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Pravasi Bharatiya Divas

This time, the annual gathering of the NRIs was held in Hyderabad on January 7-9. There were over one thousand overseas delegates. The chief guest at the three-day conference was Ahmed Kathrada frm South Africa.

The Prime Minister of India, Dr. Manmohan singh lauded the fiscal conribution of the NRIa and said that in recent years such remittances had increased from $13 billion in 2001 to $20 billion in 2005. “I salute the overseas Indians, the workers and professionals, who are contributing with their skill and sweat to the economic development of our motherland.”

The Prime Minister urged delegates to see India as a land of opportunity “that places premium on enterprise and creativiy’ whose government is ‘committed to create a hospitable climate for investment and enterprise”.

President APJ Abdul Kalam in his speech on the concluding day of the event, urged overseas Indians to help transform the country’s villages. “You can definitely provide the leadeship for transformation of the cluster of villages around your village with your experience and knowledge connectivity. If it interests you, you can definitely become a partner in this noble mission.”

As the highlight of the programme, the President honoured 15 prominent members of the Indian diaspora with the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman. The names of the NRIs given ‘Samman’ by the Government of India are as follows:

1. Fareed Zakaria, Newsweek Inernational Editor.
2. Abdool Raouf Bundhun, Vice Prewident of Mauritius
3. Jean-Pal Virapoulle, Senator, France
4. Sudhir Parikh, US-based docor
5. Gulam Kaderbhai Noon, UK businessman
6. CK. Menon, Qatar-based businessman
7. Sisupal Rmbharos, South African social worker.
8. Yesu Persaud, Gayanese industrialist
9. Niranjan S. Shah, US-based social worker
10. Majid Uddin Kazi, physician to Saudi Arabia’s King Fahd
11. Eliahu Bezale, agriculturee scientist, Israel
12. Shivnath Raai Bajaj, businessman, Thailand
13. Pratima Kale, social worker, the Phillipines
14 Rusy M. Shroff, businessman, Hong Kong
15. V. Ramadoss, physician and advisor to the health ministry of Seychelles.

The Government of India has decided to grant Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) or “dual citizenship” to certain categories of overseas Indians.

The registered OCIs shall be entitled to multiple entry, multi-purpose life long visa to visit India without having to report to police authorities for any length of stay in India and parity with non-resident Indians (NIs) in financial, economic and educational fields except in the acquisition of agricultural or plantation properties.

PIOs interested in acquiring dual citizenship may consult the High Commission website at

Sir Ghulam Noon awarded “Samman” on Pravasi Bharatiya Day.

UK-based Sir Ghulam Noon was the only Indian from the United Kingdom who was awarded ‘Samman’ at the Pravasi Bharatiya Conference held in Hyderabad.

Sir Noon, chairman and founder of Noon Products Ltd, Southall and managing director of Bomay Halwa Ltd. has been a pioneer in introducing Indian sweets, savouries and chicken tikka to British high streets. He has been acknowledged as a cutting edge leader among Asian community. A great philonthropist, Sir Ghulam Noon through ‘Noon Foundation’ has been supporting various charitable causes.

Quattrochhi Allowed to take his loot with the help of Congress Government.

It seems a curtain is about to be drawn on one of the most shameful episodes of corruption, nepotism and political chicanery in post-independence India. The Bofors case that brought Rajiv Gandhi’s government down, and has remained a stigma on Nehru-Gandhi dynasty since then, has been quietly buried in London thanks to India’s Law Minister Mr. Hansraj Bhardwaj. The C.B.I. (Central Bureau of Investigation) of India, Prime Minister Mr. Manmohan Singh and the Opposition leaders (are there any left?) turned like worms for a while. Even the Supreme Court of India gave notice to the parties concerned. But the end result is going to be a conspiracy of silence. No heads are going to roll. The Prime Minister will sulk for a while as he was not even consulted before the decision was taken. Supreme Court’s decision will carry no weight as the matter will be beyond the jurisdiction of the Government of India. Mr. Quattrochhi will keep on showing two fingers to people of India. Mrs. Sonia Gandhi will keep on helping Congress to win seats in General Elections not so much by her eloquent speeches but by her very presence at the gatherings of Indians.

(What are your views on this episode? Please write or email us at

BJP elects a new president

Mr. Rajnath Singh has been appointed as the new president of the Bhartiya Janata Party. He hails from Uttar Pradesh.

India’s Finance Minister promises a “Sweet Dream Budget”

Finance Minister P Chidambaram hinted at cutting fiscal deficit by 0.3% to 4% of GDP and was optimistic enough to say that the growth this year would be 7-8%. He also assured that the coming budget will be focused on rural India and the masses.

"Growth is a function of investment. If we can boost investment in 2006-07, I am confident growth will be as good as 2005-06," he said during an interaction with Forum of Financial Writers here.
India's GDP had grown by 8.1 per cent in first half of 2005-06, and is expected to be over 7.5 per cent this fiscal.

While asserting that UPA will carry forward reforms and take measures to foster growth, Chidambaram said the budget will always focus on the people of India, the common man and people in rural areas.

At the same time, he said UPA was committed to cut fiscal and revenue deficits as mandated in the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act.

For 2005-06, Chidambaram said: "I expect it (deficit) to be on target at the budget estimate."
He said tax reforms announced in last year's budget has paid off, as consumption demand has gone up and demand for goods have increased, as reflected in the hike in capacity by India Inc.
Moreover, the fiscal and revenue deficits will be met, which means government's tax collection is also on target.

"I think, we are on course to achieve fiscal and revenue deficit targets for 2005-06. After achieving this, if we can achieve the FRBM targets, it will mean the Indian economy is maturing and we are on a better fiscal situation," he said.

He said the government has been able to create an environment conducive to investment as it is reflected by three indicators: rise in investment proposals and intentions, growth in non-food credit at 37 per cent and the booming Sensex and Nifty and the favourable ratings of India by various global rating agencies.

Moreover, he said UPA has been able to ensure price stability, as has been reflected by the inflation at less than 5 per cent.

"We have maintained reasonably stable price regime despite the severest challenges faced in last decade of high oil prices, natural calamities like Tsunami, floods and earthquakes," he said.
The government has also carried forward reforms in banking and pension by introducing bills to amend the Banking Regulation and RBI Act, and pushing the PFRDA legislation.

"The Parliamentary Standing Committee has given its report and the banking and pension bills will go forward," the minister said.

Despite the stiff opposition from coalition partners, Chidambaram said the disinvestment of non-Navartna PSUs were on track.

"We will monetise some portion of government equity and the proceeds from disinvestment will be put into National Investment Fund," he said.

Recalling the high points of 2005, he said:"Big investors came to India along with major banks, financial institutions, funds, auto, hardware makers, IT leaders, steel and mining companies."
Chidambaram attributed the faith reposed by foreign investors in Indian market to the regulatory regime as most of the regulators in capital market, banking, telecom and electricity could be compared with the best in the world.

"We are learning and improving. We have not made any major mistakes. We have stayed on course. We have articulated a vision that will remain in course," he said.

"All said and done, we are on a high growth path, more people are getting jobs, the economy is mature and stable.” These are all indicators, which I believe remained positive in 2005. I fervently hope that it will remain positive in 2006," he said.

Nitish Kumar worked wonders in Bihar, liberating the province from the clutches of Lalu dynasty. It was now turn of Shri Narendra Modi to prove his credentials, especially as both VHP and RSS held back their tacit support from Modi over Advani affairs.

Modi was absolutely right to support Advani who had always supported Modi in his hour of need.
Modi attributes his breathtaking success to the people of Gujarat, their maturity and understanding of the integrities of the Indian politics and the grass-root workers of BJP who put in hard work and visited every house to pass on the message of good governance.

Modi’s successful strategy was to give party tickets to young, devoted members of BJP whose names were not tainted by any scandals, especially financial scandals, even though they may not be household names and participating in an election for the first time.

This strategy would have upset many sitting councillors and legislators. But to their credit they accepted party policy without dissent and joined in the celebrations with enthusiasm.

Even those MLAs who have openly expressed their dissatisfaction at Modi’s so-called autocratic rule, joined in the celebrations. It is now more than likely that BJP may adopt this policy for the forthcoming assembly elections, as names of some of the sitting MLAs are tainted with scandals.

BJP captured all five city councils that went to polls and their overall success was 80%; not seen since the heydays of the Congress rule when The above table shows the total domination of BJP, achieved without the devoted support from various Hindu groups. Like Bihar, the people of Gujarat have voted for good governance, putting aside their cultural, religious and caste differences.

As the voting was only 40 per cent, BJP could not have won so easily without the support from ethnic minorities who normally are more active in voting than Hindus. Modi should take this show of confidence as a triumph of his policy and try his best to build bridges with Christian, Muslim and other ethnic minorities who might have felt isolated after the Godhra massacre.

I am sure that the vast majority of the people from Daudi Bhora, Shia Ithna-Asheri, Ahmedia and Ismaili Muslim are patriotic Indians who would like to associate and be a part of dynamic and vibrant Gujarat, under Modi’s able and honest leadership.

It is also important to open a BJP office in every village, settlement and towns, to spread the message. I hope this is the end of caste and religious politics forever in Gujarat.

We welcome comments on any topic or story published in the magazine from our readers.. Your comments should be type-written with the address of the writer and posted to India Link International or sent by email to

Criticism is welcome. But the letters should not be abusive or derogatory of any religious belief, sect, or individual. We reserve the right to summarise or reject any letter on these grounds or for lack of space. - The Editor

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