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April 1, 2010
A Publication of the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO)
Issue: IX-2 April 1, 2010
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GOPIO is taking the lead role in the effort to establish a memorial and museum at the site of the Kolkotta's
Bhowanipore Depôt land used to house indentured laborers awaiting the ships for emigration to plantations in colonies of West Indies, Mauritius, Fiji, Africa and elsewhere. The intent is to erect a memorial and museum at that very site in honor of the hundreds of thousands of Indian emigrants who officially left India from 1834 through 1920 from the port of Calcutta. GOPIO Executive Vice President Ashook Ramsaran travelled to Kolkotta (Jan 11-12, 2010) with well known historian and writer Leela Sarup, accompanied by India's High Commissioner to Trinidad & Tobago Hon Malay Mishra. Leela Sarup is an ardent advocate of the preservation of the site and GOPIO is a strong proponent in this effort. GOPIO is leading the effort to acquire the land and construct a "Kolkotta Memorial & Museum" with historical connections to all those who left those shores and whose descendents can share in that history.


GOPIO Meeting with West Bengal Heritage Commission 

Photo above: Jan 11, 2010 at GOPIO meeting with West Bengal Heritage Commission in Kolkotta: (Left to right) Secretary of West Bengal Heritage Commission Sukumar Samanta, India's High Commissioner to Trinidad & Tobago Malay Mishra; GOPIO Exec Vice President Ashook Ramsaran; Historian and Author Leela Sarup; Chairman West Bengal Heritage Commission Barun De.


Bhowanipore Depôtsite was followed by meetings with officials and steps taken towards the establishment of GIDHS.GOPIO has designated the newly organized Global Indian Diaspora Heritage Society (GIDHS) as a Kolkotta based organization with an internationally representated Kolkotta Memorial Project Committee to handle this global effort which will be a international collaboration involving groups and persons from all countries to which Indians emigrated. During the 2-day visit to Kolkotta, discussions on Historical Site designation were held with Chairman Barun De as well as with Gautam Sengupta, Director of West Bengal Archaeology & Museums. A visit to the Bhowanipore Depôtsite was followed by meetings with officials and steps taken towards the establishment of GIDHS.


Historical Background:

According to the extensive research done by Leela Sarup who has provided the background infromation and sketches below: "The Bhowanipore Depôt at Calcutta was the final depôt where emigrants awaited shipment for Mauritius and colonies of West Indies, Fiji and other regions where labor was needed. This depôt was set up in 1845 and was shifted to Garden Reach in 1889.  During the unregulated period of emigration, 1834-39, emigrants were lodged or locked up in the houses of duffadars and jemadars. From 1842 to 1844, makeshift tents in camps were erected.  From 1845 to 1854, the Bhowanipore Depôt also accommodated the emigrants of Jamaica, Trinidad, and Demerara".


Bhowanipore Depot in Kolkatta 


Different colonies offered different terms by way of wages, free housing, free rations, free clothing, a return passage, and gifts from ½ to 2 acres of land just to entice the labourers to stay on.  Mauritius was the first Colony to receive indentured labourers on an experimental basis, and became the most popular and familiar place, also by virtue of being closer to India than the West Indies.  Moreover by 1840, a small number of labourers had returned from Mauritius and spoke very highly of the place and showed a great desire to return with their families.  At that time, emigration to the West Indies and other places had not even started. Later, separate depôts for Trinidad, Fiji, Demerara, St. Lucia, Natal, Surinam, Guadeloupe and the British Guiana were located at Nos. 5, 8, 11, 20 and 71 Garden Reach, apart from the existing Bhowanipore Depôt.  A few depôts were always overcrowded, a regular situation, as people arrived on their own, having heard that jobs were being offered by the thousands in Calcutta.  When in joint depôts, people would take the first offers to any colony, as waiting could take months.


When ships were ready to sail, the emigrants destined for Mauritius and other colonies were put in small boats on the Tolly Nullah, which was adjacent to the Bhowanipore Depôt. The Tolly Nullah was a place used by the emigrants for bathing and washing clothes. The boats would then proceed to the Garden Reach wharf for the emigrants to be inspected by the Surgeon-Superintendent who could reject unfit emigrants. He was the most important person on these voyages, not the Captain. The Surgeon-Superintendent was answerable only to the Protector of Emigrants, and was responsible to inspect the ship and report on its ventilation, as well as ensure that there were proper arrangements for cooking and medical facilities.


For more information onGlobal Indian Diaspora Heritage Society (GIDHS), contact Mr. Ashook Ramsaran, Executive Vice President, GOPIO International, Tel: 718-939-8194, E-mail:



According to a report in Hindustan Times (March 18, 2010), the Government of India is preparing guidelines which will reverse the existing mandatory two month gap between visits to India. 


Instead, a tourist with a multi-entry visa holder will now be allowed to enter India three times as rapidly as he/she wants to, without any questions asked. After the three visits, the prospective visitor will have to cite reasons for making a fourth trip to the country.


Citing security reasons in the wake of David Headley case, the government had tightened the tourist visa regime, insisting a two months' gap between two visits on a tourist visa, which had evoked adverse response from various quarters, including some foreign countries.


"The change in the tourist visa is aimed at helping genuine tourists. But measures are in place to ensure that we don't compromise on security in many manner", said the government spokesman


The Union Cabinet of India has approved setting up Indian Community Welfare Fund (ICWF) in Indian missions in 17 countries to meet contingency expenses for welfare of overseas Indian citizens who are in distress.

The proposed fund, estimated at Rs 1.6 crore, is aimed at providing boarding and lodging for distressed overseas Indian workers in domestic sector and unskilled labourers, extending emergency medical care to those in need, providing air passage to stranded overseas Indians in need, providing initial legal assistance to the overseas Indians in deserving cases and expenditure on airlifting the mortal remains to India or local cremation/burial of deceased overseas Indians in such cases where a sponsor is unable or unwilling to do so as per the contract and the family is unable to meet the cost.

The main beneficiaries of the fund would be overseas Indian workers duped by unscrupulous intermediaries in the host countries, runaway house maids, those who become victims of accidents, deserted spouses of overseas Indians or undocumented overseas Indian workers in need of emergency assistance or any other overseas Indian citizens who are in distress.


The first woman Leader of the Opposition in the Trinidad and Tobago parliament is Indian-origin Kamla Persad-Bissessar who ousted former premier Basdeo Panday from the post. Panday had been Leader of the Opposition for over 3 decades, including his term as Prime Minsiter. Persad-Bissessar's successful climb to the position follows elections within the opposition United National Congress (UNC) party January 24 when she beat her political mentor Panday by a landslide in the UNC's national elections to choose a new leader and executive. Persad-Bissessar became Leader of the Opposition in parliament by getting a majority of the votes from MPs of the UNC party.


Persad-Bissessar entered politics in the early 1980s when she became an alderman in the then St. Patrick County Council. She has served as a senator and then as member of parliament for the Siparia district. In 1995, she became the country's first woman attorney general when Panday formed the government and later became minister of education. She was also the first woman to act as prime minister. Persad-Bissessar has visited India on several occasions, attending the Pravasi Bharatiya conference in Hyderabad in 2006 and Commonwealth Parliamentary Association meetings. Her forefathers were among 148,000 people who came from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar between 1845 to 1917 to work on sugar plantations in Trinida


The St. Vincent's and the Grenadines National Olympic Committee which also serves as the Commonwealth Games Association in St Vincent's, celebrated the local leg of the Queen's Baton relay under the theme, 'Celebrating our Heritage'. The month of March is observed as Heritage Month in St Vincent and the Grenadines. Consistent with the historic hosting of the Commonwealth Games in India, The Indian Heritage Foundation of St. Vincent and the Grenadines incorporated in the activities while the Baton was in the country. The baton's journey symbolizes the unity and shared ideals of the Commonwealth of Nations, and enables communities beyond the Host City to share the Games celebrations. It also serves a functional purpose in carrying Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II's 'message to the athletes' from Buckingham Palace in London to the opening ceremony of the Games. This was also the first time St. Vincent and the Grenadines participated in these Games.


The Queen's Baton Relay 2010 Delhi commenced from Buckingham Palace, London, on the 29 October 2009. The baton will then travel through all other 70 Commonwealth nations - a historic journey that will cover a distance of more than 170,000 kilometers in 240 days. On its 100 day national tour, the baton will visit the capital of each of India's 28 states and seven union territories, plus many other cities along the way, covering more than 20,000 kilometers. By the end of its journey, the baton will have traversed over 190,000 kilometers in 340 days, making the Queen's Baton Relay 2010 Delhi one of the longest relays in the history of the Commonwealth Games. The relay will conclude after the final Batonbearer enters the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi during the Opening Ceremony of the XIX Commonwealth Games on 3 October 2010






GOPIO hosted dinner reception for new High Commissioner of India, Admiral (Retd) Sureesh Mehta on January 23rd 2010 at Auckland Commerce Club, Remuera, Auckland . As many as 150 guests attended the reception including all GOPIO Auckland chapter presidents, executives, members and prominent members of the Indian community. Amongst the dignitaries were Pansy Wong, Minister for Ethnic Affairs; Phil Goff, Leader of the Opposition Labour Party; Dr Rajen Prasad; His Worship John Banks, Mayor of Auckland City; His Worship Bob Harvey, Mayor of Manukau City; Chief District Court Judge New Zealand Russell Johnson; District Judge Ajit Singh; Vijaya Vaidyanath, CEO Waitakere City Council; Honorary Consul General of Bangladesh Ataur Rahman;  Mr Chad Wilkie, Chairman Education, Trade and Technology Alliance Incorporated and they were all accompanied by their respective wives/partners.


The Chief Guest, Admiral (Retd.) Sureesh Mehta was accompanied by his wife Maria Mehta and daughter Sangeeta. High Commissioner of India presented GOPIO VP Harish Bajaj with India Empire Award for the best Business Leadership. GOIPO New Zealand President Ashok Bhatia and GOPIO VP Harish Bajaj presented GOPIO Badges to High Commissioner of India, Mayor John Banks, Mayor Bob Harvey, Chief District Judge Russell Johnson and Vijaya Vaidyanath, CEO of Waitakere City Council.


Contact: Harish Bajaj QSO, JP, MNZITT, Regional Vice President - GOPIO International Oceania, P O Box 56035, Dominion Road, Auckland, Tel : 09 478 0563 (B), 09 6384584 (H), Email:

Photo below: GOPIO Vice President of Oceanic Region Harish Bajaj with his team at the welcom reception with Admiral Sureesh Mehta and other dignitaries.
 GOPIO New Zealand chapters and GOPIO-Houston teams and dignitaries
Photo above: GOPIO-Houston ganizers with Maters Del Pe (story below). Standing from L. to R.: Som Nair, Devesh Pathak, S.K. Trehan, S.C. Jain, Louise, Lavanya Rastogi, Bruce Jolly, Mrs. S.C. Jain, Frieda Hamilton Fox, unknown, Kala Ravindaran, Ponni Sivaraman, Uma Jaykumar, unknown. Sitting in the front row: Abirami Kannappan, Sam Kannappan, Master Del Pe, Chad Patel, Suzanne Jarvis, Meenakshi Kannappan, Sundari Subramanian


GOPIO Houston, a Texas USA based chapter of the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin held a program "Living Your Greatest Life" with Master Del Pe on Sunday March 21, 2010 at the India House.


Master Del Pe, modern sage and world renowned miraculous healer, integrates the best of Eastern Wisdom and Western Practicality. His teachings bring to people a concept: "Fly with 2 wings - spiritual and material" to live your greatest life and be totally fulfilled. He explained the reasons for such balance. Master Del Pe talked about what holds you back in life and gave insight of how to overcome these obstacles. He explained differences between ego, self awareness, selfishness and greed in a very unique way.


He demonstrated the importance of being focused to accomplish your goals and importance of leaving the life with something unique by branding yourself with best of the best to remember you by. He explained how irritability, hatred, impatience, intolerance leads to anger. Frustration he went on to say is when you cannot manage your expectations. Master Del Pe described Life as a flow with that he reasoned giving and receiving to be a continuous process then provided "Do's" and "Don'ts" of living the greatest life.


Master Del Pe explained trinity of heart, mind and soul by the way of Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh and described on how to focus on these to mediate for the betterment of life. He asked the audience to breath with him in order to increase metabolism while focusing on the trinity and to meditate with him to let go all the vices from ones life by focusing on an ocean.


Founder of more than 15 corporate and not-for-profit organizations internationally, Master Del Pe has studied world cultures, world philosophies and world religions and lived in many countries before he settled down as an entrepreneur in Houston, Texas, USA. He was raised in Asia of a Chinese-Filipino descent and educated by the European missionaries until he became an engineer. He studied many martial arts forms and mastered Japanese Karate. He also became an international expert on the 12 styles of meditation, the 8 types of yoga and energy medicine which qualified him to publish the book, Hidden Dangers of Meditation and Yoga.


Contact: Sam Kannappan, President GOPIO-Houston, Tel: 281 425-8743, E-mail:




During the last few months, GOPIO has opened six chapters, three in Australia, two in the US and one in Toronto, Canada.


GOPIO-Virginia, a new chapter, elected as its president Jaysingh Bhandari, a well-known community activist. Among others who were also elected are - Dr. Surya Dhakar and Parag Matalia as Vice President, Manoj Gandhi as Secretary, Chandan Jhunjhunwala Treasurer, Jitesh Singh as Jt. Secretary, Rani Sisodia as Public Relation officer and Nilima Mehra as Cultural Secretary.  Sunil Mittal, Suman Vardhan and Poonam Bansal were appointed as board of directors. Dr. Rajesh Mehra and Amar Sisodia were appointed as Chairmen of Medical and Educational committees respectively.


The new chapter is looking forward to carrying out GOPIO's vision within the community and identifying and addressing the needs of South Asian community within Virginia. GOPIO VA hopes to empower the Indian community, improve their lifestyle and resolve issues by forming a united voice. 


GOPIO-VA will work on four projects each year to support its community and bring them together. GOPIO-VA include medical camps for visiting parents and relatives of Virginian  who need and can not afford to receive health care, a student scholarship and award  program. The medical camp will provide access to free care to many individuals. Often, the healthcare needs of visiting elders are postponed to their return home due to high cost of insurance and treatment for visitors. The scholarship program will be designed for merit and underprivileged college students. Lastly, GOPIO will host a fun-filled Garba Dandia Bhangra night to celebrate the timely festivities in September


Photo: From L. to R.: Caption - President Jay Bhandari at the center, next to him on left vice president Parag Matalia , right next Dr. Surya Dhakar VP, Dr. Rajesh Mehra Medical coordinator, Rani Sisodia PRO, Jitesh Singh Secretary, from left Amar Sisodia Education  coordinator, Nilima Mehra Cultural Secretary, Dr. Suman Accountant.


Contact: Jaysingh  Bhandari, Tel: 703/942-5677, Email:

Photo below: GOPIO-VA team. Standing in the center is Jay Bhandari
GOPIO-VA Launch and GOPIO-CT Dinner/Talk 
Photo above: GOPIO-CT Executive Committee with BUsiness Cycle Guru Lakshman Achuthan (see story below). From L. to R.: Prakash Chakravarti, Shamla Sharma, Lakshman Achuthan, Sangeeta Ahuja, Shailesh Naik, Ravi Dhingra and Shelly Nichani


GOPIO Connecticut hosted a timely talk on "The Changing Cyclical Contours of the US Economy," by renowned business cycle expert Lakshman Achuthan on March 19 at the Hampton Inn, Stamford. 


Speaking to an engaged audience, Mr. Achuthan said "in 2010 the business cycle is your friend. Jobs recovery will be more evident by spring." However, he cautioned that there would be insufficient expansion in the short term to make up for all the lost jobs in the last 24 months. He said there was a "structural shift in the US economy and manufacturing is no longer a growth engine."


Mr. Achuthan predicted an easing of growth in the overall economy by mid-year. "GDP will start throttling back by then, which is not unusual."  He foresees little risk of deflation right now. However, "more frequent recessions are likely to keep headline jobless rate cycling around at high levels."


The talk was followed by a lively Q&A session, and dinner.


Lakshman Achuthan is managing director of the Economic Cycle Research Institute, and board member of the Levy Institute. According to the Economist, "ECRI is perhaps the only organization to give advance warning of each of the past three recessions; just as impressive, it has never issues a false alarm." He is also the author of "Beating the Business Cycle" by Random House.


Mr. Achuthan was introduced by Dr. Thomas Abraham and welcomed by Shailesh Naik, President of GOPIO Connecticut.


Contact: Shailesh Naik, President GOPIO-CT, E-mail:




GOPIO is moving forward with an expansion agenda to establish more chapters in Canada and GOPIO of Toronto president Jay Banerjei is taking the lead role in this national effort. Plans are for a mid-May 2010 inauguration of the newly formed GOPIO of Toronto Chapter. There are on-going efforts to establish the GOPIO Vancouver chapter which should materialize shortly. Simultaneously, ground work is on going for the establishment of GOPIO Montreal chapter. More good news is in Kitchener, Ontario, where Kerwin Allim is in the initial stages of chapter formulation.


GOPIO of Toronto Jay Banerjei is very excited about GOPIO Toronto being the host chapter for future GOPIO international conferences and looking forward for such opportunities. Says Banerjei, "GOPIO of Toronto would maximize support efforts to make such conferences highly successful events because it will bring about more promotion and awareness of GOPIO in Canada". Jay Banerjei is planning for GOPIO Toronto to be an active civic entity for benefit of the PIO and NRI Indian community in Canada.


Contact: Jay Banerjei at




The GOPIO chapters namely GOPIO Glenwood, GOPIO North Sydney, GOPIO Sydney North West, GOPIO Parramatta, GOPIO Ryde and GOPIO Sydney collaborated and held a free yoga and meditation workshop on 13 March 2010 at Kings Indian Restaurant, Parramatta. The workshop was followed by a well attended dinner at the Kings Indian Restaurant. The Workshop was conducted by Art of Living Foundation teachers who focused on the power of breath and made everyone experience how one's simple breath can be used to eliminate stress and anxiety.  The Art of Living Foundation, founded in 1982 by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, is one of the world's largest humanitarian organizations, initiating numerous social projects in more than 140 countries.


Primary focus of the workshop dealt with Reduced stress, increased levels of joy and enthusiasm, improved efficiency and productivity, building self-esteem, enhancing health and well-being, improving interpersonal skills, increasing heightened awareness and clearer perception, peace and confidence, and balance in life itself. The Meditation and Yoga workshop was a joint effort of all chapters based in Sydney and it was free to the 30 attendees. As a result of its success, this workshop will be repeated later during the year 2010.


Contact: Harmohan (Harry) Walia, President of GOPIO Sydney North West at




The India-Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce (ITTCIC) in collaboration with the Hon Malay Mishra, High Commission of India in Port of Spain,hosted a Business Conference on "Business Opportunities between India and Trinidad and Tobago" at the Hilton Hotel, Port of Spain on Friday, 26 March 2010.


India-Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce was established with headquarters in Trinidad "to promote trade and commerce in and between the Republics of India and Trinidad and Tobago and to foster the collaboration necessary for business ventures, technology transfer and direct investment. ITT Chamber provide the forum and also serves as an advocacy NGO for Trade and Commerce development", said Deo Gosine is Chairman of the board of Trustees of ITTCIC and Co-Chair of GOPIO Business Council.


Contact: Deo Gosine (ITTCIC) at, #50 Exchange Complex, Exchange Road, Couva, Trinidad & Tobago, E-mail:; Tel: 636-1473/636-3566/636-4629; Mobile: 331-5884, Fax: 636-1476




GOPIO-RYDE, a chapter in Australia's Sydney Metropolitan area, in association with senior citizens of Parklea Gurdwara, organized a Fun-Ride for 70 senior people. Mr.Balbir Singh, General Secretary GOPIO-RYDE, volunteered for this community effort. Mr.Singh, who works with Sydney buses, organized a Sydney NSW bus and drove 70 senior residents to Berowra Water. The bus tour for the senior citizens is one of the many ways GOPIO-RYDE is actively involved in community activities. The result is that all had wonderful time and everyone appreciated Mr. Singh's personal efforts in making this trip possible. In the spirit of continuing support for the community, GOPIO-Ryde plans of increasing its efforts to initiate and support community activities.


Three new GOPIO chapters in Australia namely GOPIO-North Sydney, GOPIO-Ryde and GOPIO-Glenwood have been formed with the help of other Metro Sydney chapters. There are now total seven GOPIO chapters in the Sydney area.  Melbourne and Brisbane have one GOPIO chapter each.


Contact: Parmanand Singh, President of GOPIO Ryde at




GOPIO has appointed Vishnu Mahadeo of Queens, New York as GOPIO's Community Liaison to Census 2010 for the New York area. The Global Organization of People of Indian Origin International (GOPIO International) recognizes the importance, significance and impact on the local communities when the national census achieves its goal of counting the population per mandate to do so. GOPIO is collaborating with several community organizations on Census 2010 and giving its full support to achieving maximum possible counting of the people of Indian origin living in the United States.


In making the announcement, GOPIO International Executive Vice President Ashook Ramsaran congratulated Mahadeo and told him that, "GOPIO recognizes your active interest and concern for the Indian community in the New York area. We commend you for the many initiatives you are undertaking towards creating more awareness and highlighting the benefits about the upcoming census count and providing local community leadership on Census 2010 on a timely basis".


Contact: Vishnu Mahadeo at




GOPIO's proposal for a seminar on April 17, 2010 titled "Coping in New York City: Adaptation and Assimilation of Caribbean and Latin American Immigrants" has been approved by New York City's Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs (NYC-MOIA) as a partner event during New York City's Immigrant Heritage Week 2010. This is the fifth consecutive year GOPIO will be participating with a partner event during New York City's Immigrant Heritage Week. The proposal was initiated by GOPIO International Executive Vice President Ashook Ramsaran in collaboration with Dr Alina Camacho-Gingerich of St John's University (Center for Latin American Caribbean Studies). GOPIO Upper New York President Satruhan Sukdeo will be taking the lead role in organizing and holding the seminar.


Event Description: A symposium to discuss ways for new immigrants to better assimilate into the NYC mainstream, adopt good citizenship roles in education, economics, politics and social activities. The event will be held on Saturday, April 17, 2010 starting at 9:00am and follwedd by lunch. The venue is St John's University, 8000 Utopia Parkway, Jamaica, New York 11439 and admission is free (advance registration required).


Contact: GOPIO Upper New York President Satruhan Sukdeo at




Subhash Khot, an Indian-American computer scientist has been selected for a prestigious $500,000 national award. Dr. Khot, a theoretical computer scientist, is known for his "Unique Games Conjecture. He works in the line of science called "Computational Complexity," which seeks to understand the power and limits of efficient computation.


He will receive the prestigious Alan T. Waterman Award for the National Science Foundation (NSF) for 2010 for his outstanding research. Dr. Knot is an associate professor at the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences. He will be presented the award on May 4 at a dinner ceremony to be held in Washington at the U.S. Department of State.


The Alan T. Waterman Award is given annually to an outstanding researcher under the age of 36 in any field of science and engineering supported by the NSF. The honor includes a grant of $500,000 over three years of scientific research or advanced study in the recipient's field of science.


"Subhash Khot is a gifted and ambitous young scientist," said NSF Director Arden L. Bement, Jr.


"He courageously tackles some of the most challenging computational problems, all the while advancing computer security, with vast consequences for the broader security of our personal identities, commercial interests, societal institutions, even for national security as a whole,"  stated the director.




The India Abroad newspaper selected Dr. Venkatraman Ramakrishnan, Nobel Prize winner in Chemistry 2009 as its person of the year for 2009. A total of nine awards were presented in seven categories at the seventh annual India Abroad Person of the Year Awards on Friday, March 5th. The Who's Who of the Indian-American community attended the event, held at the National Museum of the American Indian in the magnificent Alexander Hamilton US Customs House in Manhattan.

The first to be honored was the India Abroad Young Achiever 2009, Kavya Shivashankar, winner of the Scripps National Spelling Bee 2009.

The India Abroad Gopal Raju Award for Community Service 2009 went to the South Asian Council for Social Services and its Executive Director Sudha Acharya for the decade-old SACSS's support and empowerment of South Asian immigrants in America. SACSS was formed at a day long conference organized by GOPIO in New York in May 2000.

Priyamvada Natarajan, professor of astronomy and physics at Yale University, was named the India Abroad Face of the Future 2009, an award which recognizes the promise of glittering future achievement.

Mathematician Manjul Bhargava, the youngest full professor at Princeton University, and the inaugural India Abroad Face of the Future 2008, was also present.

Investment banker, community leader and philanthropist Sreedhar Menon was awarded the India Abroad Award for Lifetime Service to the Community 2009.

The India Abroad Publisher's Special Awards for Excellence were presented to National Public Radio's Morning Edition Executive Producer Madhulika Sikka, Washington Post Managing Editor Raju Narisetti, and Otterbein College professor Abhijat Joshi, best known as the co-writer of Bollywood blockbusters "3 Idiots" and "Lage Raho Munnabhai".

Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Jhumpa Lahiri's publisher Ajai Singh 'Sonny' Mehta, the editor-in-chief of Alfred A Knopf, was given the India Abroad Award for Lifetime Achievement 2009.

Via a video-address, former US President Bill Clinton congratulated India Abroad on 40 years of publishing and congratulated Sonny Mehta, who published Clinton's bestselling memoir, "My Life", and all the other winners.




The Obama Administration has appointed Indian American Islam A. Siddiqui as Chief Agricultural Negotiator in the Office of the US Trade Representative and is expected to play a central role in the stalled negotiations over the Doha talks under the ambit of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). A graduate from the Agricultural University in Pantnagar (Uttar Pradesh), Siddiqui will be the key negotiator for the US on issues relating to agriculture.


The Doha Round has been contentious with differences on agriculture not being bridged between the US and countries like India and China. Siddiqui's appointment, however, may be fairly controversial. First, this was part of 15 "recess appointments" bypassing the voting process in the US Senate and that will only irk Republicans.


Earlier Siddiqui had also worked in the Clinton Administration.




Six Indian Americans are among the thirty 2010 Paul and Daisy Soros New American Fellows. Each will receive up to a $20,000 stipend plus half tuition for as many as two years of graduate study at any institution of higher learning in the US.


The purpose of The Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans is to provide opportunities for continuing generations of able and accomplished New Americans to achieve leadership in their chosen fields. The Program is established in recognition of the contributions New Americans have made to American life and in gratitude for the opportunities the United States has afforded the donors and their family.


Zahir Dossa, a graduate student at MIT, collaborated with a fellow student to create Selsabila to distribute low-tech but very inexpensive irrigation pumps to low-income farmers in Sudan. Their efforts were featured in an article in Popular Mechanics and a report on BBC World Radio. Their organization has received various awards, including the $10,000 Davis Peace Prize, plans to work for health finance programs in poor countries.


Johns Hopkins medical student Amit Jainenvisions a healthier, happier planet that he believes is conceivable through technological innovations and scientific breakthroughs. Under mentorship of an eminent pediatric orthopaedic surgeon at Hopkins, Amit is keenly studying implant related fractures and spinal deformities in children.


Hari Prabhakar, a first-year student at Harvard Medical School, had majored in public health studies at The Johns Hopkins University, graduated in 2007, and was selected to be a British Marshall Scholar.  While at Johns Hopkins he became aware of, and committed to alleviating, the grossly inadequate health care provided to indigenous populations in India.  He has conducted extensive health services research in tribal areas of India and has become a leading advocate of efforts to improve access to care for Sickle Cell Disease, a major public health problem internationally, over the past 6 years. To that end, he established the Tribal India Health Foundation and the Sickle Cell Disease Center in South India.


Harvard medical student Deep Shah, a recipient of Truman scholarship; graduated summa cum laude with majors in biology and international affairs; elected to Phi Beta Kappa, was named the 2008 Georgia Outstanding Scholar; and received a Rhodes scholarship.  He has served as a Legislative Fellow in the US Senate and worked as a project manager with the Georgia Governor's Office to design a low-cost private health insurance plan for the working poor.  Deep's research on Parkinson's disease resulted in two jointly-authored publications.


Naman Shah is a third-year candidate for the MD and PhD degrees in the Medical Scientist Training Program at the University of North Carolina (UNC) from where he graduated earlier with highest honors and distinction in public service majoring in environmental health in the School of Public Health.  He was a North Carolina Leadership Fellow and an IBM Watson fellow. Naman developed and helped introduce in Cambodia a test that identifies drug resistance in malarial parasites.  Following graduation he worked in polio case surveillance and related immunization activities in a rural district in India. .


Aarti Shahani, a graduate student specializing in public policy at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, worked seven years to block her father's deportation fromt he US. After 9/11 terrorist attacks, Aarti co-founded an organization in New York that assists families facing the deportation of one or more family members.



The 2010 Census is a major effort taking place in the US during the month of March. It is a count of everyone living in the United States and is mandated by the U.S. Constitution. Everyone will be counted. whether a person is a citizen, legal or illegal immigrant, or diplomatic. Asian Indians have been counted separately since the year 2000 Census.




India and Denmark recently signed a bilateral Social Security Agreement (SSA), which will enhance cooperation on social security between the two countries and protect workers in either country against double payment of social security contributions, loss of contributions and loss of benefits. The agreement was signed by Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs Secretary A. Didar Singh and Inger Stojberg, Employment Minister of Denmark.


Per the agreement, migrant workers in both countries will be exempt from social security contribution under the host country's legislation and will only be subject to the social security regulations of their home country. The agreement will reduce corporate expenses on social security and ensure social protection of migrant professionals. Many of the 13,000 Indians who live and work in Denmark could benefit from the new agreement.


India already has similar agreements with Belgium, France, Germany, Switzerland, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.



Recently, the Bombay high court said that the Hindu Marriage Act (HMA) cannot apply to an estranged couple who were domiciled in the US. Thus, if a couple, domicile of a foreign country, wants to marry in India, the Hindu Marriage Act may not be applicable to them.


The court was convinced that the couple's US Permanent Resident Green Card showed their intention of making the US their permanent home. Since their parents resided in India, they came to India to be married as per Hindu rites but neither party can seek protection of HMA in case of divorce.




The Overseas Indian Facilitation Centre (OIFC) is a not-for-profit public private initiative between the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA) and Confederation of Indian Industry.


OIFC has a comprehensive database of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) available as a support tool for any person to sample a diverse range of questions that an investor can possibly have. These questions range across various sectors and topics, and a quick glance will tell you what people are thinking about while investing in India.


FAQs listed on OIFC website are related to areas such as Banking & Insurance, Shares, Securities & Deposits and Taxation, Real Estate etc. Every question that is asked becomes part of the knowledge bank - ask your question.


If an individual's question is not in the FAQ database, just click on Ask the Expert. A selected team of knowledge experts is available to answer simple to the most complex query. If a reader has a question, visit




Minister of Overseas Indian Affairs, Vayalar Ravi gave the following written reply in the Lok Sabha on the above subject on March 10, 2010.


NRIs seek intervention of Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA) to secure their rights and interests in the properties owned (acquired or inherited) by them, particularly when they apprehend being cheated or dispossessed of such property by fraudulent means. Their requests often relate to illegal occupation of land/flat/apartment/house etc. by unscrupulous persons, delayed handing over of the promised flats/apartments by builders/realtors/property dealers, delay in the settlement of related court cases etc. Such complaints from NRIs are received by the Central and State Governments from time to time.

(i)                   At the instance of MOIA, special NRI cells have been created by many state governments, which have substantial diaspora population to address their concerns, receive all complaints from NRIs/PIOs including those related to property.

(ii)                 (ii) The requests received from NRIs/PIOs by the Ministry are forwarded to the concerned State Government for appropriate action.

(iii)                (iii) State Governments intervention to address such complaints are sought at the annual consultation meetings held.

(iv)                (iv) A seminar to discuss the property related issues of NRIs/ PIOs was organized during the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) - 2010 convention at Vigyan Bhavan in New Delhi on 7th January, 2010. The discussions covered the nature of the property disputes, the role of different government agencies/private enterprises, measures to prevent such disputes including speedy disposal by way of setting up of fast track courts etc. 300 NRIs attended the seminar.



US dollar, British Pound and Euro have their unique symbols, other than their abbreviations like USD and GBP. Indian Rupee has been referred to by the abbreviation 'Rs' and the same abbreviated form is also used in Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka for their respective currencies. Last year, Government of India had decided to join the select currencies and have India's rupee a distinguishing identity of its own.


Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee announcedin his Budget speech in Parliament, "In the ensuing year, we intend to formalise a symbol for the Indian Rupee, which reflects and captures the Indian ethos and culture."




There is great potential for bilateral agreement between the UK and India on health services.  If it takes place, UK could save as much as £120m if NHS patients currently waiting for different operations in the UK are allowed to go to India for treatment in an accredited hospital.


English is understood and spoken by educated Indians. A large number of India educated and trained doctors are working for NHS in the UK. The two-way agreement could make it easier to guarantee high-quality treatment to Britons who are used to Indian doctors. Thus, India can become an acceptable destination for some people awaiting NHS treatment.


With economy still in recession condition, UK will have to think about cutting  costs on health services while continuing to provide quality healthcare services. NHS may have to explore possibility of partnership with India for mutual benefits.




United States Army Captain Tejdeep Singh Rattan became the first Sikh in a generation to serve in the United States Army with his turban, full length hair and full beard. Rattan had to get a waiver from the Army to serve without sacrificing the unshorn hair mandated by his faith. An immigrant from India who arrived in New York as a teenager, Rattan said he hopes his military commitment will allow him to give back to his adopted home country and will help diminish prejudice Sikhs sometimes face in the U.S. Army officer basic training graduation ceremony took place at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio on March 22, 2010.  Captain Rattan and Dr. Kamaljeet Singh Kalsi, who will attend basic training this summer, are the first Sikhs to receive exemptions in more than 25 years.


The Army in 1984 eliminated an exemption that had previously allowed Sikhs to maintain their articles of faith while serving, but officials can issue individual waivers to the uniform policy after considering the effects on safety and discipline, said Army spokesman George Wright. Only a handful of such individual religious exemptions are ever granted. "I'm feeling very humbled. I'm a soldier," said the 31-year-old dentist, smiling after the ceremony at Fort Sam Houston. "This has been my dream." Rattan - who received a master's degree in engineering before pursuing a dental education and Kalsi both offer health care skills that are in high demand in an Army stretched by wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Rattan said he encountered no trouble from fellow soldiers during training.




The Punjab high court (HC), in a recent decision, has allowed Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) card holder Persons of Indian origin (PIOs) to represent India at international sporting events. Earlier, the players were banned from playing for India as they did not have Indian passports.


Till 2008, India allowed OCI card holder PIOs to represent India at international sports events. In 2008, the government started disallowing OCI players from representing India. Sohrab Gill, a national shooter who was banned in 2008 along with some others filed appeal to the Punjab High Court and after two years, the Court gave decision in his favor. Henceforth, an OCI card holder PIO can take part in national and international sports events as part of Indian team.  


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: 818-708-3885, E-mail:

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

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


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)

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

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

Contributors of this issue: Inder Singh (GOPIO Intl., USA), Ravi Dhingra (GOPIOI-CT, USA), Jay Banerjei (GOPIO-Toronto, Canada), Dr Arnold Thomas (St Vincent's); Parmanand Singh (GOPIO-Ryde, Australia); Harmohan (Harry) Walia (GOPIO-Sydney North West, Australia); Chad Patel (GOPIO-Houston, USA),  Deo Gosine (GOPIO Business Council), Jaysingh  Bhandari (GOPIO-VA), Bina Mahabir (Guyana - New York, 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