June 25, 2011

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

Issue: X-7

June 25, 2011

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A 2-day Business Forum and Diaspora conference was held on May 31 - June 1 in Port of Spain in Trinidad following commemoration of the 166th anniversary of Indian Arrival Day on May 30 in Trinidad and Tobago (TnT). The program is a successful collaboration among GOPIO International, Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA), Office of the Indian High Commission to Trinidad (IHC), India-Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Commerce (ITTCC), Overseas Indian Facilitation Centre (OIFC), Confederation of Indian Industries (CII), University of West Indies (UWI). There was a large sized business delegation from India led by CII and an excellent representation of successful businesses from many countries in the Caribbean region, including Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Suriname, St Lucia, Grenada, Jamaica, Guadeloupe and others.


The Conference offered a unique platform to entrepreneurs, industrialists, businessmen and business women, professionals and academics to interact and deliberate for strengthening ties, exploring new opportunities and establishing partnerships in the areas of industry, trade and culture between India and the Caribbean.


Business Forum Program Sessions: May 31, 2011 - June 1, 2011

Inaugural session:


The Inaugural session for the Business Forum was attended at full capacity at the Hyatt Hotel in Port of Spain. Minister of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA) and Civil Aviation, Mr. Vayalar Ravi inaugurated the Business Forum at the Hyatt Hotel amidst a very large gathering of businesses from India, Trinidad, the Caribbean region and officials of the government of Trinidad and Tobago. Mr. Stephen Cadiz, Minister of Trade & Industry, Republic of Trinidad & Tobago also spoke at the inaugural session. Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar delivered a resounding feature address on the role and benefits of investment and entrepreneurship, highlighting the many benefits of doing business Trinidad and Tobago.



Inaugural Session of Business Forum, T&T GOPIO Meeting, May 2011


Photo above: Business Forum Inauguration (l-r) MOIA Min Vayalar Ravi; MC Ken Emrith; Ashook Ramsaran (GOPIO Int'l); Indian HC Malay Mishra; TnT Min of Trade Stephen Cadiz; Dr Nitin Thorve (Leader CII Business Delegation); Deo Gosine (ITTCIC); Shefali Chaturvedi (OIFC/CII)



The opening remarks were delivered by Mr. Ashook Ramsaran, GOPIO International Executive Vice-President, who welcomed all delegates from India, the Caribbean region and elsewhere, reiterating the focus on mutual benefits of investments in India, investments in the Caribbean region and partnering among Indian and Caribbean based businesses. Ms. Shefali Chaturvedi, CEO of OIFC, spoke on the need for collaborative efforts to encourage business investments and partnerships. Mr. Deo Gosine, Chairman of ITTCC, encouraged Indian businesses to consider Trinidad and the Caribbean as platforms for reaching other countries in Central and South America with bi-lateral trade.



Dr. Nitin Thorve, Leader of the Indian business delegation organized CII, spoke about expectations for business opportunities in the Caribbean. Shri Malay Mishra, High Commissioner of India to Trinidad and Tobago, appreciated the interest in exploring more business opportunities both in India and the Caribbean region and looked to the future of business activities in lucrative sectors. Hon Stephen Cadiz, Minister of Trade & Industry, Republic of Trinidad & Tobago, stressed the importance of Trinidad as a viable platform for doing business in the Caribbean region.


Shri Vayalar Ravi, Hon Minister of Overseas Indian Affairs & Civil Aviation, expressed optimism for a successful business forum, the first of its kind in the Caribbean. Hon Ravi pointed out the support of MOIA and OIFC as well as CII in fostering and facilitating bi-lateral trade and investments. The feature address by Hon. Kamla Persad-Bissessar, Prime Minister of Trinidad & Tobago was a validation of the strong ties between India and Trinidad & Tobago and support for expanded trade and investments. Hon. Kamla Persad-Bissessar said that, "we in Trinidad and Tobago appreciate the strides that India has made in the last 20 odd years. We believe that both our countries have much to offer to each other. Though we already share excellent diplomatic and cultural relations, and are historically and culturally bonded by the event of indentureship, it is important that we use these emotive bonds which stretch over a century and a half, to develop stronger, more resilient and concrete trade and investments ties for the mutual benefit of both of our peoples".


Business Session I: Business and Investment opportunities in India; Business and Investment opportunities in the Caribbean


The moderator was Mr. Vernon Ramessar. Ms Renuka Singh of CII introduced the delegates from India. Then presentations were made on Business and Investment Opportunities in India on: IT & ITES by Mr. Rajeev Gupta, TCS; on pharmaceuticals by  Mr Pradeep Raman; on infrastructure by Dr. Nitin Thorve, Nidan Diagnostics. Mr. Ved Seereeram of TTCIC spoke on Business and Investment Opportunities in the Caribbean; Mr. Wayne Punnette, Dir of Investment, T&T Ministry of Trade & Industry, spoke on doing business in T&T; and Mr. Rabindra Jaggernauth, President, TTCSI, spoke on developing trade relationship in the Services Sector between India and T&T with an emphasis on IT.


Business Session II: Success Stories in the Caribbean by Diaspora Businessmen/Women


Presenters included: Ms. Vindra Amar (Trinidad & Tobago); Mr. Yesu Persaud (Guyana); Mr. Jai Benie (Suriname); Mr. Kamlesh Sharma (Dominica); Mr. Lokesh Singh (St. Lucia); Mr. Kawall Samroo (French Guyana)                                                       


Business Presentations / B2B Meetings


Moderator was Dr. Dhanayshar Mahabir -Economist. Presenters included: Mr. David Hales,

Director,  External Economic and Trade Relations, CARICOM, on Business and Investment opportunities in the Caribbean; Mr. Yeshpal Chhabra, MD, Bank of Baroda (T&T) Ltd on Role of Bank of Baroda in stimulating business and investment between India  and the Caribbean; Mr. Ashwathanarayana, MD, New India Assurance Co. Ltd. on Insurance Services in the Caribbean by Mr. Ashwathanarayana, MD, New India Assurance Co. Ltd; Mr. V. Ravishankar, General Manager Inter-Commercial Bank T&T Ltd on Retail Banking Scenario.


Following a reception & Indian Cultural Program hosted by Prof. Clement Sankat, Principal UWI at the Principal's Office Lawns, UWI, St. Augustine Campus, a dinner was hosted by GOPIO International for all delegates to Business Forum and Diaspora Conference, held a Rasam Restaurant in Grand Bazaar



June 1, 2011



On June 1, the business delegates were accompanied on planned tours and meetings with IT/ITES, Education, Infrastructure sectors. Program for Business delegates and entrepreneurs from India - coordinated by India-T&T Chamber of Industry & Commerce. Meeting with Couva Chamber of Industry and Commerce (along with representatives from Central and Southern Chambers) followed by Working Lunch and Tour of industrial sites arranged by ITTCIC.


Minister Ravi with Speakers of T&T Business Forum & Diaspora Conf. May 2011

Photo left: Min Ravi with Business Leaders (l-r) P. Kishore (CII Delegation); Rajeev Gupta (CII Delegation); MOIA Min Vayalar Ravi; Dr Nitin Thorve (CII Delegation); Dr Yesu Persaud (Guyana); Renuka Singh (CII); Ohto right: Photo Diaspora Conference Inauguration (l-r) Prof. Brinsley Samaroo (UWI); TnT Min Suruj Rambachan (Foreign Affairs); Dr. Amar Wahab (UWI); Dr Clement Sankat (UWI); Indian HC Malay Mishra; Dr Chaman Lal (Visiting Prof at UWI)


Diaspora Conference Program Sessions: May 31, 2011 - June 1, 2011



The theme of the Diaspora Conference was "Building a New partnership between India and the Caribbean: Role of the Diaspora. It was organized as a collaborative effort by the Indian High Commissioner in Trinidad & Tobago with the University of West Indies and partnering with GOPIO International. The Diaspora Conference was inaugurated by Minister of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA) Hon Vayalar Ravi at the St Augustine Campus of the University of West Indies on May 31, 2011. The conference continued onto June 1 with several sessions relevant to the Indian diaspora of the Caribbean region. These included delegations from French Guiana, Suriname, Guyana, Trinidad, Barbados, St Vincent's, St Lucia, Grenada, Jamaica, Guadeloupe and Belize.


May 31, 2011

Inaugural Session


In his inaugural address, Minister Ravi revisited some of the success stories, triumphs and the leading personalities in the Caribbean and he spoke about the recent unveiling of the Kolkata Memorial in recognition of Indian indentured laborers. TnT's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon Dr Suruj Rambachan made a passionate presentation of many noteworthy ideas for the Indian Diaspora, adding that, "the loss of one's cultural traditions leaves one in no man's land. To be bereft of one's culture is to deny the soul of fulfillment". Others who participated in the Inaugural Session included: Indian High Commissioner Mr. Malay Mishra; Prof Clement Sankat, Pro-Chancellor and Principal of University of West Indies (St Augustine); Address by Min of  Planning, Economic and Social Restructuring, and Gender Affairs, Dr Bhoe Tewarie. Immigration historian Ms. Leila Swaroop presented book on Indian immigration to University of West Indies (St Augustine).



Session I: Presentation & Networking of Diaspora Associations in the Caribbean


The moderator was Prof. Brinsley Samaroo UWI (Trinidad); Chairperson was Prof. Clement Sankat, UWI (Trinidad) and panelists included:   Dr. Arnold Thomas, St. Vincent's; Mr. Michel Narayaninswamy, Guadeloup; Ms. Shadel Compton, Grenada; Ms. Sylvia Gilharry Perez, Belize; Mr. Sabir Nakhuda, Barbados



Reception was hosted by Prof. Clement Sankat, Principal UWI & Indian Cultural Programme at Principal's Office Lawns, UWI, St. Augustine Campus. Then followed a dinner hosted by GOPIO International for all delegates to Business Forum and Diaspora Conference at Rasam Restaurant, Grand Bazaar




June 1, 2011

Session II: Culture, Identity & Roots in a Globalising World

The moderator was Mr. Ravindranath Maharaj with Chairperson Ms. Lela Swaroop. Panelists included: Mr. Shamshu Deen (T&T); Ms. Christelle Gourdine (Guadeloupe); Ms. Shundell Persad Jha (USA); Dr. Maurits S. Hassankhan, Suriname


Session III: Building a Knowledge Economy: Role of Youth

The moderator was Mr. Ronald Chuckaree, with Chairperson Dr. Bhoe Tewarie (UWI, TnT). Panelists included:  Ms. Amrita Priya Ramcharan (T&T); Dr. Terencia Joseph (Saint Lucia); Mr. Roberto Persaud (Suriname); Ms. Kiran Aarti Mattai (Guyana).


Session IV: Caribbean Diaspora: Role in Development

The moderator: was Dr. Kumar Mahabir (UTT, T&T) with Chairperson Mr. Ashook Ramsaran (GOPIO Int'l). Panelists included: Mr. Fred Negrit (Guadeloupe); Dr Ron Sookram (Grenada); and Dr. Sherry- Ann Singh (T&T).


Session V: Valedictory Address & Wrap up Session



Valedictory address was delivered by Dr. Kenneth Ramchand, President, UTT, followed by wrap up by Chief Rapporteur Mr. Paras Ramoutar (TnT) and closing remarks by High Commissioner Mr. Malay Mishra.




The 2011 Regional PBD, referred to as PBD Canada, was a well attended event held in Toronto on June 9 and 10th. The Indo-Canada Chamber of Commerce (ICCC) was the primary organizer for the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA). The theme was Building Bridges: Positioning Strategy of the Indian Diaspora. Indian Diaspora members in Canada, USA, Mexico and the Caribbean countries were in attendance in large numbers. Also participating were the provincial Canadian governments and from Canadian mainstream organizations


The main objectives of PBD Canada were achieved: The formation of a broader human connection strategy linking segments of civil society and corporate sector in India and Canada with knowledgeable members of India Diaspora. In addition, sessions were held on:

  • Expanded business opportunities particularly in the small and medium sized business sectors;
  • Formation of a Canada Chapter of Global Indian Network of Knowledge (Global INK) which may also provide a practical way to connect good public policy ideas to the reform agenda in India;
  • Enhanced cooperation in areas including education, energy, environment, information technology, agriculture, science and technology, research and development, infrastructure, transport; and
  • Increased internship programs, cultural exchanges and tourism between two countries

"I congratulate the Government of India for its PBD initiative. This is a smart way for India to transcend borders, build bridges and create the partnerships reaching out to the Indian Diaspora," said Premier Dalton McGuinty as he addressed the inaugural session of the 5th regional Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) last Thursday at the Metro Convention Centre in Toronto. The Premier observed, "You are tapping into the rich diversity of knowledge and expertise from around the world literally. So far and wide has the Indian community spread that the writer Parag Khanna said, 'The sun never sets on the Indian Diaspora'."


The Governor General of Canada, Dr. David Johnston, delivering the inaugural address at the convention, greeted the gathering with 'Namaste' as he lauded the role of the community in nation building and promoting ties with India. He said that "this occasion is even more special given that this is the 'Year of India in Canada' which is doing so much to share the wonders of Indian art, culture and history with all Canadians." The Head of State said he was interested to learn that by the year 2017 the Indian Diaspora in Canada will become the most populous of any nation of the G8 countries. "That same year Canadians will celebrate 150 years of confederation and I would like to take a moment to consider the significance of these two milestones together." The Governor General concluded his speech with "dhanyavaad" (thank you, in Hindi).

Also addressing the gala dinner was Preneet Kaur, India's Minister of State for External Affairs, who noted that the Indian Diaspora has become "an important partner for India's prosperity'' by sending remittances back home, making investments, transferring technical knowhow, and projecting India's soft power by popularizing its culture, films and dance. Identifying the opportunities that exist and courting Canadian partnership in India's development, the Minister said, "India-Canada ties are developing at a time of enormous opportunities in India. We need $1 trillion in the infrastructure sector over the next decade and foreign investment (and trade) will continue to be an integral part of our growth.''

Indian High Commissioner S.M. Gavai said India was showing its appreciation of the Indo-Canadian Diaspora by holding the PBD in Toronto. Bollywood singer Shivani Kashyap thrilled the audience with her new hit songs as well as with favorite nostalgic tunes at the gala. The two-day convention was held under the theme 'Building Bridges: Positioning Strategies for the Indian Diaspora'. Over 500 delegates attended.


Mini PBD in Canadfa - Speakers of the Session Enagaing Diaspora Youth

Photo of Panelists on Plenary Session II: "Engaging Diaspora Youth: Education and Innovation" (l-r)

Dr. Yuen Pau Woo, President, Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada; Dr. A. Didar Singh, Secretary, Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA); Mr. Sriram Iyer, President & CEO, ICICI Bank Canada; Hon Preeti Saran (India's Consul General in Toronto); Mr. Deep Kapuria, Leader of CII Delegation; Ashook Ramsaran, Vice President, GOPIO Int'l.

Two exciting announcements made at the concluding session were, that the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) will be opening up an Indian Cultural Centre in Toronto in the very near future and that the Indian government will be setting up five PIO (People of Indian Origin) universities in different cities to deepen its connectivity with the Diaspora. Dr. Didar Singh, Secretary, Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs, promised a report would be made on the deliberations of the convention and an implementation strategy worked out on utilizing the suggestions coming out of the convention. Dr. Singh also announced that "the Indian government proposes to set up five PIO universities in different cities to deepen its connectivity with the Diaspora. Bangalore is one of them.''


(News item contributed by Adit Kumar (GOPIO of Toronto)




Health issues facing the Indian Diaspora was a significant feature of the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas in Toronto. . There was also a discussion on telemedicine and other focused healthcare issues. Dr Vivian Rambihar, Co-Chair of GOPIO Health Council, whose proposals were included on the agenda of GOPIO Health Summit in November 2010, seeks to do the same for all Pravasi Bharatiya Divas events. Dr Rambihar's two page article in the Vedic "The Year for India in Canada: the time for health across the diaspora" was included in the package given to all delegates attending PBD Canada. His article was published in the Cultural Center SA Heritage Month Program. . It describes the risk to the economy of the chronic or non-communicable diseases crisis in India and across the diaspora, and outlines the urgent need to create a culture of health across the diaspora and actions to achieve this. Dr Rambihar proposes that all diaspora activities, especially at PBD's, should include health as a priority, and that health impact should be discussed across all sectors



Mini PBD. Toronto.June 2011. Dr Rambikar, Adit Kumar and Min.Preneet Kaurith

Photo (l-r): Dr Vivian Rambihar (Co-Chair of GOPIO Health Council), Adit Kumar (GOPIO of Toronto) and Hon Preneet Kaur, India's Minister of State for External Affairs

Dr Rambihar discussed Indian Diaspora health issues when he met separately at PBD Canada with Hon Preneet Kaur, India's Minister of State for External Affairs and presented her with I gave her a copy of my book Tsunami Chaos Global Heart, referring to the chapter on health issues of South Asians, and which describes a complexity approach to peace, health and development. Dr Rambihar also met with Dr A Didar Singh, Secretary of Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs and discussed health issues affecting the Indian Diaspora.



A dinner reception was hosted by the Global Organization of People of India Origin (GOPIO) National Coordinator, Dr. Piyush C. Agrawal in the presence of South Florida Indian Community leaders to honor Honorable Union Cabinet Minister Vayalar Ravi and Government Officials on May 27th 2011  in Miami, Florida. Recent visa policies and issues like surrender Certificate were prominent in the presentation made by Agrawal, "You know these issues and their implications better than anybody else. Please take appropriate actions to soothe the pains inflicted upon the Diaspora by these irritant policies" emphasized Dr. Agrawal in the spirit of "Let us not point fingers .... Let us talk change."

Prominent community leaders, and representatives of news media, attended this gathering. Organizations like, Indian Religious and Cultural Center- IRCC, Kashmir Hindu Foundation, Inc- KHF, The Association of Indians in America- AIA, American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin- AAPI, Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America-VHPA, , Global Organization of People of Indian Origin - GOPIO, Asian American Hotel Owners Association- AAHOA, HSS, BAPS, SFHT, Diwali Nagar,and Trinidad & Tobago Diaspora were represented. 

Honorable Union Cabinet Minister Vayalar Ravi in his remarks thanked the Indian community of South Florida to arrange such a magnificent gathering in a short time. He assured to look into the concerns of the Indian community as his top priority. Creation of PIO and OCI cards and facilitating the voting rights to NRI's were some of the visionary policies that his ministry has undertaken. Honorable Union Cabinet Minister was presented with a plaque with an embedded commemorative silver coin released on First Diwali at the US White house, honoring him for his services to the people of India.



Photo below left: Minister Ravi speaks to an attentive audience. to his right are Dr. Piyush Agrawal, Jay Rakhar and Sanjay Gupta. Photo below right: Dr. Piyush Agrawal honoring the Minister

Minister Vayala recognized by GOPIO & community groups in Florida, May 2011

Photo above: Dr. Subbarao, Dr. David Kumar, Dr. Piyush Agrawal, Sanjay Gupta, Apurva Desai, Dr. Karan Munuswamy, Minister Vayalar Ravi, Hemant Patel, Dr. Chander Shaykher, Mrs. Geeta Shaykher, Vivek Swaroop (South Florida GOPIO Chapter President)


While most politically themed gatherings end up in a subtle blame game, the undercurrents of this engagement were different because it was not about pointing fingers, it was about developing relations and strategies important for effecting change.  Honorable Minister aptly pointed out that it is very easy to sit back and pass judgement on whatever we feel is wrong with our country.  Many people succumb to this laissez-faire attitude but very rarely does any one take a stand on change.  Although solutions to the issues can not be "whipped up" in a day, they can be achieved through the awareness and persistent efforts of the community such as South Florida. 


Piyush also presented to the Minister a Copy of the 14  Resolutions passed during GOPIO's Annual Convention held in New Delhi  January 5-6, 2011 outlining various issues of common concern to the Indian Diaspora.


The reception ended with sumptuous dinner and vote of thanks. 





GOPIO's Convention 2011 is scheduled to be held in Toronto on September 2 - September 4, 2011. The convention will be a 3-day event with GOPIO of Canada holding its first international event along with its several GOPIO chapters. 


Tentative program outline is as follows:

Friday, Oct. 14 (day): GOPIO Meetings

Friday, Oct. 14 (evening): Inaugural Reception

Saturday, Oct. 15 (day): Conference

Saturday, Oct. 15 (evening): Banquet

Sunday, Oct. 16 (day): Conclusion


GOPIO of Canada will take the lead, supported by all the GOPIO chapters in Canada, taking the lead role in planning and coordination. The organizing committees are being established. The conference program would be addressing current, relevant PIO/NRI issues.


Contact: Jay Banerjei, GOPIO of Canada at




GOPIO-Edison and Central Jersey Chapters in collaboration with the Rotary Club of Plainsboro, New Jersey announced a Japan Disaster Relief and Rehabilitation Fund.  At the launch of the disaster relief and rehabilitation fund, the two chapter presidents Arvind Sood and Rajeev Mehta said, "Japan and India have accomplished great things together. People of Indian Origin would like to show their solidarity with the brave people of Japan by mobilizing the resources of the Indian Diaspora worldwide.


This effort will be coordinated under GOPIO Foundation. All funds will be routed through "GOPIO International" which is a 501 (c) (3) non profit entity in the US. 100% of your generous tax-deductible contributions will go to organization(s) that directly help victims recover from the devastating effects of the earthquake and tsunamis that struck Japan on March 11, 2011.


For further details, call Arvind Sood at 732-277-6313, Email: or Rajeev Mehta at 908-917-4081,




One can also send a check to GOPIO International - Japan Disaster Relief Fund, P.O. Box 1413, Stamford, CT 06904-1413, USA







October 14 -16, 2011: GOPIO Convention (Toronto)




GOPIO-New Zealand collected $ 5,350 from their members nationwide for the Earthquake victims of Christchurch city and handed over a check of $ 5,350 to Red Cross, Auckland in a small function held at Stamford Plaza, Auckland on Sunday, 17th April 2011. GOPIO-NZ members have also contributed personally in cash and provided assistance to Canterbury residents directly through Red Cross. Some of them have donated household articles for urgent need to get them settled temporarily including home hospitality. All faith Prayers were also organized by GOPIO-Waikato in Hamilton.


GOPIO New Zealand Officials at Earthquake Fundraiser, April 2011 

Photo above: Participants at the GOPIO-NZ organized  function held in Auckland for Earthquake Victims of Christchurch City. From L to R (Sitting): Zail Singh Badhan-Member GOPIO AKL Pukekohe, Sunil Chauhan - Secretary GOPIO AKL Pukekohe,  Anurag Sharma- Member AKL Sth, Panthlal  Daroch-Treasurer -AKL Pukekohe, Alkesh Sharma - President AKL West, Subodh Seth - President Botany Down, Puja Tuli - Secretary Gopio Downtown. From L to R (standing): Karnail Singh Badhan - President AKL Pukekohe, Shailen Mehta - President  AKL Central, Tilak Wadhwa - Vice President AKL West, Virinder Aggarwal - Ex President, AKL West, Sunny Kaushal - GOPIO NZ National Marketing Coordinator, Alix Jansen - Area Councillor for the New Zealand Red Cross, Shefali Mehta - Gopio NZ National Secretary, Nek Mohammed - President Gopio Downtown, Navin Kumar  - Secretary Gopio North Shore


GOPIO-NZ is also organizing another fundraising project for St John's Ambulance Community Project. St John is in need of a well equipped Ambulance costing N$ 160,000.00. This is a community project sponsored by Weekender.


GOPIO-NZ President Rakesh Gupta quoted that the Initial task of National Executive Committee to review/finalise National constitution has been completed. The amendments for GOPIO NZ constitution were unanimously approved by the members of National Executive Committee as per the rules of previous constitution on 27th March 2011 in a special Executive Committee meeting.


GOPIO-NZ has also launched their web site  on 26 May'11 informing GOPIO-NZ /   International activities, purpose, membership/office bearer details and procedure for joining GOPIO for the benefits of people of Indian Origin in New Zealand.


GOPIO-NZ Marketing Coordinator Sunny Kaushal is also organizing some other projects for marketing GOPIO-NZ and liaising GOPIO with other Indian Community organizations of New Zealand.


For more info, contact: GOPIO-NZ National President at, National Secretary:, Membership Queries:, Treasurer, General Queries:




GOPIO Paris hosted a dinner reception for Indian Parliamentarian and scholar, Dr. Karan Singh on May 19, 2011 in Paris. Dr. Karan Singh was in Paris to participate in a symposium on 20th May 2011 chaired by the Director General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, bringing together eminent academics and personalities from the fields of philosophy, education and diplomacy. This international scholarly symposium on "the Contributions of the Buddha's Teachings to Universality, Humanism and Peace" is being organized by The Permanent Delegation of Sri Lanka to UNESCO and the Asia Pacific Group of Member States in association with the Director General and Secretariat of UNESCO.


The reception by GOPIO Paris was arranged and hosted by GOPIO Paris president Goojha Ved Prakash and was attended by 75 NRI and PIO guests from the Paris area. Mr Prakash remarked that the reception was held "mainly to honor Dr. Singh in a friendly atmosphere for his contributions for all Indians around the globe as a visionary statesman, a cultural ambassador and a great Scholar and author too. Dr. Singh has written over 25 notable books and several prominent articles and essays.



GOPIO honors Dr. Karan Singh in Paris, May 2011 

Photo above (l-r): Nalinee Prakash, Dr Karan Singh, Goojha Ved Prakash


Dr. Singh, who was born in Cannes, France, was Government of India's representative and inaugurated the First GOPIO Convention in 1989 in New York where GOPIO was established. Dr. Singh was inducted to GOPIO's Honor Roll at its annual meeting in New Delhi in January 2007.




GOPIO Aukland Chapters (Aukland Central, Biotany and Botany Down) and GOPIO Waikato participated in a joint fundraising for St. Johns Ambulance that netted $7000. Hosted by Sangeet Restaurant in Aukland, participation included GOPIO national executives, chapter presidents and other invitees. Fundraising raffles were drawn by Glen Green and Mitchell from Better Way, a community organization. It was well attended by media, sponsors and GOPIO members.


GOPIO New Zealand Fundraiser for St. Johns Ambulance May 2011

 Photo above: GOPIO participants with St. Johns Ambulannce officials


Raffle winners are Cheryl Jacobson from Fisher & Pykle, Ravi Mehta from Price Waterhouse Coopers, Arthav Saluja,Phil Evans and Avneel Rohit Prizes were sponsored by Global Finance Services Ltd., Patton Refrigeration Ltd., Travel Design Ltd and GOPIO, Stamford Plaza Hotel and Sangeet Restaurant.





GOPIO-CT Stamford Hospital Cancer Walkathon FundraiserGOPIO-CT joined hands with Stamford Hampton Inn and Suites at the annual cancer walkathon held on January 5th in Stamford. It was a fundraiser for Cancer research work at the Stamford Hospital. Stamford Mayor Michel Pavia walked with the Hampton Inn and GOPIO-CT group.



The US Department of Defense has recently established the first Hindu Military Chaplain program in American history. Army Captain Pratima Dharm, who currently works as a Chaplain Clinician at Walter Reed Medical Center Hospital, took on her new role as the Army's first Hindu Chaplain as of May 16.


"It is a great day for America and the democratic principles we've sworn to defend as service members and it is an honor to take on this incredible role supporting military members and their families serving in our Nation's Armed forces," says Chaplain Dharm, who holds degrees in Psychology and Theology.


Chaplain Dharm earned her commission in the U.S. Army in 2006 and in 2008 was selected for the Army's Clinical Pastoral Education Program (CPE) while serving in Iraq. Her awards include the Bronze Star Medal, Army Commendation Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal and Global War On Terrorism Service Medal. No stranger to achieving "firsts," Chaplain Dharm is also the first female Chaplain of Indian descent in the United States Army.


Launching the Program


Chaplain Dharm learned of this program after reading a flyer developed through the Office of the Secretary of Defense's (OSD) Chief of Chaplains office. As an Air Force officer stationed at the Pentagon, Dharm was serving as the action officer for this effort and came across the opportunity after reading about three individuals who led Hindu services at the Pentagon. The three lay leaders leading the services, Mr. Bhuj Gidwani, Hitul Thakur and Dr. Ram Bhat, informed Dharm that there was an official DoD endorsement for a chaplain, however a candidate had yet to come forward.


Unsure of the collective interest in such an effort, Dharm teamed with the lay leaders to develop a flyer to find out what the need was. They circulated the flyer throughout the Hindu community. Throughout the process, OSD's Chief of Chaplain's office was extremely supportive. Once Chaplain Dharm conveyed her interest, the Army moved out quickly to establish the program. Chinmaya Mission West and the three lay leaders served as the endorsing agents for the effort (every military chaplain requires an endorsing agency).


Among the many tasks of establishing a new chaplaincy program was the task of establishing a new badge for future Hindu Chaplains to wear. The group consulted a broad range of spiritual leaders across the nation to design the badge, including members of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. The symbol "Om," which denotes truth and peace, was unanimously chosen as the new badge. Chaplain Dharm will be the first to wear this badge when approved.


Unique Fit to the Chaplain Corps


Since 2000, the number of South Asians in America has grown significantly. According to the 2010 Census the numbers have nearly doubled in some states. As such, thousands of Indian Americans have pursued careers of service in America's Armed Forces. With this growth comes the associated requirement to meet the spiritual needs of military members and their families. Chaplain Dharm has already reached out to members serving in SWA looking for spiritual guidance while serving high priority missions in support of national defense.


Chaplain Dharm will start her career as a Hindu chaplain by providing Hindu services at Walter Reed and the Pentagon. She also remains committed to educating America on the principals Indic religions. "For starters, Hinduism has brought the many benefits of yoga to America, and is even being used to treat some symptoms of PTSD."


Chaplain Dharm offers a final word, "When service members take their initial oath, we swear to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. I can't think of a more American endeavor than supporting the free exercise of religion for all military members. That's why we serve, and I'm humbled to take on this duty to support my fellow service members and their families."




British Indian Tom Prabin Aditya became the first person of Asian origin elected to the Bradley Stoke Town Council. Bradley Stoke is a quite peaceful town with good schools and amenities, situated north of the City of Bristol in South West England.


Aditya is the first person of Indian origin elected in the South West England and the first person from the Community elected on a Conservative ticket in the UK. He won the election with a two-third majority, securing votes cutting across political differences and cultural diversities in a ward never won by Conservatives earlier.  


Councilor Tom is a qualified financial adviser authorized by the FSA, a successful entrepreneur and a social activist, spreading goodwill and harmony among communities.


Tom was born in a traditional family in Kerala as the grandson of an Indian freedom fighter who was also a Municipal Father in the erstwhile State of Travancore during the 1940's. Tom studied Law and Economics at the University and took Masters Degree in Management from the USA. He started his banking career in 1995, working through various ranks of management and gained a great deal of exposure travelling widely. He moved to Bristol in 2002 and settled at Bradley Stoke in 2007 and lives with his wife Liny and children. He works for the marginalized, serving as Chair of the South Glos Council Corporate Equalities Forum and Trustee of the Southern Brooks Community Partnership, one of the largest charitable organizations in the region. He also spearheads various socio-cultural associations and community movements.


Tom feels that people should keep off political differences and cultural diversities to work together for the holistic development of the Community. He said "This was my first election in the UK and I am thankful to all those who helped me to enter the Council and will continue to work for the people in every way that I can along with my colleagues." He solicited the co-operation of all. 




Spelling tongue twister "cymotrichous", Greek for having wavy hair, Indian American Sukanya Roy has won the 2011 Scripps National Spelling Bee crown to retain the coveted honor for the community for the fourth year in a row. 

Sukanya Roy, 14, an eighth-grader at Abington Heights Middel School in Pennsylvania, said she knew as soon as she heard "cymotrichous" that she'd get the word right and win the championship Thursday night. 

It was Roy's third trip to the national spelling bee, and she had credited her past experience with keeping her calm and relaxed heading into the finals. She tied for 12th place in 2009 and 20th place in 2010. Roy speaks Bengali and every summer travels to India to visit family. She hopes to pursue a career in international relations. 

Roy is the ninth Indian-American in the last 13 years, a run that began when Nupur Lala captured the crown in 1999 and was later featured in the documentary "Spellbound." 

The winner will be awarded a $30,000 cash prize, a trophy, a $2,500 US savings bond, a complete reference library, a $5,000 scholarship and $2,600 in reference works and other prizes. 

Anamika Veeramani had scored a hat-trick for Indian-Americans in taking the crown last year. 

Sukanya Roy was one of the six Indian Americans - Sriram Hathwar, Arvind Mahankali, Prakash Mishra, Mashad Arora, and Dhivya Senthil Murugan - who made it to the last 13 in the finals. The youngest finalist was 10-year-old Dhivya Murugan of Denver, who was born in India. 

The spelling bee kids just keep getting better and better. Even words like chlorthalidone," "dreikanter," "renminbi" and "helichrysum" couldn't sufficiently narrow down the field in the semifinals, which needed 95 minutes of overtime earlier Thursday to whittle the competitors from 41 to 13. 

The week began with 275 spellers. A written test Tuesday and two oral rounds Wednesday reduced the field for the semifinals. According to the Scripps Spelling Bee's website, this year brought contenders ranging in age from 8 to 15 years old from all over the world.




Sangeeta Ahuja, a Registered Dietitian, a Certified Diabetes Educator, and a Registered Yoga Teacher, who was a finalist for the Woman of the Year 2011, was honored with "Global Leadership award" by India New England at a ceremony held at Burlington on June 1st.


For the last nine years INDIA New England, a community newspaper based in Boston, MA has been honoring South Asian women in the New England area for their success and contribution to business, cultural, social and charitable endeavors. At ceremony, the paper recognized twenty regional women for their tremendous efforts.


Under Ahuja's leadership, the Connecticut chapter of GOPIO has become the most active and vibrant chapter and a model for others to follow. The Indian American community is better integrated and better recognized in the Fairfield County area. GOPIO-CT has developed a close relationship with local community leaders and elected officials. The chapter's programs and interactive sessions with policy makers, law enforcement and FBI have raised awareness of the community's customs and culture.


As Chair of GOPIO Health Services Council, in addition to health awareness programs at local levels, Ahuja led GOPIO health team to hold its "first of its kind" international Health Summit in New York, designed exclusively for the benefit of people of Indian origin. Twenty experts in diabetes, cardiac diseases and stress management held interactive sessions on how to identify risk factors and ways to effectively manage these diseases. Similar programs are being planned for other regions.


Sangeeta is Director of Nutrition Services at Mount Vernon Health Center, Mt. Vernon, NY, a Diabetes Educator at Stamford Hospital's Diabetes and Endocrine Center and a nutrition consultant to Catholic Family Services - Senior Nutrition Program. She is also a consulting nutritionist for Pfizer. She is a frequent speaker on nutrition related topics.




Mrs India Australia 2011 is a traditional beauty pageant for married women. Not only the contestants were judged by their beauty, but also were judged according to their sense of style and personality. The pageant was held on the 4th June 2011 in Sydney attended by Press, media and sponsors. In attendance was also the Mrs. World Australia 2009, Mrs. Carin Hillman-Varma, 1949 'Model of the Year' June-Dally Watkins and Aruna Chandrala former president of United Indian Association, an active and popular Indian community worker.


GOPIO North West President, Neeru Singh, won a prestigious Mrs. India Australia 2011 1st runner up prize. She spoke about her charity theme of 'education for under-privileged' to help the less fortunate kids in India. Neeru Singh was chosen as one of the pageant winner out of the 14 contestants because she is someone who works for needed causes in the community.


There were four Competition rounds to judge the participants. In the first round contestants introduced themselves dressed in colourful traditional dresses that are worn by different communities & tribes of different states of India. Neeru introduced her as invincible and said life was never dull for her being in love, changing nappies and earning bread for the family. In talent round Neeru comically portrayed as Haryanvi girl who recently got a job with Australian police. The short 3 minute skit play was loved by the audience. In good karma round Neeru spoke about her charity work for under-privileged kids in India. In final judges' question answers round Neeru talked about how woman can play a vital role in family, professional and social life by using different hats.




An Indian-American 7th grade student at the Westminster Schools in Atlanta has finished second in the 2011 National Geographic Bee. Nilai Sarda, 11, took home a $15,000 prize in the May 25 competition.


Nilai is a member of Westminster's Quiz Bowl team, which recently placed second in the state competition. He enjoys taking part in debates, playing chess and reading. He hopes to work for the European Organization for NuclearResearch(CERN) when he grows up.


Before heading to the Bee, Nilai created a video to tell the world all about his hometown. The 2011 National Geographic Bee was moderated by Jeopardy host Alex Trebek.


Nilai lost a best-of-five final round against Tine Valencic of Colleyville. Writing the answers on sheets of paper, both boys answered the first three questions correctly, including giving the Italian name for sediment deposits that connect a shoreline with an offshore island: "tombolo."But Nilai stumbled on the fourth question about the Tungurahua volcano, believing incorrectly that it was in Peru.


The final question in the round asked for the name of the Nepalese national park where the southern part of Mount Everest is located: Sagarmatha National Park. Both boys got that right, sealing Tine's win. Third-place finisher Stefan Petrovic of Lawrence, Kan., won $10,000.


Karthik Karnik, 13, a seventh grader at King Philip Middle School in Norfolk, Mass., finished in fifth place. Karnik is the son of Rathna and Vishwanath Karnik of Plainville, Mass.




Three Indian American students are winners at the annual Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF), the world's largest high school science research competition held last month in Los Angeles, California. More than 1,500 young entrepreneurs, innovators and scientists competed recently at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Los Angeles. They qualified at 443 affiliated fairs in 65 countries, regions and territories, and more than 400 finalists, including many Indian Americans, received awards at the competition.  


An Indian student Raghavendra Ramachanderan, a student of St John's International Residential School in Chennai along with two Indian American students, Nithin Reddy Tumma of Fort Gratiot (Michigan) and Nathan Kondamuri of Dyer (Indiana) won three of the 17 "Best of Catagory" awards.


Ramachanderan's groundbreaking work in drug synthesis, could help in developing drugs to fight cancer, bacteria and fungus. He won a award of USD 5,000.


Tumma ' research was in cellular and molecular biology research while Kondamuri won the award for his research in energy and transportation.


All Best of category winners also received USD 3,000 first place prizes and had an asteroid named in their honour. The Intel Foundation awarded a USD 1,000 grant to each winner's school and to the Intel-affiliated fair they represented.


Tumma, a junior at Port Huron Northern High School in Port Huron, Mich submitted the project "Identifying Novel Mechanisms of Cy tochorome-P450 2E1 regulation". While studying the metabolism of the liver for a drug used to treat diabetes, he found that micro RNAs in Metformin depress a tumour-forming gene in the body.


Kondamuri, 16, who attends Munster High School in Munster, Ind offered "A Novel Biofuel Cell Based on Direct Electron Transfer-Type Bioelectrocatalysis Incorporating Photophosphorylation to Efficiently Create Sustainable Electrical Energy".






GOPIO recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Overseas Indian Facilitation Centre (OIFC). This will foster close cooperation between the GOPIO and OIFC and will strongly benefit the GOPIO members who want to expand their economic engagement with India.


OIFC, a not for profit public private initiativeof theMinistryof Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA), Government of India and Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), was established in 2007 with a mandate of : Promoting Overseas Indian investments into India and facilitate business partnerships; Establishing and maintaining a diaspora Knowledge Network;  Assisting States in India to project investment opportunities to Overseas Indians;  and, Provide a host of advisory services to PIO's and NRI's.


The OIFC is governed by a Council of prominent Overseas Indians, Industry leaders and senior policy makers of the Government of India. OIFC will be providing investment know-how and business facilitation services to the GOPIO members, with the active support of its  'Knowledge Partners', which are firms specializing in the areas of foreign investment consulting, regulatory approvals, market research, joint venture partner identification, project financing,  accounting,  taxation, legal, portfolio investments and others.


Currently OIFC's activities include, query addressal on various issues faced by the NRI's & PIO's, a robust online business networking portal, projection of member States' projects (Assam, Gujarat, Karnataka, Kerala, Punjab and Orissa), 16 X 5 live facilitation services, Road Shows through Diaspora Engagement Meets in various countries, and Market Place forums in India and Overseas, Ask the Expert, Live Chat facilities, Publications, other updates etc. More details are available at


OIFC's monthlye-newsletter "India Connect' connects over 20,000 professionals, entrepreneurs and executives of Indian Origin. This newsletter features economic developments, news and policy announcements. GOPIO members can subscribe to these newsletters by visiting .


Members interested in engaging with India, will find this portal very informative.


GOPIO encourages everyone to visit, subscribe to the newsletter and avail OIFC services to expand their economic engagement with India.




The United States has issued rules and penalties regarding foreign bank accounts in India. Any individual living in the US for more than 180 days and has a foreign account in India and has more than $10,000 USD at anytime between 2003 and 2011 MUST REPORT BY JUNE 3O, 2011.Failing to do so could lead to penalties. If the US Treasury department finds out before you declare, there will be a criminal proceeding and the individual can be placed under amnesty and will have to pay 85% of the amount held in foreign accounts as penalty. Depending on the individual situation, tax returns for the years 2003-2010 could be amended to include interest income, dividend income and all other income including rental income, if any, in the amended tax returns.



For those who has an account and the value is under $10,000 USD, the stipulation is that amended Tax Returns would have to be filed for the last 8 years (Schedule B for Interest Income & Dividend) with completion of form TD F90.22.1 for that year that exceeded $10,000 USD with notification stating the foreign accounts. The last date for reporting 2010 activity is June 30th 2011. The US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has also published this notice in Hindi.




The University of Mumbai has been given a grant of Rs 3.5 crore by the European Union (EU) to study migration and Diaspora, working jointly with European Ivy Leagues. Similar researches under the auspices of the European Union are being conducted by the Marie Curie Initial Training Network. The EU will fund research on Diaspora and migration in five universities: University of Mumbai, the Muenster University, Oxford University, Stockholm University and the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS).


Rajpal Hande, director, board of college and university development said, "This initiative brings the university's research under an international union. It will enhance the university's research standards and bring global recognition". There has been a rise of 42% increase in migrant population across the world in the last decade. According to a report of the Geneva-based World Organization for Migration, the total population of migrants in the world rose from 15 crore in 2000 to 21.40 crore in 2011.




UK wants to reduce migration from India and other countries outside the European Unionto prevent foreign professionals from settling there permanently. The recent announcement will affect Indian skilled workers as well as domestic workers such as cooks and 'ayahs', who travel with their employers to Britain. The rules can also affect Indian diplomats who take their domestic help with them to the UK.


UK would like the brightest and best workers from India but want them to return to their country after making strong contributions to the UK economy. UK Indians intend to launch a protest against the government plan warning if Indian professionals were not allowed to settle there permanently, they would rather migrate to countries such as Canada and Australia.




Visa on Arrival (VoAs) scheme was introduced on Jan 1, 2010 for citizens of Finland, Japan, Luxembourg, New Zealand and Singapore to promote tourism and to facilitate foreign tourists who plan their visits to India at a short notice.  Following a good response, the government of India extended the scheme  to six more countries -- Cambodia, Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines, Laos and Myanmar -- from January 2011.


In 2010, over 6,500 foreigners used the scheme to visit India. During the first four months of this year, over 4,000 foreigners from 11 countries used the tourist visa on arrival facility, with the maximum numbers coming from New Zealand, Japan, the Philippines, Singapore, Indonesia and Finland. A few visitors from Cambodia, Vietnam, Luxembourg, Myanmar and Laos also availed the facility.




Attacks against Indian students in 2009 have left several Australian universities and vocational training institutes in serious worry mode. International student enrolments and Indians in particular have reported a sharp fall. Indian student numbers are reported to have decreased by over 30 percent. This year, at the end of March, there were about 54,000 Indian student visa holders in Australia as compared to 84,000 in March 2010. Soaring Australian dollar has also contributed to the decrease in student admissions as there is no price advantage anymore.


Australia wants to woo the Indian students back. They have low unemployment, a lot of job availability and are offering less hassle for permanent residence status.




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,


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), Dr. Piyush Agrawal (GOPIO-America, Florida, USA), Suman Kapoor (GOPIO-Waikato, New Zealand), Jay Banerjei (GOPIO-Toronto), Shailesh Naik (GOPIO-CT, USA), Adit Kumar (GOPIO Toronto, Canada), Sunny Kaushal (GOPIO-NZ), Dr Vivian Rambihar (Co-Chair, GOPIO Health Council), Paras Ramoutar (Trinidad & Tobago), Sujata Sudarshan (New Delhi, India). 


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