NRI Minister Inaugurates GOPIO Conference
Indo Link - 17 October 2004
Brussels, Belgium; October 7, 2004 - Jagdish Tytler, Minister for Overseas
Indian Affairs of the Government of India attributed the success of the Indian
Diaspora to their traditional ethos, cultural values and their capacity to
harmonize and adopt. Mr. Tytler was addressing the GOPIO Conference
"NRI/PIO Business Networking for Trade and Investment and Contribution of
Indian Diaspora in Europe" on 4th. October 2004 in Brussels as Chief Guest.
The Conference was organized in association with the Indian Embassy and in collaboration with the GOPIO International. "Let us work together to involve
you in India's growth," said the minister and assured the Indian Diaspora of all
help and facilities by his newly-created ministry.
Minister Tytler invited the overseas Indian to contribute ideas in making Indian education, infrastructure, healthcare, financial services, tourism and other
service sectors world class. He also invited the Indian Diaspora to attend the
Pravasi Bharatiya Divas to be held in Mumbai, from 7-9 January 2005.
The Conference was attended by more than 200 PIO/NRI business leaders
from 24 countries. This was the largest gathering of the NRIs/PIOs from different nations in recent times and offered an opportunity to the Indian Diaspora to promote trade and investment and reach out to the Indian Diaspora in Europe.
Earlier welcoming the participants, the Chair of the Conference and the
President of the GOPIO Belgium, Sunil Prasad said that the Indian Diaspora
is an asset for creating a global network and economic bridges that can
provide a useful help for both India and the country of Indian origin. He also
said that the Conference was aimed to exhibit the great diversity not only in
terms of geography and communities, but also in socio-economic status,
educational achievements, political participation and power and strengthening
of the EU-India relations in order to help trade networks and effectively and
strategically link the Diaspora globally.
Ambassador of India to the EU and Belgium, R.M. Abhyankar, noted that it
was the first such gathering of the India Diaspora in Europe. "The Indian
Diaspora in Europe can play a major role in developing Europe-India ties," he
said. Abhyankar hoped that conference would come out with ideas on how to
further boost Europe-India economic cooperation.
Dr. Thomas Abraham, Chairman, GOPIO International, USA, referring to
GOPIO's history said it was formed 15 years ago in New York. He called upon
the nations of European Union to adopt an open door immigration policy so as
to make it easier for the migration of qualified technologists and scientists
from India. "The European Union will not be able to compete well globally in
the cutting edge technologies, if the countries still keep closed door
immigration policy," said Dr. Abraham.
President of GOPIO International Inder Singh spoke about the sacrifices of
the Indian Diaspora in the economic and social integrity of Europe and
services rendered by Indian troops in the first and second world wars. Singh
further said that GOPIO chapters have been started in several cities of Europe
and urged the participants to help in networking with the Diaspora in Europe
by opening chapters in all cities of Europe.
Neena Gill, the only Indian-born Member of the European Parliament (MEP), in her speech complimented the 22 million Indians live outside India for their
contributions. Gill, a British MEP who hails from the Punjab, advised the
Indian community living abroad that "you need to be active participants in the
country you live in, and not just active in your business and professional life."
Dr. Charles Tannock, MEP and Chairman, Friends of India Group in the
European Parliament, described India as an "awakening giant" which offers
enormous opportunities to the EU. "Given its shrinking population, Europe will
need to outsource" he said noting that the UK National Health Service, which
has a large backlog of lab samples to analyze, is considering flying them out
to India for analysis, and getting the results back by email.
In a special presentation MEP Nirj Deva said that the recent successful
elections in Indonesia showed to the world that the largest Muslim populated
country in the world could successfully adopt a democratic path and hoped
that all Muslim nations follow the suite.
Special sessions devoted to business meetings and networking activities gave rare opportunity for entrepreneurs, investors and other key decision makers to form partnerships to benefit from the vast economic opportunities arising from
the opening of the Indian economy and also the economy of the countries
having the presence of the Indian Diaspora and use GOPIO Belgium for
linkages in Europe. Others who addressed the Conference were Dr. Mohan
Kaul, Bharat Shah, Malcolm Subhan and Prof. Sid Gautam.
The occasion was marked by the launching of the Europe-India Chamber of Commerce. Dr. Ajit Shetty, Chairman of the Board of Janssen Pharmaceutica
in his launching address said that with the strategic partnership being
developed between EU and India, the need for such an umbrella organization
is the need of the hour. He also stressed that the chamber should aim to
provide technical and logistic help to the business groups to promote trade
and investment. Mr. Sanjay Dalmia, Chairman of the Dalmia Group of
Industries said that the Chamber should look into facilitating better trade
relations and help in understanding the various changes in the trade rules. Dr.
Karan Billimoria, Chef Executive of the Cobra Beers, UK said that although
the EU is India’s largest trading partner and biggest foreign investor, yet India
represents a miniscule proportion of its global trade and investment in the EU.
In order to institutionalize a proper mechanism to promote trade and
commerce, a Europe-India Chamber of Commerce should liaise with different
chambers of commerce in the EU and other such business bodies.
The GOPIO in association with the EU-India Media Hub had organized a
Media Conclave on October 3rd, which was also addressed by Minister Tytler
and was attended by many Brussels based journalists. GOPIO presented
several resolutions urging European Union to ease on the migration of
qualified people from India, issuing Schengan visa for longer duration as well
as as eliminating visas for permanent residents of USA, Canada, Australia
and European countries who are not members of European Union. The
resolutions were presented to Members of European Parliament present at
Minister Tytler had some one to one exchanges with GOPIO Executive
Council, which brought the issue of Govt. of India's policy of taxing Not-
Ordinary Residents (NOR) after two years of stay in India. GOPIO urged the
minister to restore it to government’s original policy of taxing the global
income after nine years. Minister promised that he would take this up with the
Prime Minister and Finance Minister before the next budget.