GOPIO : 20th Anniversary

A Good Score

For the first time in twenty years the presidency of the GOPIO presidency goes to Europe. At the recently concluded 20th Anniversary Celebration and Convention 2009 in New York, Lord Diljit Rana, member of UK House of Lords, was elected president and CEO of GOPIO Int’l. GOPIO President Inder Singh was elevated to head the international body while Ashook Ramsaran, Guyana born, was elected as the Executive Vice President.

Inder Singh headed the world body for over five years and made far reaching changes in its structure and functioning. GOPIO started as a delegate based organization; one delegate per country. In 2004, Singh was elected president. By then, the number of active delegates had dwindled down to one-fourth of the original twenty five. He convinced the GOPIO board to adopt Rotary International model of chapters in lieu of UNO model of one delegate per country.

Since 2004, the GOPIO leadership has been aggressively establishing chapters in various countries and cities with NRI/PIO population, with the primary objective of service to the local community. Singh visited many countries and convinced many people to take the leadership challenge by starting GOPIO chapters. The consistent and continuous hard work during the last five years has resulted in the formation of over sixty chapters in the US and other parts of the world.

The new GOPIO team

During the first fourteen years, GOPIO’s decision making body, the General Council comprised of twenty five delegates, each representing a country. Since 2004, the chapter presidents and GOPIO International life members are now the delegates for the General Council. In addition, several organizational changes were made to accommodate expansion. Many operational procedures were also implemented to streamline the functioning of the growing world body. With the increase in the number of chapters and their activities at local level and involvement of more volunteers, the new GOPIO widened its outreach and enlarged its activities manifold.

In some cities, GOPIO chapter launch has been done with great pomp and show. In Trinidad, GOPIO launch was presided over by the country’s deputy prime minister, in Sydney, a cabinet level minister inaugurated the launch while in New Zealand, prime minister Helen Clark attend the launch banquet along with her two cabinet colleagues.

During his visit to various countries, Singh made special efforts to meet with those countries’ high ranking officials. In Trinidad, he met with Deputy Prime Minister Lenny Saith, President Richards Maxwell and Opposition leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar. In Guyana, he met with president Bharrat Jagdeo and Prime Minister Samuel Hinds. In Suriname, he met with all four ministers of Indian origin. The main objective of meeting with the high officials was to seek their support in GOPIO’s fight for the rights, issues and concerns of the global Indian community and assure them that GOPIO is non-political with primary aim to network the global Indian Diaspora. And to advance that objective, GOPIO has been at the forefront to network the globally spread overseas Indian community by regularly organizing conferences in various parts of the world, which provide an active and well recognized platform for dialogue and discussion to the worldwide Indian Diaspora. 

There are many GOPIO accomplishments which have benefited the global Indian Diaspora. GOPIO fought against human rights violation of overseas Indians through media campaign, demonstrations and even filing cases with the United Nations Human Rights Council. It campaigned for the grant of dual nationality which the Government of India agreed to give in the form of People of Indian Origin (PIO) card in 2002 and then Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) certificate in 2006 and the creation of a separate ministry for NRIs/PIOs, which the Government of India established in 2004. GOPIO continues to take up issues and concerns of the NRI/PIO communities and lobbies for their resolutions.

September 2009

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