The Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO International) and its chapters in the New York area inaugurated its 20th anniversary convention effort at the World's Fair Marina Banquet Hall in Queens, New York on the evening of June 5th.. The chief guest at the event was Indian Consul General Prabhu Dayal. The program started with a welcome by the GOPIO Secretary General and Convention Convener Secretary General Ashook Ramsaran.
“This year marks the 20th Anniversary of the formation of GOPIO - 20 years of remarkable and unprecedented achievements by GOPIO representing the interests and concerns of over 25 million people living outside of India. We encourage all of you to be part of this wonderful event at GOPIO's 20th Anniversary Convention, to know about it, its significance and how it matters to every one of us in the Indian Diaspora, to feel connected with a sense of belonging and to participate fully,” said
L. to R.: Ashok Ramsaran, Sangeeta Ahuja, Consul General Prabhu Dayal, Thomas Abraham, Lal Motwani and Darshan Singh Bagga
L. to R.: Arvind Pangariya, Joydeep Mukherji, Sangeeta Ahuja, Sreedhar Menon, Consul General Dayal, Thomas Abraham
GOPIO Chairman Thomas Abraham said that “GOPIO was formed at the First Global Convention of People of Indian Origin in New York in August 1989 when there were widespread violations of civic and human rights of NRIs/PIOs as well as the issue of Indians being outside the political mainstream. “In the last 20 years, there have been substantial improvements in civic and human rights violations, although we have seen violence against Indian students in Australia recently, which GOPIO has condemn and call upon Australian Government to take immediate action,” Abraham said.
Dayal said that GOPIO has made substantial contribution to sensitize the Indian Government on issues such as the PIO Card and Overseas Indian Citizenship and that the Government of India takes seriously GOPIO's suggestions on various issues and common interest. “NRIs and PIOs and particularly Indian Americans have contributed toward better relations with India and the countries they live in, as we saw the passage of US-India Nuclear Deal through the US Congress with the help of the Indian American community,” said Dayal.
After the inaugural ceremony, Ramsaran introduced the Convention team. The co-conveners are Sangeeta Ahuja, Darshan Singh Bagga, Lal Motwani and Nohar Singh.
A panel discussion titled “India and the Global Economy: Prospects and Challenges for the UPA II” followed the inauguration. The panelists were Dr. Arvind Panagariya, Professor of Economics and Jagdish Bhagwati Professor of Indian Political Economy, Columbia University School of International & Public Affairs and Mr. Sreedhar Menon, Former Deputy President of American Express Bank Ltd. and currently Chairman, Viteos Fund Services, Inc. It was moderated by Mr. Joydeep Mukherji, Former India Analyst and Currently Director, Latin American Sovereign Ratings, Standard & Poor's.
In his opening remarks, Mukherji said that the NRI/PIO economic output could be between $300 to $500 billion which is a substantial number compared to the GDP of India which is over trillion dollars. However, India's GDP is growing much faster now than that of the NRI/PIO economic output.
On a question what can be expected from the Manmohan Singh administration, Dr. Pangariya said that after the elections, the expectations are high from the new government. In terms of economic liberalization, the the Government of India has to take series of steps to liberalize insurance and banking sectors. Dr. Pangariya was also very positive on the selection of some of the ministers and noted the selection of Mr. Kapil Sibal as Minister for Human Resources Development and Mr. Kamal Nath as Minister of Infrastructure. Pangariya also felt that the Indian businesses have to have exit policy when the businesses are not doing well similar to Chapter 11 in the USA.
Mr. Menon on the other hand said that the new government needs an agenda to protect ourselves from terrorism as a high priority. He also felt that infrastructure has to be improved and govt. has to work on reducing the budget deficit.
On a question on the relation with Obama and Manmohan Singh administrations, Dr. Pangariya said that the US has gone soft on Pakistan even though terrorism threat has increased from that country. “There are other pressing issues such as climate treaty which are to be agreed and both countries have to look forward to some long term strategies of cooperation,” Dr. Pangariya added.
In response the same question, Mr. Menon said that it is still too early to know what is going to happen. “However, there are many strategic cooperation between the two countries emerging, in technology sharing such as biotechnology and nanotechnology, in military and in trade.” Mr. Menon was bullish on the US-India relation.
Dr. Maya Chadda, Professor of Political Science at William Paterson University, in her concluding remarks said that at the recent Indian election, the two political grouping have emerged in the center as well as in the states which would provide political stability for the country.
The convention organizers also announced the convention theme and the two major conferences taking place at the 20th anniversary celebrations. The convention theme is “People of Indian Origin: Strengthening Global Connections.” The conference themes are: Business Conference (Aug. 21): “India and the Indian Diaspora in the Context of Global Economic Challenges” and the Diaspora Conference (Aug. 22): “The Indian Diaspora: Challenges and Opportunities in the New Millennium.” There will also be a meet of youth and young professional at the convention.
GOPIO-CT President and a Co-Convener of the convention Sangeeta Ahuja concluded the evening meeting.