February 8, 2012

A Publication of the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO)

Issue: XI-3

February, 2012

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The Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO) concluded it's very successful Executive Meetings, Regional & Country Reports followed by highly acclaimed GOPIO's Community Service Awards banquet held on January 6, 2012 at the Marriott Jaipur Hotel. The GOPIO events of January 6 preceded Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD2012) events of January 7 - 9, 2012.


The interactive session on Regional & Country Reports followed the GOPIO Executive Meeting chaired by recently elected president Ashook Ramsaran and attended by: Sunny Kulathakal (Executive Vice President); Dr Piyush Agrawal (Senior Vice President); Munish Gupta (International Coordinator, Africa); Umesh Chandra (International Coordinator, Oceania) and Dr Thomas Abraham (Executive Trustee, GOPIO Foundation).


Regional & Country Reports session was chaired by GOPIO president Ashook Ramsaran on behalf of GOPIO chairman Inder Singh. Reports were presented by: Markandey Rai (Kenya); Dr Anand Singh (South Africa); Ved Prakash Goojha (France); Ena Maraj (Trinidad & Tobago); Radha Krishnan (National Indian Organizations in USA); Dr Piyush Agrawal (North America); Dr. Mohan Gautam (Netherlands); Roy Bodjhawan (GOPIO Netherlands); Suman Kapoor (New Zealand); Umesh Chandra (Oceania Region); Shyam Das (Australia); K N Gupta (Liaison with Gov't of India); Gopal Mehta (GOPIO Jaipur); Issac John (The Middle East and The GOPIO Media Council); Prem Lashkery (Nepal); Datuk A. Vaithilingam (Malaysia); Dr Winston Tolan (Jamaica).



Photo above: GOPIO Women's Council Chair Suman Kapoor (New Zealand) speaking at the session Regional and County Reports. Seated above are: GOPIO Executive VP Sunny Kulathakal (Bahrain), GOPIO Senior VP Dr. Piyush Agrawal (USA), GPPIO President Ashook Ramsaran (USA) and GOPIO International Coordinator for Africa Munish Gupta

The session on NRI/PIO Investment & Business Opportunities was a grand success with capacity attendance to participate in superb presentations. Following the welcome by Program Convener Munish Gupta and introductions by GOPIO President Ashook Ramsaran, the inaugural address was delivered by Chief Guest Shri. Rajendra Pareek, Rajasthan State Minister of Industries, NRI, Economics & Statistics.


GOPIO Confeence Investment Session Inaugural Session. Chief Guest Rajendra Parekh with organizers

Photo above: GOPIO Conference Session on Investment - Chief Guest Minister Rajendra Pareekh with other speakers and conference organizers


Presenters at the session were Mr. Yadvendra Mathur, IAS - Rajasthan Financial Corporation (Theme: The changing/ new India with rapid liberalization, economic reforms, legal system and good economy luring NRI/ PIO / Foreign Investors); Mr. Nirankar Saxena, FICCI Director, Center for Technology (Theme: India Commercializing Innovation and Technology Overseas, and inviting Overseas Indians to participate); Ms. Sujata Sudarshan, CEO of Overseas Indian Facilitation Centre - OIFC (Theme: Facilitating NRI / PIO investment opportunities, an MOIA initiative) and Shyamsundar Kadur, India-Trinidad &Tobago Chamber of Industry & Commerce - Managing Director of SS International Ltd. (Theme: NRI Opportunities in Trinidad & Tobago and the Caribbean Region); Also making presentations: Navita Yadav, COO & Head of IL&FS Trust Company Ltd, Mumbai, India; Deepak Sharma, Senior VP &. Business Manager- NRI Service, Kotak Mahindra Bank, Mumbai, India. The session ended with concluding remarks by Mr. Vishwas Jain, Managing Director of CEG India.


GOPIO Investment Session Speakers 

Photo above (from l. to r.) - GOPIO Investment Session speakers, from l. to r. Sujata Sudarshan, Nirankar Saxena, Munish Gupta, Navita Yadav, Ashook Ramsaran, Deepak Sharma, Yadvendra Mathur,  Shyamsundar Kadur


The GOPIO Community Service Awards banquet later that evening was a very prominent, high profile, well attended and publicized event with chief guest Shri Shivraj Patil, Governor of Rajasthan and guest of honor Shri Ashok Gehlot, Chief Minister of Rajasthan


Following the welcome by Program Convener Munish Gupta, GOPIO's Director for Government Liaison K. N Gupta greeted the audience. GOPIO president Ashook Ramsaran spoke about GOPIO and its plans for major events the next two years. GOPIO's Founder President Dr. Thomas Abraham, who currently serves as the Executive Trustee of GOPIO Foundation, spoke on GOPIO's history and objectives and that Jaipur was a real home coming for him since he graduated from the Malaviya National Institute of Technology (MNIT) located a mile from the banquet venue. GOPIO's Executive Vice President Sunny Kulathakal emphasized the importance of GOPIO serving the Diaspora and India's interest in all countries with large Indian Diaspora. Following speeches by the chief guest Governor Shri Shivraj Patil and Chief Minister Shri Ashok Gehlot, the GOPIO CSA awards and recognition were presented to the recipient as follows:


GOPIO Community Service Awardees: Faisal Kottikollon (Bahrain); Raghunath Manet (France); Prof. Ved Prakash Nanda (USA); Dr Rami Ranger, MBE (UK); Dr. Ajeet Singhvi (USA); Datuk A. Vaithilingam (Malaysia); Hendry H Wickramasinghe (Sri Lanka). GOPIO Special Award was presented to: Govt of India Shipping Secretary K. Mohandas (former secretary of Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs) for his contribution in initiating several MOIA programs for the Diaspora.

GOPIO Awards Banquet on Jan. 6, 2012. Award Recipients with Rajasthan Governor and Chief Minister 

Photo above (l-r): Munish Gupta, Dr Piyush Agrawal, Faisal Kottikollon, Sec K. Mohandas, Dr. Ved Prakash Nanda, Dr. Ajeet Singhvi, Hon. Shri Ashok Gehlot, H.E. Shri Shivraj Patil, Datuk A. Vaithilingam, Dr Rami Ranger, Hendry H Wickramasinghe, Raghunath Manet, Ashook Ramsaran, Sunny Kulathakal, K N Gupta, Dr Thomas Abraham


Concluding remarks and note of appreciation were given by Dr Piyush Agrawal (GOPIO's Senior Vice President) and GOPIO Jaipur Coordinator Gopal Mehta.


Watch PIOTV videos of GOPIO program in Jaipur at the following links:



The 10th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) was celebrated on January 7th to 9th at Jaipur last month. PBD has been organized since 2003 to appreciate the work done by overseas Indian community for the development of India.


Program started with two pre-conference sessions on Jan. 7th, on Solar Technology and Diaspora Contribution to Health Sector. The ministry of health made a strong pitch to Indians overseas during the PBD and urged them to help in the development of healthcare facilities in the country, especially in providing training, knowhow and advanced technologies. Many Indians in the Gulf and western countries have shown interest in setting up hospitals and medical colleges in India. Training of medical professionals is another area where they can help the Indian government.




PBD was inaugurated on Jan. 8th by Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, who announced that the government has issued notifications for registration of overseas voters under the Representation of People Act and non-resident Indians can now vote in the Indian elections. Postal ballot or online voting, however, has not been granted and the NRIs who want to vote will have to be present in their home constituencies to cast their ballot in person during the elections.


The government has also initiated an effort to spruce up its existing People of Indian Origin and Overseas Citizen of India schemes. The two schemes will now be merged, thus rectifying some problems and overlaps between the two. Foreign spouses of overseas Indian cardholders will now become eligible for the overseas citizen of India cards - which have proved very popular among people of Indian origin who have acquired citizenship of other countries.


Lately there has been a surge in workers going to work in the Gulf and other areas from the north Indian states including Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. In an effort to reach out to these workers, an office of the Protector of Emigrants has been set up in Jaipur. Earlier, they would have to travel to Delhi for their immigration formalities. The city will also have a migrant resource centre to provide support to overseas Indians and emigrating workers.


Speaking at the inaugural session, MOIA Minister Vayalar Ravi said that the government has unveiled a new e-migrate scheme to provide end-to-end online solutions for the emigration system. This will link semi-skilled and unskilled workers who go for jobs overseas, offices of the protector of emigrants, recruiting agencies, immigration officials, employers and Indian missions abroad.


Minister Ravi further said that in the past few years, the Indian government had entered into social security agreements with various European nations which benefit the Indian professionals who work there. These agreements are now being expanded into labor mobility partnership agreements which are being expanded to cover students, academics and professionals, besides skilled workers. Such pacts are being negotiated with the Netherlands, France, Australia and EU.


The chief guest at the PBD was Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar who was accompanied by a large delegation. PM Bissessar termed India as its grandmother to all the PIOs living in the Caribbean countries.


One of the highlights of the Pravasi Bharatiya divas this year was the launch of a new pension and life insurance fund for overseas Indian workers by the government. The scheme will encourage, enable and assist overseas workers to voluntarily save for their return and resettlement in their old age. It will also provide a low cost insurance cover against natural death.


The ministry of overseas Indian affairs has announced that it will undertake an ethnographic study of the vast and diverse body of people of Indian origin across the world, through its think tank the Indian Council of Overseas Employment. Such a database has never been undertaken before and the mapping will benefit both the Indian government and the communities of people of Indian origin around the world.


In a clear message that the government is serious about reaping the demographic dividend and in an effort to position India as a global supplier of skilled and trained workforce in the coming decades, the ministry of overseas Indian affairs has drafted a scheme for skills development. It is aimed to train over 10 million youth over the next two five-year plans and enable workers to move up the value chain and access better jobs overseas.




On Jan. 9th at the Valedictory session, President Pratibha Patil conferred the "Pravasi Bharatiya Samman" awards to 14 eminent overseas Indians, including Trinidad & Tobago Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar, and a Canada-based institution, for their outstanding contributions in enhancing India's image globally.



"Indian overseas community is not only large, but is becoming increasingly influential in the economic, professional and political fields in the country in which they are now living. We are proud of their accomplishments," Patil said while addressing the valedictory function of the 10th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas here.


Pravasi Bharatiya Samman is the highest award conferred by the Indian government on Non-resident Indians and Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs) and institutions run by them for their contribution in serving the Indian Diaspora and enhancing India's image in different parts of the world.


Bissessar, a person of Indian origin who became the first female prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago, is the most prominent among this year's awardees.


Congratulating Bissessar for her outstanding achievement, the president said Indian community world-wide would applaud her achievements.


"I would like to congratulate all the winners... It is an extremely distinguished list and we are honored by the presences of the awardees at this function," Patil said after conferring the award.


The other Pravasi Bharatiya Samman awardees include: P.V Radhakrishna Pillai from Bahrain, Sachchidanand Sahai from Cambodia, Deepak Naraindas Shivdasani from Cote D'Ivoire, Victor Shahed Smetacek from Germany, Prakash Lohia, chairman of Indorama Corporation, Jose Parayanken from Mozambique, Kiran Navinchandra Asher from Oman, Hassan Abdulkarim Chougule from Qatar, S.R. Nathan from Singapore, Khorshed Noshir Ginwala Rustomjee from South Africa, Rajesh Kumar Saraiya from Ukraine, Surendra Kumar Kaushik from US and Kalpalatha Kummamuri Guntupalli from US.


Indo-Canada Chamber of Commerce and Industry was also honored for its contribution in bettering business and economic relations between the two countries.


Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Recipients with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the Inauguration Session

Photo above: Pravasi bharatiya Samman Awardees with at teh inaugural session of PBD 2012. Seated from l. to r., Rajasthan Chief Minsiter Ashok Gehlot, T&T Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar, Prime Minsiter Manmiohan Singh, Governor Shivraj Patil and Minister Vayalar Ravi


So far, 133 NRI and PIOs and three institutions run by NRIs or persons of Indian origin have been conferred the award.


Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi said the 10th edition of the annual Diaspora meet saw the highest participation.


Over 2,000 delegates from 59 countries participated at the three-day event. The closing day of the event marked the 97th anniversary of homecoming of Mahatma Gandhi.


"Pravasi Bharatiya Divas is a celebration of Indians living abroad. It is an occasion to welcome them to the land of their ancestors, to the country of their origin to interact with them and to reacquaint ourselves with each other," the president said.




MOIA organized this session to get feedback from the Diaspora organizations. Represetnatives from GOPIO, Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA), National Federation of Idnian American Associaiton (NFIA), Rajasthan Associaiton of North America (RANA). GOPIO Founder President Dr. Thomas Abraham was a speaker who brought the following points to the attention of MOIA.


1. Initiate new programs for continued cultural linakges with PIO countries such as openign India Cultural Centers in those countries which do not have.


2. Reduce the the current passport surrender fee from $175 to a nominal service charge.


3. While changing from OCI to OIC, make it easy for people without any additional fee for the changeover.


4. Nothing much has happened in the Global Indian Network of Knowledge (Global INK). Invole the Indian community organizations to make it happen.


5. Establish an Advisory Committee to MOIA from the Diaspora organizations.


6. Reconsitute Prime Minister's Advisory Committee with a few members from the Diaspora organizations.


7. To bring and implement new technologies to India, initiate a global team of experts as advisors in some of the key ministries such as Science and Technology, Agriculture, Power Generation, Alternative Energy Generation, Heath, Educatiuon and Human Services.


8. At the featured pre-PBD conferences, have business to business (B to B) as part of the seminars. For this, invite all those in the Diaspora who have business in that field and ask them to have tabletop exhibit of their company at nominal charge of a registration fee.


9. PBD programs should be finalized with feedback from the Diaspora organizations.








The Global organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO International) in collaboration with GOPIO-Kolkata Chapter and in association with the Bengal Chamber of Commerce, hosted special dinner at the Palladium Lounge in Kolkata on January 10, 2012 for Trinidad & Tobago's Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, who made an historic visit to the Kolkata Memorial on the first anniversary of its unveiling on January 11, 2011. She also visited her ancestral village in Buxar, Bihar, amidst an emotional homecoming. PM Persad-Bissessar, the first female Prime Minister of the twin-island state of Trinidad & Tobago, was the chief guest at Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) 2012 held in Jaipur on January 7-9, 2012.


The Kolkata Memorial pays tribute to those who left India as indentured Indian laborers from 1834 thru' 1920 and is inscribed with memorial plaques in Hindi and English in "recognition and remembrance of their journeys as Indian indentured laborers taken too far away lands seeking better livelihoods for themselves and their descendants". GOPIO's role, spearheaded by GOPIO's President Ashook Ramsaran who drafted the inscription, was crucial to the design and construction of the Kolkata Memorial. It was inaugurated on January 11, 2011 at Kidderpore Depot along the Hoogley River in Kolkata by MOIA Minister Vayalar Ravi and the then Railway Minister Mamta Banerjee, who is currently the Chief Minister of West Bengal. 


GOPIO welcomes T&T Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar at GOPIO's Kolkata Program 

Photo above left: GOPIO Life Member Manoranjan Sinh presents flowers and a presentation to PM Bissessar. Photo above right: GOPIO Executive Vice President Sunny Kulathakal and GOPIO Life Member and program coordinator Mridul Pathak presents memento plate to PM Bissessar.


The special dinner event was coordinated by GOPIO Life Member Mridul Pathak and supported by the Bengal Chamber of Commerce and local sponsors such as Ms. Bipasha of  Palladium Lounge, Mr. Kapil of IFSD (International Foundation for Sustainable Development, Kolkata), Mr. Utpal Ganguly of Jolly Roger, Bobby Talukdar of BTTI and Arundhuti Ganguli of Arcus. Also in attendance was GOPIO Executive Vice President Sunny Kulathakal who, along with Mridul Pathak, presented the special GOPIO memento plate inscribed "Presented to Her Excellency, Honorable Kamla Persad Bisessar, Prime Minister of Trinidad & Tobago by GOPIO International and GOPIO Kolkata in Honor of Her Historic Visit to Kolkata and the Kolkata Memorial Monument" and signed by GOPIO International president Ashook Ramsaran. GOPIO-Edison Chapter president Arvind Sood emceed the event. Representing GOPIO Kolkata was Mr. RK Tripathy IAS ret'd (former Add'l Chief Secy, Govt of West Bengal), Kalyan Datta, Mr. Manmohan Maheswari, Mr. Hari Kanoria and Mr. Kapil Pathak. GOPIO Life Member Manoranjana Sinh presented the Prime Minister with flowers and organized her television network to film the event of January 10 and the visit to the Kolkata Memorial on January 11, 2012. Other attendees included former Chief Secretary, Gov't of West Bengal, industry heads, senior media officials and Chambers officials.


Other speakers included Trinidad & Tobago's Minister of External Affairs Dr. Suruj Rambachan; Trinidad & Tobago's High Commissioner in India, Dr Chanderdath Singh; India's High Commissioner to Trinidad & Tobago Malay Mishra; Dr Sudarshan Ghosh Dastidar, Minister of Environment, Government of West Bengal.


Addressing the gathering, PM Persad-Bissessar lauded the efforts of GOPIO in bringing the global Indian Diaspora closer. She shared the global perception that PIOs have become highly successful in their chosen fields as business men and professionals. She proudly stated that the people of Indian Origin who constitute 42% of the population of Trinidad and Tobago have managed to keep alive the values, traditions and festivals of their forefathers. While thanking the GOPIO for the gracious hospitality, she assured the organization of her government's help in all its efforts towards a better world and a better Trinidad and Tobago.


Trinidad Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar speaking at the GOPIO Dinner in her honor 

Photo above: Prime Minister Persad-Bissessar is speaking at the event. Seated from l. to r.: Bengal Chamber of commerce Director General P. Roy Director General, GOPIO Executive Vice President Sunny Kulathakal, West Bengal Minister for EnvironmentDr. Ghosh Dastidar standing in for Chief Minister Mamata Banerji.






A GOPIO delegation consisting of GOPIO International officers, GOPIO life members, GOPIO council and chapter officials met on January 25, 2012 with Minister of Overseas Affairs (MOIA) Vayalar Ravi in New York for an interactive session organized and conducted by Ashook Ramsaran, President of GOPIO International. The session was very informative with in-depth discussion of several topics covering many of the current, pertinent issues of concern among the GOPIO membership representing the NRI and PIO community of the global Indian Diaspora.


Topics of discussion included: Strengthening links with the Diaspora with cultural and academic exchanges; distance learning at Indian universities; OCI/PIO Cards and consideration of alternate documentation; scams used in recruiting Indian students; efforts on transfer of skills and technology from developed countries to India; the "Know India Program"; making PBD a smoother process; procedures and implementation of voting rights of NRIs; fraudulent marriages and NRIs brides; focusing on youth of the Diaspora; proposed books on the Indian Diaspora; health awareness programs to people of Indian origin globally.



Minister Ravi was very interested and receptive to the diverse set of questions, issues and suggestions offered by the enthusiastic set of delegates. He was very accommodating and engaging in the discussions, responding in detail to queries, comments and suggestions. The session concluded Min Ravi emphasizing that the recommendations and suggestions to MOIA are most welcome. He concluded by saying that, "Remember, you are citizens of another country - be loyal to that country". He also reiterated that the NRI/PIO community is top on his mind while the security of India is most critical and would not be compromised.


GOPIO delegation meets Minister Vayalar Ravi in New York on August 25th, 2012 

Photo (l-r): Ashook Ramsaran, Hiram Persuade, Netram Rambudhan, Abraham Phillips, Dr Najma Sultana, Lal Motwani, Naidu Veer pen, Sudha Chary, Struan Sookdeo, Hon Min Vayalar Ravi, Mridul PATHAK, J. Nami Kaur, Dr Jagat Motwani, Sangeeta Ahuja, Anita Bhat, Harbachan Singh, Bhang Waurika, Patsy Leopold, Dr. Thomas Abraham




GOPIO-Ahmedabad was launched at an evening reception and meeting on Wednesday, January 11th at the brand new conference centre of Gujarat University in Ahmadabad. Attended by over 50 former NRIs, those who have close connections with NRIs and others who do business with NRIs, and the university officials, the meeting was addressed by GOPIO Founder President and Chairman Emeritus Dr. Thomas Abraham who spoke on the objectives of GOPIO and the mission of GOPIO Indian chapters for NRIs/PIOs to reach out and network with people in India. The chief guest at the launch was Dr. Parimal Trivedi who said that Gujarat University looks forward to closer cooperation with an organization such as GOPIO to promote more students exchange.



"Gujarat Unviersity is playing a role to create a bridge between the Diaspora communities and natives, and that the people have to get involved in mutual parnerships and must create an environment for portability-oriented projects like research," said Dr. Trivedi.


The program started with welcome remarks by Dr. Neerja Arun, Principal, Bhavan's Arts and Commerce College, Ahmadabad and Coordinator, Study Abroad Program (SAP), Center for International Courses at Gujarat University.


Several prominent NRI were present at the launch including Mr. Chandu Patel (Chairman, NFIA Foundation), Nirmal Sinha (Life member, GOPIO and Recipient of PBD Samman), Dhiraj Solanki (Founding Member, GOPIO), Sudha Parekh (Founding Member GOPIO), Radha Krishnan (Founding Member of GOPIO), Dr. Mohan Gautam (GOPIO Netherlands), Neil Patel (FIA, Columbus, Ohio, USA) and Anjali Pandya (New York). Also present was Mr. Minesh S. Shah, Registrar of Gujarat University.



GOPIO-Ahmedabad Launch at Gujarat University on Jan.11, 2012 


Photo above: GOPIO-Ahmedabad launch, from l. to r.: Dr. Mohan Gautam, Radha Krishnan, Minesh Shah, Sudha Parekh, Dr. Parimal Trivedi, Dr. Neerja Arun, Neil Patel, Chandu Patel, Dhiraj Solanki and Nirmal Sinha


A special guest present at the launch was Justice A.M. Ebrahim, a retired Judge of the Supreme Court of Zimbabwe along with his wife Mrs. Ebrahim. Also, present was Dr. G.H.A. Adam, Chief Executive of Quest Motor Corporation, a major producer of automobiles in Zimbabwe.


After a power point presentation of 22 years of GOPIO by Dr. Thomas Abraham, GOPIO Life Members who were present at the launch made remarks of the importance of NRIs/PIOs networking with people in India and the benefits achieved by our communities and India.


After the meeting, a sumptuous dinner was served by the organizers.


Earlier in the day, GOPIO delegation was invited to Ahmedabad's Kite Flying Festival inauguration. GOPIO delegation also met with Chief Minsiter Narendra Modi. CM Modi welcomed GOPIO plans in opening its chapter in Gujarat. The delegation spoke on the opportunities for Gujarat to leapfrog into the next generation technologies and that a NRI technology delegation would visit Gujarat in 2013. CM Modi extended all support for such a delegation to visit Gujarat and interact with local industrialists.


GOPIO delegation meets with Gujarat Chief Minsiter Narendra Mody 

Photo above: GOPIO delegation meets with Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi. From l. to r., Dhiraj Solanki, Chandu Patel, Neil Patel, CM Modi, Dr. thomas Abraham, Sudha Parekh and Dr, Neerja Arun


The chapter membership is open to all those who believe in GOPIO objectives. GOPIO-Ahmadabad is planning several activities and requests all those interested to contact the chapter as follows: Dr. Neerja Arun, Coordinator, GOPIO Ahmadabad, Tel: +91-79-25600312/25600311 Fax: +91-79-25601314, +91 9825012984 (cell), E-mail:












Right after its formation in early December, GOPIO Tel-Aviv executive committee members were invited to a reception held at Dan Tel-Aviv Hotel held on the occasion of the visit of Indian's External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna.


The visit of the External affairs minister was to mark the beginning of the 20th year of diplomacy between India and Israel. The state visit to Israel by Minister Krishna marks a significant milestone in the Indo-Israel relationship. He is the highest-ranking Indian official to visit Israel in more than a decade.


GOPIO Tel-Aviv Chapter was represented by executive committee members, President Joshua Naor and Secretary Jacqueline Solomon at the function and presented the minister with a flower bouquet as a token of appreciation. Minister Krishna was accompanied by Israel Foreign Affairs Minister Avigdor Liberman. Naor and Solomon got a fair chance to speak to both ministers regarding their organization and its objectives including improving India-Israel relationships and upcoming goals of the chapter for the Indian Origin residents of Israel. Issues such as cooperation in science & technology, water management, agriculture and combating terrorism were discussed along with recent developments in South Asia and the Middle-East.



Indian External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna in Tel Aviv

 Photo above left: Reception in honor of India's Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna, From L. to R.: Israel Foreign Affairs Minister Avigdor Liberman, India's External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna and Ambassador Navtej Sarna. Photo above right: Mr. S.M. Krishna, GOPIO Tel Aviv President Joshua Naor, Mr. Avigdor Liberman, GOPIO Tel Aviv Secretary Ms. Jacqueline Solomon


Over the past 20 years, Israeli firms have played a meaningful role in meeting India's development goals, including in the areas of food production, water safety and management, and even cancer screening and prevention. Additionally, Israel has been a faithful ally to India in her conflicts with her neighbors, supplying training and material that wouldn't have been otherwise available.


The evening was well organized with drinks and dinner along with cultural dance program and a beautiful audio visual shown of the 20 year ties between India and Israel. The evening was hosted by the Indian Ambassador Mr. Navtej Sarna and others amongst the invitees were representatives from the Parliament, Government, corporate sector, media, academia and representatives of the Indian community.


Contact: Jacqueline Solomon, Secretary, GOPIO Tel Aviv Chapter, E-mail:




"Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live." And that greatest loss came in the form of Jasdev Singh Bhatia's death in the lives of many of his family and friends. A bright light was suddenly extinguished by the hands of fate when this 24 year old international student died in a road accident in Sydney. After his father's death he was the only bread winner of his family of a sister and mother. His unfortunate death left a big vacuum in his family. This young student's life was deeply rooted in Punjabi culture who was a very good folk singer and a passionate Bhangra dancer. He was proud to be Punjabi and wanted to nurture Punjabi culture on Australian soil.

The president of GOPIO Sydney Ms. Lucky Singh requested the people of Indian community and raised funds for his mother. Mr. Rajinder Chhibbar, a member of GOPIO Sydney went all the way to his hometown in Yamunanagar in India and presented a cheque of $1250.00 to his mother.




Sangeeta Ahuja, Chair, GOPIO- Health Council, addressed International Convention on Higher Consciousness held in Houston, Texas from January 27-29, 2012. The convention was organized by MDP foundation and led by its founder Master Del Pe. The convention was attended by over 200 participants from across the globe and included inspirational talks and interactive sessions on Holistic Health, Energy Medicine, Balanced Life Strategies, Martial Arts-Yoga Science and Will Power Development.


Sangeeta Ahuja, spoke to the delegates on: "How to Heal Diabetes through Nutrition". She focused on the onslaught of the Diabetes epidemic around the world, how to get the families and communities involved to increase awareness about it and how to prevent and manage it through healthy lifestyle and proper nutrition.


GOPIO-Health Council, a part of GOPIO-International, is an organization with the mission to improve the health of People of Indian Origin globally.;


The MDP Foundation is a not-for-profit, non-sectarian and non-political organization dedicated to serve humanity and the world through education, life skills development, healing and spiritual training.




GOPIO Sydney kicked off the holiday season with a special Christmas celebration on 19th of December, 2011 at Taaza Tandoori, Harris Park. The theme for the party was Love, Joy and Hope.


The cold winds and heavy rains could not dampen anyone's spirit and a large number of GOPIO family members and friends attended the dinner. Mr. Bhupinder Chhibber, Secretary, GOPIO Sydney welcomed the gathering. Swechha Kulshreshtha with her melodious voice entertained the crowd. A resolution was passed by the members to assist Rajan, an Indian student who was brutally stabbed in Adelaide last month. An amount of $570 was collected and sent to Rajan.


GOPIO Sydney X-mas Party 2011

Photo above:  GOPIO Sydney X'mas Party with Lucky Singh and other officers.

The president GOPIO Sydney, Lucky Singh conducted the lucky draw and proposed the vote of thanks. The winner of the Lucky draw was Deepa Singh. Overall an evening worth spent!


Contact: Lucky Singh at




GOPIO Upper New York Chapter launched its Youth division at a sumptuous brunch on Saturday, 28th January, 2012 at the Caribbean Cabana." The group's focus is to bring together the youths of Indian origin to make a positive impact in our community and to tackle the issues that many of them face" according to Anniesa Singh. Some of the upcoming activities will include community service such as park clean up  and volunteering to help the elderly.


Anniesa Singh was named President of the group and Karen Jardine as Vice Pesident, both members of GOPIO Upper New York. Short presentations were made by Anniesa Singh, Karen Jardine, Priya Mangru and Kamelia Kilawan.


Anniesa encouraged the youth to become involved in GOPIO and shared her own experiences as a member touching on different events such as the annual Phagwah Parade, Arrival Day Dinner,and Health Seminar which made a positive impact on her life.


Priya Mangru spoke about her own experiences as a person of Indian origin, discussing her studies abroad and how she would love to travel to India to see her mother land. Kamelia Kilawan gave an intriguing speech on how as a young writer she was inspired by GOPIO and excited to be involved in such a positive effort. Karen Jardine wrapped it up with her thoughts on how the young generation should make their voices heard. The speeches were very inspiring and peaked the interests of all. By the close of the brunch, the new GOPIO Youth Division was born.

GOPIO-Upper New York Youth at its first meeting on Jan. 28th, 2012

Photo above: GOPIO Upper New York Youth at its first meeting


According to the new President Anniesa Singh, "Our youth division started off with fifteen members and we are looking forward to reaching out to more so that there can be a larger impact in our community".


The next meeting will be held on Saturday, 11th February at 2.00 pm at Caribbean Cabana, 116-02 Jamaica Avenue, Queens, New York City.    




GOPIO Sydney invites you all to its 3rd successive "GOPIO Youth Achievers Awards Night"- "GYAAN 2012" to felicitate HSC students of NSW of Indian Origin on their achievements in HSC 2011 exams.


Date:- Sunday, 4th March 2012 

Time:- 5 pm for 5.30 p.m. start 

Venue:-Pioneer Hall, Castle Grand, (Corner of Pennant street & Castle street) Castle Hill.NSW, Australia


Awards recognised at the ceremony include:

a)   Academic - Students who achieved ATAR 99 and above in 2011 HSC exams.

b)   Highest marks obtained in HSC 2011 in Indian languages, dance, drama, music, photography, aviation & visual arts.

c)   State or National level achievement in sports by youth under 21 years of age.


Award will be decided on merit by a selection committee.


Dinner will be served after the award ceremony. Entry ticket is $35 per person or $120 per family of four.


For more information please contact the following officers of GOPIOO-Sydney: President - Mrs. Lucky Singh,; Secretary - Bhupinder Chhibber,; Joint Secretary- Sukhwinder Rajput, 



As reported earlier, GOPIO-Jaipur was launched on December 23rd evening at the Conference Centre, CEG Tower, B-11G Malaviya Industrial Area in Jaipur. Guest speakers included two Principal Secretaries of Rajasthan Government Mr. R.S. Verma and Mr. O.P. Saini along with a business newspaper publisher J. Kothari. Below are the links to the YouTube for this launch.


Rajasthan Principal Secretary for Planning Rakesh Verma Speaking - and


Rajasthan Principal Secretary for Public Works O.P. Saini Speaking - and


Publisher J. Kothari Mehta speaking -


Dr. Thomas Abraham making the presentation of 22 years of GOPIO.


Part 1 -, Part 2 -, Part 3 -, Part

4 -, Part 5 -, Part 6 -, Part 7 -, Part 8 -, Part

9 -, Part 10 -, Part 11 -, Part 12 -, Part 13 -, Part

14 -, Part 15 -


Question/Answer Session

Part 1 -, Part 2 -, Part 3 -, Part

4 -


Coordinator Gopal Mehta concluding the meeting -


GOPIO-Jaipur Launch Group -






At the Asian Who's Who Awards 2011 which took place on Monday 21st November at Dorchester Hotel, Park Lane, London, seven outstanding members of the Asian community from around the world were recognized for their achievements in selected categories. Now in its 36th year and an institution in itself, the high profile event pays homage to the most influential Asians the world over, who have made a phenomenal contribution to their respective fields and continue to set a shining example to their peers among the global Asian fraternity and beyond. Prominent BBC journalist Sangita Myska was the event emcee.


Those honored are as follows:

Joginder Sanger, a leading NRI hotelier, has been named the Asian of the Year 2011.

Rajesh Agrawal, founder of RationalFX, for Asian Leadership as Young Entrepreneur.

Natasha Mudhar, CEO & MD of Sterling Media, for Asian Leadership in International Media

Ashook Ramsaran, president of GOPIO International, for Asian Leadership in promoting international harmony.

Jagdeep Rai, corporate area director of Barclays, for Asian Leadership in diversity.

Dr Pushpinder Chowdry, prominent practicing psychotherapist, for Asian Leadership in community service.

Dr Diwan Rahul Nanda, global chairman of Topsgrup, for Asian Leadership in International Business.


The annual launch of the Asian Who's Who International publication, founded by Mr. Jasbir Singh Sachar, is an important event for Asian communities around the world. It reflects the growing number of achievements by Asians as they continue to contribute to the economic, political, cultural and social activities of their host country. "The event itself presents an opportunity to celebrate the community's success and for global counterparts to share their stories and inspiration", said Jasbir Singh Sachar.


Asian Who's Who 2011 Recipients

Photo (l-r): Natasha Mudhar, Dr. Pushpinder Chowdry, Rajesh Agrawal, Joginder Sanger, Jagdeep Rai, Dr. Diwan Rahul Nanda, Ashook Ramsaran




GOPIO's Umesh Chandra (International Coordinator, Oceania) is among 40 Australians who have been recognised for their outstanding work in building strong and cohesive local communities. Based in Brisbane, Australia, Umesh Chandra was named a People of Australia Ambassador. Mr Chandra arrived in Australia with his family in 1987 and began community work in 1990. It was in 2003 that Chandra launched Queensland's first full colour community newspaper for the Indian and ethnic communities. Chandra was appointed Secretary General of Federation of Indian Communities of Queensland (FICQ) and was very active in reviving the activities of FICQ which had been dormant for a few years prior to his election.


GOPIO International (Global Organization of People of Indian Origin) chose Chandra to spearhead GOPIO activities in Queensland. As the founder President of the chapter, he lifted the profile of GOPIO Queensland through participation at various International conventions. As of January 2012, Mr Chandra has been appointed as the GOPIO International Coordinator Oceania taking under his jurisdiction Australia, New Zealand and Fiji. The 40 local champions have been independently selected as the new People of Australia ambassadors following hundreds of nominations from the public. Australians were encouraged to nominate inspirational people who have helped to build bridges, promote inclusion and strengthen ties in their communities. The 40 ambassadors now have a new platform to promote their good work and share their ideas and initiatives that can help inspire others and their term ends on 30 December 2012. The ambassador program is a key initiative of the Gillard Labour Government's multicultural policy, The People of Australia, announced last year.




Trinidad-born PIO journalist Davan Maharaj has been appointed editor of the Los Angeles Times. Maharaj is a former Express journalist who received awards for excellence in the field during his career with this newspaper. Throughout his career in T&T, East Africa and in the US he has distinguished himself and in 2005 received the Ernie Pyle Award for Human Interest Writing.


Maharaj, 49, will become the newspaper's 15th editor after current editor Russ Stanton gives up the post from December 23. He first joined the company in 1989 as a reporter in Orange County, California. He holds a Political Science Degree from the University of Tennessee and a Master's Degree in Law from Yale University. In 2008, at One Caribbean Media's (OCM) Salute to Excellence Award Function, Maharaj was recognized for his appointment to the post of Managing Editor of the Los Angeles Times. OCM is the parent company of Caribbean Communications Network (CCN) which includes the Express newspaper.


The LA Times newspaper has an average Monday to Friday circulation of 723,181, making it the nation's fourth most-read daily newspaper, trailing only to The Wall Street Journal, USA Today and The New York Times. In a statement, Maharaj said: "We will continue to push forward, especially in the digital and mobile space. Our commitment to delivering high-quality journalism remains unwavering".




Donald Ramotar, former general secretary of the ruling People's Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) was elected president of Guyana after elections held on November 28 in the South American nation. The PPP/C won by a slim margin with 32 seats of the total of 66, which is less than required for a majority in parliament. The opposition coalition party, A Partnership for National Unity (APNU), headed by David Granger has gathered 26 seats and the Alliance for Change (AFC) with Khemraj Ramjattan at the helm, has won 7 seats.

Donald Ramoutar, 61-years-old former secretary general of PPP/C, was sworn in as the nation's new head-of-state, along with all the cabinet ministers other elected officials. Mr. Ramoutar has been the General Secretary of the PPP/C for many years and in 1997, he retained that post with the PPP/C, when the party joined forces with a civic component. He was a political adviser to outgoing President Bharrat Jagdeo. It is the first time in 19 years that the PPP/C has lost its majority in parliament.


The country is comprised of several ethnic groups with Indians constituting a largest segment of approximately 43% of the population. Indians are descendants of indentured laborers who came to work on the sugar plantations from the period 1834 - 1920, with the first arrival in 1838.




Prominent New York based community advocate Renee Lobo was honored by the Queens and Long Island chapter of the Association of American Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) on December 3, 2011 for her creativity and her achievements and being the first S Asian to be the New York City Commissioner of Human Rights. The President of the AAPI chapter is Dr. Kishan Kumar who is also Acting Chairman of. Emergency Services at Nassau Medical Hospital. The recognition event was attended by Consul General of India, Ambassador Prabhu Dayal and Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano.


Renee Lobo is a producer, broadcast journalist, investigative reporter, and anchor for International Television for nearly 15 years, serving the South Asian community. Ms. Lobo is also a community leader and activist who has spent 20 years assisting new immigrants by providing access to services and programs, often highlighting the issues that most impact this group in the media. In addition to her work at ITV, she serves: as a member of: the Queens District Attorney's Asian Advisory Council, CB 6 in Queens, and 112th Precinct Community Council; is board director of Community Understanding for Racial & Ethnic Equality (CURE) Board member and Chair for Domestic Violence Unit for the Center for Women of NY; Director of South Asian Bone Marrow Association; Founder/Director of Eyes for Hope; community advisory board member of the Flushing Hospital and board member of CCHAYA -Community Development Corporation. Ms. Lobo, who speaks fluent Hindi, Urdu, and Italian, received a B.A. in Broadcast Journalism from the State University of NY, an M.A. in Political Management from George Washington University, an advanced Honors diploma from the London School of Journalism, and an advanced diploma in Italian Language and Culture from Perugia, Italy.






Nominations are invited for the 7th Bharatvanshi Gaurav Samman from eminent personalities and organizations of Indian Diaspora by Antar-Rashtriya Sahayog Nyas (Trust for International Co-operation). The Award carries Rs. One Lakh in cash, a citation, a plaque and a shawl. The nominations along with detailed bio-data are to reach the Nyas Office at 'Pravasi Bhawan', 50-Deen Dayal Upadhyay Marg, New Delhi - 110002 latest by 15th February, 2012.


The Antar-Rashtriya Sahayog Nyas was created with the objective of maintaining close contacts with the Indian Diaspora and to acknowledge and appreciate their achievements by publicly honoring at least one person every year to be selected for excellence for working for the Indian Diaspora.


In the past, the Nyas honored Shri Ranjita RAMSARAN of South Africa in 2005, Shri Satnarayan Maharaj of Trinidad & Tobago in the year 2006, Dr. Thomas Abraham of United States in January, 2008, Human Service Trust, Mauritius in January, 2009,Shri Shivnath Rai Bajaj of Thailand in 2010 and Dr. Ved Nanda of USA in May, 2011 at New Delhi for their contribution to the Diaspora.


The Selection Committeeincludesprominent members of the Indian Diaspora including Sir Aneroodh Jagnauth, President of the Mauritius Republic, Shri Mahendra Choudhry, former Prime Minister of Fiji, Shri Basdeo Pandey, former Prime Minister of Trinidad & Tobago, Dr. Subramanian Swamy, President, Janata Party, Shri Vijay Jolly, President, Delhi Study Group and former M.L.A, Shri Subhash Chandra, Chairman & Managing Director Zee Telefilms Ltd. and Shri Sanjay Gupta, Chief Editor, 'Dainik Jagran'. Shri J. C. Sharma, former Secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs and President of the Nyas, Shri Baleshwar Agrawal, Founder Chairman and Shri Vijendra Mittal, Secretary of the Antar-Rashtriya Sahayog Nyas.


Contact Mr. Baleshwar Agrawal, Founder Chairman, Antar Rashtra Sahyog Parishad, 'Pravasi Bhawan', Tel: +91-11-23234432, Fax: 23232751, E-mail:,




A British High Court judge has upheld a government rule requiring spouses to prove they can speak English  before they can join their partners in Britain. He said that the rule was aimed at promoting integration and protecting public services, both of which were "legitimate aims". The rule introduced in November, 2010, has barred hundreds of foreigners from non-English speaking countries, particularly from Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and Thailand.


The judge rejected a challenge to the rule that it was discriminatory and interfered with their rights to a family life guaranteed under the European Convention on Human Rights. He also rejected the claim that the rule was discriminatory as it applied only to people from non-English speaking countries.


Immigrant groups criticized the ruling saying it would divide families while the immigration minister was happy that the judge agreed with the rule - people who intend to live in the UK should understand English so that they can integrate and participate fully in British society.




In 2010, Indian tourists contributed an estimated $2.86 billion to the US economy while a tourist from India, on the average, spent Rs 200,000 during his/her stay in the USA.


As per media reports, more than 651,000 Indian tourists visited the US in 2010. The number of travelers from India is expected to increase substantially during the next few years. An overwhelming majority of Indian tourists came to the US for either business and professional reasons or visiting friends and relatives. Only a small percentage of visitors came to US for leisure, recreation or holidays.


India's economy has been doing well while the western economies have suffered a downfall. India's emerging middle class is growing and more Indians are travelling overseas. To make it easier for tourists from other countries to come and visit the US, Obama administration has relaxed visa program rules.



United States is changing visa rules to attract highly skilled foreign students and workers. The changes include providing work authorization for spouses of certain H-1B holders, allowing outstanding professors and researchers to present a broader scope of evidence of academic achievement and expanding eligibility for 17-month extension of optional practical training for F-1 international students. The changes would also allow for additional part-time study for spouses of F-1 students and expand the number of designated school officials at schools certified by Department of Homeland security (DHS) to enroll international students.


In order to discuss how to maximize current immigration laws' potential to attract foreign entrepreneurial talent, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will launch on February 22 its entrepreneurs in residence initiative with an Information Summit in Silicon Valley, California. The summit will focus on ensuring that immigration pathways for foreign entrepreneurs are clear and consistent, and better reflect today's business realities.



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 Chairman - Inder Singh, Tarzana, California, USA, Tel: +1-818-708-3885, E-mail:


GOPIO President - Ashook Ramsaran, Fresh Meadows, New York, USA, Tel: 718/939-8194, E-mail:


GOPIO Executive Vice President - Sunny Kulathakal, Bahrain, Tel: +973 39441956 or +91 9845756692,


To become a Life member of GOPIO, one can sign up online at or fill up the form and send it with a check to: GOPIO International, PO Box 560117, New York NY 11356, USA.



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

Editor: Nami Kaur, GOPIO  Secretary (New York, USA)

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

Contributors of this issue: Inder Singh (Chairman, GOPIO Intl.), Ashook Ramsaran (President, GOPIO Intl.), Lucky Singh (GOPIO-Sydney), Jacqueline Solomon (GOPIO- Tel Aviv), Munish Gupta (GOPIO Intl. Coordinator for Africa), 


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