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April - May 2004

Political News

Significance Of Pravasi Bharatiya Divas Celebrations

by Jatindra Saha

This year the second Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas celebration took place between January 9 and January 11 at New Delhi. The first celebration was held at the same time last year. Areport on this years celebrations was published in the Feb/March issue of this magazine. January 9 is very significant because it was on this day that Mahatama Gandhi returned to his homeland from South Africa to start the movement for Independent India. As a participant in this year's event I feel it was a great success. I understand that it is going to be an annual event. If one considers its aims and objectives, it deserves to be celebrated every year.

It is an event designed to bring about get together meetings between people of Indian origin from all over the world. It is estimated that the Indian Diaspora will be more than 20 million spread over 100 countries in five continents. Many of them were transported as indentured laborers as far back as 1845 in far flung places like Trinidad and Guyana. Because of atrocious conditions of the journey and the harsh treatment they received from their masters, some of them never arrived at the place they dreamt of. They were perished on the way and their bodies were simply thrown overboard.
Today the situation is very different. Their third and fourth generations are proud citizens of their adopted homelands. Many of them have done very well indeed. In laces like Trinidad, Guyana and Mauritius they are in control of their country's economy. Educationally they appear to be the most advanced amongst all the people that inhabit these places. What is most astonishing is that despite being separated form their place of origin for such a long period of time they have retained the Indian culture and heritage from their forefathers. This is a direct proof of the greatness and resilience of all things Indian!
The story of recent arrivals form India to countries such as Canada, Australia, the UK, USA and indeed other western countries is very encouraging. In the UK, Indians are amongst the highest in educational achievement. The average Indian income is almost the same as that of the indigenous British and in some specific cases it is even better. In the USA, the average Indian income is 50% higher than the average American income, 37% of the Indians living there hold higher educational qualifications such as MA, Ph.D., MEng, MBBS etc. The same figure for the whole of America is about 5%. These are staggering statistics to say the least.The statistic for immigrants of Indian origin living in other western countries are likely to be similar if not the same.
People of Indian origin visit India regularly on an individual basis; however since Independence there has not been any formal interaction between India and the Diaspora as a whole. It needed a BJP leader and prime minister of India, Atal Behari Vajpayee to initiate such an event bring together the entire Indian Diaspora, irrespective of their religious affiliation and political orientation. The so called secular and progressive political leaders of India have ignored the Diaspora for the last 50 years..........

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