Global Advisory Council of the Persons of Indian Origin (PIO), PIO University as recommended by the Prime Minister of India. The Union minister for women and child development, Renuka Chowdhury also urged the PIOs to generously contribute towards the fund.


The commerce and industry minister, Kamal Nath addressing a session said that amidst the shift in the global economic architecture, India has experienced a huge transformation since the early nineties when economic reforms were launched. Today India's engagement with the global Economy was around $ 450 billion and foreign exchange reserves were at a record level of $ 270 billion. India followed an "India specific" model and was now globally competitive. He said that Indian Companies were now heavily investing abroad, and the consumer market was growing at a fast pace.


He said that the success of China was due to its SMEs, not the large corporations. Chinese SMEs get the support of their Diaspora, while the Chinese government supported their large enterprises. The minister urged the Indian Diaspora to lend their intellectual and entrepreneurship resources to build the Indian SME sector and engage it with the SMEs worldwide.


The Canadian minister of small business and entrepreneurship, Harvinder Takhar Canada, said PIOs can promote trade between their home country and India, as they understand both countries. He highlighted the initiatives taken in his home constituency Ontario to promote trade in terms of reduction of paper work and opening of a marketing office in Delhi.


Trade and investment opportunities were also the highlights of the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas with a number of Indian industry leaders participating in the discussions. The chief ministers of Delhi, Gujarat, Kerala and Jharkhand appealed to PIOs to explore investment opportunities.


President Patil, addressing the Valedictory session, said the "Pravasi Bharatiya Divas signifies the homecoming of the Indian Diaspora." She applauded the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas's attempt to focus on issues of social development, rural entrepreneurship, women empowerment and urged the Diaspora forum to "transform and implement" the ideas and partnerships that have emerged from the various sessions of the two day conference.


Emphasizing the fact that "social development is vital for stable growth", the President of India asked overseas Indians to contribute to their motherland in terms of education, healthcare, rural entrepreneurship, infrastructure projects etc. as much more remains to be done in these areas of growth. She said that the Indian Diaspora has become a significant "socio economic, cultural and political force in the world" and they should work on keeping up this image of the Indians abroad.


Twelve distinguished Pravasi Bharatiyas were honored by President Pratibha Patil with the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award for outstanding contributions to their home countries and to relations with India at the end of the two-day 6th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas in Delhi on January 9th.


Dr. Thomas Abraham, presently Chairman of Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO), organized the first convention of People of Indian Origin in New York, and helped establish a number of NRI/PIO community organizations and institutions.


Dr Joy Cherian received the honor for guiding US business missions to India and for public service. He was the first Asian to be appointed to a sub-cabinet position in the US Government.


Among other winners of the PBD awards are: Dr Navinchandra Ramgoolam, Prime Minister of Mauritius, was cited as a leader with genuine concern for the disadvantaged sections of society and for nurturing and strengthening the bonds between Mauritius and India. Neville Joseph Roach, chairman of TCS-FNS, was honored for effectively advocating the cause of India and PIO in Australia. Dr Ravi Pillai, Managing director Nasser Al Hajri Corporation, Bahrain, was conferred the award for being one of the largest employers of Indians abroad and for welfare projects in India.


A.P.S. Mani, Founder and coordinator of Indian Community Activities in Tokyo, was recognized for his pioneering work in community welfare in Japan. Judge Ajit Swaran Singh received the honor for actively facilitating new migrants from India to settle in New Zealand. Rafiudin S. Fazulbhoy, Founding member of the Indian school at Jeddah and the Indian Pilgrims' Welfare Forum, Saudi Arabia, was awarded for his work in the field of education in Jeddah for children of Indian origin and service to Haj pilgrims. Bicky Chakraborty, A leading hotelier in Sweden, was honored for his work in India and Sweden as a philanthropist.


From Trinidad and Tobago, an organization was recognized. the National Council of Indian Culture (Trinidad and Tobago) has been instrumental in creating awareness of Indian heritage among people of Indian descent. Krishnamurthy Kumar, founding governor of the Indian Business and Professional Council, under the aegis of the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, UAE, was recognized for his work on Indian diversity and religious harmony in the UAE. Lord Karan Billimoria, Chairman of the Indo-British Partnership and also the representative Deputy Lieutenant of the London Borough of Hounslow, has pitched for closer and deeper business relations between India and the UK.


Minister of Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi in his address said the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas has "gone beyond the narrow boundaries" of investments, business networking and treaded the path of social development with knowledge, philanthropy, culture, women empowerment, rural entrepreneurship engaging the Diaspora over the past couple of days. Ravi also said that his ministry will work for the implementation of the India Development Foundation, establishing of the Global Advisory Council of the PIOs, PIO University as recommended by the Prime Minister of India.


Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Awardess and GOPIO Offcials with PM Singh

Photo top: Pravasi Bhratiya Samman recipients with President Pratibha Patil and Minister for Overseas Idnian Affairs Vayala Ravi
Photo below: GOPIO officials with Prime Minsiter Manmohan Singh at his residenc. From L. to R. Dr. Piyush Agrawal, Ashook Ramsaran, Inder singh, PM Singh, Dr. Thomas Abraham and K.N. Gupta



On January 5th, 2008, GOPIO leadership met with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at his Residence during the presentation of book by former Union Minister and Governor M.M. Jacob. The group included Dr. Thomas Abraham, Mr. & Mrs. Inder Singh, Mr. Ashook Ramsaran,  Dr. & Mrs. Piyush Agrawal, and Mr. K.N. Gupta.


Piyush had an opportunity to speak with the Prime Minister on a one-to-one basis when he expressed his concern on the slow progress in India on the US-India Civic Nuclear Agreement. Dr. Agrawal brought to the attention of the PM that the Indian Community in USA has put in a lot of efforts and resources to get the Agreement through in USA and now their credibility is at stake if the deal does not go through. Failure of the passage of the agreement would tremendously weaken the socio-political clout of Indian Americans in USA for any future cooperative endeavors.


The Prime Minister in his usual humble style told Dr. Agrawal that he was grateful to the Indian Community in USA and he was working on it and that we should have faith in the process.




During the last thirty plus years, a large number of Indian citizens have moved to other countries and have settled there permanently. When they left home they were young and left their parents and other family members behind.  With the passage of time as their parents passed away, it started a great nightmare in the lives of many NRIs. A growing number of NRIs have become victims of the fact that their inherited properties have been forcefully and illegally occupied or taken by people back home. In many situations it is no other than their own family members on whom they trusted and respected since childhood.  A similar problem is also growing for NRIs in the commercial real estate where the tenants refuse to honor their agreements to pay rents, or to vacate the property.


The fact of the matter is that these people who forcefully and illegally take NRIs properties, or refuse to honor their agreements to pay rents, or to vacate the property knows that NRIs can not contest the cases in courts in India. Generally in any court, the civil cases take some where ten to fifteen years.  However, in situations where it is a cheating situation, one need to file a criminal case either in the District court, or in the High Court. The NRIs have a great disadvantage to contest a criminal case in the Indian Judicial system since the plaintiff (the person who files a case - in this case an NRI) needs to be present on every court date in India. This is impossible for any NRI to go home so frequently.  Thus, the bottom line is that in India NRIs are at a great disadvantage that they can not contest criminal cases and civil cases takes forever.


If this problem is not solved soon it would have great effect on NRIs investment in India. They would be greatly discouraged to buy property.  A growing number of NRIs are now opting for dual citizenships and for PIO cards.  The simple question is, "if NRIs properties or other investments are not safe back home and NRIs can not protect them through the judicial system why should NRIs buy properties, or invest in other sectors in India".


To draw the attention of Indian Government on this issue, on behalf of all NRIs around the world, GOPIO ( Global organization of People of Indian Origin) took the first step and passed a resolution  dealing with, "Protection of Commercial Real Estate Investments", ( for details see ) during their 2006 conference in Hyderabad on January 6, 2006, in India. In this resolution GOPIO urged the Government of India, " to enact legislation to protect the investors and set a mechanism where the violations can be brought to the attention of appropriate  state and central authorities for relief".


To expedite and resolve the matters, GOPIO further proposes that, "the State Governments and Central Governments designate some District courts and High Courts for NRIs so that a civil or a criminal case can be contested and concluded by an NRI in ten, twenty or thirty days at a stretch". 


Contact: Dr. Subhash C. Sharma, Co-Chair, GOPIO Task Force on NRI's/PIO's property issues, Carbondale, IL, USA, Tel: 618-453-5070, E-mail


In an unprecedented execution style massacre, 11 persons of Indian origin were shot dead in their homes in the village of Lusignan on the East Coast of Guyana 10 miles east of the capital city of Georgetown. The victims were all killed by gunshots while they slept, including 5 children ranging from 4 years to 12 years old. The victims are: Raywattie Ramsingh, 11, her father Rooplall Seecharran, 56, her mother Dhanrajie Ramsingh, called Sister, 52; Clarence Thomas, his son Ron, 11, daughter, Vanessa, 12; Mohandai Gourdat, 32, her two children: Seegobind Harilall, 4 years-old and Seegopaul, 10; and Shalem Baksh, 52; and Shazam Mohammed. The injured are Howard Thomas, 19, Nadir Mohamed, 48, and Roberto Thomas age 5.


Once report said: A gang of marauding gunmen created havoc in the East Coast Demerara village of Lusignan killing 11 persons, including five children, in one of the deadliest attacks in recent years". President Bharrat Jagdeo President Bharrat Jagdeo has described "the shooting incident in the community of Lusignan early this morning as an act aimed at spreading terror on the East Coast Demerara and in the country". President Jagdeo said "This morning our country awoke to the sad news that 11 persons were gunned down in a brutal, cowardly act by criminals. I say cowardly because only sick, demented cowards could kill defenseless children". The President declared a national day of mourning in their honor as widespread anger, disbelief and grief were in full display from the time of this tragedy and continued through the funerals. Family, friends and strangers alike mourn the loss of innocent lives in this senseless carnage.  



The Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO) expresses strong and unequivocal condemnation of the execution-style murders of eleven Guyanese of Indian origin that took place in Lusignan in Guyana on January 26, 2008. GOPIO strongly and categorically condemns this most blatant and reprehensible act of crime against innocent people, including small children. We share the shock, pain and anguish of family and friends of the victims and extend our heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families and relatives of the victims and offer prayers for the speedy recovery of those injured.


We grieve at the inhumane, uncivilized and blatant act of murder perpetrated on the innocent within a select ethnic group seemingly directed to create fear and insecurity on the population at large. We urge that all the people in Guyana stand together and denounce such acts of crime and violence. We are hopeful that the security forces will apprehend the murderers promptly and bring the perpetrators of this ghastly crime to justice as expeditiously as possible. We particularly urge the Government of Guyana to promptly take all necessary steps to ensure there is no repetition of attacks of any type targeted against people of Indian origin or any ethnic group.


Yesu Persaud, Chairman of GOPIO of Guyana, voiced his strong condemnation of the murders, stating that "the indiscriminate wanton acts of terrorizing and killing eleven persons of Indian origin, including five children in their beds, are blatant acts of crime against humanity and must be condemned by all persons irrespective of origin in every part of the world".


Dr. Thomas Abraham, Chairman of GOPIO International, stated that, "GOPIO is truly saddened and distressed by the savage murder of so many innocent people of Indian origin, including children at sleep. Dr Abraham continued that, "we call on the Government of Guyana to promptly take all necessary steps to quickly bring the murderers to justice, to prevent such acts of violence in the future and to provide safety and security for its citizens".


"People of Indian origin throughout the Indian Diaspora are generally a peaceful, law abiding ethnic group and have contributed tremendously to their respective country's economic growth and progress", said Inder Singh, President of GOPIO International. "Attacks on any one group are not in the interest of progress and peaceful co-existence, nor in the national interest". Singh further stated that, "GOPIO urges the Government of Guyana to initiate needed steps as a matter of urgency to further nurture and promote peaceful co-existence among people of the various ethnic groups living in Guyana in order to prevent such attacks in the future".


Lord Diljit Rana, Executive Vice President of GOPIO International (House of Lords, UK), said "I am very saddened at the killing of innocent people in racial savagery. The Government of Guyana and the world community need to take strong action against the culprits responsible for this heinous act. Such dastardly acts do not help anyone or any group", he urged.


"With due consideration and recognition that guaranteed security for a country's population and swift and just application of the rule of law are the cornerstone of a progressive society", stated Guyanese born Ashook Ramsaran, Secretary General of GOPIO International, "we call on the Government of Guyana to take all necessary steps to provide needed security and peace of mind for its people, in particular those who continue to be the target of such brutal attacks in Guyana".


"It is criminal act against innocent people and all efforts should promptly be made to bring the perpetrators to justice as quickly as possible, with reassurance by law enforcement agencies that the safety of the citizens of Guyana is of paramount importance", said Ambassador Krishna Nandoe, Vice President of GOPIO Caribbean Region.


For more information, please contact Inder Singh, President of GOPIO International at or by telephone at +1-818-708-3885 or Ashook Ramsaran, Secretary General, at or by telephone at +1-718-939-8194 or Yesu Persaud, Chairman of GOPIO of Guyana, at or by telephone at +0592-226-2135.




The government of Guyana has offered a reward of $150,000 for fugitive Rondell Rawlins who is believed to be behind the massacre of 11 people of Indian origin last Saturday. An official of the Guyana Police confirmed that Rawlins, a former soldier of the Guyana Defence Force, was on the run and all efforts were being made to capture him dead or alive. There are reports that he is dead, but police cannot confirm this.


Guyanese of Indian origin are in a state of shock since the massacre of the 11 people in Lusignan village, about 15 km from capital Georgetown. Most residents of the village are of Indian origin.


The ethnic Indian community has launched protests, condemning the government for failing to offer them safety and security.


President Bharrat Jagdeo has sought assistance from the United States and other developed nations to provide more aid to the country's impoverished security forces. The roughly 3,000 police officers and 2,000 soldiers of the country are ill equipped to handle the threat posed by increasingly brazen gangs.






Anthar Rashtriya Sayayog Nyas (Trust for International Cooperation) presented its Third Bharatvanshi Gaurav Award (Person of Indian Origin Pride) award to Dr. Thomas Abraham, Chairman of the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO) at the Constitution Club in New Delhi on January 4th. The chief guest was former Indian Vice President Bhairon Singh Sekhawat.


The Trust's president Lakan Lal Mehrotra introduced Dr. Thomas Abraham by saying that the trust is proud to bestow upon this honor to Dr. Abraham for his outstanding contribution for building an overseas Indian movement and founding GOPIO. Sekhawat said that India is proud of it sons and daughters living outside India who have made India proud. Mr. Baleshwar Agrawal, President of Anthar Rashtriya Sahayog Parishad complimented Dr. Abraham for his work in uniting the community all over the world and taking up common causes of the community. He also appealed for supporting Pravasi Bhavan (PIO Center) which the Nyas is building in New Delhi.

Bharatvanshi Gaurav Award to Dr. Thomas Abraham 

Photo top: From L. to R. Former MEA Secretary and incoming Nyas President J.C. Sharma, Nyas President L.L. Mehrotra, former V.P. Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, Dr. Thomas Abraham, Baleshwar Agrawal, and Shadi Lall Minda.
Photo bottom: Dr. Thomas Abraham after ceremonial shawl was put on him by former Vice President Sekhawat.

Dr. Abraham thanked all those involved and helping to build the various community organizations such as the Federation of Indian Associations (FIA) of New York, the National Federation of Indian American Associations (NFIA) and the GOPIO. "I accept this prestigious award in humility and on behalf of all hundreds of volunteers who worked with me as a team in mobilizing the Indian community," said Dr. Abraham. Attended by over 250 people including several GOPIO officials, the program ended with the presentation of a scroll, a memento and a check for Rs. 100,000 to Dr. Abraham.




The Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO International) is pleased to announce the inauguration of the newly elected and duly constituted executive officers of GOPIO Trinidad & Tobago at a Fund-Raising Dinner and Awards Ceremony to be held on the evening of February 29th, 2008, at the prestigious Hindu Credit Union's World Select Gem Convention Centre in Freeport, Trinidad.


The feature speaker will be the Indian High Commissioner, His Excellency Shri Jagjit Singh Sapra. Newly elected executive officers of GOPIO Trinidad & Tobago will be inaugurated by Mr. Ashook Ramsaran, General Secretary of GOPIO International, and Ambassador Mr. Krishna Nandoe, Caribbean Regional Vice-President of GOPIO International.


GOPIO Trinidad & Tobago will also honor six persons of Indian origin (PIOs) whose sterling contributions have impacted positively on the community.  Indian High Commissioner Jagjit Singh Sapra will make the presentation to the awardees.


Entertainment for the evening will be provided by the Mahatma Gandhi Institute for Cultural Cooperation.


Contact: Deosaran Bisnath, President,GOPIO Trinidad & Tobago, P.O. BOX 2286, Chaguanas, Trinidad & Tobago, Tel: 687-7529, E-mail:




GOPIO-CT hosted its second youth and young professionals networking lunch on December 24, 2007 at Meera Restaurant in Stamford, CT. The panelists included Anand Ahuja, an MBA student Harvard; Sharon Banta, a young professional who works in Manhattan; and Jay Abraham, a design engineer at Pratt and Whitney. The emphasis of the afternoon was to meet, network and learn from each other, help in finding a career that one enjoys and then identifying opportunities and mentors early on to set forth on the chosen career path.


The panel session was moderated by Ankur Ahuja. Ankur graduated from NYU and is currently doing research work at Columbia. Ankur has been actively involved with GOPIO-CT Youth Committee since March 2006.


The networking event was well received by attendees, who ranged from high school students to working professionals. Over 30 people attended the luncheon. The turn out was great and people really opened up to each other.

GOPIO-CT has scheduled have a new members drive with a wine and cheese reception on February 15th in Stamford. Congressman Christopher Shays will be the chief guest.


Contact: GOPIO-CT President Sangeeta Ahuja at 203-329-9744, E-mail:




In view of the recent tragedy of the murder of 11 innocent persons in Guyana, GOPIO International has decided to postpone the planned May 3, 2008 GOPIO Conference to have been held in Guyana in conjunction with the 170th Anniversary of the first arrivals of Indian laborers from India to then British Guiana. The conference theme "Regional Community Dialogue" was selected when GOPIO International President Inder Singh, GOPIO International Secretary General Ashook Ramsaran, GOPIO of Guyana Chairman Yesu Persaud met with Guyana's President Bharrat Jagdeo on June 6, 2007 in Guyana.


GOPIO of Guyana Chairman Yesu Persaud and chapter executives are keeping GOPIO International closely informed so that the conference can be quickly re-scheduled to a new date.




GOPIO has been selected by New York City Mayor's Office for Immigrant Affairs to continue its annual participation in New York Immigrant Week 2008 to be observed April 14 through April 20, 2008. GOPIO's event proposal "Community Dialogue Among Caribbean /Latin American Immigrants in NYC," has been approved for inclusion by Commissioner Guillermo Linares of the Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs. The conference event is being sponsored by GOPIO in collaboration with St John's University Committee on Caribbean and Latin American Studies (CLACS) and the Guyanese East Indian Civic Association (GEICA).


The theme of New York Immigrant Week 2008 is "NY Immigrants". The goals are: To create an environment of inclusiveness that embraces and celebrates all New Yorkers; To celebrate New Yorkers' immigrant histories and contributions; To connect New Yorkers of different origins; and to inspire New Yorkers to reclaim and take pride in their immigrant roots and history.


For information on participation, please contact: Ashook Ramsaran (Secretary General, GOPIO Int'l) at; Dr Alina Camacho-Gingerich (St John's University CLACS) at; Prakash Singh (GEICA) at




Stephanie Mehta, a veteran writer at Fortune, has been named Global Editor of Fortune (in effect the foreign editor of the magazine). Mehta, whose father is from India and mother from the Philippines, is one of four journalists of South Asian origin to hold similar titles at major U.S. magazines. Fareed Zakaria is editor of Newsweek International; Nisid Hajari is foreign editor of Newsweek; and Bobby Ghosh is international editor of Time (a job Romesh Ratnesar held before him).


Stephanie Mehta covers technology and telecommunications for Fortune. Since arriving at the magazine in April 2000, she has written major features on such high-profile companies as WorldCom, Cisco and AOL Time Warner. Recent television appearances include interviews on Nightline and The Charlie Rose Show. Before joining Fortune, Stephanie was an assistant news editor at The Wall Street Journal, reporting and editing technology stories. As a staff reporter at The Journal, she helped break news stories on some of the biggest mergers of the 1990s, including SBC Communications' $70 billion takeover of Ameritech.


Stephanie started her journalism career as a staff writer for The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, Va. She holds a bachelor's degree in English and a master's in journalism from Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill.


Stephanie sits on the board of directors of Asian Professional Extension, a non-profit group that provides mentoring and scholarships to underprivileged Asian American teenagers. She also serves on the steering committee of A3, the Asian American employees group at Time Inc. A native of the Chicago area, Stephanie now lives in Brooklyn with her husband, Nathan Scott, a financial analyst.




A dozen NRIs were chosen for the Padma awards announced at the eve of the India's Republic Day. In a record of sorts, the award list announced by the Indian government has nine people living in the US. They account for five Padma Bhushan and four Padma Shri awardees.


The Padma Bhushgan award recipients are: Padma Desai, an economics professor at Columbia University in New York; Kaushik Basu, an economist at Cornell University and author; Srinivasa S.R. Varadhan, a mathematician with New York University and the 2007 laureate of the prestigious Abel prize, given to a mathematician annually by Norway; astronaut Sunita Williams and Vikram Pandit, who took over as Citigroup's chief executive in December 2007. Lord Meghnad Jagdish Chandra Desai is a member of the House of Lords and is a professor and director of the Center for the Study of Global Governance at the London School of Economics. Lakshmi Mittal is Kensigton, UK based billionaire industrialist.


Padma Shri award recipients are: Nirupam Bajpai, Director of the South Asia Program, Centre on Globalisation and Sustainable Development at The Earth Institute, Columbia University; Hollywood scriptwriter and director Manoj Night Shyamalan; Madhuri Dixit, former Bollywood queen who made a comeback last year with "Aaja Nachle", lives in Denver, Colorado, with her husband Shriram Nene, a cardiothoracic surgeon, and two children and Sant Singh Virmani is a renowned rice scientist who retired in 2005 after a long innings as senior scientist with the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines and has worked with the Washington-based Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research. Yousaf Ali Musaliamveettil Abdul Kader of UAE is well know businessman owning several shopping complexes and had done many philanthropic projects in India.




Two Guyanese PIOs are among the four outstanding Caribbean men and women named as the winners of the 2008 Anthony N Sabga Caribbean Awards for Excellence (ANSCAFE). Professor David Dabydeen has been named as winner in the Arts & Letters section, while Annette Arjoon was named joint winner with Jamaican Claudette Richardson Pious in the Public & Civic Contributions segment. The prize is a gold medal, a citation and TT$500,000 and as joint winners Arjoon and Pious will share their monetary prize equally. The other winner is James Husbands of Barbados who won in the Science & Technology segment. The four ANSCAFE laureates will receive their prizes at a gala ceremony set for Trinidad and Tobago on April 12.


To be selected, laureates had to demonstrate a track record of consistently superior work and the capacity for significant future achievement; while their work must have had, or be likely to have, a positive impact on the Caribbean; and they must be worthy exemplars to people of the region.


Professor Dabydeen is a noted author of over 20 books of poetry, fiction and academic studies of West Indian literature and history. He won the Commonwealth Prize for Poetry for his first book, Slave Song (1984) and has won the Guyana Prize for Literature on three occasions. He is currently course convenor for the Master of Arts degree in Colonial and Postcolonial Literature in English at Warwick University in the UK. Arjoon is the founding secretary and project co-ordinator of the Guyana Marine Turtle Conservation Society and has been instrumental in protecting Shell Beach, a 100-mile ecosystem in Region One where four species of marine turtle nest. She is also the managing director of Shell BeachAdventures, an eco-tourism company.



Bobby Jindal, 36, was sworn in as Louisiana's governor last month, and the event has been covered across the world. He's the nation's youngest governor, the first whose parents are from India and the state's first nonwhite chief executive since Reconstruction. Governor Jindal has set his first objective as cleaning up a state government widely considered one of the most corruption-prone in America. Perhaps equally extraordinary, some political observers say he can do it.


Jindal succeeded Democrat Kathleen Blanco, whose reputation took a beating in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Blanco attended the inaugural ceremonies with three other former Louisiana governors. The state's only other living ex-governor is Edwin Edwards, who could not attend because he is serving a federal prison sentence on corruption charges. Jindal, a second-term member of Congress when he was elected, said he will call the state Legislature into a special session beginning Feb. 10 to tackle the centerpiece of his campaign: strengthening Louisiana's ethics laws.


The country's first Indian governor was New Jersey's transportation commissioner, Kris Kolluri, who held the post for 24 hours in 2006 when his boss was out of town. New Jersey law requires an acting governor to be appointed when the elected governor is away from the state.


Jindal graduated from Brown University and studied as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford. A fast-rising political star, he served in the Bush administration in the Department of Health and Human Services and then as a congressman from the first district of Louisiana. Elected to the governor's mansion with 54 percent of the vote last November (his closest competitor had 17 percent), Jindal takes over at an extremely dire time in the state's history.




The University of Warwick in the UK will award an Honorary Doctorate to Yesu Persaud of Guyana in July 2008 in recognition of his most significant contribution to the development of business in Guyana, his micro-credit initiatives (Institute of Private Enterprise Development), which have helped thousands of poor Guyanese; and his invaluable contributions to the restoration of democracy in his country. Warwick University is one of Britain's top five research institutions, and Yesu Persaud has been an Associate Fellow for several years. He now joins a list of honorary doctors that includes Nelson Mandela, Derek Walcott (the Nobel laureate), Sir Shiridath Ramphal, Mohamed Yunus (Nobel Prize for Peace 2006), and other distinguished and internationally renowned persons.


Yesu Persaud was born at Diamond Sugar Estate of humble parents who were descendents of indentured laborers from India. Through frugality and continuous hard work he was able with the help of his wife to save enough to leave for England where he qualified as a Chartered Certified Accountant and where he worked for a few years. On returning to Guyana in 1966 he joined the Sandbach Parker and Company, which had been in existence in Guyana since the 18th century, the Sugar Estate he once worked for. He steadily worked his way up the company and was appointed group finance director and finally the Chairman in 1975.  This company was expanded to form Demerara Distillers Limited, which produces the finest internationally recognized rums.


Mr Persaud was also the driving force in the setting up of the Demerara Bank Ltd, for which he received the highest praise from political leaders and bankers. In 1985 Yesu Persaud founded the Institute of Private Enterprise Development (IPED) which has been at the forefront of private sector development by training and funding the small and micro-business sectors to fuel the growth of an economy that was very weak.


Yesu Persaud's involvement in the 1990's in the pro-democracy movement (GUARD) revealed his moral courage and concern for human rights. He campaigned tirelessly for international human rights organizations to be present in Guyana to observe the elections, and met with international diplomats to lobby them for support for the restoration of democratic practices in Guyana. Among the other charitable institutions that Mr Persaud has been involved in are the University of Guyana's endowment fund, the Cheddi Jagan's Children Fund, the Cheshire Home for Disadvantaged Children and private foundations which help the poor and needy children to get an education.


Mr. Yesu Persaud is a founding life member of GOPIO, past Vice President of GOPIO Caribbean Region and current Chairman of GOPIO of Guyana Chapter. He was the recipient of Government of India 2006 Pravasi Bharatiya Divas Samman Award for his outstanding contributions to the Indian Diaspora community.




Two Guyanese PIOs are among the four outstanding Caribbean men and women named as the winners of the 2008 Anthony N Sabga Caribbean Awards for Excellence (ANSCAFE). Professor David Dabydeen has been named as winner in the Arts & Letters section, while Annette Arjoon was named joint winner with Jamaican Claudette Richardson Pious in the Public & Civic Contributions segment. The prize is a gold medal, a citation and TT$500,000 and as joint winners Arjoon and Pious will share their monetary prize equally. The other winner is James Husbands of Barbados who won in the Science & Technology segment. The four ANSCAFE laureates will receive their prizes at a gala ceremony set for Trinidad and Tobago on April 12.


To be selected, laureates had to demonstrate a track record of consistently superior work and the capacity for significant future achievement; while their work must have had, or be likely to have, a positive impact on the Caribbean; and they must be worthy exemplars to people of the region.


Professor Dabydeen is a noted author of over 20 books of poetry, fiction and academic studies of West Indian literature and history. He won the Commonwealth Prize for Poetry for his first book, Slave Song (1984) and has won the Guyana Prize for Literature on three occasions. He is currently course convener for the Master of Arts degree in Colonial and Postcolonial Literature in English at Warwick University in the UK. Arjoon is the founding secretary and project co-ordinator of the Guyana Marine Turtle Conservation Society and has been instrumental in protecting Shell Beach, a 100-mile ecosystem in Region One where four species of marine turtle nest. She is also the managing director of Shell BeachAdventures, an eco-tourism company.




PepsiCo's Indra K. Nooyi has been elected Chairman of the US-India Business Council (USIBC) - the first woman to ever serve at the helm of this premier business advocacy organization. The USIBC comprises 250 of the largest US companies investing in India, joined by more than two dozen global Indian companies.


The mandate of USIBC is to deepen two-way trade and strengthen US-India commercial ties. USIBC President Ron Somers stated, "That someone of Indra's stature and grace has stepped forward to advance the progress of the Council so effectively implemented by outgoing Chairman Chip Kaye is not only a testament to Chip's leadership, but speaks volumes of the exciting opportunities associated with these two dynamic economies."


The USIBC, formed in 1975 at the request of the Government of India and the US Government to advance commercial ties between the world's two largest free-market democracies, is hosted under the aegis of the US Chamber of Commerce. The US Chamber of Commerce is the world's largest business federation representing more than 3 million businesses and organizations of every size, sector, and region.



Malaysia has been going through turmoil with recent protests by Malaysian Indians on their violations civil rights. Assuaging the feelings of agitated ethnic Indians ahead of elections, the Malaysian Prime Minister recently declared the Hindu festival of Thaipusam a national holiday and vowed to eradicate poverty among the community, which claims it is being marginalised. Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi, whose government was rattled by unprecedented street protests by the community recently, said he decided to recognize Thaipusam as a "public holiday" after getting requests from the ethnic Indian community, which forms just 7.8 per cent of the total population in this Muslim-majority country.




The Indira Gandhi National Center for the Arts held a Diaspora Cultural program on Monday January 21, 2008 at its IGNCA Amphitheater located in Janpath, New Delhi. The program included a keynote address by Dr. K. K. Chakravarty, Member Secretary of IGNCA, followed by a reading by Prof. David Dabydeen from his latest book "THE FIRST CROSSING", followed by of book written by Ms. Nalini Mohabir and a dance performance by Ms. Simona Jovic of Serbia on Migration of Roma from India with Indian dancers and musicians.


The interactive session with Prof. David Dabydeen of the University of Warwick, UK and Ambassador to UNESCO for Guyana, was about his latest book "THE FIRST CROSSING", an edited version of the diary of a medical doctor who traveled in the first immigrant ship to Guyana from Kolkata in 1838. The book by Ms Mohabir of the University of Leeds, UK, dealt with the story of 250 Indians who came back on the last repatriation ship from Guyana to Kolkata in 1955. Roma dancer, signer and actress, Simona Jovic, has Serbian and Czech origins, and she grew up in the Former Yugoslavia. During her childhood, she was surrounded by Romany culture, and very young she started traveling in order to meet Roma people from all around the world. That's how she specialized herself in music and dances of the Rroma.




Eight Indian American high school students, five of them girls, have been named among 40 finalists for the Intel Science Talent Search 2008 contest.  They are: Avanthi Raghavan (Orlando, Florida), Shravani Mikkilineni (Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, Hamsa Sridhar (Kings Park, New York), Shivani Sud (Durham, North Carolina), Isha Jain (Bethlehem, Pennsylvania), Vinay Venkatesh Ramasesh (Fort Worth, Texas), Ashok Chandran (Nesconset, New York), and Ayon Sen (Austin, Texas). All finalists will get at least $5,000 in scholarships and a laptop. They will next compete for 10 scholarships - including the top award of $100,000 - in March in Washington, DC.


They were selected on Jan 30 from over 1,600 individual entrants for the nationwide competition, often called the "junior Nobel prize", administered annually by the Washington based Society for Science & the Public.


The competition, now in its 67th year, has been sponsored by the Intel Corporation for the past 10 years. Winners of the competition have gone on to receive over 100 of the world's most coveted science and math honors, including six Nobel prizes.




New Zealand-based Shaheed Bhagat Singh Foundation, consisting of members mainly of Punjabi origin, has decided to adopt a Punjab village and turn it into a model place for promotion of girl child. One of its members, Parminder Singh visited Punjab in December last year and discussed the modalities with Dr Harshindar Kaur, the lone woman crusader from Patiala, who has extensively surveyed and documented the incidence of female foeticide and infanticide. Parminder carried back several of her studies and broad outlines of the scheme for a model village.


The Foundation has decided that it would be operating in collaboration with this paediatrician from Rajindra government medical college and hospital, according to Auckland-based Gurinder Singh Dhatt, president of the Foundation. Dhatt said "At the birth of a girl child, we would be investing a particular amount in her name in the bank which would be made available to her when she attains the age of 18. The idea is to provide a respectable amount of money when she is of marriageable age so that dowry does not become the cause of her death when she is not even born yet."


Further, any bright, intelligent girl student from the model village would also get financial support or sponsorship to study abroad, which should again work as an incentive for the foreign-crazed Punjabi parents, the group members revealed.


The members would be visiting the village at least twice a year, but the coordinator, Dr Harshindar would visit the village almost every two months, giving awareness talks and generally following up on the health of the children.




Australian Punjabi Sports and Cultural Society is inviting golfers around the globe to participate in the 'Baisakhi Golf Open' tournament at Riverside Oaks - PGA Golf Course, which will be held over two days - Friday & Saturday, the 25th and 26th February 2007. The society expects up to 100 reservations representing the Indian Diaspora and would comprise of the elite and applauded personalities.  It would be a grand platform to mingle and further acquaintances both socially and professionally. For further information, contact Chairman Rikku Gill at 407706609 or by email





Bahrain's flagship carrier Gulf Air on Jan 31 announced daily flights from Hyderabad and upgrading flight frequency to daily on its Kochi and Kolkata routes. The country's undersecretary for civil aviation affairs, Abdulrahman Moh'd Al Gaoud is also looking for starting services Kozhikode. Gulf Air perceives India as a huge market. "Even if more players come in, there is enough space for all of us," Gulf Air CEO Bjorn Naf said when asked about the carrier's plans to compete with private airliners in India and the Gulf.


India would soon open its Gulf routes for private air operators. This would provide more choice to the over four million Indian Diaspora in the Gulf. Gulf Air also has ground expansion plans. The airline is looking for suitable tie-up for a having a maintenance, repair and overhauling unit in India.




Following a huge acclaim and resounding success of the US edition of Roshni: The Light of South Asia, Dr. Rashmee Sharma is poised to author the additional two volumes due to be launched in the year 2008 and 2009. Understanding a distinct need to create a comprehensive historical perspective on South Asian achievements, the book features 101 distinguished South Asians from diverse disciplines across the nation. Inspiration being the underlying theme of the superior quality of this reference book, the idea is to create real life role models for the younger generation worldwide. The objective of Rashmee is to have the book in every public library of the US. Some of the prominent individuals featured in Roshni are Deepak Chopra, Bobby Jindal, Mira Nair, Kanwal Rekhi, Vinita Gupta and Rajat Gupta.


Dr. Sharma's second edition of North American Roshni- will extend to some prominent individuals from both America and Canada. She is also concurrently working on the third global edition of Indians globally featuring global Indian heroes such as Ratan Tata, Rajmata Gayatri Devi, Azim Premji and Narayanamurthy.


More information is available on the website  You can nominate or call 206-730-0770 to request more information on buying the book or details on the forthcoming edition.




Former Extension Officer and General Secretary of the Guyana Rice Producer's Association (GRPA.), Guyanese born PIO Dharamkumar Seeraj has taken the initiative in launching the Agri Magazine for the benefit of farmers.


The primary purpose of Newsletters was to bring farmers and readers up to date with the latest news and issues affecting the Agricultural Industry of Guyana as a whole and the rice industry in particular. It also contains information on global rice sector issues. It aims to be topical, well informed, wide-ranging, comprehensive, and readable. According to Mr. Seeraj, the new Agri Magazine will have a 'Farmer's Mailbox', so the farmers can express their dissatisfaction on any topics and help to advice the R.P.A. in any area to better promote the rice industry.


The extension section of the RPA should help to advice farmers on technical issues through the magazine on the proper use of fertilizers, paddy bugs, plant hoppers, sheath rots, research data, field trials and good seeds etc. The RPA has come a long way and has evolved with dynamism with Mr Seeraj at the helm of this organization, he indefatigable has taken the RPA, that once only survived on faith, and transformed it into an entity that encompasses limitless endeavors within a spectrum that recognizes no borders




Air India's launches its non stop flight AI-101/AI-102 on the Delhi-New York sector, effective February 8, 2008. With the introduction of this new flight, Air India will become the first carrier to offer non stop services between Delhi and JFK, New York.


The passengers traveling in premium classes - First and Executive - on the Boeing 777-200LR (Longer Range aircraft) will get a free limousine pick up and drop service to/from Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport and JFK airport at the time of departure/arrival.  Additionally, they will receive a gift voucher of USD75 and USD50 respectively for each sector of travel for onboard duty free shopping. On August 2007, Air India introduced a daily Non-Stop flight between Mumbai and New York. 


Those who purchase tickets in India for travel by the Non-Stop flight from Delhi/Mumbai in the Economy Class on full published IATA fares can avail of Air India's Companion Free Scheme.  The scheme is valid till March 31, 2008.




The Indian cabinet has appointed K. Mohandas as the new secretary in the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs. A Kerala cadre IAS officer of the 1974 batch, Mohandas succeeds Nirmal Singh, who has retired. He was earlier special secretary in the revenue department.




IANS reports that naans, rotis and tandoori fare are beginning to find acceptance in the land of exotic dishes and Peking duck. But restaurants say it will be a long time before Indian cuisine really tickles the Chinese taste bud.


Most of the Chinese clientele in the growing number of restaurants serving Indian food here are in the 20s and 30s, and dominantly male. A majority of the customers are Indians or Western expatriates who relish Indian cooking.


In a country that boasts of a mind-boggling variety of exotic, primarily non-vegetarian cuisine whipped out of every organ of a living creature that is fit to be cooked, there are today more than 100 restaurants in the country that cater either exclusively to or also to Indian cuisine.


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 (

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


GOPIO President - Inder Singh, Tarzana, California, USA, Tel: 818-708-3885, E-mail:

GOPIO Executive Vice President - Lord Daljit Rana, UK, Tel:  +44 28-9807-8787, Email:

GOPIO Secretary General - Ashook Ramsaran, Fresh Meadows, New York City, Tel: 718/939-8194, E-mail:


To become a Life member of GOPIO, visit, print and fill up the form and send it with a check to: GOPIO, P.O. Box 1413, Stamford, CT 06904, USA.


GOPIO welcomes the following new Life Members:

Dr. Dhani Ram Baruah (India), Balachandran nair (Dubai and India) and Manoranjan Sinh (India)


Chief Editor: Dr. Thomas Abraham, Chairman, GOPIO (Stamford, CT, USA)

Editors: Ashook Ramsaran, GOPIO General Secretary (New York, USA); and Munish Gupta, GOPIO Media Chair (Los Angeles, Calif)

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

Contributors of this issue: Inder Singh (USA), Dr. Piyush Agrawal (USA), Deosaran Bisnath (Trinidad & Tobago), Dr. Subhash C. Sharma (USA) andSangeeta Ahuja (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:


Visit GOPIO's Official site at or