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The Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO) at its annual convention in Zurich Switzerland from July 21-23, passed a declaration of the PIOs, "When any person of Indian origin is abused, attacked or discriminated against in any part of the world because of his or her ethnicity, all persons of Indian origin around the world will deem such an act or action directed against all of them and will stand together in the pursuit of justice." This historic declaration was passed at the concluding session of GOPIO Convention 2000 with all delegates standing and holding hands with each other.

The convention attended by over 200 delegates from thirteen countries (Australia, Austria, Canada, Fiji, France, Germany, Guyana, Holland, India, Malaysia, Mauritius, UK, USA) was inaugurated by Governor M.M. Jacob of Meghalaya. In his keynote address, Governor Jacob said that Indians have a common heritage and shared values and cooperate in areas they possible can. "With India going in a big way in information technology, PIOs can help their mother country with their experience, expertise and financial capabilities," Governor Jacob added.

The delegates were welcomed by Convention Convener Jagdish Makwana and GOPIO Chairman Ram Lakhina. In his presidential address, Dr. Abraham said, "if 20 million PIOs were to pool their resources, it will benefit not only the PIO community, but the countries they come from as well as their Motherland India."

Indian Ambassador K. P. Balakrishnan thanked GOPIO for selecting Switzerland as its convention venue. "PIOs around the world have two different, but not mutually exclusive concerns: firstly how to meet their economic, social and political aspirations in the countries where they have found a home for themselves, and secondly, how to maintain and intensify their linkages with India, with which they have strong cultural, social and economic bonds," said Ambassador Balakrishnan.

The new NRI Commissioner J.C. Sharma offcially representing Government of India’s Ministry of External Affairs said that first generation NRIs had to acquire safety net for themselves and help their relatives and they always came forward to help their mother country at time of crisis. Sharma further said the government’s new objective is to help the Indian diaspora. If diaspora achieves economic benefits, India achieves the benefits too. "When multinationals invest in India, they look at the benefits of access to 20 million PIOs," Sharma added. The NRI commissioner also said that the India government is looking into reducing the PIO card fee.

The keynote speaker at the conference inauguration, Dr. Joy Cherian, President of his own consulting company and former Commissioner of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity commission, spoke on the conference theme "Global PIO Collaboration in Technology, Trade, Investments and Pooling Resources." Speaking on the technology transfer, Cherian said that successful PIO IT entrepreneurs can help Indian IT businessmen through venture capital and professional consulting programs in areas such as computer education training, data management, ERP, Internet, Itranet, off shore projects, outsourcing, process engineering, procurements, programming, project management, supply chain management, telecommunication consulting and web hosting services. In terms of the service industry, Cherian said, "if India accepts, applies, and adapts relevant service industry programs from other countries, few can doubt India’s eventual emergence as a global trade in service center in the next few years." Cherian also saw a great opportunity for PIOs to get involved in India’s insurance industry sector. Cherian concluded his speech saying, "we should never forget that the success of a person of Indian origin anywhere in the world is a success for all persons of Indian origin everywhere in the world."

Speakers at the various conference sessions included Dr. Muhammed Majeed of Sabinsa Corp. (USA), Hatim Hussain of Habib Bank (Switzerland), Community activist Rekha Mody (India), Dr. Ravi Ranjan of MDPad (USA), Suresh Kumar of NexAge Consulting (USA), Chander Khurana of ACS Telcom (USA), J.S. Sachaar of Asians Who is Who (U.K.), M.A. Abraham of Aban Group of Industries (India), Insurance Practitioner Niraj Baxi (USA), Dr. P.K. Jain of Jain Pharma Biotech (Switzerland), businessman M. Jacob of Nigeria, community activist Dr. N. Srinivasan of U.K. and Malawi Ambassador to U.K. Ahmed Kharodia. There were several Indo-Fijian speakers including Ash Dutta (Canada), Nirmal singh (Fiji), Noel Lal (Australia), Sunil Kumar (Fiji), Surendra Singh (Fiji), Swani Kumar Maharaj (Fiji) and Navin Maharaj (Canada). In the Family and Youth session, the speakers were Sudha Acharya, Dr. Sushila Gidwani-Buschi, Shail Rathi, Mani Mezhukanel and Ms. Romanee Kalicharan. Dr. Jyoti Barot of USA served as conference chairman and Dr. Satish Gupta of Switzerland was the Co-Chairman. GOPIO Secretary General Dr. Jagat Motwani served as the overall coordinator of conferences. The resolutions were compiled and presented by Dr. Rakhal Dave of Switzerland.

With the crisis in Fiji where a democratically elected PIO Prime Minister was held as a hostage and was released recently, Fiji was a major subject for discussion by speakers from Fiji, Australia and Canada. The convention passed a resolution on Fiji calling upon the Commonwealth to terminate its membership. The resolution also appealed to the U.N., the European Union and the Commonwealth to resolve and restore Fiji’s 1997 constitution and the constitutionally elected government. On July 24th after the convention, a GOPIO delegation met the U.N. Human Rights Commission and presented them the resolutions pertaining to human rights violations in Fiji.

GOPIO Convention also passed a resolution calling upon all diplomatic missions preserve human dignity in visa application procedures. A resolution called upon Guyanese Governement to establish a diplomatic mission in India. Another resolution called upon Govt. of India and other state governments and particularly the Kerala government to develop programs for the returning NRIs from the Middle East. The convention also called upon the central and the state government to punish those violating the basic rights of Dalits and condemned the recent killings of Budhist monks and the clergy of other minority religions. Two other resolutions reiterated GOPIO’s demand for appointing prominent NRIs to Rajya Sabha and voting rights for Indian citizens living outside India.

GOPIO also conducted its election at its Convention Council meeting. Ram Lakhina of Hollad and Dr. Thomas Abraham of the USA were reelected unanimously for a two year term as Chairman and President repectively. Inder Singh of Tarzana, California was elected as President-Elect who will assume charge in 2002. Jagdish Makwana (Switzerland) was elected as Executive V.P. Three vice presidents are Niraj Baxi (USA), J.S. Sachaar (UK) and Nirmal Singh (Fiji). GOPIO has decided to hold Global Convention 2001 in London and a regional convention in Australia next year.