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September 15, 2009
A Publication of the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO)
Issue: VIII-10 September 15, 2009
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GOPIO International, the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (, celebrated its 20th Anniversary Convention in New York on August 20 -23, 2009. The conference themed "People of Indian Origin: Strengthening Global Connections" drew wide participation by 500+ attendees from 20+ countries. The Diaspora deliberated and evaluated GOPIO's progress over the last 20 years, networked, exchanged ideas and connected with People of Indian Origin (PIO) and Non Resident Indians (NRI) delegates from around the world. 
Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh in a message felicitated GOPIO for its contribution to the Indian Diaspora Movement. "GOPIO has emerged as a leading organization providing a unique platform to the vast Indian Overseas community for promoting their interests and realizing their aspirations.  It has contributed significantly in the process of engagement between the Government of India and the Indian Diaspora.  The bonds between the motherland and people of Indian origin across the globe are valuable and precious.  It is my hope that through such events, they will continue to flourish."
The convention was inaugurated on August 21st evening at the Crowne Plaza LaGuardia Hotel.  An array of dignitaries graced the occasion. They included Indian Consul General Prabhu Dayal; Mr. Basdeo Panday, former Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago and currently the Opposition Leader; Mr. Jagdish Shetter, Speaker of Karnataka State Assembly; Mr. D.N. Srivastava, Joint Secretary of the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs; Hon Bayney Karran , Guyana's Ambassador to the United States; Lord Diljit Rana. Member of the House of Lords, UK; and other Indian American political leaders including Mr. Upendra Chivukula, Deputy Speaker of New Jersey State Assembly.  Former US Ambassador to India, Frank Wisner was the keynote speaker on Friday, August 21.
PHoto below: Ambassador Bayney Karran speaking at the GOPIO 20th Anniversary Convention Inauguration. Seated in the dais from L. to R. Co-Convener Lal Motwani, MOIA Joint Secretary D.N. Srivastava, Karnataka Assembly Speaker Jagdish Shetter, GOPIO President Inder Singh, GOPIO Chairman Dr. Thomas Abraham, former Trinidad & Tobago Prime Minister Basdeo Panday, GOPIO Exec.Vice President Lord Diljit Rana, Indian Ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago Malay Mishra, Convention Convener Ashook Ramsaran. 
GOPIO Convention Inauguration
Photo above left: Convention is inaugurated by lighting of the lamp. Right: Former US Ambassador to India Frank Wisner speaking at the NRI/PIO Business Conference. Session Chairman Bhrat Bhargava looks on.

At the inauguration, Indian Consul General Prabhu Dayal said that "GOPIO's views are taken very seriously by the Indian government."  Dayal congratulated the GOPIO team for its great success and accomplishments in the last 20 years.
The program started with a welcome reception and dinner on August 20 at the World Fair Marina.  The chief guest for the evening was Ambassador Manjeev Puri, Deputy Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations (UN).  On August 21, the conference "India and the Indian Diaspora in the Context of Global Economic Challenges and Development" focused on PIO/NRI Business, Economic and Development issues, and was a roaring success.  On August 22, the conference "Indian Diaspora: Challenges and Opportunities in the New Millennium" provided a global perspective on the socio-cultural, civic and political issues being addressed by the worldwide PIO community.  These engaging and lively sessions included "The Living Pioneers - Global Perspective of Indian Elders" to discuss challenges encountered by the PIO seniors, and  "The Next Generation" to engage and solicit input of the PIO youth and young professionals to develop GOPIO's future agenda. 
Throughout the conference speakers highlighted the numerous achievements of GOPIO in the last 20 years that included but not limited to the following:
GOPIO was able to focus global, especially United Nations' attention to the plight of fellow Indians in countries where their human rights were violated.  GOPIO fought such human rights violation through media campaign, demonstrations and filing cases with the United Nations Human Rights Council. GOPIO remains the only global organization to share this deep concern and work for the plight of PIOs and NRIs throughout the world.
Fostered activism and helped encourage Indian communities in countries across the globe to become part of the political mainstream of the nations they lived in. GOPIO has constantly professed assimilation especially in countries with large PIO population asking the people to become more aware of their current and potential contributions to their adopted homeland.
Championed the approval of the Person of Indian Origin (PIO) Card and the Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) Card given by the Government of India. This was part of the resolution passed by the First Global NRI/PIO Convention in 1989. The Government of India has been granting the PIO card since the year 2002 and the OCI card for PIOs in select countries since 2006.
GOPIO had in the 2000 Zurich Convention resolution appealed to the Government of India for a separate ministry for NRIs/PIOs.  The UPA government fulfilled this demand by setting up a separate Ministry of Overseas Indian affairs in 2004.

Photo below: GOPIO Officers and some chapter presidents at the Welcome Dinner. Seated from L. to R. Haresh Panchal, Ashook Ramsaran, Dr. Thomas Abraham, Inder Singh, Lord Diljit Rana, Lady Shruti Rana. Standing: Sunny Kulathakal, Sangeeta Ahuja, Lal Motwani, Dr. Renu Misra, Harry Walia, Suman Kapoor, Umesh Chandra, Munish Gupta and Dr. Piyush Agrawal
GOPIO Officers.Chapter Presidents and Sponsors at GOPIO 20th
GOPIO Convention Sponsors and Media Sponsors are recognized. From L. to R.: Basdeo Panday, Sudhir Vaishnav, Priyam Sen, Munish Gupta, Sabinsa Corporation representative, Lord Diljit Rana, Ashook Ramsaran and Inder Singh
The First Global Indian Convention in 1989, and subsequent annual GOPIO conventions motivated the Government of India to organize the inaugural "Pravasi Bharatiya Divas" (PBD) event in New Delhi, India  in 2003.  An annual PBD event in India and a Mini PBD overseas are now a regular feature and well attended. To strengthen the interaction with the Diaspora, the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs has created the Overseas Indian Facilitation Centre (OIFC) in India with branches at certain major embassies of India to facilitate exchange and transfer of financial, human and intellectual capital between India and the adopted land of the PIOs and NRIs.
On August 23rd, the final day of the 20th Anniversary Convention, GOPIO members and leaders adopted several resolutions pertaining to the NRI/PIO community including violence against Indian students in Australia, problems of property rights of NRIs/PIOs in India, tax parity on equities for NRIs/PIOs similar to what is done in Mauritius, voting rights for Indian citizens living outside India, and the red tape and other hurdles faced by NRI/PIO high school graduates to obtain permission in pursuit of college education in certain Indian universities.
GOPIO International held elections for the new two-year term.  Lord Diljit Rana of United Kingdom (UK) was elected as International President, Ashook Ramsaran, of USA as  Executive Vice President and the outgoing GOPIO International President Inder Singh as the Chairman per the bylaws of GOPIO. 
The outgoing Chairman and founder of GOPIO, Dr. Thomas Abraham was lauded for his selfless and dedicated service to GOPIO and the Indian Diaspora movement.
Finally, it was announced that going forward, GOPIO would launch the GOPIO Foundation to help donate, administer and facilitate charitable, philanthropic, educational and social services  in India and countries with large PIO population.
The conference was chaired by outgoing GOPIO Chairman Dr. Thomas Abraham who said, "In the last 200 years, the world has seen three successful diasporas who have contributed to the well being of their members and their Motherland, i.e. British, Jewish and Chinese, now, it is the turn of Indian Diaspora to become one of the most dynamic and emerging Diaspora which is spread in 150 countries of the world."  GOPIO as an organization has made its presence felt in more than 30 countries of the world. GOPIO organizers hope to increase trade, investment and business opportunities between countries with large PIO population and India.
"Overseas Indians have played a major role for India to become a destination for new investments and setting new businesses as well as important role in for many multinational companies to go to India," Dr. Abraham continued. "With the financial success of Overseas Indians, many countries are reaching out to Overseas Indians for investments because of their advantages in having access to new technologies," said Dr. Abraham.
The keynote speaker at the session was India's Deputy Consul General Dr. Ajay Gondane who said that NIRS and PIOs mobilized themselves for their common benefit and their love for their motherland is worthy of emulation. Indian Diaspora was not engaged with its motherland for a long time, however, it has come of age now. "GOPIO has brought in this concept from nebulous stage and built a strong presence in many countries," said Dr. Gondane who further called upon GOPIO members and the PIO community for more economic engagement with India.
Former Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago praised GOPIO for its role in reaching out the PIO community in developing countries.  "GOPIO had been responsible in bringing an Indian Diaspora Movement among the PIO population all over the world and PIOs from the Caribbean and other developing countries look to GOPIO as a guiding force," said Panday.
Conference Co-chair Dr. Maya Chadda, professor of political science at William Paterson University setting the tone of the conference, said strong subsidy r3giem and bureaucratic controls coupled with lack of reforms in labor market acted as a deterrent to spur more investments. Dr. Chadda said that questions were asked as to what the Indian Diaspora had done to capacity building such as education, healthcare, drinking water facilities and poverty alleviation measures. Indian remittances stood at $52 billion compared to $40 billion from China, Still there are lot more pains to erased.

Photo below: NRI/PIO Economic and Business Inaugural Session at GOPIO 20th. Convener Ashook Ramsaran welcoming the delegates. Seated from L. to R. Former T&T Prime Minister Basdeo Panday, Indian Deputy Consul General Dr. Ajay Gondane, Conference Chairman Dr. Thomas Abraham, Inder Singh and Conference Co-Chair Dr. Maya Chadda
NRIs/PIOs Business Conference at GOPIO 20th
Photo above: Speakers at the First Session, from L. to R. Sanjay Ruparelia, Dr. Arvind Panagariya, Sreedhar Menon and Dr. Maya Chadda
The first session India & the Global Economy: Prospects and Challenges was chaired by Dr. Chadda. Speakers were Dr. Arvind Panagariya, Professor of Economics and Jagdish Bhagwati Professor of Indian Political Economy Columbia Univ. School of International & Public Affairs; Sreedhar Menon, Chairman of the Board, Strategic Advisor & Co-Promoter of VITEOS Fund Services Inc., NJ and Bangalore; and Dr. Sanjay Ruparelia, Assistant Professor of Political Science and Faculty Fellow of the India China Institute, New School for Social Research, New York, NY. All speakers provided excellent analysis on the impact of global economy challenges on India.
Former US Ambassador to India Frank Wisner delivered the keynote address before the next session. Wisner, praised the role of Indian Diaspora for its involvement in India's social and economic development.  "Similarly, education, social reforms, better living conditions like electricity and roads could help change things in Pakistan. If more schools are opened in Pakistan, fewer students would go to the Madrasas", he said.
Wisner dismissed fears in some quarters that only George W. Bush was very close to India and not President Barack Obama. "This is not true, Obama has priorities in foreign policy such as Iraq, Afghanistan and the Middle East and it is wrong to say that he is anti-India," said Wisner.
Wisner further said that "India and the US had a different kind of relationship in 1950s and '60s in the midst of Cold War.  India was then just a place to visit the Taj Mahal and Jaipur.  Now things have changed and India and the US share strategic relationship. The previous administration was sympathetic to India and also the present one and the next administration too would not be different from the previous ones."
Session II of the conference titled Indian Diaspora - Prospects and Challenges in the Emerging Global Economy was chaired by Bharat Bhargava, former President of US-India American Chamber of Commerce, Washington, DC. Speakers were Lord Diljit Rana, Business Leader & Member of House of Lords, UK; Naveen Jain, CEO, Intelius, Bellevue, WA; Vibhuti Jha, Director, The Human Potential Project, New York and Martin Singh, an Indo-Caribbean businessman from Florida. Speakers bought out the role the Indian Diaspora could play in the changing economy. Jain called upon the Diaspora to be generous to the local community.
Session III titled, Diaspora in India's Development was chaired byProf. P. Somasundaran, La von Duddleson Krumb Professor School of Engineering Columbia University, New York. Speakers were Dr. Sanjay Sinho, CEO of American India Foundation, New York; Dr. George Abraham, MD, FRCS, Medical Director, ED & EMS, Troy Community Hospital; Chair and Secretary, American Academy for Emergency Medicine in India and President and Managing Trustee, Institute of Emergency Medical Services (IIEMS); Troy, Pennsylvania; Dr. Surendra Kaushik, Prof. of Finance, Lubin School of Business, Pace University (New York) and Founder Chairman, Mrs. Helena Kaushik Women's College, Rajasthan, India; Pavit Mattewal, Mattewal La Offices, Chandigarh, India and B.C.Gupta, IAS, Financial Commissioner and Principal Secretary, Govt. of Punjab
Session ISession  IV - Indian Diaspora in Social Development - What could we do? was chaired by Yesu Persaud, Chairman, Demerara Ltd. and Chairman of the Caribbean Council for Europe (CCE), Guyana. Speakers were Dr. Raj Warrier, Vice Chancellor, Manipal University, India; Aruneshwar Gupta, Former Advocate General of Rajasthan, Jaipur, India; and Pritpal Singh Pannu, Chairman, National Integrated Forum of Artists and Activists (NIFAA), Karnal, Haryana, India.
A special Presentation by Shefali Chaturvedi, CEO, Overseas Indian Facilitation Centre (OIFC) managed by Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) provided details services provided by OIFC to NRI/PIO community.

GOPIO's 20th Anniversary Diaspora Conference held o Saturday, August 22 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel was a fitting continuation of the previous day's Business Conference. The theme The Indian Diaspora: Challenges and Opportunities in the New Millennium was very fitting, appropriate and timely series of sessions focusing on the social aspects of living in the global Indian Diaspora. Conference Chairman  Prof. Parmatma Saran andCo-Chair  Ashook Ramsaran collaborated with others from across the global Indian Diaspora to plan and hold a very successful conference. GOPIO's 20th Anniversary Commemoration and Convention 2009 examined and evaluated GOPIO's role during the last 20 years with respect to helping achieve goals and aspirations of 25 million people of Indian origin (PIO) living outside of India. GOPIO Diaspora Conference "The Indian Diaspora: Challenges & Opportunities in the New Millennium" examined issues of human rights, political participation, economic trends and challenges, socio-cultural and Diaspora related issues and concerns, inter-generational issues, inter-ethnic relations, and opportunities for the future. 

After the introductory remarks by Ashook Ramsaran, Convention Convener and GOPIO Secretary General, the first session Energizing the Global Indian Diaspora focused on Areas and means whereby the global Indian Diaspora can become much more vibrant, active and engaged in more collaboration through improving means of communication, interaction, networking, cultural exchanges, academia, economic alliances and support for mutual benefits to all. It was chaired by Chairperson:   Prof Chandershakhar Bhat, former Professor of Sociology & Director, Centre for the Study of Indian Diaspora, University of Hyderabad, India. Speakers included Mitra Kalita,Journalist and Author, New York, USA; Hon. Basdeo Panday,former Prime Minister, Trinidad & Tobago, and Sandhya Sinha, Chairperson of Women's Political Forum, India. Nohar Singh of New York, USA was the sessionCo-Chair and Dr Asha Samantof University of Medical and Dentistry in New Jersey, USA gave the concluding remarks.
Luncheon speaker was Hon Malay Mishra, India's High Commissioner to Trinidad and Tobago who spoke eloquently on his perspectives of the Global Indian Diaspora based on his extensive experience in Mauritius and other countries, as a well as his former position as Joint Secretary at the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA).

Session II's theme was The Global Indian Diaspora: Then and Now  and was chaired by Dr. Parmatma Saran,Professor of Sociology, City Univ. of New York, USA. Speaker included Dr. A. M. Gondane,Deputy Consul General, Indian Consulate, New York; Dr. S. Jauhar of North Shore - Long Island Jewish Health System, New York, USA and Dr. Prem Misir,Pro-Chancellor, University of Guyana, Georgetown, Guyana. In this session discussions centered on the changing experiences of the Indian Diaspora in general, with particular references to family, religion, politics, economics and identity. Dr. Najma Sultana,Founding Member of NRIs for Secular & Harmonious India, was the co-chairperson. 

Session III's theme of The Global Indian Diaspora: Inter-Ethnic Relationdiscussed and debated issues that are timely and relevant. The dawn of the 21st Century, accompanied by the revolutionary transformations in the technologies of communication and transport, has ushered in abundant opportunities and challenges before the Diaspora communities the world over. The global Indian Diaspora, dispersed in as many as 70 countries, today needs to energize and put together their strength through mutual collaboration and networking, to seize this great opportunity for mutual advancement and to position itself as a leading global community. It is imperative that we set our roadmap, defining goals and strategies to realize them on a time scale.
This session was chaired by Prof Mohan Gautam,Co-Chairperson, GOPIO Academic Council and former Professor of Diaspora Studies at Leiden University, The Netherlands. He was assisted by Co-Chairperson Jasbir Sachar,Founder & Publisher, Asia Who's Who, London, UK. Speakers include: Prof Mahin Gosine, professorof Sociology, Suffolk Community College, New York, USA; Ms. Marina Budhos, Author, Educator, New Jersey, USA; and Amarinder Bajwa of GOPIO Australia Country Coordinator, Australia. Delivering the concluding remarks was Dr. Rajeev Mehta, President, GOPIO of Central New Jersey, USA)
The final session dealt with The Global Indian Diaspora: The Family Unit including Women and Inter-Generational Issues. Family is at the center of Indian culture and its persistence over centuries. With the worldwide dispersal of Indians in increasing numbers, the family unit tends to undergo new and hitherto unknown forms of stress and transformation that affect the family members: The elderly, working professionals and business people, women at home and in the work place, the next generation, health issues, etc. It is important for timely discussion that can address these issues in a broad context and to set the stage for a better and more harmonious future.
Chairperson  Prof. Runi Mukerji-Ratnam,Chair, Dept of Psychology at State University of New York, Old Westbury, New York USA, ably managed this final session to include all speakers. These included:Dr. V. Rambihar, Consultant Cardiologist, Scarborough Hospital in Canada; Aysha Latib,Socioligist, Researcher, Author from South Africa; and Charles Mohanof Census 2010. There were Summary Reports on the Sessions of Living Pioneers & The Next Generation. The session was Co-Chaired by J. Nami Kaur,Marketing & Media Consultant, New York, USA and the concluding remarks were presented by Dr. Jagat Motwani (Sociologist, Researcher, Author, Chairperson,GOPIO Academic Council, New York, USA).
On Saturday August 22nd, GOPIO hosted a youth session as part of its 20th Anniversary Celebration and Convention 2009. The session was put together by Mr. Vishnu Mahadeo and Ms. Anita Bhat and was chaired by Tara Sharma and Shabana Sharif.
The Next Generation session was a concurrent session with the Diaspora Conference. GOPIO believes in strengthening the next generation, in line with the motto "The Next Generation is our Future." To create a strong next generation, GOPIO wanted to engage the Next Generation members from different segments of the Diaspora to interact, collaborate and network. This session aim was to discuss academic, professional, political & economic challenges and raise awareness on the impact of these key issues on the next generation of PIOs.
Speakers included Bhairavi Desaiof the Taxi Workers Alliance in New York, USA; Nohar Singh,CEO of Travel Span Ltd, Community Advocate, New York, USA;  Jessica Taneja of Shelter Rock Strategies LLC, USA and  Shankar Krishnan (Managing Director, Adventity Inc., New York, USA.

The Next Generation session continued with a Networking format with speakers as follows: Mohammad Alam, Sakhi for South Asian Women; Jacquelene R. Latif Scully  and Taij Kumarie Moteelall of Jahajee Sisters; Suzanne Persad of Census 2010; Annetta Seecharran of SAYA andVanessa Rambihar of Youth Canada. Then followed Networking: An Essential Guide to Survival where the Next Generation members interacted, collaborated and networked collectively to challenges and opportunities.
Attendees at the Next Generation session represented the United States, Canada, India, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago among other countries.  Professions represented spanned law, finance, non-profit, education and beyond.  Several non-profit organizations took part in the event.
During this session, teams were formed to discuss four chosen topics: - Political Engagement, Career Opportunities, Current Economy, & PIO Youth - Identity.  Experts on all these topics were invited to provide a primer. Teams, thereafter, got to discuss issues and recommend initiatives in these areas.
The conversation spanned the topics presented by the organizers, but more specifically addressed the varying needs of the youth. At the conclusion, the group presented suggestions as to how GOPIO can help the youth to be more connected with one another and work as a group.  The main suggestion was that GOPIO as an organization should offer more opportunities for the youth to meet in such an atmosphere to discuss their needs and interests.  Many of the attendees suggested that every major GOPIO meeting have a youth session in conjunction with the other sessions. 
Experts and assessors developed a report on the basis of group discussions. This was presented to GOPIO Convention Committee at the end of the session to create an action plan.  The dialogue and the discussion between experts and the next generation will help GOPIO formulate an action plan for the Next Generation. GOPIO International will look into addressing these issues and concerns as part of their global initiatives and growth, through GOPIO's various chapters.  
All the youth in attendance expressed interest in following up and getting involved with the organizations that had presented. Additionally, the hosts have emailed all of the attendees in order to get an on-going conversation started. All attendees expressed their thanks to the conference organizers for have set up the youth session.
The GOPIO Next Generation seeks feedback for youth of Indian origin. Contact Tara Sharma at or Shabana Sharif at
In light of growing number of Indian Elders, GOPIO planned a session on August 22, 2009 under the above heading. The presentations were made by the following persons under the chairmanship of Rajeshwar Prasad, Cofounder and Executive Director of the National Indo-American Association for Senior Citizens (NIAASC). 
Chan Jamoona (Co chair), Founder and Executive Director, United Hindu Cultural Council Senior Center
Suman Kapoor, President, GOPIO of Waikato, New Zealand
Raj Loomba, CBE, Founder and Chairman, The Loomba Trust Foundation, United Kingdom
Sunny Kulathakal, Vice President, GOPIO, Middle East Region (Bahrain)
Others include Dr. Jagat Motwani and Joseph Parmar. The session was Co-Chaired by Chan Jamoona, Exec Dir, United Hindu Cultural Council Senior Center (USA), while the Concluding remarks were given by Sunny Kulathakal, Vice Pres, GOPIO Middle East Region (Bahrain).
There were many pertinent and crucial issues discussed. These include: Who is a Senior? Their categories outside India: Early Immigrants, Recent Immigrants, also Single Seniors. Matters of Importance to Each Group in the following areas:
(a)     Social, Cultural and Economic Aspects of Seniors such as Isolation, Loneliness, Family Interaction, Financial Stability or Lack of it During Retirement Phase; Economic Independence or Lack of it; assimilation problems in foreign countries, including adaptation to a different way of life, domestic abuse.
(b)     Intergenerational Problems (Conflicts and Compromises) such as Communication with Children and Grand Children; and utilization of richness that seniors bring to the next generations.
(c)     Health Related Issues including Insurance; End of Life issues such as Wills, Durable Power of Attorney, Health Proxy, Asset Protections
(d)     Residential Alternates: Joint Family Structure; Home Sharing with someone like a Tenant, but not a tenant in literal terms; Senior Homeowners and Apartment Residents organizing themselves to seek support on the spot from Private and Public Entities; Independent Senior Housing or Retirement Complexes; Assisted Living and Nursing Homes: Various Concepts in Different Countries.
After a global overview of the Indian Elders outside India who comprise about 12% of the 25 million People of India Origin (PIO) or Non Resident Indians (NRI), the focus was shifted to Residential Alternatives for seniors. During the overview it was also clarified that the matters of importance to those seniors who left India about 4-5 decades back (early immigrants) and those who are recent seniors coming as dependents on their children are very different.
It was stated that starting with our traditional Joint Family structure, in USA there are various other options: Home Share where someone shares the house with an elder person or couple just like a tenant but h/she is not a tenant. The sharing of various chores helpful to the elderly owner keeps the rent low. Thus it is beneficial to both. The NORC (Naturally Occupied Residential Community) where the elders live in their homes or apartments  but form an organization of at least 30 members, thus getting services to seniors in the community rather than visiting different offices such as Social Services department. The concept of Senior Hostel that is being pursued in Montreal Canada where seniors can live together. The Foundation developing this hostel already has land and proposes 33 apartments eleven on each floor accommodating 66 persons. There will be full range of services and activities for residents at each floor as well as in a multipurpose hall. The Independent Senior Housing is very common in the United States as well as in other countries. There are complexes being developed in India such as Bhiwani in Rajasthan (on the border with Haryana) where some 3000 condos are either under construction or already occupied. In USA, a retirement community "ShantiNiketan" in under construction where 54 condos are being developed near Orlando, Florida. 
The session presented a comprehensive range of activities for seniors in New Zealand, USA, India, Middle East, and United Kingdom. During the interactive discussion it was underscored that GOPIO should work with NIAASC and other entities to help seniors who get Medicare to avail of this insurance service when they are outside USA. It was also underscored that efforts should be made to help those seniors who have come as dependents on their adult children to be able to get all benefits which were available before the Welfare Reform Act of 1996. During discussion it was also strongly felt that GOPIO should make all efforts to keep the concept of "The Living Pioneers" active and seek input for addressing issues of seniors at various chapters of GOPIO. There was an active interactive discussion on Inter-Generational Dialogue and Conversation. This will help younger generations to understand and sustain Indian traditional family and social values, while providing the first generation to comprehend the exposure teens are used to in their adopted countries.  The group briefly touched upon Assisted Living as well but could not go in details due to time constraints. The work undertaken by the Loomba Trust Foundation for the poor widows and their children around the World was appreciated passionately by the audience. 
In concluding it would be appropriate to mention that interest expressed by the audience by virtue of interactive discussion and presentations made by speakers underscored the importance of issues and concerns of seniors of Indian origin throughout the World. It was also very strongly felt that despite many similarities in the problems and aspirations of seniors there is lot to learn from each other. Thus a global attention to the issue is a MUST.



As in the past, every Diasora has always wished to be attached to the place of its ancestors. In many cases that relationship has been symbiotic and often quite strong as in the case of Jews & Israel; Irish and Ireland; British & England whereas it has been a very poor link in other cases. In case of India and its Diaspora there was a disconnect for a long time.  It is very recently, that the Government of India has realized the importance of the Indian Diaspora.  During the mid-eighties, it became a two-way, though quite unplanned but worked out very effectively, process of connecting India with its Diaspora. GOPIO came into being in 1989 and the Government of India realized the great potential of the Diaspora in 1984 and then Indian Missions abroad started taking interest in the Diaspora. The celebration of the First Pravasi Bhartiya Divas in 2003 was a first step to nurture this relationship in a formal way.
However, as is common, even between the two brothers who are raised by the same parents, under the same roof, growing together, certain issues arise that need to be resolved. And, that is why GOPIO solicits from the Diaspora the issues that need to be addressed between India and its Diaspora.  In case of India and its Diaspora the situation is quite unique - different from other Diasporas.  That is, Indians can leave India, but India does not leave them.  This special relationship demands that the issues that concern India and its Diaspora must be addressed if not resolved to keep the relationship flourishing!
As in the past, GOPIO has collected a list of issues that have been brought to its attention from various sections of the Diaspora. This year, during the GOPIO's 20th Annual Convention (August 20-23, 2009) sixteen issues were raised and unanimously voted to be brought to the attention of Government of India and governments of other countries as well as the United Nations. The resolutions included violence against Indian students in Australia, problems of property rights of NRIs/PIOs in India, tax parity on equities for NRIs/PIOs similar to what is done in Mauritius, voting rights for Indian citizens living outside India, and the red tape and other hurdles faced by NRI/PIO high school graduates to obtain permission in pursuit of college education in certain Indian universities. The full text of resolutions is uploaded in GOPIO website,
For more information on GOPIO resolutions, contact Dr. Piyush Agrawal, Chairman, GOPIO 20th Anniversary Convention Resolutions Committee and Vice President for North America Region of GOPIO International, Tel: 954-389-4465, E-mail:

 The 8th edition of Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD), the flagship event of the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA), will be held at Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi on 7-9 January, 2010. The high-profile convention will be inaugurated by the Prime Minister of India on 8th January. The President of India will deliver the valedictory address on 9th January and would confer Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Awards for 2010.
The MOIA has structured the next event with a view to provide the delegates with an opportunity to interact with: 

  • Cabinet Ministers from India on matters of interest and concern to them.
  • PIO Ministers/dignitaries from other countries on the expectations and aspirations of the overseas Indian community from the land of their ancestors and how they could work towards strengthening the relationship between India and the country of their residence.
  • Chief Ministers on issues their States need to attend on priority and facilities and incentives available in their states for the overseas Indian community.
 The PBD-2010 will have four concurrent sessions on: 'Investment', 'Knowledge', 'Philanthropy' and 'Gender Issues'. It will also see the launching of an annual lecture series under the overarching theme of 'India and its Diaspora: Everlasting Bonds of Togetherness'. On cards is also a Golf Tournament and seminars on Nano-Technology and property related issues of NRIs/PIOs.
The 8th PBD is being organized by the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs in partnership with the Government of Delhi. The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) would be the institutional partner. Online registration would start from 15th September, 2009. Further details would be available on the website of the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (
The Government of India, as a result of wider consultations held at past PBD events, have established Overseas Indian Facilitation Centre, conceptualized PIO University, formed Prime Minister's Global Advisory Council of People of Indian Origin, set up the India Development Foundation, enabled professionals holding Overseas Citizens of India cards to practice in India, launched the Global Indian Network of Knowledge (Global-INK) and the issued smart cards for Indian workers working abroad.
Australia has allayed India's concerns over the security of Indian students and the quality of education given to them. The two countries also exchanged ideas on how to give a "forward oriented" thrust to the bilateral ties and the supply of uranium by Australia. This was conveyed to External Affairs Minister S. M. Krishna when he met Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Foreign Minister Stephen Smith in Cairns, Australia, on August 7.
Speaking to reporters later, Mr Krishna said, he was very impressed with the assurances he was able to get from the Australian Prime Minister. Mr. Rudd, he said, has taken very seriously the issue of quality of education following complaints about the sub-standard quality in some Australian educational institutions with an intake of foreign students, including Indians. On learning of the physical attacks on Indian students, Mr. Rudd said, he tightened the relevant procedures, instructed the police to intensify patrolling, set up a task force in his office and also a helpline. The follow-up actions by the governments of New South Wales and Victoria, hosting big numbers of Indian students, were also outlined.
At least 22 Indian students have been attacked in Australia in the past three months which has threatened Australia's $18-billion education industry. Australia is home to over 95,000 Indian students.
Mr. Krishna also flew to Melbourne and Sydney where he had meetings with New South Wales Premier Nathan Rees, who assured him that firm action will be taken against the perpetrators of racist attacks. Rees also assured Krishna that inputs from the Indian community will be included in the action plan for international students.
The External Affairs Minister also met the Indian community representatives. The students demanded that an emergency fund should be created for refunding of the fees in case of closure of colleges. The students also complained of exploitation by unscrupulous agents who take fee in advance.


Lord Diljit Rana of UK, member of House of Lords, was elected president of GOPIO Int'l while Inder Singh who completed his term as the president/CEO of GOPIO Int'l, was elevated to head the international body.  Guyana born Ashook Ramsaran was elected as the Executive Vice President.

GOPIO elections for president and executive vice president were conducted as per the rules established about three years ago under which GOPIO elections were conducted in 2007 also. At the New York convention, GOPIO General Council adopted those rules and made them part of the Bylaws. The election of some regional vice presidents was conducted as per the existing GOPIO bylaws.

Photo below: Incoming Chairman Inder Singh introducing GOPIO-Team for 2009-2011. From L. to R.: Dr. Mohan Gautam (Netherlands), Noel Lall (Australia), Sunny Kulathakal (Bahrain), Outgoing Chairman Dr. Thomas Abraham, Raj Loomba (UK), President Lord Diljit Rana (UK), Inder Singh, Exec. Vice President Ashook Ramsaran (USA), Dr. Piyush Agrawal, Amarinder Bajwa (Australia), Sangeeta Ahuja (USA), Munish Gupta (India/USA) and J.P. Gautam (India)
GOPIO new team introduced and artists recognized
Photo above: Performers at the GOPIO 20th Finale Banquet are recognized. In the left are Lord Diljit Rana, Ashook Ramsaran, Banquet Committee Chaaiman Dharmatma Saran and Basdeo Panday (5th from left)

There are many positions for which the executive committee seeks recommendations for suitable candidates from various parts of the world. GOPIO International consults GOPIO country coordinators and regional vice presidents who recommend GOPIO members (members of GOPIO chapters in "good standing" and life members) for various positions. Every effort is made to keep the international character of GOPIO in making the appointments. The term of all appointees, as per GOPIO bylaws, ends with the end of the term of the executive committee.
The following members of the new team were presented at the banquet on the evening of Aug 22nd   at the World Fair Marina.
Chairman:                                                        Inder Singh (USA)
President:                                                        Lord Diljit Rana (Northern Ireland)           
Executive Vice President                                   Ashook Ramsaran (USA)
Vice President - Europe                                     Raj Loomba (UK)                                  
Vice President - North America                          Dr. Piyush Agrawal (USA)
Vice President - Oceanic Region                        Harish Bajaj (New Zealand - not present)
Int'l Coordinator - Oceania                                  Noel Lal (Australia)
Int'l Coordinator - Middle East                             Sunny Kulathakal (Bahrain)
Chair, Academic Council                                    Dr. Mohan Gautam (Netherlands)
Chair, Health Council                                          Sangeeta Ahuja (USA)
Chair, Media Council                                          Munish Gupta (India)     
Co-Chair, Media Council                                     J.P Gautam (India)
Co-Chair, Health Council                                     Dr. Vivian Rambihar (Canada)
Co-Chair, Cultural Council                                   Haresh Panchal (USA)
List of other team members will be released shortly.

GOPIO International along with its chapters in the New York Metropolitan area along with other Indian community organizations will host a reception/dinner and an interactive session with Mr. T.K.A. Nair, Principal Secretary in Prime Minister's Office on Wednesday, September 16th at 6.30 p.m. at Utsav Restaurant, 1185 Avenue of the Americas (near 46th St.). For registration and reservation, contact GOPIO Executive Vice President Ashook Ramsaran at 917-519-5783.
US President Barack Obama has appointed Indian-American attorney Ro Khanna to a key post in the US commerce department, where he will work to open foreign markets to the US technology. Khanna, 32, a prominent attorney who specialized in intellectual property law at O'Melveny & Myers' San Francisco office, was sworn in as deputy assistant secretary for domestic operations of the US and foreign commercial service, international trade administration. Among his duties will be to lead trade missions to countries like India and China.
Since his loss in 2004 to Congressman Tom Lantos, Khanna has remained active in Democratic party politics. Most recently, he was the chair of the Indo-American Council of Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
Dr. Renuka Misra, president of GOPIO Metro Washington DC Chapter, was recently honored for her outstanding research achievements and contributions to the field of "Drug Discovery from Natural Products" and clinical trials for last several years, especially cancer research, AIDS, Alzheimer, Cardiovascular & in recent years Herbal Products and Dietary Supplements. Dr Mishra received the award from Mauritius President Sir Anerood Jugnauth on April 17th, 2009.
Dr. Misra is a distinguished Scientist in the field of "Natural Medicinal Products" and a well known "Community Leader" in the Washington, D.C. area. She is professionally affiliated with the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Bethesda, Maryland for the last two decades in various positions. Her Misra's expertise, for which she has been internationally recognized in clinical trials, growing crystals of complex molecules and elucidating their structure by X-ray crystallography brought her to NCI-Fredrick Cancer Research Facility (FCRF), MD. USA which led to the discovery of an anti cancer drug "Fredericamycin", named after the city of Federick, Maryland for which she received many citations and awards. Dr. Misra has been the recipient of several honors and awards. In 1988, she won the "Sir C.V Raman Science Research Award" for her work in Cancer Research and in 2001, the prestigious "Dhanvantari Award" and a Gold Medal for outstanding collaborative research with Indian scientists on Ayurvedic drugs for Central Nervous System.
Dr Mishra authored four definitive volumes on "Handbook of Terpenoids: Diterpenoids", published by CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida, USA and over 85 original publications. Dr. Misra is a dynamic community leader with her services to the community at large for more than a decade in various capacities in political, social, cultural, & educational areas. She is a registered member of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) of Maryland; Vice-President of Indian American Forum for Political Education (IAFPE) - Maryland Chapter; life member and past president (1996-1997) of India Cultural Coordination Committee (ICCC) besides member of several other organizations.
According to a report of the Council of Graduate Schools, issued on Aug. 20, applications from students in India to U.S. graduate schools for the 2008-09 academic year fell by 12 percent from the previous academic year. However, overall international student applications were up by 4 percent, due largely to increase from China by 14 percent and from the Middle East and Turkey by 22 percent.
The drop of student applications is attributed to problems in getting visas, an anti-immigrant backlash in the U.S, lack of job opportunities in the US after graduation, and more opportunities in India where growth rates are better. If America is no longer a magnet for Indian students, it can hurt America more in the long run. Interestingly, applications from within the country have surged over the last year, with 75 percent of graduate schools reporting increases.
The Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA) has signed a bilateral social security (SSA) agreement with the government of Switzerland which will benefit workers in each other's country.  The agreement would help over 11,000 Indians in Switzerland and over 800 Swiss nationals working in India. The SSA was signed by Mr. K Mohandas, secretary, MOIA, and Philippe Welti, ambassador of Switzerland in India. Similar agreements have been signed with Belgium, Germany and France.
The agreement will eliminate double taxation for Indian professionals working in Switzerland who had to pay for social security. In some cases, the agreement will provide portability of benefits whereby the professionals can avail themselves of social security benefits, such as pension, even after they return to India.  The agreement would help reduce HR costs for Indian companies with operations in Switzerland and Swiss companies with operations in India.
India is also holding talks with the US for a similar social security pact.
India Empire, a magazine for NRIs/PIOs, published from Delhi, is inviting nominations for awards to be presented at a gala event on Jan 10, 2010, at Taj Palace Hotel in New Delhi. The award categories include leadership in Business, community, youth, cultural, academic, media, political and entertainment. The nominations can be filed at
The automatic right for non-EU citizens including Indians to apply for a British passport after working in the UK for five years has been ended with the introduction of 'probationary citizenship', under which they must demonstrate commitment to the country through voluntary work and integration. The new proposals unveiled by the Government go a step further. Migrants will be awarded points based on the skills shortages in Britain and their earnings and qualifications. They will have to wait longer to gain citizenship. There is a double benefit in the requirements to demonstrate a commitment to Britain and a willingness to play a part in community life. These allow the authorities to judge a person's economic potential and contribution to society. Crucially, migrants will be helped to settle in, a particular challenge for people learning a new culture. Points could also be removed for 'bad' behavior.
Under the new system, applicants for citizenship require a total of 20 points to gain probationary citizenship either through the work route-meeting the immigration rules (10 points) and passing knowledge of life in the UK or English language test (10 points). In the new system, additional points would be based on earnings or level of investment in the UK, qualification obtained in the UK, employment in sector with a shortage, employment in area in need of workers and special artistic, scientific or literary merit. For probationary citizenship, family route or continuing relevant family association as marriage) could also be used. To gain full citizenship applicants must pass knowledge of life in the UK or English language test. Those who have failed either test will have to retake it.
With some 25,000 visas still up for grabs, the US has reopened the H-2B visa window for semiskilled foreign workers. As in the case of H-1B visas for highly skilled workers, there has been a sharp drop in recruitment of foreign workers in recession-hit U.S. However, with the economy now appearing to be recovering slowly, the US citizenship and Immigration Services has decided to allow employers to file additional petitions for qualified H-2B temporary foreign nonagricultural workers.
Although other growth indicators are showing signs of improvement, the job market is still to stabilize. But analysts believe that the decline in the rate of job losses brought out in the latest official report is an indication that the worst recession is easing. Job loses during July have been put at 2,47,000, which is considerably lower than the figures for earlier months- 4,43,000 in June and more than 7,00,000 in January. While announcing its decisions, USCIS said it has issued only 40,640 H-2B visas for year 2009 against an annual cap of 66,000.
Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak announced a major rollback in the system of ethnic preferences that has defined the country's political system for almost four decades. The new policy would severely weaken a requirement that companies reserve 30 percent of their shares for ethnic Malays, the country's dominant ethnic group. The 30-percent rule was once considered politically untouchable, and Mr. Najib described the change in policy as a "tricky balancing act."
Malaysia has long given ethnic Malays and members of other indigenous ethnic groups political and economic privileges. But that system has come under strain and from complaints by minority groups and poorer Malays. Anger among Chinese and Indians, the country's main minority groups, over the ethnic preferences was perhaps the main reason that the opposition made large gains in elections last year that nearly dismantled the governing coalition led by Mr. Najib's party, the United Malays National Organization.
"We want to be fair to all communities," Mr. Najib said in a speech in Kuala Lumpur, the Malaysian capital. "No one must feel marginalized." Opposition leader and former finance minister Anwar Ibrahim, who leads a diverse group of opposition parties, has promised to undo the system of ethnic preferences.
An 11-member Trade & Investment Mission from India led by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) visited Trinidad & Tobago with the support of the High Commission of India in Port of Spain from June 22 - 27. An 18-member Indian exporters' delegation from the Federation of Indian Export Organizations (FIEO) also visited Trinidad to participate in the 10th Trade & Investment Convention (TIC) from June 24-27. In addition, the High Commission of India organized visits of senior executives of EXIM Bank, Air India and India Tourism based in US to coincide with the visit of the CII and FIEO delegations. The Trade and Investment delegations from CII and FIEO participated in the 2nd Trade & Investment Mission to Trinidad & Tobago which was inaugurated by the T&T Minister of Trade & Industry, Mr. Mariano Browne on June 22. The delegation  members were given presentations on various aspects of trade & investment in Trinidad & Tobago by senior officials of the T&T Ministry of Trade & Commerce and various Chambers of Industry & Commerce. Mr. Kishore Kharat, Bank of Baroda made a useful presentation on the Bank's experiences in doing business in T&T.
The 1st India Caribbean Conclave organized by the Confederation of Indian Industry(CII) was held at Hotel Hyatt Regency on June 23. The CII delegation represented Indian industry in the fields of Ayurveda, Agricultural Machinery, Telecommunications, Health & Medical Technologies, Transportation, Water pumps and Irrigation Systems and SMEs. The High Commissioner of India in his address to the Conclave spoke of the exciting growth of T&T economy principally on the strength of its energy sector and its emergence as a regional hub. He made a mention of the congenial framework on trade and investment between the two countries - Trade Agreement in 1997 with MFN status accorded to each other, DTAA and BIPPA signed in March 2007 during the visit of a Trade delegation from T&T to India. HC announced launching of the bi-monthly magazine - 'Yatra' and opening of a Business Facilitation Centre (BFC) at the High Commission premises. He also announced the imminent setting up of an India-Trinidad & Tobago Chamber of Commerce & Industry which has generated lot of interest among local businessmen.
There was a large turnout from the local business community at the Conclave besides business representatives from Suriname, Cuba and Commonwealth of Dominica. The delegation members had very useful meetings with the officials of T&T Ministries of Trade & Industry, Labor & SMEs, Works & Transport, senior officials of various Chambers of Industry & Commerce apart from holding direct B-to-B meetings with a cross section of T&T industry and explored various possibilities for trade and investment in Trinidad. India Tourism organized a Tourism evening at Hotel Hyatt Regency on June 23 which was attended by a number of travel and tour operators in Trinidad & Tobago. T&T Minister of Tourism Joseph Ross was the chief guest on the occasion. The program included a presentation on India tourism and a performance of Indian classical dance. The High Commissioner in his address spoke of the multi-faceted 'Incredible India' product, Visit India Year 2009, facilities available to tourists in India and development of tourist infrastructure in India. Ms. Chitra Sarkar, Executive Director, Air India had meetings with the Ministry of Works and Transport and Caribbean Airlines where she discussed possibility of direct air connectivity between Trinidad and India through USA.
The 10th Trade & Investment Convention (TIC) was inaugurated on June 24 at the Centre of Excellence, Macoya by Dr. Lenny Saith as Acting Prime Minister. The Indian pavilion was jointly inaugurated by T&T Minister of Trade & Industry and High Commissioner. A group of 18 exporting companies from India, led by Mr. G.P. Upadhyaya, Secretary General of the Federation of Indian Export Organizations (FIEO) attended the Convention and put up their stalls at the exhibition hall.
A 67-year-old Indian died in a London hospital on Monday after a gang of teenage schoolboys beat him mercilessly in what the police say is a racist attack. Kolkata-born Ekram ul Haque was brought to the hospital in a critical condition.

Ekram ul Haque was battered to the ground in front of his five-year-old granddaughter as they returned from a local south London mosque.. Three teenage boys have been charged with assaulting Haque and a man in his 40s near Tooting, an area dominated by Asians.

Scotland Yard on Monday said the assault was being treated as "racially motivated."

Haque moved to Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland, in 1972. He met his wife there and the couple moved to London in the early 1980s. He worked in the textile industry but later became a warden in a home for the disabled from which he retired last year. Haque's 35-year-old son described the attack as "mindless violence."
Aiming to reduce the country's dependence on foreign workers and create a pool of skilled people, Malaysia will train more ethnic Indian youths in various technical skills to free them from poverty and unemployment.
Malaysia's Human Resources Ministry has allocated more than one million ringgit (USD 285,000) for training 150 ethnic Indian youths as mechanics and another 25 as installers, under the Train and Place program, Human Resources Minister Dr S Subramaniam said.
Another 150 Indian students would be trained in aircraft materials and workshop practices, he said. The training will be held through partnerships with local private colleges.

Meanwhile, Commissioner of Malaysian Human Rights Commission (SUHAKAM), Siva Subramaniam has urged ethnic Indian NGOs to inform the Prime Minister on what they have been "unhappy" for over 50 years. The NGOs should raise issues plaguing the community in a memorandum and hold a discussion with Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak to find a solution, local Tamil daily 'Malaysia Nanban' quoted Subramaniam as saying.
Ethnic Indians feel they have been left out in job opportunities and seats in local universities, he said. Indians form eight per cent of Malaysia's total population of 27 million. Their forefathers had been brought by the British to work in rubber plantations.  

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



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

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

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

Contributors of this issue: 

Dr Vimal Khosla (France), Baleshwar Agrawal (India), Harish Bajaj (New Zealand)  
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