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August 1, 2010
A Publication of the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO)
Issue: IX-9August 1, 2010
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For the descendants of the masses of indentured Indian laborers who left India from 1834 through 1920 to work in British colonies in remote parts of the world, the Kolkata Memorial is becoming a reality. With the active support of the Government of India Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA) and the West Bengal Government, the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO International) is prominent in this pioneering efforttowards inaugurating a commemorative memorial plaque followed by a museum at appropriately significant sites in Kolkata. The goal is to establish a commemorative memorial followed by a museum at a suitable site or sites where Indian indentured laborers were housed and processed while awaiting the ships for emigration to plantations in colonies of West Indies, Mauritius, Fiji, Africa and elsewhere from 1834 thru' 1820.


GOPIO International Executive Vice President Ashook Ramsaran visited Kolkata July 7 - 8, 2010 along with MOIA Secretary Dr A Didar Singh and MOIA Joint Secretary G. Gurucharan. Both Dr A Didar Singh and JS G. Gurucharan are enthused and very supportive of this effort. MOIA coordinated the visit with the West Bengal Chief Secretary Arhendu Sen and other officials for support and logistics. Prominent Indian emigration researcher, historian and writer Leela Sarup is an integral part of the team and provided the historic background and invaluable information on potential sites for both the commemorative memorial plaque and the museum at a subsequent time. Leela Sarup is an ardent advocate of the preservation of the sites and is working in collaboration with GOPIO in this effort. Former MOIA Joint Secretary and now Indian High Commissioner to Trinidad & Tobago, Malay Mishra, has been an early proponent of this effort and he continues to be actively supportive.


MOIA Secretary Dr. A Didar Singh said, "The descendants of all those who had left for foreign shores from Calcutta port during that period have been lobbying with the government for a memorial and a museum in Calcutta to honor the memory of their ancestors".


Ashook Ramsaran is spearheading the effort on behalf of GOPIO International. Born in Guyana (formerly Demerara, then renamed British Guiana), Ashook Ramsaran who can trace his ancestry to his great grandfather's emigration in 1853 through the port of Kolkata, said that "this is a fitting tribute of due recognition and an effort on behalf of the descendants of the thousands of Indian indentured laborers to erect an appropriate, long lasting physical connection in the land of our ancestors. This is a memorial and museum to physically as well as emotionally connect the descendants of those indentured workers with the story of their ancestors and their ancestral homeland. This will be our tribute to our ancestors and a lasting legacy to present and future generations".


The team of Dr A Didar Singh, G. Gurucharan, Ashook Ramsaran and Leela Sarup, accompanied by officials of west Bengal Archaeology Department, used a motorized launch with crew provided by the West Bengal government. The team traveled along the Hugli River where the British transport ships were docked to receive their respective ship loads of Indian indentured laborers to designated colonies to work on British owned plantations. Using maps and information provided, the team viewed and evaluated the various depots used, such as the Suriname Jetty, the Demerara Depot, Garden Reach Depot, etc. This was followed by team visit on land to other sites (Bhowanipore, Alipore) used to house the Indian indentured laborers while they awaited medical evaluation for fitness and accumulating the required number of approximately 400 for each ship load. The present condition of the various depots were discussed and evaluated during the visit and in subsequently discussions.


Kolkata Memorial for PIOs/NRIs - MOIA and GOPIO officials at the site

 Photo left: On the bank of the Hugli River - Site of Commemoration Plaque: Demerara Clock Tower at the Demerara Docks used for transport of Indian indentured laborers to the West Indies

 Photo top right: MOIA Joint Secretary G. Gurucharan, Captain of Kolkata Port Trust Schooner, MOIA Secretary Dr A. Didar Singh, GOPIO Intl Executive Vice President Ashook Ramsaran, Superintendent of West Bengal Dept of Archaeology Mr Amal Roy

 Photo bottom right: In the office of West Bengal Chief Secretary (l-r): GOPIO Intl Executive Vice President Ashook Ramsaran, MOIA Joint Secretary G. Gurucharan, West Bengal Chief Secretary Arhendu Sen, MOIA Secretary Dr A. Didar Singh, Diaspora Historian/Researcher Leela Sarup, Attorney Anupama Sharma


After considerable evaluation and consideration of present conditions of various depots as well as logistics, accessibility by land and river, as well as time factors, the consensus is that there will be a two-phase effort as follows:


7          Phase 1: Install a memorial plaque at Kidderpore (Demerara) depot clock tower which is intact and fairly good condition. Date: January 10, 2011.  GOPIO is collaborating closely with MOIA on the inscription to be placed on the memorial plaque and the logistics of installation. The plan is for its inauguration on January 10, 2101 immediately following PBD2011. The Prime Ministers of Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago and Mauritius would be invited to participate in the inauguration ceremony. High ranking officials of the Government of India would include Min Vayalar Ravi of MOIA as well as MOIA Secretary Dr A Didar Singh and MOIA Joint Secretary G. Gurucharan, and others.


The objective is for the memorial plaque to reflect the sentiments of "honoured tribute, with due recognition, gratitude and lasting remembrance of all those who left these shores from 1834 - 1920 as Indian indentured labourers to far away lands seeking better livelihoods for themselves and their descendants; for their pioneering spirit, determination, resilience, endurance and perseverance amidst the extremely harsh and demeaning conditions they encountered; for their preservation of sense of origin, traditions, culture and religion, and their promotion of the Indian culture; for their achievements and successes despite insurmountable odds; for the many sacrifices made individually and collectively; for the invaluable contributions they have made to the diverse culture and economic development of the lands they adopted and where they lived; and  for triumph of the spirit of Indianness that they maintained and passed on to their descendants"


7         Phase 2: Acquire suitably significant land in Kolkata for a museum and resource center containing records of Indian indentured laborers' emigration (1834 --1920), literature, works of art, documentaries, films, artifacts, photographs and emigration records relevant to that era and those who left as indentured laborers. Options: Bhowanipore Depot, Alipore Depot or Garden Reach Depot. The West Bengal Heritage Commission had marked 14A DL Khan Road as the site of the barracks where the Indian indentured laborers were kept before being shipped to colonial plantations and mines. "Maps have since strengthened the possibility of the BSNL Telecom factory turning out to be the barracks," said Amal Roy, the superintendent of the West Bengal Archaeology department. The third site to be surveyed was Surinam Ghat, near Kidderpore.


Phase 2 will be a significant undertaking and on a longer time schedule with much advanced planning to be done by a select team whose members would have various areas of expertise


GOPIO International has filed application in Kolkotta to register the Global Indian Diaspora Heritage Society (GIDHS) as an integral unit of GOPIO International Cultural Council. GIDHS will be the organization to plan, coordinate and manage the museum to be constructed as Phase 2 of project. An international team of GIDHS is being formulated with representation from all destination countries where Indian indentured laborers emigrated from 1834 to 1920. GIDHS membership will include prominent persons of Indian origin (PIOs) as patrons and benefactors, as well as historians, researchers, planners and supporters.


It is to be noted that GOPIO's effort to establish the Kolkata Memorial has been received with overwhelming emotional sentiments and enthusiastic support from all corners of the global Indian diaspora, in particular from PIOs in destination countries where Indian indentured laborers emigrated from 1834 to 1920. "A noble effort indeed", said writer and historian Anand Mullo of Mauritius; "An extra ordinary service to the Indian Diaspora", said Indian emigration roots researcher Shamshu Deen of Trinidad & Tobago; "A commemoration tribute whose time is overdue", said Prof Mohan Gautam of The Netherlands; "We are all deeply indebted for the Kolkata Memorial which is a tremendous achievement", said prominent Indian Diaspora icon (Dr) Yesu Persaud of Guyana.


GOPIO plans to set up a special "GIDHS" corner on the GOPIO website


For more information on the Kolkata Memorial and/or membership to GIDHS, contact GOPIO International Executive Vice President Ashook Ramsaran at



The Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO) was joined by the National Federation of Indian American Associations (NFIA) and the Federation of Indian Associations of NY/NJ/CT (FIA) and other community groups from the New York Metro Area to host a dinner reception and interactive session with Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Mr. Vayalar Ravi at the Golden Terrace Banquet Hall in Richmond Hill, New York City. Over 100 Indian American community representatives attended this meeting held on July 8th.


In his welcoming remarks, the Program Coordinator and GOPIO Immediate Past Chairman and Founder President,  Dr. Thomas Abraham said that GOPIO, since its inception, has been taking issues of larger interest to NRIs/PIOs in the last 20 years and has been successful in the implementation of several resolutions of past GOPIO conventions.


"In 1989, through two resolutions at the First GOPIO Convention, we proposed to the Govt. of India (GOI) to grant dual citizenship and permanent resident card (PIO Card) to NRIs and PIOs and in the year 2000, GOPIO also proposed to establish a ministry for overseas Indian affairs similar to the ministry for overseas Chinese; Govt. of India fulfilled all three GOPIO resolutions in the last ten years," said Dr, Abraham.


The hot topic, of course, was the Outstanding Issues Relating to Passport Surrender Rules and on another note, Minister Ravi spoke on future MOIA programs. Ample opportunity provided for audience participation.


GOPIO's initiative on this issue (see GOPIO Bulletins (May 25th, June 2nd and June 15th)


Consul General of India in New York, Mr. Prabhu Dayal, in his remarks said that GOPIO's proposals are seriously considered by Govt. of India and the Consulate will work closely with GOPIO and other community organizations to sort out any community issues with Govt. of India. Since Passport Surrender was a major issue of the community, Mr. Dayal was accompanied by Mr. Pramod Bajaj, Consul for OCI Card and Dr. Anju Kumar Consul for Visa & Passport at the program.


Dr. Abraham addressed some of the concerns (on behalf of the community at large), on the remaining issues of Indian Passport Surrender by naturalized citizens. Dr Abraham began the discussion by stating, "The retroactive enforcement of new rules requiring surrender of Indian passport by former Indian citizens who had acquired citizenship of other countries have been relaxed somewhat and we are very thankful to MOIA for its efforts."


Since the new rules were implements by the government due to the security concerns at the borders, Dr. Abraham said "Our overseas Indian community will fully cooperate and support Govt. of India in whatever way we can to make our borders safe and secure.".


For the past several months as described in GOPIO Newsletters, GOPIO has taken up the issue of Passport Surrender and voiced concern in support of the overwhelming opposition by those affected. GOPIO presented an appeal written by GOPIO Chairman Inder Singh to Minister Ravi on the Passport Surrender rules which should be changed without compromising on the security concerns raised by Home Ministry. These include the following:


1.       Reduce the passport surrender fee of $175 from those who became naturalized citizens after June 1, 2010 to $20 and give 3 months for surrender and if not surrendered, charge a fee of $175.

2.       There is still some confusion after MOIA Secretary had sent a note to GOPIO and others saying that those who became naturalized citizens before 2005 need not submit their old passports and need not obtain the surrender certificates. However, it is has not become rule yet since the Home Ministry officials are still resisting. GOPIO suggested a compromise to go back on the date to year 2000 since all passports issued before 2000 are expired and are no more valid travel documents.

3.       GOPIO also requested that Government of India should relax the current rigid requirements for those whose passports have been misplaced or lost.


Dr. Abraham also thanked Minister Ravi for taking up several community issues in the past especially pertaining Middle East Indians and initiating "Know India" program for the PIO youth and urged to expand this program further so as to cultivate PIO youth and make them future resources of India.


GOPIO also brought up some other issues to the attention of Minister Ravi. These included, passage of voting rights act for Indian citizens living outside India in the Parliament, PIO Cards even to the 4th generation of PIOs, if they can provide affidavit of their roots in India and professional licensing in India for OCI professionals. GOPIO also appealed for more educational opportunities for NRI/PIO students, completion of PIO University and completion of Pravasi Bhavan in New Delhi.


After presenting the appeal, Dr. Abraham called on Minister Ravi to address the attendees. Min Ravi began by saying he was happy to be there and the purpose of this visit was to hear "you" better and understand from "you" better. He stated, "I appeal to the people, however, when we (the Government), try to help, you (the NRIs/PIOs,) please help the Government. The government of India and my Ministry are about reason!" Continuing with that, 'India is marching ahead!" and there are 27 million NRIs and PIOs (and growing).'


GOPIO Meeting with Minister Vayalar Ravi in New York on July 8th, 2010

Photo clockwise from top left - Dr. Thomas Abraham presenting an appeal to Minister Vayalar Ravi; Minister Vayalar Ravi speaking at GOPIO's community interactive session in New York on July 8, From L. to R.: GOPIO Upper-New York President Satruhan Sukdeo, GOPIO Health Council Chairperson Sangeeta Ahuja, GOPIO Founder President Dr. Thomas Abraham, Minister Vayalar Ravi, Consul General Prabhu Dayal, GOPIO-New York President Lal Motwani, FIA President Nirav Mehta and GOPIO-Connecticut President Shailesh Naik; Community representatives at the meeting with Minister Ravi.


He stated that apparently, the mechanisms were there to accommodate the Passport Surrender; however, the problem might have been that it was not implemented forcefully before.


To all OCI card holders, Minister suggested to staple or clip, the old passport which has the permanent visa stamp with the new passport.


After someone complained about the necessity (due to cost and inconvenience) of getting an entry visa if they currently had a tourist visa, Mr. Vayalar Ravi stated emphatically that a tourist visa cannot be converted to an entry visa.


Mr. Prabhu Dayal, The Consulate General of India, New York, who also serves the residents of the following states: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont, as well as Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, answered some of the Consulate related questions and reinforced cooperation form the Indian community.


Bottom line, there is no mandatory requirement for Persons of Indian Origin to carry their Surrender Certificates or cancelled Indian passports while travelling to India. However, if the Indian immigration authorities find that the former Indian citizens are entering into India using valid and non-cancelled Indian passports, they will seize such passports.


With regards to the surrender certificate, you can apply for the surrender certificate by mail only. With regards to OCI Card, applications are accepted ONLY by mail. Cards can be collected in person or by mail.For more information, and the forms necessary, please refer to the following link. ( Information and forms are also available at the website of the Ministry of Home Affairs.  (


Other questions were about the validity of Pravasi Awards and how the winners were chosen. Council General Dayal stated that it was a very stringent and strict process.


Minister Ravi further stated that his ministry has successfully implemented "Know India". It is a 3 week program for youth, age 18-26, of Indian Origin (excluding Non-Resident Indians). This provides an overall understanding of India, including politics, culture, industry, media, etc.


Only a few days ago at the consulate, during an occasion where FIA was hosting launch of India Day Parade (on August 15th), Mr. Dayal stated, "VOLUNTEER! There is lot that you (NRIs), can do, rather then complain. We should respect our government!" On the question of lost passport, Mr. Dayal continued, "If you have lost your passport, we will try to help, however, you must prove you were Indian citizen prior to gaining citizenship of another country."


Mr. Ravi emphatically concluded, "The ministry is available to everyone." When he returns to India, he stated that he shall certainly take up these issues to the Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of External Affairs.


The program ended with a dance by Maaza Miss India winner of 2009 Anuradha Maharaj, live Indian music by Stamford based IKSG and dinner.


GOPIO urges Indian community groups, organizations and individuals to write to the Prime Minister at, the Secretary of the  Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) at, and the Secretary of the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA) at, with a copy to GOPIO at



A record number of Indian Americans are running for public office this year. As reported by GOPIO News earlier,Nikki 'Randhawa' Haley is Republican gubernatorial candidate in South Carolina. Haley had brushed aside allegations of marital infidelity and an ethnic slur to become the Republican nominee for governor. Other Indian Americans are running in congressional, state and city races in Pennsylvania, Kansas, California, New York and Ohio.


More than a dozen others serve in senior positions in the Obama administration, including USAID chief Rajiv Shah and US Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra.


Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, the first Indian American governor, made the Republican short list for vice president in 2008.


Like Haley, most of the politicians in races this year are second-generation immigrants who volunteered for local political campaigns, served in state legislatures or worked on Capitol Hill.


Manan Trivedi, a doctor and Iraq war veteran, recently won the Democratic primary in Pennsylvania's 6th Congressional District. Before running for Congress, he served as a healthcare adviser to the Obama campaign.


Raj Goyle, who has served in the Kansas legislature for three years, is running in the Democratic primary in the 4th Congressional District, which includes his home town of Wichita.


Reshma Saujani, a Democratic fundraiser in the South Asian community, says she is the first Indian American woman to run for Congress.


The increased political involvement is an indication of 'successful assimilation into mainstream American society', Dino Teppara, chair of the Indian American Conservative Council and former chief of staff for Republican House member Joe Wilson, was quoted as saying.


The estimated 3.0 million Indian Americans rank among the most highly educated ethnic groups in the US, according to census figures, and they have the highest per-capita income. 





The National Federation of Indian American Associations (NFIA), established in 1980, has been serving the community for the last 30 years. It has given voice to Indian-Americans to be a participating community in America and motivate them to perform their civic duties and at the same time preserve their rich cultural heritage, thus contributing to the melting pot of America. NFIA has also been promoting India's interest in at various levels of the American society, among the media, intellectuals, and corporate and political leaders.


In 1989 at the First Global Convention of People of Indian Origin organized by the NFIA, GOPIO was formed. NFIA has been organizing Congressional luncheon at the Capitol Hill in Washington, DC to promote interest of the community and India among the legislators. This year's luncheon took place on May 18th.


NFIA has scheduled its 16th Biennial Convention and 30th Anniversary Celebrations in New York from Sept. 17-19, 2010.  The theme will be "Indian Americans Celebrating Success, Overcoming Challenges"


The program begins on Friday, September 17, 2010 at 6:30 p.m. with welcome dinner and inauguration at the World Fair Marina, Queens, NY. A conference will follow at the Crowne Plaza La Guardia Hotel on Saturday, September 18, beginning at 9:00 a.m. The conference topics will cover contemporary issues affecting the Indian-American community such as education, business, jobs, politics, immigration, and security, etc. On Saturday evening we will host a Gala Awards Banquet beginning at 7:30 p.m. at the same place.


Mr. Lal Motwani, NFIA Executive Vice President and GOPIO New York Chapter President, is serving as the Convener of the Convention.


Contact: Lal Motwani at 719-470-1026, E-mail:






The GOPIO Youth and Young Professional Group of CT held its annual summer BBQ on June 27th at the Hampton Inn in Stamford. The attendees consisted of of middle schools, high schools and college students. The group was led by GOPIO Youth Co-Chairs Sharon-Priya Banta and Ankur Ahuja, both of whom who grew up in CT. Sharon-Priya is a masters student at NYU and plans to study Naturopathic Medicine upon completion. Ankur is currently doing his rotations for medical school and studying for boards. Despite busy schedules, these two have led the group for the last 4 years.  


This was the second annual GOPIO Youth BBQ. The group who is known for its Youth and Young Professionals event held every winter, started summer get together as another way to connect during the year. The attendees stated they were happy to get to know other GOPIO Youth in an informal setting. With introductions, the youth connected could network from one another. For example if someone is attending UConn in the fall, connected the person with a GOPIO Youth already at UConn. It is a great way to build relationships and grow together within the community. The summer time is perfect time for the youth to meet and learn from each other about potential volunteer opportunities, jobs and other opportunities taking place locally.


The new middle school rep. Ashish Ramachandran made a speech to present some ideas for this year. The Middle School group plans to hold a bake sale at the GOPIO Indian Independence Day event on August 14th in Stamford CT. The proceeds raised from the bake sale will be donated to help the Akshaya Patra charity which supports the mid-day meal program in ndia. Additionally this group plans to select a middle school leader in each of the schools (a way to help expand the youth group). Youth Volunteer Chair, Namrata Gannu and Youth Secretary, Surbhi Sood are also working to help build the Middle School group. 

GOPIO-CT Youth and Young Professionals Cookout 

Photo above:

GOPIO-CT Youth and Young Professionals at its Annual Summer BBQ held in Stamford, CT

The group also brainstormed ideas for the upcoming year and came up with the idea of a GOPIO Youth Talent show. Details on tryouts will be passed out shortly and the group is looking for volunteers to help and for youth to perform.


The food was organized by Shelly's On the River, a new restaurant at the Hampton Inn. The kids loved the BBQ served!  The Hampton Inn was generous enough to provide the youth with a great venue to host their event. There was a great outdoor space where the BBQ grilling took place after the indoor youth meeting ended.


Until recently, CT didn't have an Indian youth population so groups like GOPIO CT Youth and Young Professionals help to create a positive environment which facilitates a sense of community. Adults leaders: Anita Bhatt, Shilesh Naik and Thomas Abraham have been instrumental in providing positive energy for the co-chairs as well as the youth group members to stay driven and active.  One can look for the group on Facebook and join its page to get more info on the group, the link is All in all the youth that day came in a quiet but left smiling and happy. They had fun and were excited for more GOPIO Youth events and continue the trend through the GOPIO Youth CT chapter to build a sense of community within young people in the area.


Contact: Sharon-Priya Banta, e-mail:




GOPIO Waikato announces its Young Achievers Awards Nite to be held at 7.30 PM on Tuesday the 3rd of August, 2010 at the Hindustan Restaurant 10 Garden Place Hamilton. Indian High Commissioner in New Zealand, Retd. Admiral Sureesh Mehta, is scheduled to be the chief guest for the event. Mayor Bob Simcock of Hamilton, along with other ministers have been invited to grace the occasion and participate in the events.


The program is being coordinated by-Indianz Global Women & Family Group.  .


For more information and tickets, contact: Suman Kapoor, President GOPIO Waikato at




GOPIO Trinidad and Tobago will be commemorating the 165th Anniversary of the Arrival of Indians in Trinidad on Saturday August 7th, 2010 at the National Academy of Performing Art (NAPA) in Frederick Street, Port of Spain. The event was originally planned for May 20, 2010 but was postponed because of general and local government elections in Trinidad and Tobago. 


GOPIO Trinidad and Tobago will honor several outstanding citizens of the nation for distinguished and meritorious service. These include the former Chief Justice Satnarine Sharma who was victimized and hounded out of office by the previous government; Professor Vijay Naraynsingh, renowned vascular surgeon and Professor of surgery; Sandra Sookdeo, celebrated dancer, choreographer and author who has trained hundreds of students in the authentic classical styles of Odissi and Khatak dance;  Lloyd Harradan (posthumous), historian,  for research and online publishing of  the history of Indo-Caribbean and Indo-Canadian immigrants; Shrimati Geeta Ramsingh Vaahini, first woman President of the Hindu Prachar Kendra;  Rafi Hosein, acclaimed Hindi teacher;  and Rajesh Seenath, classical dance teacher and founder of the Prem Jyoti Dance Academy.


Among the special invited guests are the new Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, the Hon. Kamla Persad-Bissessar; the Minister of Arts and Multiculturalism, the Hon. Winston Peters; Members of Parliament and the Diplomatic Corps; and leaders of Indo-Trinidadian community.  


Indian Arrival Day is a national holiday celebrated on various days around the world, usually commemorating the arrival of people from the In Indian subcontinent to the respective countries. It originated in Trinidad and Tobago and has since spread to many nations. Indian Arrival Day is celebrated on May 30 in Trinidad and Tobago each year since the 1990s. It commemorates the first arrivals from the Indian subcontinent to Trinidad on May 30, 1845, on the ship Fatel Razack.   

For more information, contact: Ruben Neranjan, President of GOPIO of Trinidad and Tobago at email or tel: 1-868-665-5984




"It is Cool to be Healthy - Eat Smart" was the subject of the health awareness program offered by GOPIO International and sponsored by GOPIO-Connecticut and the Hampton Inn in Stamford on June 23. The focus of the program was to promote awareness regarding healthy eating for school age children and prevent childhood obesity.


Over 40 school-age children and their parents attended the program which was moderated by experts in medicine, nutrition and healthy food preparation. They provided tips and techniques in making sure children understand healthy foods and have them available to them both at home and in the schools.


The guest speakers included Dr. Madhu Mathur: Director, KIDS'FANS Wellness Program, Stamford Hospital and Chair, Obesity Task Force, Stamford; Kathy Kraus a Registered Dietitian; Lisa F. O'Gorman, CEC: Certified Executive Chef and Food Allergy Specialist; and Sangeeta Ahuja, Chair of the GOPIO Health Council  and a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes educator.


In welcoming guests Sangeeta said that on average most people are consuming too few vegetables, fruits, whole grains and consume more refined grains along with processed foods that are high in salt, fats and sugars. She quoted US Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, MD, MBA who states "There is perhaps, no more serious challenges to the nation's health and well-being than those posed by obesity and overweight. We see the sobering impact of these numbers in the high rates of chronic diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic illnesses, that are starting to affect our children more and more."


Dr. Madhu Mathur, stressed that the prevention of obesity should begin in early childhood and families should get involved and work as a team. She gave practical and easy to follow tips (termed 5-2-1-0) on consumption of fruits and vegetables (5), screen time (2 hours max), exercise(1 hour) and elimination of sugary drinks (0). "There is an increased trend in mothers being obese/overweight before pregnancy and gaining excessive weight during pregnancy which places babies at higher risk of obesity and Type 2 diabetes as they get older," she said.


"Healthier options like fruits and vegetables low fat - low salt - whole grain products can be included in the school lunch program without facing any challenges with the budget," said Lisa Gorman.


GOPIO-CT Eating Smart Seminar - Speakers with some participants 

Photo above: GOPIO CT Eating Smart Seminar - Speakers and some participants

All the speakers stressed that the prevention of obesity should begin in early childhood and families should get involved and work as a team. They encouraged all parents to get the children involved in the decision making process of food shopping, planning of meals and healthy cooking. It was emphasized that the responsibility lies on the whole community to offer healthier choices to our kids.


"I learned that fewer the ingredients listed on a snack, healthier it is. I will also follow my pledge of walking 2000 steps a day. I will try to incorporate 5-2-1-0 into my daily routine. The recipes and the snacks that were prepared were amazing and delicious," said Eshita who is 9 years old and attended the program with her mother.


For information on GOPIO Health Council, contact Sangeeta Ahuja at  




GOPIO Upper New York held their Third Annual Golf Outing on 12th June at Pelham Split Rock Golf Course in the Bronx. This year the format was slightly different to end the outing with a presentation dinner.


The winner of the Presidents Trophy, awarded to the best golfer was won by M. Budhan with a sco're of 76 and the longest drive was won by Allim Ali. The Vice Presidents Trophy for Sportsmanship was awarded to Jairam Persaud.


There were eight players who were first time golfers, underscoring, that this outing was successful in attracting Persons of Indian Origin to golf.


GOPIO-UPPER NEW YORK Golf Outing June 2010 

Photo above: GOPIO Upper New York Executive Committee Members at the Golf Outing. From L. to R. Jairam Persaud, Netram Rambudhan, Sat Sukdeo, and Romesh   Budhram.




Harish Bajaj (QSO, JP, MNZITT), GOPIO International Regional Vice President, Oceania, delivered a speech on Domestic and Family Violence at Town Hall, Auckland on 10 July 2010 at the seminar "SPEAK UP, SEEK HELP, SAFE HOME" organized by the Ethnic Affairs Ministry of New Zealand. The seminar was officially opened by His worship John Banks, Mayor of Auckland City, with key note speaker Hon Pansy Wong, Minister for Ethnic Affairs and Minister of Women's Affairs. Besides Harish Bajaj, the other guest speaker was Jill Proudfoot, Director from Shine, Safe Home Services.


Mr.Bajaj stated that whilst there is no statistics for domestic violence amongst Indians, anecdotal evidence suggests that there has been a significant increase in domestic violence in the Indian community. In addition, given its cultural beliefs and lack of support for victims, many cases are unreported. Many victims bear their suffering due to a feeling of helplessness and sometimes for the sake of their children. The victims often feel ashamed and stigmatized if they leave home.


Significant factors contributing to domestic violence include: financial stresses, actual and perceived interference by extended family members, incompatibility and relationship problems, drug & alcohol abuse, gambling problems, mental health issues and infidelity. Mr. Bajaj stressed that, "Without doubt, we are confronted by an epidemic of domestic violence. Unless this issue is confronted by our society and the criminal justice system, domestic violence will escalate and have very traumatic consequences".


Inclusive in the speech was access to justice for victims of domestic violence: Counseling, steps to take, access to family law advocates, protection and being kept informed of outcomes in court cases. Community steps which can help improve conditions:   Promote violence free messages through Indian radio, newspapers, council notice boards etc; Include information about where to get help in various newspapers and website; Run a campaign for action on family violence.


NRI/PIO Health Summit - Save the Date Nov. 12-14, 2010




Come January 2011, Indian-origin business experts will head at least two MBA programs that regularly feature in top-10 rankings of U.S. business schools.


Dr. Sunil Kumar, an operations management expert who teaches at the Stanford University Graduate School of Business, will become dean of the Chicago Booth School of Business starting January 1. It was announced by John Huizinga, chairman of the business school's dean search committee. Currently the senior associate dean of academic affairs at Stanford, Kumar, 42, succeeds Edward Snyder, who stepped down in June and will run the Yale School of Management, in New Haven, Connecticut, starting next year.


Mr. Kumar was born and raised in India and completed a master's in computer science and automation at the Indian Institute of Science before going on to do a Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, a statement from the school said.


Kumar "brings the right blend of vision, entrepreneurial energy and academic leadership that will build on the contributions of Chicago Booth at a time of tremendous momentum and achievement," University of Chicago President Robert Zimmer and Provost Thomas Rosenbaum said in a statement.


Kumar told the Wall Street Journal his role at Chicago will be as a gatekeeper for what the school has already accomplished. "This is an institution that is already in terrific shape." "My basic mission is to strengthen and enhance what is already great." Meanwhile, he says he will take time to learn "about the students, faculty and the programs."


GOPIO News (June 10, 2010) had earlier had a story on, Nitin Nohria, a leadership and ethics expert, taking over as the dean of the Harvard Business School.




Mohammed Hameeduddin, whose roots have been traced to Hyderabad, has become one of the few Muslim mayors in the United States. He was elected the mayor of Teaneck Township in New Jersey, following a fierce debate among its council members.

Hameeduddin, who won a council seat two year ago, earned five out of seven votes at the annual reorganization of township government on July 1. It also elected Adam Gussen, a devout orthodox Jew, as the deputy mayor.

"No where else is this possible," the newly elected mayor was quoted as saying by ABC News. "The opportunity to bring two communities together and break down stereotypes that have belittled our nation is both monumental and humbling," he said.




Obama administration has appointed Preeta D. Bansal to serve as the Vice-Chair (Government Official) of the Council of the Administrative Conference of the U.S. (ACUS). Ms. Bansal's appointment follows close on the heels of Nisha Desai Biswal being nominated to the post of Assistant Administrator for Asia in the U.S. Agency for International Development (AID). When their appointments are confirmed, the two will join the large and growing club of Indian-American Obama appointees, which already include USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah, Federal Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra, First Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra, Special Representative to Muslim communities Farah Pandith, Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs at the State Department Richard Verma, U.S. Attorney for Southern District of New York Preet Bharara.


Ms. Bansal, is now the General Counsel and Senior Policy Advisor for the Office of Management and Budget. She was also the Solicitor-General of the State of New York during 1999-2001.


Ms. Bansal has a J.D., magna cum laude, from Harvard Law School - where she was supervising editor of the Harvard Law Review - and an A.B., magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, from Harvard-Radcliffe College.




Shri Baleshwar Agrawal celebrated a milestone birthday of 90 years on 17th July 2010, having contributed 62 years of national service with many Indian origin heads of state being his admirers and consider him as the father figure of Indian Diaspora organisations. He is a founder member of Antar-Rashtriya Sahayog Parishad (Indian Council for International Co-operation), which was established in 1978. Four years later, he became the Secretary General of ARSP and since then he has been working tirelessly in the service of Indian Diaspora.


During his leadership at Antar-Rashtriya Sahayog Parishad, many National and International conferences were organised to focus on the need for engaging with Indian Diaspora. He has been instrumental in highlighting the aspirations and problems of PIO's. He has travelled extensively to Indian Diaspora countries. He played a key role in many landmark developments, including a key member of the High Level Committee on Indian Diaspora was established under the leadership of Dr. L.M.Singhvi.


Shri Baleshwar Agrawal is also the founder Chairman of Antar-Rashtriya Sahayog Nyas which was founded in 1996 when he donated the entire award money he received on his amrit mahotsava (75th birthday). Antar-Rashtriya Sahayog Nyas honours one PIO every year to be selected for excellence for working for the Indian Diaspora. The award consists of Citation, a cheque of Rs.One Lakh and Memento. His selfless services to the nation have been repeatedly acknowledged. The then Prime Minister of India, Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee, gave the credit of Pravasi Bharatiya Divas celebrations on 9th January 2003 to Shri Baleshwar Agrawal. Shri Vajpayee said that "Baleshwar Agrawal was the initiator of coordinating the PIO living in different parts of the world". Shri Baleshwar Agrawal has been honoured by Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, former President of India in the Rashtrapati Bhawan on 11th October 2002 for his exceptional devotion and dedication for 'propagation of Hindi'


GOPIO India president K N Gupta visited Shri Baleshwar Agrawal on that milestone day and GOPIO International sent messages of congratulations as well. Message from GOPIO International Executive Vice President Ashook Ramsaran, who visited Shri Baleshwar Agrawal on July 12, read in part, "We extend very happy 90th birthday greetings to you and wish you continued good health to continue the invaluable civic service you do so well for the lasting benefits of the Indian Diaspora. You are indeed a pioneer and a tremendous asset and example to us all".




Indian American Anand 'Bill' Julka has gifted $6 million to Cleveland State University the largest single scholarship gift in the university's history. Julka, president and founder, Smart Solutions Inc. said that the president of the university approached him for a donation, given that the university was facing a budget shortfall because of the downturn in the economy and that a lot of students who wanted to go to school were not able to get the financial support they needed.


"Many students already have economic challenges working against them," he said. "I don't believe anyone should be denied a good education simply because they don't have the money to pay for it. Cleveland State played a critical role in my life, and the university continues to be a pivotal part of this community."


Julka said his donation comes in support of the leadership of CSTJ President Ronald Berkman, who has brought a new vision to the university, including launching an on campus K-12 International Baccalaureate School, an Urban Primary Care program in conjunction with the North Eastern Ohio University Colleges of Medicine and Pharmacy and a $40 million north campus development project.


Julka's gift, Berkman said in a statement, 'also will play a critical role in the lives of many students who otherwise might have missed the opportunity for an advanced degree.'


In recognition of his outstanding generosity, the CSU will name its newly completed College of Education and Human Services building, Julka Hall.


Julka, who earned a master's degree in industrial engineering from the university's Fenn College of Engineering in 1974, said he is passionate that students in Cleveland receive the same opportunity he had once received. Part of the endowment will go for scholarships.


Julka, who migrated to the US from India at the age of 22 with a few personal belongings and a bachelor's degree from the Indian Institute of Technology, chose the CSU's graduate school because it offered night classes, which he attended while working days at Eaton Corp. Eleven years later, he founded Smart Solutions, a provider of systems integration and networking solutions, headquartered in Cleveland.




Emancipation Day is celebrated in many former British colonies in the Caribbean and areas of the United States on various dates in observation of the emancipation of slaves of African origin. August 28, 1833, the Slavery Abolition Act was given Royal Assent, which paved the way for the abolition of slavery within the British Empire and its colonies. On August 1, 1834, the Emancipation Act came into force, after fifty years of bitter debate in Britain over the morality and profitability of slavery. It did not abolish servitude, but it was the first significant promise of freedom.  On that date, all slaves in the British Empire were emancipated, but they were indentured to their former owners in an apprenticeship system which was abolished in two stages; the first set of apprenticeships came to an end on August 1, 1838 while the final apprenticeships ended two years later on August 1, 1840.

The Emancipation Act did not make a difference to the more than half million slaves in Britain's Caribbean colonies, for although the act outlawed slavery in theory, the slaves had to wait another four years for the most elementary liberties. The British government was afraid of liberating half a million slaves without controls, while the planters did not want their estates to collapse, as forced labor would no longer be available.  The Emancipation Act simply transformed the slaves into apprenticed laborers for a further four to six years. Trinidad and Tobago
was the first country in the world to declare a national holiday to commemorate the abolition of slavery.


The abolition of slavery in 1834 resulted in labor shortage on the plantations. Indian laborers were then brought under the Indian indenturedship scheme to fill the resulting labor void in the colonies starting with the first shipload arriving in 1838 in Guyana (then known as British Guiana).




The first edition of a comprehensive research study laying out the global crisis of widows - 'Invisible, Forgotten Sufferers: The Plight of Widows Around the World'- was presented to the UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, by the Loomba Foundation's President, Cherie Blair, and Founder and Chairman Trustee, Raj Loomba CBE. They were joined by Shri Balbir Singh Kakar, a Trustee from India and Dr. Peter Rajsingh, a Trustee from the USA. The Research Study was commissioned by the Loomba Foundation and also calls for UN recognition of 23rd June as 'International Widows Day.'


The book presentation was followed by a dinner to mark the 6th anniversary of International Widows Day, which was held at the Delegates Dining Room at the United Nations, and was attended by 27 UN Permanent Representatives, including Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations Hardeep Singh Puri.


Cherie Blair presenting report on Widows in Crisis to UN Secretary General 

Photo above: Cherie Blair, HE Ban Ki Moon and Raj Loomba Widows Research Study Book presentation at the United Nations in New York 

The Loomba Foundation, an UN accredited global NGO, also organized events on 23rd June 2010 in the UK, India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Syria, Kenya and South Africa to mark the 6th International Widows Day and raise awareness of the more than 245 million widows worldwide - victims of HIV/AIDS, ethnic cleansing, armed conflict and extreme poverty, - and over 500 million dependent and adult children of widows who are caught in a vicious cycle of disease, forced servitude, homelessness and violence.


"The plight of widows as an ostracised and disenfranchised group is a human rights catastrophe," said Cherie Blair, "On one level, there are the humanitarian problems of abject poverty and widespread violence against women and children. But on another, it's about the rights and the role of women in certain societies, where their marginalisation and dehumanisation create environments that perpetuate abuse."


"There are few resources in the world available to help widows achieve a safer, more comfortable existence and to promote equality and justice. The United Nations declaring 23rd June as International Widows Day, would make great strides towards developing these resources," Raj Loomba added.


Raj Loomba also serves as GOPIO's Vice President for European Region.




The Indian government is planning to provide voting rights to Non-Resident Indians and steps are being taken to make it a reality, Law and Justice Minister Veerappa Moily has said.

"The Law ministry has initiated a scheme to provide voting rights to NRIs and it will become a reality soon," Moily told members of the Indian Overseas Congress (UK) London last month.

Replying to a representation made by D L Kalhan, President of the Indian Overseas Congress, at the Indian Gymkhana that the NRI's demand for right to vote in India was pending for long, the Law Minister said "necessary legislation for that purpose would be enacted soon."

Answering queries at the reception hosted in his honor, Moily said NRIs would have to visit India at the time of the elections.

Efforts would also be made to provide voting facilities at the concerned Indian Missions abroad. There are an estimated over 22 million NRIs spread all over the world.


He said for the purpose of registration as voters in India, their last address in India would be taken into consideration.

The right to vote would, however, not be available to NRIs who have acquired citizenship of other countries, he said.




The US Justice Department has filed a lawsuit against the owner and management of an apartment complex at Renton in Washington State for racial discrimination against Indians who were treated less favorably than other tenants and even told to "go back" to India.


The lawsuit seeking monetary damages and an order barring further discrimination was filed on Friday in the US district court for the western district of Washington and named as defendants Summerhill Place LLC -- the owner of Summerhill Place Apartments; GRAN Inc. -- the management company; and Rita Lovejoy -- the former on site manager.

The suit alleges, among other things, that the defendants steered Indian tenants away from one of the five buildings at Summerhill, treated tenants from India less favourably than other tenants and discouraged African-Americans, Hispanics and families with children from living at Summerhill.

"Equal access to housing in the United States is a fundamental right, and this nation will not tolerate discrimination in housing," said assistant attorney general for the civil rights division Thomas E Perez.

The justice department alleged that the owner and management of apartment complex instructed its staff not to show new or renovated apartments to people from India, Hispanics and African Americans.

The company and its staff engaged in discriminating against Indian tenants by not replacing their carpets or their broken appliances, while providing such services to other similarly situated tenants, the law suit alleges.

It also alleges that one or more Indian tenants were told that their children cannot play outside and that they should take them to park to play. They were also allegedly told to "go back to India" if they could not learn how to work their appliances and faced other derogatory comments about their national origin.

As alleged in the complaint, two Summerhill employees contacted the King County Office of Civil Rights (KCOCR) in 2007 and complained of discriminatory housing practices at Summerhill. KCOCR then contracted the Fair Housing Council of Washington to conduct testing at Summerhill.

After testing was conducted, KCOCR referred the matter to HUD (Housing and Urban Development Department). After an investigation, the secretary of HUD determined that there was reasonable cause to believe that discriminatory housing practices had occurred and issued a charge of discrimination.

The defendants elected to have the matters asserted in the HUD charge heard in federal court.

"Housing discrimination is illegal and unacceptable," said assistant secretary for fair housing and equal opportunity John Trasviqa.

"HUD and the justice department work to eliminate it," he said.

The suit seeks monetary damages for those harmed by the defendants' actions, civil penalties and a court order barring future discrimination.




Hinduism is increasingly becoming prominent in Ghana, West Africa. Today there are more than 2,000 indigenous African Hindus in Ghana and they say they have all converted to Hinduism. The total number of Hindus, including those from India who migrated to Ghana and work there, is much larger. Hindu religion was first introduced to Ghana by Sindhi settlers who migrated to Africa after India was divided in 1947. Like PIOs in the Caribbean, the Hindu devotees in Ghana have no links with India and have never visited the country. Still they strictly follow religious rules and observe rituals in traditional Hindu way.


Wrapped in shiny bright clothes, statues of Hindu Gods and Goddesses smile benevolently from the elevated platform while the air is filled with the sweet smell of incense burning in a corner of the huge hall. Sitting on the white marble floor a group of more than 50 men, women and children sing devotional Hindu songs. Nothing extraordinary about this scene, except that the temple is in Ghana and the devotees are all indigenous Africans. The tall cone-shaped temple emerges out of the crowded neighborhood of Orkordi on the outskirts of the capital Accra. It can be easily identified-the holy Sanskrit "OM" shines on its top. Swami Ghanananda Sarawati established the temple in 1975.




Nominations are invited by Antar-Rashtriya Sahayog Nyas (Trust for International Co-operation) for the 6th Bharatvanshi Gaurav Samman from eminent personalities and organizations of Indian Diaspora. The award carries Rs. One Lakh in cash, a citation, a plaque and a shawl. The Antar-Rashtriya Sahayog Nyas was created with the objective of maintaining close contacts with the Indian Diaspora and to acknowledge and appreciate their achievements by publicly honouring at least one person every year to be selected for excellence for working for the Indian Diaspora.


The Nyas honoured Shri Ranjith Ramnarain of South Africa in 2005, Shri Satnarayan Maharaj of Trinidad & Tobago in the year 2006, GOPIO Founder Dr. Thomas Abraham of United States in January, 2008, Human Service Trust of Mauritius for outstanding work for the people of Indian origin in January, 2009 and Shri Shivnath Rai Bajaj of Thailand in 2010 for their contribution to the Diaspora.


The Selection Committee includes prominent members of the Indian Diaspora such as Sir Aneroodh Jagnauth, President of the Mauritius Republic; Shri Mahendra Choudhry, former Prime Minister of Fiji and Shri Basdeo Pandey, former Prime Minister of Trinidad & Tobago.


The nominations, along with detailed bio-data, are to reach the Nyas Office at 'Pravasi Bhawan', 50-Deen Dayal Upadhyay Marg, New Delhi - 110002 latest by 30th September, 2010.

For more information, e-mail at




Thirteen-year-old Shubhankar Chhokra was walking around his house one day and saw crayon after crayon lying on the floor of his house in South Brunswick, New Jersey. The thought occurred to him that he and his 9-year-old brother, Devankar, had too many of them and that there were other kids in the world who had none.


With the support of his parents, teachers and friends, Shubhankar created an organization called Color the World. He and his brother collected bins and bins of donated crayons at various drop-off points. They then gave them to charity after sanitizing them and packaged them 10 to a baggie.


In June, the brothers dropped of more than 10,000 crayons to be used by about 1,000 kids at Mbiriizi School in Uganda through a nonprofit organization called Sylvia's Children. The brothers then dropped off another 1,500 crayons that were sent to children in Costa Rica through another organization called Pillar of Fire, International.


"It's a simple thing - everyone in America has crayons," Shubhankar said. "And on the other side of the world, not many people do. In fact, it's a luxury. I thought, even one crayon gives you the ability to make something. In some of these poorer countries, the whole function, the whole point of life is to survive. They should live too, and not just survive.


Shubhankar has created a website for Color The World


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), 

Sangeeta Ahuja (GOPIO Intl, USA), Harish Bajaj (GOPIO Intl. Oceanic Region, New Zealand), K.N. Gupta (New Delhi, India, Sharon-Priya Banta (GOPIO-CT, USA), Bina Mahabir (Guyana-USA), Lucky Singh, (GOPIO-Sydney, Australia), Deosaran Bisnath (Trinidad).


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