BY ASHOOK RAMSARAN
IIt is evident that Non-resident Indians (NRIs) and Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs) who were born, recently migrated or domi- ciled in other countries feel inherently connected to India by the
bonds of history, culture and heritage, and have significantly added
to the level of resurgence of India. While many NRIs and PIOs have
made numerous remarkable achievements and settled in prominent
positions in their adopted lands and have contributed significantly to
the countries of their adoption, they have also collectively contributed
to India’s transformation of growth and development.
NRIs and PIOs in USA comprise a rapidly increasing population exceeding 4 million, the
single largest NRI/PIO diaspora community in the world and a continuing trend. There are
prominent achievers and contributors in all segments of US society, innovators in technology, and among the highest per capita of all segments of US society: High technology (Silicon
Valley), medical and professional, academia, media, finance, legal, political, business and
investments, culture, hotel/motel hospitality, pharmaceutical, etc.
While there is also a new generation of NRIs and PIOs well integrated in US society at all
levels, there is strong interest among NRIs and PIOs in USA to strengthen the relations
between Indian and USA. There is also a strong interest among NRIs and PIOs in USA for
more progress in India internally for good governance, accountability at all levels, quality
education to all children, health services, clean water supply, updated sanitation and social
services, equitable treatment of women and children, uplifting the poor and downtrodden
and taking pride in quality of services. There is euphoria among NRIs and PIOs in USA about
the recent political change in India and anticipation of stronger partnership between India
and USA. India-USA relationship potentially can be the cornerstone of much needed global
strategic interests and regional stability.
OUTLOOK FOR THE INDIAN DIASPORA TO STRENGTHEN INDIA-US RELATIONS: Opportunities
abound for enhancing the partnership between India and the USA. In particular, the NRIs
and PIOs in USA can provide increased impetus and more actively engage elements of economic and social growth to further strengthen the relationship between India and USA.
While many aspects of this partnership are in place and producing increasingly good results,
the opportunities exist for many fold increase in all segments of economic, social and strategic interests.
SOME RECOMMENDATIONS INCLUDE:
* Establishment of a national “US Indian Diaspora Think Tank” comprising high caliber
individual who can contribute objectively to a very progressive agenda for “Strengthening
*Establish an agenda driven, professional national lobby non-political group for the interests of India-US relations and engage in the political process of electing NRIs and PIOs to
*Promote the benefits and regional and international peace dividends in strong India-US
*Advance more regular interaction among Indian officials with NRIs and PIOs in USA,
including webinars and interactive physical and on-line community meetings.
*Invite more US officials and others to meet with officials from India during visits to the
USA. Encourage, embrace and enhance the working relationships.
*Encourage more bilateral visits between India and USA: Political, Economic, Academic,
Strategic, Cultural, etc, - including non- Indian participants at the annual Pravasi Bharatiya
*NRIs and PIOs in USA should insist on expedient and efficient consular services for
passports, OCI/PIO cards and visas especially to PIO youths and non-Indians wanting to
visit, work, research and invest in India.
*NRIs and PIOs in USA should be more encouraged to support more social causes and
projects other than Indian Diaspora projects, as well as be creative and visionary in advancing beneficial causes.
*Be actively engaged in US society by collaborating and support of public programs and
other groups on immigration issues, education, crime, race issues, etc.
*Organize more high and medium level meetings, seminars, symposia, conferences on
community, social and bi-lateral issues of interest, benefits and concern.
*NRIs and PIOs in USA to be more vocal with India on issues of interest and concern
among the 4+ million NRIs and PIOs in USA, such as NRI property rights, fair, equitable and
expedient legal processes.
*Sustained campaigns to engage the NRI and PIO youths in USA towards more understanding, education, appreciation and promotion of Indian culture while not compromising
(Ashook Ramsaran is President of GOPIO International. He was born in Guyana, a
third generation of Indian indentured laborers who came to Guyana in 1853. He resides in
New York, USA with his family. Ramsaran collaborates with governments, organizations
and institutions on Indian Diaspora matters and was accorded India’s Pravasi Samman
Award in 2011.)
Diaspora’s role in enhancing US-India relations
Rajendra Vattikuti -- donated $40 million in 2001 to support cancer research. Monte Ahuja
and his wife donated $30 million to University Hospital in Cleveland for the Ahuja Medical
Gururaj Deshpande and his wife donated $20 million in 2002 for Deshpande Center for
Technology Innovation at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dr Kiran Patel and his
wife gave $18.5 million in 2005 to the University of South Florida for the Kiran C Patel Center.
In October 2012, they donated $12 million for Patel College of Global Sustainability. Raj
Soin, chairman of MTC Technologies in Dayton, Ohio donated $20 million to establish Raj
Soin College of Business at Wright State University. Krishna P. Singh, founder, president and
chief executive officer of Holtec International in Marlton, New Jersey, gifted $20 million to
the University of Pennsylvania for Krishna P. Singh Center for Nanotechnology. Dallas based
Indian American entrepreneurs Satish and Yasmin Gupta donated $12 million to University
of Dallas. Krishan Joshi, established the Krishan and Vicky Joshi Research Center in 2006
at the Wright State University College of Engineering and Computer Science with his donation of $10 million. Anil Deshpande, President, Deshpande Inc., has given a $10 million gift
to the University of Central Florida for center of Indian studies. John P. Kapoor, donated
$10.8 million to the University of Buffalo; $5 million in 2000 and $5.8 million in May 2008.
Kanwal Rekhi gifted $5 million to Michigan Technological University for the Kanwal and
Ann Rekhi Computer Science Hall.
Several Indian Americans have established chairs in American universities. Such programs
are in existence at Columbia, Harvard, University of Pennsylvania, University of Texas at
Austin, University of California at Berkeley, University of California at Los Angeles, University
of Chicago, Indiana University, State University of New York at Stony Brook and at several
other universities. There are many more Indian Americans who continue to give their charitable donations for poverty alleviation, healthcare, educational and other projects .
(Inder Singh is chairman of Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO);
served as GOPIO’ president from 2004-09; president of National Federation of Indian
American Associations (NFIA) from 1988-92 and chairman from 1992-96. He is author of
The Gadar Heroics - life sketches of over 50 Gadar heroes.)
To US and India, Indians contribute liberally
...Continued from page 9
India Abroad September 2014 Response Feature S17