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The Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO International) has concluded its 25th Anniversary (Jubilee) Convention 2014 in Port of Spain in Trinidad & Tobago, with a memorable and successful celebration from 27th May through 30th May, 2014 coinciding with the 169th anniversary of Indian Arrival Day commemoration in Trinidad & Tobago. The convention theme was "Indian Diaspora Today & Tomorrow".
The convention was a historic event in the Indian Diaspora, attended by delegates from several countries where GOPIO is prominent - where persons of Indian origin reside in substantial numbers, and many from countries with fewer than 10% of the population. Countries include: Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Malaysia, Mauritius, Sri Lanka, India, Reunion Island, Mauritius, South Africa, Netherlands and other countries of the European Union (EU), United Kingdom, Canada, USA, the Caribbean region: Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago, Suriname, Belize, St. Vincent, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Jamaica, Grenada and St Lucia.
Among the many events of the convention, some of the notable highlights include: A notable welcome reception at the Diplomatic Centre residence of Trinidad & Tobago Prime Minsiter Kamla Persad-Bissessar; GOPIO's elections for new officers; GOPIO International Council Meetings; an all-day academic conference based on the convention theme of "Indian Diaspora Today & Tomorrow"; GOPIO delegates as special guests at cultural performances held at National Cultural of Indian Culture (NCIC); and unveiling of a historic arrival monument at Waterloo-by-the-Sea marking the first arrivals of indentured Indian laborers in Trinidad on 30th May 1845.
GOPIO 25th Anniversary Convention Team
The convention team organized around the GOPIO chapter in Trinidad & Tobago, worked diligently with dedicated and focused efforts to plan, coordinate and hold a magnificent GOPIO milestone convention in a country distant from the other regular venues which GOPIO has used over the years for its major events. Members of the convention team: Ena Maraj, (Convention Co-Convener, president of GOPIO International chapter of Trinidad & Tobago); Dr. Arnold Thomas, (General Convener & Conference Co-Coordinator, GOPIO International Coordinator Caribbean (St Vincent); other convention team members: Ramdai Sookdeo (Convention Secretary); Mahadaye Ramlagan (Registration & Assistant Treasurer); Seeta Sahatoo (Assistant Convention Secretary; Shalima Mohammed (Public Relations Coordinator, (Indian Arrival Monument Co-Coordinator); Navin Rampersad (Treasurer); Geeta Sahatoo (Hospitality Coordinator); Karran Nancoo (Legal Advisor); Dr. Kumar Mahabir (Conference Co-Coordinator); Ramnarine Bissoon (Arrival Project Liaison, Community Coordinator, Conference Site Co-Coordinator); Dr. Indrani Rampersad (Conference Co-Coordinator); Dr. Jerome Teelucksingh (Conference Co-Coordinator); Dr. Visham Bhimull (Youth Program Coordinator); Marilyn Hosein (Events Coordinator & Transportation Coordinator); Molly Mangray, Amanda Gangaram, Rowena Singh and Vanita Rampersad (Administrative and Support Coordinators); Deo Gosine (Grand Patron, Special Projects Coordination and Support); Aleem Mohammed (Community Liaison); Don Khan (Indian Arrival Monument Facilities & Hospitality Coordinator); Ramesh Kalicharan (Souvenir Brochure); Netram Rambudhan (Convention Assistant Treasurer & GOPIO International Treasurer); Seeta Sahatoo & Mahadaye Ramlagan (Delegates' Souvenir Welcome Kit);Nohar Singh (Delegates' Travel & Holiday Packages); Munish Gupta (Conference Site Co-Coordinator & GOPIO Jubilee & Life Membership Recognition).
Photo above: Some of the members of the Convention team with GOPIO Officials
Convention Advisors: Sunny Kulathakal; Munish Gupta; Dr. Piyush Agrawa; Umesh Chandra; Dr. Thomas Abraham; Dr. Sai Giridhar; J. Nami Kaur; Amb. R. Dayakar; Netram Rambudhan; Rajindre Tewari; Dr Jagat Motwani; Loshni Naidoo; Dr. Sushila Gidwani-Buschi; Dr. Renuka Misra; Sudha Acharya; Prof. Clem Sankat; Ramesh Kalicharan; Prof. Brindsley Samaroo; Balkrishna Naipaul; Prof. Mahin Gosine; Anita Bhat; Alkesh Sharma; Mahavir Arya; several council chairpersons and co-chairpersons; life members and chapter members.
Grand Patrons & Advisors:
Surichange Bank NV, Suriname (Dr C. Baidjnath Misier, founder & chairman)
GOPIO International Council convened at the Radisson Hotel in Port of Spain shortly after the conclusion of GOPIO' Executive Council meeting on 28th May, 2014. After opening remarks, President Ramsaran reported major activities of GOPIO in his terms which was followed by financial report by Treasurer Netram Rambudhan. GOPIO Foundation report was presented by Executive Trustee Dr. Thomas Abraham which was followed by GOPIO International Coordinators reporting their activities for the regions.
Photo above: GOPIO's outgoing Executive Council Team
GOPIO Executive Council Elections & New Team
Nominating Committee headed by Rajindre Tewari conducted the election for the 2014 to 2015 for the various positions in the Executive Council of GOPIO International. The following officials were elected by unanimous vote:
oPresident - Ashook Ramsaran
oExecutive Vice President - Sunny Kulathakal
oSenior Vice President - Dr. Piyush Agrawal
oInternational Coordinator North America - Dr. Renuka Misra
oInternational Coordinator Caribbean. - Dr. Arnold Thomas
oChairman GOPIO International, Inder Singh, was elected for another term.
Photo Above: GOPIO Elected Officials for 2014-2015. GOPIO Chairman Inder Singh, President Ashook Ramsaran, Executive Vice President Sunny Kulathakal, Senior Vice President Dr. Piyush Agrawal, International Coordinator North America, Dr. Renuka Misra, and International Coordinator Caribbean, Dr. Arnold Thomas.
All previously appointed positions expired on May 28, 2014 with the end of the previous term and new appointments of suitably qualified candidates will be announced shortly after GOPIO' Executive Council approval.
GOPIO By-Laws Updates approved:
No changes except corrections of errors, omissions, spelling and nomenclature mistakes -
Per list circulated previously and read by Chairman Inder Singh.
GOPIO International Council circulated 30 days in advance to general membership and life members.
GOPIO to organize membership feedback and commentary via website.
Chapter delegates eligible for voting to be further clarified and defined relative to membership.
GOPIO has not conformed to its mandate in accordance with Clause 1 - Name and Purpose: The Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (abbreviated as GOPIO) is a secular, nonpartisan, non-sectarian, not-for-profit global organization engaged in prompting the well being of non resident Indians and people of Indian origin, enhancing interaction and communication between these groups living in different countries and in furthering their linkages with India.
Reception at Prime Minister's Residence
A highlight of GOPIO's 25th Anniversary Jubilee Convention 2014 was the special welcome reception of all GOPIO delegates at the Diplomatic Centre residence of the Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar on 28th May. The reception was hosted by Ministry of National Diversity and Social Integration with Minister Dr Roger Samuel making the initial remarks after a welcome prayer by Brother Harripersad Maharaj, followed by remarks by GOPIO International president Ashook Ramsaran and presentation of gifts. Prime Minister Bissessar formally welcomed GOPIO's delegates, recounted GOPIO's special reception/dinner during the visit to the Kolkata Memorial on 12th January, 2012 and thanked GOPIO for "holding its 25th Anniversary Jubilee Convention in the twin islands of Trinidad & Tobago".
GOPIO made presentations of gifts and books to Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar: Special Kashmiri shawl by Kedar N. Gupta (India); GOPIO 25th Anniversary Jubilee Souvenir Brochure by Ramesh Kalicharan, editor (USA); portrait and tribute to late Nelson Mandela by Rita Abraham (South Africa); books by Dr. Mahin Gosine (USA); Dr Jagat Motwani (USA); Balkrishna Naipaul (Canada); GOPIO 1st convention stamp by Dr. Thomas Abraham (USA); and book presentation by Dr C. Baidjnath Misier (Netherlands).
Photo: T&T officials in the receiving line to welcome GOPIO delegates
On 28th May, a Business-to-Business seminar featuring prominent scholars and business leaders was held at the Radisson Hotel. It was sponsored by Trinidad & Tobago's Ministry of Trade & Investment with focus tohighlight the many economic opportunities of the Caribbean region at this convention.
oInvestment & Trade Opportunities in Trinidad & Tobago;
oInvestment & Trade Opportunities in St Vincent & Grenadines;
oInvestment & Trade Opportunities in Guyana;
oSuccess Stories of Doing Business in the Caribbean;
oFree Enterprise, Market Economy and Business Successes;
oThe Growth of Education and Medical Services for Bi-Lateral Trade;
oMedia as Marketing Tool in Emerging Economies
Speakers and presenters were: Dr. Chan Misier (Chairman, Surichange Bank NV, Netherlands & Suriname); Dr Yesu Persaud, Chairman Demerara Bank, Demerara Distilleries (Guyana); Deo Gosine (Founder & President of Labidco Port Services, Trinidad & Tobago), Dr. Sid Gautam (Center for Entrepreneurship, USA), Ishwar Ramlutchman (Founder & Chairman, AC Industrial, South Africa); Ashok Motwani (DNN News, India).
Romanee Kalicharran (USA) made a special film presentation of "The Voyage".
Academic Conference: "Indian Diaspora Today and Tomorrow"
The Academic Conference segment of the convention was a full 1-day event held on 29th May at the Radisson Hotel. There were several sessions designed round the convention theme of "Indian Diaspora Today & Tomorrow" The chief guest at the Inaugural Session was Indian High Commissioner HE Gauri Gupta and the keynote speaker Dr Mahin Gosine, Professor of Sociology and Anthropology at State University of New York, USA. Dr. Kumar Mahabir, Assistant Professor at University of Trinidad and Tobago, concluded the session.
Inaugural Session I: Indian Diaspora Today & Tomorrow
Session II: The Indian Diaspora: Issues, Challenges & Opportunities
Session III: Global & Regional Diaspora Investments & Economic Opportunities
Session Chairperson: Dr. Arnold Thomas (St Vincent)
Speaker: Ashook Ramsaran (USA)
Thanks & Appreciation: Ena Maraj (Trinidad and Tobago)
On 28th May at Session VII "GOPIO Resolutions- GOPIO's 25th Anniversary Jubilee Convention 2014", chaired by Dr. Piyush Agrawal, the following resolutions were adopted for action by GOPIO and advisory/notification to respective government and agencies:
oSalutations to Indian Democracy & Fair General Elections in India
oEnhancing the Relationship between India & its Diaspora
oStreamlining the process of Indian Consular Services
oReview of OCI/PIO/OIC Policies Needed
oProposal for International Indian Emigration Day
oIndia's Opportunity to Engage the Diaspora
oGOPIO's Continuing Efforts at Outreach to the Diaspora
oLimitations on Import/Export of Indian Currency on NRIs/PIOs
oTowards a More Peaceful Co-Existence of PIOs in Multi-Ethnic Societies
oIndian Visas On Arrival Program
oAddressing Human Rights Violations in the Diaspora
These resolutions titled "GOPIO's 25th Anniversary Jubilee Convention 2014" are posted on GOPIO's website atwww.gopio.net.
At the conclusion of Inaugural Session I: "Indian Diaspora Today & Tomorrow", the following books were released:
Balkrishna Naipaul (Canada): Sangam: The Jhansi Legacy
Indina High Commissioner Gauri Shanker Gupta: Unraveling Mysteries of Life
Dr. Yesu Persaud (Guyana): Reaching for the Stars - An Autobiography
The Moderator of the "Book Releases" segment was J. Nami Kaur, Secretary of GOPIO International
Photo above: Book Release - GOPIO International Coordinator Caribbean, Dr. Arnold Thomas (St Vincent); Balkrishna Naipaul (founding Life Member, Canada); Dr. Yesu Persaud (founding Life Member, Guyana); Dr Kumar Mahabir (Co-Chair, GOPIO Academic Council, Trinidad & Tobago); Dr. Jagat Motwani (founding Life Member, USA); Shri Gauri Gupta, Indian High Commissioner to Trinidad & Tobago); Dr. Mahin Gosine (Co-Chair, GOPIO Academic Council, USA); J. Nami Kaur (Secretary, GOPIO International, USA)
Jubilee Recognition Awards Gala
The Jubilee Recognition Gala was another highlight of GOPIO's 25th Anniversary (Jubilee) Convention 2014, held on 29th May, 2014 in the Grand Ballroom at the Radisson Hotel in Port of Spain. In attendance was Indian High Commissioner to Trinidad & Tobago, Shri Gauri Gupta; Trinidad & Tobago's Minister of Trade & Investment, Dr. Vasant Bharath; and Min. Ramona Ramdial, Minister in the Ministry of Environment & Water Resources. The event was emceed by prominent radio and television host Zelisa Boodoosingh and was broadcast live courtesy of Dr Hans Hanoomansingh (Heritage Radio).
Photo above: GOPIO Jubilee Recognition Awardees with Minister Dr. Vasant Bharath, Min Ramona Ramdial, Indian High Commissioner Shri Gauri Gupta and GOPIO Officials
GOPIO's Jubilee Recognition for outstanding achievements in selected categories were accorded to several persons "who contributed to the betterment of people of the Indian Diaspora. The Jubilee Recognition recipients achieved significant and prominent levels of stature and recognition in their respective fields of endeavor and have served interests of people in their respective countries of domicile and others as well, in addition to generating pride and respect among the Indian Diaspora and others in country of birth or domicile". Each GOPIO's Jubilee Recognition awardee (or representative for posthumous recognition) was presented with a GOPIO Jubilee award.
Posthumous Recognition:Henri Sidambaron (Guadeloupe); Dr. Najma Sultana (USA); Baleshwar Agrawal (India); Lall Paladee (Trinidad & Tobago); Dr Cheddi Jagan (Guyana).
Friends of GOPIO: HE Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, Prime Minister of St. Vincent & Grenadines; Hon Albert Ramdin, Deputy Secretary General of Organization of American States (USA); Hon. Chandrikapersad Santokhi Chairman of Progressive Reform Party (Suriname).
Professional, Civic, Culture, Entrepreneurship, Media, Philanthropy: National Indian Cultural Centre - NCIC (Trinidad & Tobago); John Barath (Trinidad & Tobago); Brenda Gopeesingh (Trinidad & Tobago); Dr. Hans Hanoomansingh (Trinidad & Tobago); Sattaur Gafoor (Guyana); Dr Yesu Persaud (Guyana); Chancellor of Judiciary & Chief Justice Carl Singh (Guyana); Dr C. Baidjnath Misier (Netherlands); Dr. Lakshmi Persaud (United Kingdom); Ishwar Ramlutchman (South Africa); Nicole Vaitylingon (Guadeloupe); Kamaludin Mohammed (Trinidad & Tobago); Dr. Vivian Rambihar (Canada); Ashok Motwani (India); Dr. Parmatma Saran (USA); Dr. Sudhir Parikh (USA); TV Asia H R Shah (USA); India Abroad (USA); Kedar N. Gupta (India); Israel Khan (Trinidad & Tobago).
In addition to recognition of those who contributed to GOPIO's formation in 1989. The First Convention Convener Dr. Thomas Abraham introduced co-conveners Sudha Acharya and Dr. Jagat Motwani and other founding life members and invited them to the stage.
Photo above: Some GOPIO Founding Life Members at GOPIO inception in 1989 who were present at the Jubilee Convention
GOPIO also recognized the newest life members since 6th January, 2014 in attendance, with plaques and new life membership lapel pins: They included Yamonee Barbaro (USA); Balkrishna Naipaul (Canada); Deo Gosine (Trinidad & Tobago); Sasenarine Sankar (Guyana); Claude Sheikboudhou (Guadeloupe); Elie Shitalou (Guadeloupe); Shaji SM Alex (India); Shaji Baby John (India).
Photo above: GOPIO Life Members in 2014
Special recognition was accorded to GOPIO's 25th Anniversary (Jubilee) Convention 2014 grand patrons: Surichange Bank NV (Dr C. Baidjnath Misier, Netherlands) and