Pravasi Bharatiya Divas is indeed the world’s greatest overseas Indian show. The people behind the meet and the founders of the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (Club India) must be commended for creating a platform for Indians to meet and brainstorm. With larger numbers of Indians moving (besides migrating) worldwide for business, employment and pleasure, there will be more—not fewer—race issues. That’s where PBD can make a difference.
PBD is a platform where the best minds of the Indian diaspora come together. In fact Prime Minister Manmohan Singh spoke of the creation of the autonomous and non-profit India Development Foundation. The government has also decided to set up a Council of Overseas Employment to serve as a strategic think tank.
Perhaps the most significant impact of PBD has been the creation of the Overseas Workers Resource Centre—a forum to provide information and assistance to potential migrant workers and operate a multi-lingual helpline for grievance redress and intervention for workers in distress away from home. The Indian diaspora is a pluralistic community and the security and welfare of Indians living abroad is a top priority.
Plight of the kiwi
Your article about New Zealand in the January issue has prompted me to write this letter. As a third generation New Zealand Indian I would like to point out that Indians have been living in NZ for nearly a century now. These early pioneers (mainly from India) challenged racism, hostility, physical and mental hardship to contribute to a nation building an identity. To this day Indians have lived harmoniously and integrated into the wider community and in most instances, over time have prospered. Immigrants to any country will encounter disappointment and elements of negativity, especially if they have come with preconceived ideas and expectations. As in any country NZ has its share of social problems.
The January issue of your magazine is the first I have encountered and while there is much to commend I would encourage your NZ reporter to at least research the history of NZ Indians before giving a glimpse of what he calls the Promised Land.
Consulting Editor Rakesh K. Simha who put the together story from Auckland is currently covering the US elections. He replies:
My story, ‘Promised Land? Not Quite Mate’, is based on real life experiences of Indians I met in New Zealand. Mr Patel seems to be under the impression that my facts are not quite kosher. Well, all my statistics are gleaned from New Zealand newspapers and are freely available on the internet. I have only pointed out the (often difficult) circumstances new migrants have to face in the country.
The fact remains that the quality of Indians in New Zealand is several notches below that of Indians in America. Also, New Zealand’s is an extremely small economy and has few white collar jobs to offer even its own citizens. For instance, the country produces a fresh batch of geologists each year. However, only a few of them find employment in their field. Where do the rest go? Supermarket would be a good guess.