Welcome SPEECH

DR. THOMAS ABRAHAM

 

CHAIRMAN, GOPIO INTERNATIONAL

 

to the  GOPIO Conference on  

NRI/PIO Business Networking for Trade and Investment and Contribution of Indian Diaspora in Europe

4 October 2004, Brussels (Belgium)

 

On behalf of GOPIO, I extend you a warm welcome to GOPIO’s European Conference on Trade and Investment.. It is over fifteen years since GOPIO was formed in New York at the First Global Convention of People of Indian Origin held in 1989 under the Chief Patronship of the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.. The convention was a historic event for people of Indian origin (PIO) living outside India. It brought together our community leaders, academicians, businessmen and political leaders from 26 countries. GOPIO was formed at this convention and we had several milestones and accomplishments in the last fifteen years. My colleague and GOPIO President will speak more about GOPIO soon.

Friends, it was last year December when many of us joined here for a seminar titled Advantages India organized by GOPIO-Belgium under the able leadership of its president Sunil Prasad. At the conclusion of this meeting, we made a suggestion to Sunil to expand it to a European conference this year. Sunil and his team worked very hard to put together conference and I thank and compliment them for their hard work to organize a very successful conference.

Friends, we have over 3 million people of Indian origin living in Europe who have made substantial contribution in profession, business and cultural milieu of Europe. However, the European PIO community is yet to be recognized. Similar to what Indian Americans have contributed to the economic prosperity of America, especially in the new technology areas, the same thing could be accomplished in Europe, provided the Europe opens up its door for new talents. Therefore, GOPIO at this meeting calls upon European Union and respective countries of Europe to give due recognition to the contributions of Indians in Europe and remedy the current imbalance and allow legal immigration of Indians to countries of Europe. We also call upon the European Union and countries in Europe to develop a stronger economic partnership with India and its business sector. GOPIO is extremely happy to see that there is a big business delegation which has joined us for this conference.

As we are launching the Europe-India Chamber of Commerce this afternoon, I am sure it will go a long way in building a strong network of PIO businessmen and professionals in Europe. We hope that this networking will help to get more supporters for the PIO community and India in the European Union. We in the US are proud to say that India Caucus in the US Congress has over 140 Congressmen and Congresswomen, which is the highest for an interest group in the US Congress. And now we have an India Caucus in the US Senate. I call upon our community in Europe to help Charles Tannock and other MEPs Niranjan Deva and Neena Gill to increase the number of MEPs in Friends of India Group in the European parliament. Thank you Mr. Tannock for heading this effort.

Finally, I would like to thank Minister Jagdish Tytler for joining us this morning to inaugurate this conference. It was in the year 2000 when GOPIO had its convention in Zurich where we passed a resolution urging Govt. of India to set up a Ministry for Overseas Indian Affairs. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh fulfilled this request, and now we can work closely with Minister Tytler on issues concerning NRIs and PIOs as well as developing closer cooperation with India.

Once again I extend to you a warm welcome and I wish you a profitable and enjoyable stay.   

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