Friday, January 15, 2010

The Eighth Pravasi Divas

The following article appeared in the online publication South Asia Post, Issue 103 Vol IV, January 15, 2010

I don't want to sound overly judgemental in my perception or belittle the much labored event by a Ministry still struggling to come out of infancy and over dependence on the MEA but so ably led by indefatigable Keralite Vayalar Ravi. The perceived impression that exercise has been assuming the character more of a fashion show of 'Pardesi Models' some how refuses to disappear.

This time - the eighth edition of Pravasi Bharatiya Divas - the 'Desi Lords' led by the Chief guest Lord Khalid Hamid of Hampstead, Baron Prof. Bhiku Parikh, Lord Megh Nath Desai (of Sai Baba hair style) were conspicuously noted to be roaming about at different ramps doling out generously 'the wisdom rooted in the values of the lost Empire' to tackle the complex global issues of inter-faith accommodation; India's Place in world; Achieving 9% Growth in India etc.

The much touted 'Distinguished Global Indian Oration' delivered by the eminently acclaimed economist Prof. Jagdish Bhagwati was also found short on inspiration and innovation. While Baron Bhiku's presentation on India's foreign relations, 'supported' by irrepresible Shashi 'Twitter' Tharoor was at least able to incite a media controversy, other learned presentations were largely ignored by the omnipresent media.

The much mentioned announcement by Prime Minister about 'Right to Vote' for the NRI's during the next General Elections found few takers for different reasons. It was also pointed out that the major share of NRI's remittances (around US$22 billion) comes from the Gulf workers. While the Chinese Diaspora has been the leading investor in the development projects, the share of Indian Diaspora's share has been only 5% of the Foreign Direct Investment.

The states level sessions with the Chief Ministers of Gujarat, Jammu & Kashmir, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Deputy CM of Punjab making presentations were considered useful with Narender Modi speaking in chaste Hindi, and Omar Abdullah with his witty plain speaking being most impressive. Sukhbir Badal promised the NRI Commission in Punjab while earlier in the seminar a Punjab advocate Anil Malhotra had referred to mechanism of fast track courts for the NRI cases. The Punjabi NRI VIPs from Canada were more in the news for social events outside conference.

The news flashes from Australia about attacks on Indians cast a long shadow on the the proceedings of the conference with Vayalar Ravi making a strong statement that Government Australia must do more to protect the Indians. Three years back, the increasing number of Indian students in Australia had been hailed as a valuable positve factor in bilateral relations.

With Bharat Samman Awards given to many more of Mother India's children living abroad, the Mela cocluded with pious declarations to meet again after the Commonwealth Games with Delhi transformed into Global city!

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