First International Conference
The First ever International Conference of PIO Parliamentarians was held on 28-29th November 1998.It was inaugurated by the then Prime Minister of India, Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee.34 Parliamentarians from 8 countries including Speaker of Mauritius & 8 Ministers from different countries attended the conference.
While inaugurating the conference on 28th November 1998, the Prime Minister said that India has not forgotten the offsprings of the Indian Immigrants and we are considering a few new measures to make their visit to India easier. he further said that the Government is considering to provide special cards to the PIOs to facilitate their visit and stay in India . He also invited PIOs to invest in India.
The conference discussed dual citizenship, technological opportunities in the next millennium, Indian economy–opportunities & challenges,cultural heritage of India and its message in the different sessions.
The session dealing with dual citizenship was presided over by Shri Indra Kumar Gujral, former Prime Minister of India.Dr. L.M.Singhvi, former High Commissioner of India in U.K. in his key note speech analysed the issue.The PIO Parliamentarians participated in every session and expressed their views freely.
There were three working sessions.The first working session was chaired by Shri Subhash Kashyap, former Secretary General of the Lok Sabha. Other panelists were Prof. Smt.Tara Chadha of Delhi University and ARSP Executive Committee members.
Second session began with Prof. P.V.Inderasan, President Indian National Academy of Engineering.The subject for this session was Technical opportunities in the next millenium.
The last session was devoted to Indian Economy–Opportunities & Challenges. Validictory address was given by Shri Ramesh Jewoolal, Speaker of Mauritius Parliament.Dr. Murli Manohar Joshi, the then Minister for Human Resource Development praised Indian immigrants for spreading the knowledge of Indian philosophy.
Following recommendations were made in this conference.
- An Associations of Parliamentarians of Indian Origin be set up in a permanent capacity with a Secretariat to serve the Association.
- A University be set up in India or, alternately more seats be provided at the Universities to cater especially to the Professional needs of the children of People of Indian origin.
- The Indian Government should consider the possibility of setting up a Department in the External Affairs, Ministry to provide assistance to people of Indian Origin.
- Encouragement be given and opportunities created for the exchange of students between India and countries with PIO population.
- Opportunities be explored to widen the areas of co-operation among countries having population of Indian origin.
- The Indian Government should offer support for all the above and any action or matter that may provide similar goals and objectives in the future.
- This conference created a new awareness among the Parliamentarians of different countries. All the delegates expressed gratitude for such endevour of ARSP which was a great success.
Second International Conference
The Second International Conference focused on the “Role of the PIOs in the development of countries of their domicile–social, cultural, economic and political aspects”. The Conference was inaugurated by Shri Atal Behari Vajpayee, then Prime Minister of India on the 12th February 2000 at the Nehru Museum Auditorium. 35 delegates from 27 countries Ministers, Parliamentarians, Professors, Journalists took part. Several Business men from different walks of life had come to participate in this historic conference and exchange their views and problems confronting them. While inaugurating the conference Shri Atal Behari Vajpayee, Prime Minister said, that “I am happy to be present at this conference on the Contribution of Persons of Indian Origin. I heartily congratulate the Antar-Rashtriya Sahayog Parishad and specially Shri Baleshwar Agrawal, Secretary General of ARSP the whole credit goes to him and his associates.” The Prime Minister said Persons of Indian Origin live in almost every country of the world.They have made their mark in an increasing number of professions and occupations.Wherever they are,they have earned a good name for themselves and for their mother country–India with their hard work,talent and,of course,their loyalty to the country that they are citizens of. Five sessions were held during this conference.The valedictory address was given by Shri Jaswant Singh,Minister for External Affairs,Government of India. He assured the delegates that recommendations of the conference will be given fullest consideration by the Government. The main objective of the organisation was to strenthen the ties of the people of Indian origin with Mother India.This conference recommended reducing the PIO card fee to enable the PIOs to opt for it. It also suggested that a conference of PIOs be organised every two years with the active support by the Government.Dr.L.M.Singhvi, Chairman of the Steering Committee said that the NRI should be cosidered as National Reserve of India. and Government should pay more attention towards them. The delegates noted with satisfaction that the Indian government has belatedly realised the importance of the PIOs and decided to set-up a separate department in the Ministry of External Affairs for all matters concerning them.
Third International Conference
The 3rd International Conference was organised by ARSP, with the 6th GOPIO Convention, in New Delhi on 6th January 2001 at Vigyan Bhawan. Prime Minister of India Shri Atal Behari Vajpayee inaugurated the conference. Dr. P.Kandasamy, President of the GOPIO International was in the Chair. 276 Foreign delegates from more than 25 coutries participated in this conference. Academic session was inaugurated by Dr. Murli Manohar Joshi, the then Minister for Human Resource Development. Shri K.K.Agrawal, Vice Chancellor Guru Gobind Singh Inderprasth University was in the Chair. The Business session was inaugurated by Shri Yashwant Sinha, Finance Minister in the Plenary hall. The Youth session was inaugurated by Ms. Uma Bharati, Minister for Youth & Sports, Government of India.
The following resolutions were passed during this conference.
- GOPIO condemns the overthrow of the democratically elected government in Fiji, headed by Shri Mahendra Choudhary, by a group of criminals. GOPIO urges all international organisations and institutions to mobilize its resources to restore the democratically framed constitution of 1997.
- GOPIO International appeals to the Government of Nepal to act to restore and maintain the centuries old peaceful and harmonious relations among PIOs and various other communities in Nepal.
- GOPIO observes that the issuance of the PIO card by the Government of India is an important measure for facilitating PIOs involvement in India’s economy and PIOs continued nurturing of their Indian cultural Heritage.
- GOPIO urges Government of India to revise the fees for the PIO cards to US $100 instead of US $ 1000, and that their eligibility be not limited to four generations lienage.
- GOPIO urges the Government of India to act soon to start the PIO University which is being pursued since many years. GOPIO further notes that the PIO University will be an important Think Tank Centre for the PIO community.
GOPIO urges Government of India to treat PIOs in Sri Lanka at par with other countries and to extend the facility of PIOs card to them.
- GOPIO reafirms the need to increase the interaction of PIOs in the Caribbean countries with India. It urges all possible efforts by Government of India to facilitate the establishment of direct flights from Caribbean countries to India
Fourth International Conference
The Second P.I.O. Parliamentarians Conference was organised by the ARSP on the 10th & 11th January 2003. This conference was inaugurated by the Vice President of India Shri Bhairon Singh Shekhawat on Friday 10th January 2003 in the Parliament House Annexe. Sir Aneroodh Jugnauth, then Prime Minister of Mauritius was the Chief Guest. 59 Parliamentarians from different countries participated in this programme. Prominent among the foreign Parliamentarians were Shri Mahendra Choudhry, former Prime Minister of Fiji, Dato Seri S.Samy Vellu, Minister from Malaysia, Shri George Shiuraj, Minister from Fiji and Mr.Premnath Ramnah, Speaker from Mauritius. Dr. Mrs.Linda Baboolal, Chairperson of Trinidad & Tobago Senate. Prominent participants from India were Mrs.Sushma Swaraj, the then I. & B. Minister, Shri Digvijay Singh, State Minister for External Affairs, Mrs. Najma Heptullah, Deputy Chairperson of Rajya Sabha, Shri Ved Prakash Goel, former Minister for Shipping & others.
The following recommendations were made in this conference.
That the Government of India may further strengthen its efforts in meeting the cultural aspirations of the PIOs particularly in those countries and areas where they are in large numbers. The conference notes with appreciation the statement made by the Chairman of the ICCR, Mrs. Najma Heptulla, pledging full cultural support of the ICCR in this direction. The conference appreciates the positive actions of the Government of India, under the leadership of Prime Minister Shri Atal Behari Vajpayee, in announcing its commitment to grant dual citizenship benifits, celebrating Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, honouring eminent PIOs with Pravasi Bharatiya Samman;, setting up a separate Division for looking after issues concerning the overseas Indians and other similar initiatives , The Conference appeals to the Government of India to consider nominating five representatives of the Indian diaspora to the Indian Parliament; The ARSP will consider setting up an institutional framework to look after work relating to the PIO Parliamentarians conferences and for this a Global Advisory Committee may be set up. ARSP further requests the government to assist ARSP in this task. That a formal communication system such as a newsletter for circulating among PIO Parliamentarians may be devised by the proposed institutional set up. That a directory giving details of elected representatives of the Indian diaspora including Parliament members, members of assemblies, municipalities and corportations may be developed and put on internet. That the Government of India may consider allocating seats in the medical and other technical Institutions in India exclusively earmarked for the PIO’s in the diaspora countries as announced by the Government of India for NRIs. The conference resolves that the elected representatives of the PIOs will do their best in developing co-operation between India and diaspora countries in the fields of Tourism, Education, Business and Trade to the mutual advantage of India and these countries.