GOPIO Color Logo
Issue: VI-15 December 18, 2007
December 18, 2007
A Publication of the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO)
Join Our List
Join Our Mailing List
In This Issue
Quick Links

NOTE: GOPIO News is a FREE bi-monthly newsletter of GOPIO International, based in the USA. We need your help in reaching out more NRIs/PIOs around the world. Please go to the bottom of the news bulletin and click the FORWARD button and type e-mail addresses of your friends and relatives. One could also subscribe this newsletter by visiting and type in the e-mail address. All preivous issues of GOPIO News are provided at GOPIO News Archives. If you do not wish to receive this newsletter in future, please click SafeUnsubscribe at the end of this newsletter. 


GOPIO International is planning to hold its annual executive and general council meetings, followed by its conference starting on January 6th and concluding on January 7th evening immediately preceding Pravasi Bharatiya Divas events of January 7th evening.



Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) Conference Room, Federation House, Tansen Marg, New Delhi

(Tel: 91-11 2373876070)


The program schedule is as follows:


Sunday, January 6th, 2008   Conference Program


9:30 am to 11:00 Noon GOPIO Executive Committee Meeting (Not open to public)


11:00 am to 12.00 pm GOPIO General Council Meeting (Not open to public)


12.00 pm to 1:00 pm      GOPIO COUNCIL REPORTS (Open to Public)

                                    GOPIO CHAPTER NRI/PIO AREA REPORTS (Open to Public)


1:00 - 2.00 pm. Lunch


2.00 pm to 2:45 pm        TRIBUTE TO LATE DR. L.M. SINGHVI


3:00 pm to 3:30 pm  


Inauguration of GOPIO Conference


Session A: 3.30 pm- 4.50 pm    Current Major Issues and Concerns Confronting the Diaspora


Moderator & Chair:  Dr. Jagat Motwani, Chairman, GOPIO Academic Council

This session will discuss all major isseu confronting NRIs/PIOs in Malaysia, UK, Caribbean and the Middle East.

Session B: 5.00 pm- 6.30 pm   NRI's/PIO's  Property Scams and Legal Ramifications


Moderator & Chair:  Subhash C. Sharma, Professor of Economics, Southern Illinois University Carbondale, U.S.A


There has been a growing number of scams against NRI's/PIO's property, whether it a hereditary, residential, or commercial.  One of the reasons for these scams is that the  NRIs are at a great disadvantage that they can not contest court cases in India. The civil case takes 15-20 years and for a criminal case the plaintiff need to be present on every court date in India which is impossible for any NRI. In this session, we will bring out many of these issues and the legal experts in the panel will address these issues with focus on How the NRI's can use the Indian legal system in a timely fashion to resolve their property issues


7.30 pm to 11.00 pm

Reception, Entertainment andGrand Awards Banquet with the Presentation of GOPIO Community Service Awards 


Chief Guest: Honorable Vayalar Ravi, Minister, Overseas Indian Affairs

Guest of Honor: His Excellency Dr. Navinchandra Ramgoolam, Prime Minister of Republic of Mauritius


GOPIO Community Service Awards will be presented.









Specifically, the summit will deal on the following questions:


1.       Opportunities in mass education where NRIs/PIOs can be effectively involved?

2.       Opportunities for senior NRIs who are retiring now, who could be motivated to get involved in schools from their towns/villages - What mechanism?

3.       Young professionals and younger generation NRIs/PIOs who could volunteer their time during the summer and semesters away - What opportunities and mechanisms?




India Development Coalition Association (IDCA)

American India Foundation





10:00 am to 11:00 am - Opening Session


11.00 am to 11.20 am Coffee/Tea Break 



11.20 am to 12.30 pm Session I - The Need Where NRIs/PIOs Can be Involved


12:30 pm to 1:30 pm Lunch 


1.30 pm to 2.40 p.m. Session II - Meeting the Need and Challenges for NRIs/PIOs to be Involved in Education for the Masses in India


2:40 pm to 3:50 pm Session III - Breakout Sessions  


Session III A - Involving Senior NRIs in Mass Education in India


Session III B - Involving Younger Generation of NRIs in Mass Education in India


3.50 pm to 4.10 pm Coffee/Tea Break 


4:10 pm to 5:15 pm Session IV - Reports from Breakout Sessions and Wrap-up and Adoption of Resolutions



Convener - Dr. Thomas Abraham, Co-Conveners Prashant Gupta, Dr. Srinivasa Rao, Bhamy Shenoi, Vivek Singhal




Lord Diljit Rana, House of Lords, UK

Barjinder Sodhi, Berlin, Germany

Dr. Muhammed Majeed, Sabinsa Corporation, New Jersey and Bangalore


Conference Registration

GOPIO Convention Registration Fee: Rs. 1,200. Waived for those who register prior to December 25, 2007. Prior registration is mandatory. Total registration will be limited to 150 delegates. Limited number of Jan. 6th banquets only registration available at Rs. 800 per person. Those from outside India, please contact GOPIO Secretary General Ashook Ramsaran in the US at 718-353-1900 E-mail:


In India, contact GOPIO-India president Mr. K.N. Gupta, Tel: (91) 11-4164-2066/9811131588, e-mail:  or GOPIO.Connect Chairman Prashant Gupta at Tel: +91-9899987657 or E-mail, pg1619@yahoo. com.


For more information on GOPIO Convention 2008, please contact: GOPIO President Inder Singh in USA at 818-708-3885, E-mail: or Secretary General Ashook Ramsaran at: 718-353-1900 or by email at


For more information and details, contact: Inder Singh, President of GOPIO International at For registration contact, Ashook Ramsaran at



On Sunday, November 24th, when more than 10,000 protesters defied tear gas and water cannon to voice complaints of racial discrimination.


The sheer size of the protest, called by a Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf), represents a political challenge for the government as it heads toward possible early elections in the next few months.


Ostensibly, the protesters wanted to hand a petition to the British embassy in support of a legal claim by Hindraf for reparations from Britain for colonial-era abuses. But Hindraf said the protest was also aimed at the Malaysian government.


Malaysian Indians from around the country swarmed into Kuala Lumpur for the rally, despite a virtual lock-down of the capital over the previous three days and warnings from police and the government that people should not take part. According to Hindraf, Malaysian Indians have never gathered in such large numbers in this way.


"They are frustrated and have no job opportunities in the government or the private sector. They are not given business licenses or places in university," said P. Uthaya Kumar od Hindraf. , adding that Indians were also incensed by some recent demolitions of Hindu temples.


Riot police fired at the protesters with sustained volleys of tear gas and jets of water laced with an eye-stinging chemical, but it took more than five hours to finally clear the streets of downtown Kuala Lumpur, by then littered with empty gas canisters.


According to some veteran journalists and analysts, this was one of the biggest anti-government protest by ethnic Indians, who make up about 7 percent of the population.


Indians are represented in the government through the Malaysian Indian Congress, headed by the Works Minister Datu S. Samy Vellu. Vellu had earlier voiced unease over a recent Hindu temple demolition by local authorities outside the capital.


"There is still a lot to be done for the Indians and we will continue with our struggle," said Vellu.


Many protesters complained of a lack of educational and business opportunities, saying a government affirmative-action policy in favor of majority ethnic Malays had marginalised them.


Malays make up about 60 percent of the population and, according to official data, remain the poorest group by some average measures such as household income. Opposition groups say the most severe cases of poverty exist among Indians.


Brought over as indentured labour from the late 1800s by colonial ruler Britain, Indians worked Malaya's rubber estates. These estates were later broken up, forcing many unskilled Indian workers into poverty in the city.


Police fired tear gas outside Kuala Lumpur's iconic twin towers and five-star hotels. Curious tourists ventured out to take a look but rushed back inside once the gas stung their eyes.  At the Batu Caves, a Hindu place of worship just outside the capital, police clashed with 2,000 protesters early on Sunday after barring entry to the temple.


According to organizers over 400 demonstrators had been arrested.




In a guarded comment on alleged harassment of ethnic Indians in Malaysia, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday said the government is concerned whenever people of the country are in trouble anywhere in the world.


"This is a matter which concerns us. Whenever people of India run into difficulties, it is a source of concern," Singh told reporters here when asked to comment on the developments in Malaysia.




On November 29th, Malaysian police arrested Hindraf leader V Ganapathy Rao. P Uthayakumar, Waytha Moorthy and Rao are the three main leaders of Hindraf. Arrested leaders were charged with sedition in connection with a speech they had made earlier. However, they were freed on technical grounds when prosecutors failed to produce a copy of the speech in Tamil, the language in which they had spoken.




As Malaysia dismissed the expression of "concern" over the treatment of ethnic Indians, saying Delhi was meddling in internal affairs, its ex-deputy Prime Minister supported the community's cause as a "basic human rights and justice issue".


Anwar Ibrahim, who led the rapid economic transformation of Malaysia during the nineties, said that India had every right to speak up.


"Any country has every right to express its views diplomatically... and you can't expect a more polite person than Manmohan Singh," said Ibrahim. "It's also a basic issue of human rights and justice. Saying lay off doesn't work."


Speaking to the media at an Islamic Peace Conference, he emphasised the "fact" that Malaysia's ethnic Indians are "poor, downtrodden and marginalised".


He also cited an "unacceptable" example of a 100-year old Hindu temple near capital Kuala Lumpur being demolished.


Ibrahim, who was arrested in 1998 on charges of sodomy and corruption and released in 2004 after the Malaysian Supreme Court overturned the conviction, said he had evidence that funds awarded through the bhoomiputra policy widened the rich-poor gap and were "squandered and plundered" by the few rich and their cronies.


In Malaysia, he supported the Indians' right to rally, expressed sympathy over the arrests and cautioned the government about the discontent almost a year ago.


On his website last month, Ibrahim said "the Indian community has been suffering in silence and the time is opportune to stop neglect and marginalisation of the poor of all races".


He also said he has read the Sachar report on the socio-economic and educational status of Indian Muslims. "An additional initiative must be made to help them participate on an equal footing with the rest," he said



Meanwhile, police re-arrested Hindraf leader P. Uttayakumar after he posted bail on a sedition charge ON December 11th. Uttayakumar who serves as legal adviser of Hindraf, was first charged in the Sessions Court with posting a seditious letter on the group's website. The lawyer pleaded not guilty before Judge Sabariah Othman, who fixed trial for next month. The lawyer posted a bail of 50,000 ringgit with one surety. The judge also ordered Uttayakumar's passport be impounded.



The sixth PBD is also projected as a platform where issues of social concern of regional diaspora groups could be discussed in details. There will be parallel sessions of different regions - such as Gulf and the Middle East, Asia Pacific, Africa, USA etc - where there is significant Indian presence.


The Indian government will now seek the 25-million strong diaspora's help in the social development of the country, said Vayalar Ravi, Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA). The sixth Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD), the annual conference of the non-resident Indians that will take place Jan 7-9, will focus on education, healthcare, empowerment of rural women and knowledge economy, the minister said.


"The focus will be on social areas and issues with special emphasis on women, including rural women," Minister Ravi said.


He said the focus of the last five PBDs had been to attract investment from the overseas Indians rather than their ideas and skills. "The investment or money has not been forthcoming. Therefore, we decided that we will not ask for any investment this year but seek partnership from NRIs for philanthropic projects."


The ministry has mooted the idea for establishing 'India Development Foundation' (IDF), which would be act like a "single window clearance system" to channel the investments - both small and large - ideas, skills and technology for around 6,000 rural blocks across the country.


"The potential investors - it could be anyone who wants to do something for his or her village or district - could approach the IDF and it would guide him to implement the plan without going through the red tapes," Ravi said.


The PBD, being organized jointly by MOIA and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), will focus on micro-finance institutions at the block level and the health sector. "After much thought and research, we found that these were the sectors that could attract a lot of interest from the NRI community," Ravi said.


A highlight of the PBD would be the 'market place' organized by the Overseas Indian Facilitation Centre (OIFC), where the potential investor and the Indian businessmen could meet and discuss to establish joint ventures.


"It will be a side event and will involve providing B2B partnerships and answering queries to overseas Indians by eminent knowledge partners of the OIFC. It will be a unique opportunity to find a one-stop shop for answering queries of overseas Indians especially in the real estate, wealth management and taxation," said a ministry official.




Parvasi Bharatiya Divas is the annual flagship event of the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA) which aims to connect more 25 Million Indians with India's Economic and Social development.  The Ministry is organizing Sixth edition of the PBD on 8th -9th January, 2008 in New Delhi.


The online Registration for PBD-2008 is now open through the website


The ministry official in a communiqué has suggested to those who want participate to register early to avoid any inconvenience related to accommodation and other arrangement at a much later date.



The Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO International) issued a Press Statement on November 27, 2007, strongly objecting to the actions by the Government of Malaysia and/or other entities deemed as violations of United Nations Article 2 on Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the universally accepted norms of civil society. GOPIO International also protested the actions of the Government of Malaysia and/or other entities perpetrated against the ethnic population of Indian origin in Malaysia, targeting a selected ethnic group to deprive them of their lawful rights and guaranteed pursuit of livelihood in peaceful co-existence with other groups within Malaysia.


"We view the current situation in Malaysia, denying the rights and freedoms to the ethnic population of Indian origin with grave concern. We call on the Government of Malaysia to take all necessary steps to bring an immediate cessation of such actions and to guarantee the rights of the ethnic Indian population. We also petition the United Nations and the Governments of United States, United Kingdom and India, as well as the Commonwealth, to seek prompt remedial action from Government of Malaysia," said Inder Singh, President of GOPIO International.


"The actions of the government of Malaysia and/or other entities directed against ethnic Indian Origin population are deliberately perpetrated to deprive those citizens of their rightful place in the Malaysian society. The public humiliation of the ethnic population creates an impression of deteriorating social conditions in Malaysia", observed GOPIO International's Chairman Dr. Thomas Abraham. "Governments must not subvert the guaranteed rights of the people that suit its own motives and burden the entire society with fear and mistrust," continued Dr. Abraham.


GOPIO International's Secretary General Ashook Ramsaran stated that "people of Indian origin throughout the Indian Diaspora are generally a peaceful, law abiding ethnic group and have contributed tremendously to their respective country's economic growth and progress. Depriving them of their rights as citizens would be counter-productive to the interests of any progressive society, as well as to Malaysia. GOPIO expects the Government of Malaysia to quickly take all appropriate and necessary measures to abide by the internationally approved laws and norms of civil conduct and provide the guaranteed means for the rights of the ethnic population of Indian origin living in Malaysia not to be infringed or deprived", continued Ramsaran.


GOPIO International encourages and fully supports all efforts for the fair and equal treatment of all citizens of any country, especially one with a significant population of people of Indian origin. GOPIO International urges the Government of Malaysia to promptly take all necessary actions to remedy this situation so that everyone's rights in Malaysia can be guaranteed and protected. We urge the people of Malaysia to voice their collective concerns on actions that adversely affect their entire society.



Addressing the inaugural session of the EICC-ASSOCHAM-GOPIO Trade and Business Summit in Brussels on 3 December, the Vice President of the European Commission Mr. Günter Verheugen called upon the EU and India to make all efforts to boost burgeoning relationship between them. Verheugen hoped that the dialogue between EU and India for a free trade agreement would mature in time, benefiting both sides. "There is now an impasse in the WTO negotiation. We hope this would soon be resolved. Bilateral trade agreements would cement WTO agreements," he asserted. He also said that there was a need for the EU and India to discuss global issues in a more systematic and serious manner. He noted that India had developed into a large economy with a growth rate that ranked amongst the highest in the world. However, he underlined that the challenges India faced were complex and urgent in nature. On the trade between EU and India he said that total EU-India trade increased from Euro 9.9 billion in 1991 to Euro 47 billion in 2006.


Inaugural Session at the EICC-GOPIO-ASSOCHAM Trade and Business Summit

ASSOCHAM President Mr. Venugopal Dhoot said that the

summit comes at a "symbolic time" referring to the 60 years since Indian independence from Britain, 50 years since the EU's founding Rome Treaty and 45 years since the start of bilateral diplomatic relations. He also said that EU-India trade has come a long way since those political landmarks, and is currently running at one billion euros ($1.5 billion) a week. Dhoot said that EU is already India's largest trading partner and a major source of investment. Last year the 27 EU nations invested €1.6 billion in India. Newly elected Chairman of the EICC MEP Christian Ehler commended the role of the EICC and GOPIO in strengthening the EU-India relations and said that relations with Asia's second largest nation - India - are also moving up a gear as they broaden from dialogue and cooperation to partnership. This shift was epitomised by major initiatives in 2000. These included the first EU-India Summit and wider contacts between officials, policy-makers, opinion makers and civil society.                                  
Photos: Top - Opening Session at European Paliament. Sunil Prasad, Pradeep Wig, EICC Chairman MEP Christian Ehler, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, MEP Nirj Deva, MEP Neena Gill and Mr. Venugopal Dhoot; Bottom - A section of the audience

More than 250 entrepreneurs and business leaders from 26 EU counties including Japan, Saudi Arabia and Lebanon also attended the Summit. Others who also spoke during the inauguration were Mr. Nirj Deva MEP, EICC Secretary General and GOPIO Belgium President Sunil Prasad, Mr. Predeep Wig of the ASSOOCHAM. A MOU between EICC and ASSOCHAM was also signed during the inauguration.


The European Parliament was the venue for the Business Session of the Summit on 4 December and Business Session was opened by Art of Living Guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar who spoke about role for corporate culture and social responsibilities. He also called upon business leaders of EU and India to give attention to environment protection and climate change. There were more than 12 presentations which dealt with the opportunities for Indian Entrepreneurs to in the global Merger and Acquisition market including the emerging issues before the EU and India in the current free trade negotiation. Others who addressed the business sessions were MEP Ms. Neena Gill, Chairperson of the European Parliament-India Delegation; MEP Baroness Emma Nicholson, MEP Jo Lienen. This was the third such Business Summit jointly organized by EICC and GOPIO. The ASSOCHAM had sent a high level 25 member delegation to attend the Summit. Earlier the EICC Board inducted MEP Christian Ehler from Germany, MEP Bogdan Golik from Poland, Corporate Lawyer Mr. Carl Nisser from Sweden and Dr. Daniel Sharma from Germany into the Board of the EICC. The Board also appointed two industrialists Mr. Sanjay Dalmia from India and Mr. Ravi Mehrotra from UK as Co-Chairmen of the EICC. 



The second Global Indian Business Summit (GIBS), supported by GOPIO & Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), was held on 15 November 2007 at Global Entrepolis Singapore, which is jointly presented by the Economic Development Board (EDB) of Singapore, and the Singapore Business Federation (SBF).


The goal of GIBS is to engage successful Diaspora Indian Entrepreneurs to meet and generate profitable partnerships. At the Summit's keynote address, Dr. Balaji Sadasivan, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry for Information, Communication and the Arts, noted GIBS' role as a catalyst in raising awareness of the business opportunities and forging links between the Indian Diaspora and the Asian Business Community.


GIBS creates a platform for Diaspora Indian businesses to meet at least once a year and to gain global recognition for successful role models, four of whom were presented the inaugural Global Indian Business Awards on the evening of 15 November 2007 at a Gala Dinner held at the Raffles Hotel Singapore. The four selected role models are doyens of Diaspora Indian business in their respective countries and were recognized for their success in business and contribution to their respective societies. The Awards also serve to draw attention to a section of otherwise unknown global businesses.


At the Awards Dinner, Mr. Zainul Abidin Rasheed, Senior Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, highlighted the role of the Indian Diaspora in the economic growth of their respective countries and the Global Indian Business Awards as an important focus on otherwise unknown global businesses. He also welcomed Diaspora Indians to consider Singapore as a base for their operations in the region and to tap on the well established network of Singapore.


The recipients of the Global Indian Business Awards 2007 are:


1)       Mr. Sonny Aswani, Tolaram Group (Estonia)

2)       Mr. Amit Lohia, Indorama Group (Indonesia)

3)       Mr. Gopinath Pillai, Gateway DistriParks Limited (India)

4)       Mr. Sunny Varkey, Varkey Group (Gulf & Middle East)


Global Indian Business Network 2007 Awards Recipients

GIBS Award recipients with with organizers - From L-R: Mr. Dino Varkey, Varkey Group (Middle East), Mr. Gopinath Pillai, Gateway DistriParks Limited (India), Mr. George Abraham, Chairman, Global Indian Business Network, Mr. Zainul Abidin Rasheed, Senior Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Government of Singapore, Mr. Sonny Aswani, Tolaram Group (Estonia), and Mr. Amit Lohia, Indorama Group (Indonesia).

The Awards Panel comprised Mr. Vikram Khanna, Associate Editor, Business Times, Singapore, and Mr. P.N. Balji, Editorial Director for News, Radio & Print, MediaCorp Pte. Ltd.


Mr. George Abraham is also GOPIO Vice President from South East Asia Region.


Contact: George Abraham, Chairman & M.D, The GA Group Pte Ltd., Tel: (65) 6423 1078, Fax: (65) 6423 1079, E-mail:, Website:






On November 16-18, 2008, GOPIO-CT held the first ever Indian Film Festival in Connecticut at the U-Conn campus in Stamford. Seniors were offered complimentary tickets to the movies courtesy of GOPIO-CT. Rameela Patel who took part in planning the event said, "along with having the opportunity to watch these films in Connecticut we also met our goal of integrating both the Indian and the American communities. Approximately 20% of the attendees were non Indians who really enjoyed the films. Some attended all the shows and asked to be informed of the film festival next year".  Most of the films were in English or had English sub titles.


The films were varied and very well received. Several of theConnecticut screenings had won awards during the Mahindra Indo American Arts Council Film Festival screened in Manhattan the week before. These included Verizon People's Choice Award for Amit Gupta's "Love Story", best short film award for Vasant Nath's "Shanu Taxi" and best documentary award to Stalin K's "India Untouched". The short film "Unfinished" that was screened in NY is now being made into a full length feature film. It is hoped that the movie will be ready in time for our Second Annual Film Festival in November 2008.


"Many of the film makers have expressed an interest in attending our festival in Connecticut next year and we look forward to bring our members another successful GOPIO-CT film festival in 2008" said Sangeeta Ahuja, President GOPIO-CT.



The President & Mrs. Bush invited Mr. & Mrs Piyush Agrawal to a Holiday Reception at The White House on Thursday, December 06, 2007.  Piyush, on behalf of GOPIO and the Indian Diaspora, expressed his best wishes for Holiday Season to The President & Mrs. Bush.

After having met the President & Mrs. Bush, Piyush had a chance to meet Hon. Joshua B. Bolten, the Chief of Staff to The President and other high ranking officials.  Piyush had the opportunity to brief each one of them about GOPIO. Among other Indian Community leaders who were invited to the event were Dr. R. Vijaynagar of Tampa, Florida and Dr. Suresh C. Gupta of Maryland.

The event took place in the East Wing of The White House and of course, the decoration was of high order compatible to the holiday spirit and food was excellent with a wide variety.




Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi will visit Germany from December 22nd to 24th.  Barjinder Sodhi, President of GOPIO-Berlin chapter has scheduled a community reception in honour of the visiting dignitary on 23rd of December 2007.


Barjinder has contacts with many members of German Parliament. Although the Parliament will not be in session due to Christmas break starting 17th December, many local lawmakers are expected to attend the program in Berlin.


Contact: Barjinder S, Tel: +49-172-5912710,




GOPIO Connecticut Chapter hosted its annual holiday party and dinner talk on December 6th in Stamford, Connecticut. The speaker was Dr. S.N. Sridhar, Professor of Linguistics and Chair of the Department of Asian and American Studies, and initiator of Center for Indian Studies at Stony Brook University, Long Island. Dr. Sridhar spoke on the topic is "India's Contribution to World Civilization." It was a packed audience and talk was very well received.

Prof. S.N. Sridhar speaks at GOPIO-CT Holiday Party and Dinner Talk

Photo: Prof. S.N. Sridhar speaks at GOPIO-CT program.

Before the dinner talk, GOPIO-CT held its biennial election. The following persons have been elected to serve the term starting on January 1, 2008 to December 31st, 2009. President - Sangeeta Ahuja, Vice President - Shelly Nichani, Secretary - Shailesh Naik, Joint Secretary - Anita Bhat and Treasurer - Louella D'Silva


Contact: GOPIO-CT President Sangeeta Ahuja (203) 329-9744.




The following people have been appointed by GOPIO President Inder Singh to serve the various positions in GOPIO International.


George Abraham, Singapore                  V.P. for Southeast Asia

Harold Ramdhani, Suriname                  Co-Chair, Business Council

Noel Lal, Australia                                Country Coordinator

Jeet Suchdev, New Zealand                   Country Coordinator


Welcome Aboard.




Ending weeks of speculation, Citigroup, the world's largest financial services company has named Vikram Pandit, a 50-year-old from Mumbai and Nagpur, India, as CEO. The company has more than 300,000 employees, 200 million consumer accounts in 100 countries and more than $2.4 trillion in assets under management. Sir Win Bischoff, who has been acting Chief Executive Officer since November 4, 2007, will succeed Chairman Robert E. Rubin, who will return to his previous duties as a member of the Citigroup Board of Directors and Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Board.


A graduate of Columbia University, Pandit beat out several candidates, including fellow Indian Ajay Banga, who runs Citi's international consumer banking group.




London South Bank University has honored British Indian industrialist and philanthropist, Prof Nathu Puri with a doctorate degree in engineering. Prof Deian Hopkin, Vice Chancellor of the University described Puri as "a successful industrialist and entrepreneur, renowned philanthropist and devoted supporter of education - not to mention Indian cricket".

"It is a great honour for me. Coming here in 1966 with very few resources, I could have never dreamt of this day," Puri said after receiving the degree.

The doctorate was conferred on Puri, an alumni of the University, in the presence of Lord and Lady Navnit Dholakia, Rt Hon Kenneth Clarke QC MP and Home Office Minister, Vernon Coaker MP.

Hailing from Punjab, Puri came to the UK in 1966 to study Air Conditioning. Last year Prof Puri was given the inaugural Hindu Forum of Britain Award for Excellence in Community Service.




The Cousins Center for Psycho-neuro-immunology at UCLA has named University of Arizona's Richard Lane as the recipient of its annual Mani Bhaumik Award. The award was established last year to support scientists who advance the understanding of the human brain and the conscious mind in healing through visionary research, books and education.


Lane, a professor of psychiatry, psychology and neuroscience at the University of Arizona, received his award on Dec. 6, in the Semel Institute Auditorium on the UCLA campus. His keynote lecture titled "The Clinical Importance of Knowing What You're Feeling: Insights from Brain Science." Lane's lecture provided an integrated summary of his research on emotion and emotional awareness over the past two decades.


Bhaumik, co-inventor of the laser technology that made LASIK surgery possible, has funded the annual $15,000 award. Bhaumik earned a Ph.D. in physics from the India Institute of Technology and a Sloan Foundation Fellowship for postdoctoral work at UCLA. Bhaumik received the Mahatma Gandhi Humanitarian Award from the Indian American Heritage Foundation for his outstanding contributions to science and humanity and for his bestselling book, "Code Name God." He is also the creator and one of the executive producers of the new animated series, "Cosmic Quantum Ray," airing on DISH Network's Animania HD. The series is geared towards inspiring children's interest in science.




The 3rd Bharatvanshi Gaurav (Pride of Overseas Indian) Award will be presented to Dr. Thomas Abraham, Chairman, Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO), by Shri Bhairon Singh Sekhawat, former Vice President of India on Friday, 4th January, 2008 at 5.30 p.m. (seating starts at 5.00 p.m.) at the Constitution Club, Rafi Marg, New Delhi.


The 1st Bharatvanshi Gaurav award was given to Shri Ranjith Ramnarain of the Republic of South Africa by Dr. Navinchandra Ramgoolam, Prime Minister of Mauritius, on 25th October, 2005. The 2nd award was given to Shri Satnarayan Maharaj of Trinidad & Tobago by Shri Inder Kumar Gujral, Former Prime Minister of India, on 23rd December, 2006.


The award was constituted by Antar Rashtriya Sahayog Nyas (Trust for International Cooperation) to honour one person (PIO/NRI) each year for making an outstanding contribution towards fostering a better understanding abroad of India and/or for extending support to India's causes, concerns and interests internationally and/or for making a significant contribution is service of the Indian Diaspora. The award consists of citation, shawl, memento and Rupees One lakh.


Dr. Abraham's involvement in the Indian American community started in 1975 when he was elected as the President of Indian Club of Columbia University. Since then, he never looked back serving the Indian American and the broader NRI/PIO communities for the last 33 years. He served as the first president (from 1976 to '81) of the Federation of Indian Associations of New York which organizes the largest India Day Parade outside India and in 1980 he founded the National Federation of Indian American Associations, the largest umbrella organization in the US. Dr. Abraham currently serves as the Chairman of Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO) which he founded in 1989 and as a Founding Trustee of Indian American Kerala Center in New York. Dr. Abraham also served as the Co-Chairman of the fund raising campaign to institute a chair for Indian studies (now known as Jagdish Bhagwati Chair for Indian Political Economy) at Columbia University. Two other groups initiated by Dr. Abraham are National Indian American Association for Senior Citizens (NIAASC) and South Asian Council for Social Services (SACSS).


As a community organizer, Dr. Abraham, had the opportunity to host public functions for former Prime Ministers Morarji Desai, Indira Gandhi, Atal Bihari Vajpaee and former President K.R. Narayanan and the current Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh while he served as the Finance Minister to raise funds for the India Chair at Columbia University.


A graduate of Columbia University, Dr. Abraham is a materials scientist and nanotechnologist by profession and worked as a research scientist at University of Denver and Brookhaven National Laboratory before joining Business Communication Company where he was Vice President of Research. Currently, Dr. Abraham is President of Innovative Research and Products, Inc., an industry and market research firm based in Stamford, CT, USA.


To attend the function on January 4th in New Delhi, contact Prashant Gupta, Chairman, GOPIO.Connet, Tel: 91-9899987657 or E-mail,




The winners of 2007-08 Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology was announced on December 3rd. Indian American student Isha Himani Jain of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania has won the Individual Grand Prize $100,000 scholarship. Janelle Schlossberger and Amanda Marinoff of Plainview, New York, Win Team Grand Prize of $100,000.


The prestigious Siemens Competition, a signature program of the Siemens Foundation, is administered by the College Board. The ninth annual awards were presented at New York University, host of the Siemens Competition National Finals.


The national finals were judged by a panel of nationally renowned scientists and mathematicians headed by lead judge Dr. Joseph Taylor, winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics and James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor of Physics, Emeritus, Princeton University. Twenty national finalists competed in the national finals, including six individuals and six teams. The finalists previously competed in a series of regional competitions held at six leading research universities in November.


Isha Jain being interviewed by the media.

Photo: Isha Himani Jain is being interviewd by the media after the annoucement of the competition.

Isha is a senior at Freedom High School in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania won the price for her research work on zebra fish bone growth that adds a new dimension to our understanding of human bone growth and our ability to treat bone injuries and disorders. The grow occurs via Multiple Pulses of Cell Proliferation.


"Scientists and parents alike know that growth is not linear but occurs in spurts," said Stephen J. Moorman, Associate Professor, Neuroscience and Cell Biology, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, a competition judge. "Ms. Jain is the first to identify mini spurts, a cellular mechanism that underlies growth spurts on a molecular level. This is graduate level work."


Isha's research has been published in Developmental Dynamics, a premier journal in the field of developmental biology. She is a member of the Endocrine Society, American Physiological Society and American Ceramic Society. Her mother's dedication to the medical profession sparked her interest in clinical research, while her father's who is a well known professor or glass and materials research work raised her awareness of the importance of science.


Other Indian American national winners of the 2007-08 Siemens Competition include the following high school students:


-- $30,000 scholarship - Ayon Sen of Austin, Texas

-- $20,000 scholarship - Nandini Sarma of Overland Park, Kansas

-- $50,000 scholarship - Vivek Bhattacharya of Cary, North Carolina shares with two others in his team.




Of the 34 fellows recently named by the American Association of Advancements in Science (AAAS), eight of them are Indian engineers and scientists. They will be honored at the AAAS annual meeting in Boston, Massachusetts on February 16th.


The fellows are: Prof. Pulickel M. Ajayan, Benjamin M. and Mary Greenwood Anderson Professor of Engineering, Rice University, Houston, TX; Prof. Sanjay Banerjee, Cockrell Family Regents Chair Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Director, Microelectronics Research Center, at the University of Texas at Austin; Prof. Somnath Ghosh, John B. Nordholt Professor, Mechanical Engineering Department, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH; Chennupati Jagadish, Federation Fellow and Professor of Australian National University, Canberra, Australia; Dr Bindu N. Lohani, Director General, Regional and Sustainable Development. Department (RSDD), and Chief Compliance Officer of the Asian Development Bank, Manila, Philippines; Pinaki Mazumdar, Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI;Dr. Govind Rao, Professor and Chair of Chemical & Biochemical Engineering at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County; and Dr. Krishnaiyan Thulasiraman, Professor and Hitachi Chair, School of Computer Science, University of Oklahoma.


In a major victory for the thousands of professionals of Indian origin affected by changes to Britain's immigration rules, the high court on Friday allowed an application seeking judicial review of the changes. The professionals, who came to Britain under the Highly Skilled Migrants Programme (HSMP), have been protesting for over a year against the November 2006 changes that altered the criteria for continuing in Britain.

Campaigns were launched and demonstrations were held while MPs from several parties called for the changes to be reviewed. The parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights, among other bodies, criticized the changes.

During the oral hearing on a judicial review application filed by HSMP Forum, a campaign group, Justice Sullivan said there was evidence of a breach of legitimate expectation and human rights legislation, and allowed the application. The full hearing is expected to take place in two months.


In making the decision, the judge took into account the report of the Joint Committee on Human Rights and a large number of successful appeals by HSMP holders at the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal.




India'sCivil Aviation Ministry has recently issued a directive barring foreign airlines from adding flights to their India operation between December 1, 2007, and January 31, 2008. 


The air travel to India is at its peak during the two winter months and the demand for seats during this time of the year usually goes up by 30 to 40 per cent, or even more. The airlines are unhappy at the restricted policy of the Indian government. The airlines however could use larger aircrafts to fly more passengers during the sixty days restricted period. But the concession is not helpful as the airlines already use wide-bodied aircraft for their India operations.




The population of legal immigrants in the US is at an all time high. According to a study by Center for Immigration Studies, India is in the top three of legal immigration accounting for a little more than 1.7 million with nearly 39 per cent being US citizens. Out of a total immigration population of 37.3 million, an estimated 11.3 million are illegals with 57 per cent coming from Mexico and 11 per cent from Central America. Asia accounts for at least nine per cent of the illegal population in the country.

The statistics show that if about 222,000 people from India were registered as lawful immigrants in the US. That number has progressively increased to 314,000 between 1980 and 1989, to 539,000 between 1990 and 1999, and to 629,000 between 2000 and 2007, the study said.

Of the total legal immigration, more than 31 per cent come from Mexico, with South Asia coming in at 5.5 per cent for a total of a little over 2 million immigrants. The latest study also shows that Immigrants account for one in eight US residents, the highest level in 80 years. In 1970, it was one in 21. In 1980 it was one in 16 and in 1990 it was one in 13.

Since 2000, 10.3 million immigrants have arrived the highest seven-year period of immigration in US history. More than half of post-2000 arrivals (5.6 million) are estimated to be illegal aliens.




Noting that his country was on the path of "ageing", British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell on Monday said there was an acute shortage of manpower in Canada.


"India has the youngest population whereas our country is ageing fast so we need people as there is an acute shortage," he told a press conference.

Around one million new jobs were likely to be created in the Canadian Province of British Columbia soon, he said adding that there was a shortfall of about 3,50,000 people in the province. The immigrants have lot of scope in the rental, retail, mining and energy sectors, he said adding that the stress was on skilled labor as there was a "real shortfall".

Campbell said that a two-way exchange of students and teachers was also in the pipeline as it would help in understanding the larger world.

Campbell, who was in India along with a 30-member delegation, said that the British Columbia was in favor of building relations with India.




A Dubai-based NRI has become the first to get a license for operating a low-cost regional airline in India. The carrier, Star Aviation, will begin operations with a fleet of four ATRs by mid-2008 in south India. While this has become the first airline to be allowed under the recently-allowed regional airline policy, applications of at least four other aspirants are also under consideration of aviation ministry.

"Dubai-based Syed Mohammad Salahuddin and his son, both NRIs, were found to be among the most financially strong and experienced players to have filed applications for a regional airline. They have a $3.8 billion business empire and also run a company that has been leasing planes to Air India. They are also GSAs for most airlines in Dubai," said a senior official.

Salahuddin senior was earlier this year given the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman award. Star Aviation will use ATR 42 and ATR 72 and begin operations with four such planes.

These planes will fly between south Indian cities like Bangalore, Chennai, Madurai, Trivandrum, Kochi, Vizag, Hyderabad and Bangalore. Being an LCC, its primary competition will be other low fare carriers like Deccan, SpiceJet and IndiGo.

A regional airline is allowed from a Metro in the area to any other place in other regions. The only exception is south where airlines can operate between Bangalore, Hyderabad and Chennai.




Gujarat University has signed an MOU with Educational Consultants India Limited (Ed.CIL) which is a Government of India enterprise to provide admissions to foreign students, NRIs and PIOs in nine faculties of the University. The qualified candidates can seek admission for Bachelor, Masters or Doctoral degrees.


The admissions are regulated by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) without any entrance exam for NRIs/PIOs and foreign nationals. Gujarat University is the first University in India to enter into such MOU with MHRD. The Ministry of External Affairs has already offered 100 scholarships for NRIs and PIOs for course work leading to a degree from an approved university in India.


For more information, contact Neerja




By 2020, every 4th person on the earth will be India born. The most pressing challenge will be to provide skilled manpower globally to match the demand and supply. Keeping the Global demand scenario in view, International Punjabi Chamber for Service Industry (IPCSI) has dedicated its 6th International Annual convention to "Skills Development for Global Employment of Indian Youth - Challenges and opportunities" on Saturday, the 12th January, 2008, at Hotel Mountview, Chandigarh.


Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister Punjab shall inaugurate the convention while ministers, government officials, eminent Non Resident Indians, leading corporate executives, academicians, HR developers, international agencies, and others associated with skill development will be attending the convention.


Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Chief Minister Haryana shall attend the business networking deliberations and dinner.        


Interested persons should write to:ppd2008@ipcsi.orgor download details from




World Alliance of Goan Overseas Association is planning a meet of Non-residents Indians from the state of Goa on January 19 at Mandovi Riviera, Panjim, Goa. The theme of the convention is, "We still call Goa home" and is aimed at celebrating the solidarity, heritage and rich Goan traditions.


According to UK based Rene Baretto who is one of the organizers of the event, "The Global Reunion is a wonderful opportunity to meet Goans settled in different countries, start new friendships, renew old ones and to build a stronger link between Goans through networking."


For more information, contact, Antonio Mascarenhas - Goa Telephone; 227-7418 or visit,




Department of Non Resident Keralites' Affairs (NORKA), Government of Kerala and Norka-Roots a Govt. of Kerala Enterprise is jointly organizing 'Keraleeya Pravasi Sangamam- 2008', a meet of Malayalee Associations across the globe on 2nd and 3rd January 2008 at Gokulam Convention Centre, Kaloor, Cochin. Representatives of Malayalee associations functioning abroad, Kerala and other states in India are participating and sharing their views in the Meet.


Distinguished guests include Chief Minister of Kerala, Union and State Ministers and other distinguished guests. The Meet is expected to be an appropriate and viable platform in all sense to discuss various issues relating to Non Resident Keralites all over the world to devise new initiatives for their benefit.


TNORKA and Norka-Roots believe that in order to formulate the best schemes for the benefit of the Pravasees, inputs are required from experienced NRKs and from their associations. Each Kerala group has been requested to nominate two representatives to the meet.


NRKs interested to participate the meet are requested to send the filled up application form along with the prescribed participation fee as DD to the Chief Executive Officer, Norka-Roots, Centre Plaza, Vazhuthacaud, Thiruvananthapuram - 695014, Kerala, India.


For more information, visit:


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 President - Inder Singh, Tarzana, California, USA, Tel: 818-708-3885, E-mail:

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

GOPIO Secretary General - 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.


GOPIO welcomes the following new Life Member:



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 (Gurgaon, Haryana, India) and Abu Thomas (New Rochelle, NY, USA)

Contributors of this issue: Inder Singh (USA), Sangeeta Ahuja (USA), Sunil Prasad (Belgium), Dr. Piyush Agrawal (USA), Balehswar Agrawal (New Delhi, India), Georger Abraham (Singapore), Barjinder Sodhi (Germany)


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