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Functional Role in the Regional Pravasi Bharatya Divas Conferences

08/14/2013

GOPIO International is a trusted and professional partner of the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA) when it comes to activities of the Indian Government abroad. After the Government of Indian decided to organise regional PBD Conferences GOPIO was and is functional in facilitating various activities under the leadership of MOIA with f.i. advising on speakers, sessions, locations etc. When the Government of India decide to organise the first European PBD in 2009 in The Hague (Holland), GOPIO the Netherlands was the natural partner to streamline the organisational setup by attracting European speakers of Indian origin such as the members of the British House of Lords or Professionals from Switzerland. GOPIO the Netherlands was able bring together diaspora organisations from different backgrounds together under the leadership of GOPIO and non-GOPIO officials. GOPIO’s international leadership was also represented with its then International Secretary, current President Ashook Ramsaran.

Changes in Passport Surrender Rules

On May 23, 2010, GOPIO appealed to the global overseas Indian community through GOPIO Special News Bulletin against the retroactive enforcement of new rules for “surrender” of Indian Passport. GOPIO also initiated an on-line petition addressed to the Prime Minister of India on the same day. On May 28, 2010, GOPIO International sent a letter to Prime Minister of India, together with the first batch of over 19,000 signatures of people supporting the petition. By June 1, the number reached 29,000. The same day, Government of India relented and reduced the fee to $20 for all Persons of Indian Origin who had acquired foreign citizenship up until May 31, 2010.

But NRIs still have problems in obtaining visa for India. They have emotional attachment to their motherland and want India visa without stringent restrictions. They provide huge pool of foreign remittances $55 billion in 2010 and are a vast reservoir of loyalty, patriotism, sought-after knowledge and bankable skills.

Kolkata Memorial

For the descendants of the masses of indentured Indian laborers who left India from 1834 thru’ 1920 to work in British colonies in remote parts of the world, the Kolkata Memorial is becoming a reality. With the support of Government of India Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA) and West Bengal Government, GOPIO Int’l is prominent in this pioneering effort. The goal is to establish a commemorative memorial followed by a museum at a suitable site or sites in Kolkata where Indian indentured laborers were housed and processed while awaiting the ships for emigration to plantations in West Indies, Mauritius, Fiji, Africa and elsewhere from 1834 thru’ 1820. Ashook Ramsaran of GOPIO Int’l played a lead role and coordinated the entire project.

US Tax Rules on Foreign Bank Accounts

GOPIO initiated an awareness campaign about Overseas Voluntary Disclosure Initiative (OVDI) and Foreign Bank Account Reporting (FBAR) requirements in collaboration with other national and community based organizations (including NFIA, AAPI, AAHOA). Letters of appeal for reduction of penalties were sent to the US President, Secretary of the Treasury and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Commissioner. Community awareness was initiated for compliance before the IRS deadline and a delegation led by former GOPIO chairman, Dr Thomas Abraham, met with the officials of the Treasury department on this matter. GOPIO chairman Inder Singh met with US Congressman Howard Berman. Thus far, efforts have not resulted in any relief but GOPIO continues its efforts to seek relief from the stringent application of IRS rules which place an undue burden on law abiding taxpayers.

GOPIO Gadar Centennial Commemoration

GOPIO has taken the initiative for a Gadar Centennial Commemoration for a global commemoration of the upcoming 100th anniversary of the Gadar movement in 2013 involving various agencies, organizations and institutions. GOPIO is collaborating with Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs for Gadar Centennial to be an integral part of PBD2013 in Kochi with an oration and exhibit. GOPIO Gadar Centennial 2013 was launched at the Indian Embassy in Washington DC on 3rd November, 2012 with Indian Ambassador Nirupama Rao as Chief Guest.

GOPIO continues to take up issues of the NRI/PIO Communities and lobbies for their resolutions. GOPIO is a non-partisan, not-for-profit, secular organization. GOPIO’s volunteers are committed to building bonds, friendships, alliances, and the camaraderie of NRIs and PIOs alike. GOPIO volunteers believe that when they help network the global Indian community, they facilitate making tomorrow a better world for the Indian Diaspora.

GOPIO the Netherlands is proud to mention that GOPIO’s Senior Officials were active in the early days hailing from Holland such as Mr. Ram Lakhina, a past president and Dr. Mohan Gautam (retired professional from the University of Leiden and still active in GOPIO’s Academic council).

The current European coordinator of GOPIO International, drs. Rajindre Tewari (past Country president), is also elected from the Dutch Indian Population.

GOPIO also has a number of Life Members coming from the Dutch Diaspora population. GOPIO’s executive officials, even past senior officials, are almost all honoured with the Bharatya Samman Awards conveyed to them by the Government of India.