GLOBAL ORGANIZATION OF PEOLE OF INDINA ORIGIN (GOPIO)
REPORT FROM THE PRESIDENT
Dr. Thomas Abraham
P.O. Box 1413, Stamford, CT 06904, USA
Tel: 203.329-8010, Fax: 203/322-2233
E-mail: email@example.com. Web: www.gopio.net
GOPIO Convention Council Meeting
July 23, 2000
I am pleased to present this report at the Convention Council meeting. I had presented a detailed report at GOPIO’s 10th Anniversary Celebrations and Global Convention 1999 in New York. Since we have many new faces here, I would briefly go through the past activities to make an assessment of our previous activities and to develop GOPIO strategy for the future. I have listed all major activities in the last page of this handout.
Since the inception of Steering Committee, it took us four years to develop a constitution and conduct an election. However, after the election, the Executive committee did not function at all. We tried to call meetings four times from 1994 to 1999, but the meetings had to be canceled. People had always some excuses for not turning up. The GOPIO was almost going to be history, had it not been the commitment of our volunteers from the New York area to keep it going. Its revival started from 1997 when we organized three major conferences, one each month for three months to celebrate India’s 50th anniversary of Independence. Since then it was going for GOPIO with a major conference in India "Changing Role of Indian Women Worldwide," in Mumbai in late 1997, a highly successful meeting organized by our Secretary General Dr. Jagat Motwani and Mr. Ashok Motwani who served as our International Coordinator.
The major turning point was GOPIO’s 10th Anniversary Celebrations and GOPIO Convention 2000 in New York last September. We attracted delegates from 18 countries and ambassadors from many countries with large PIO population, Fiji, Mauritius and Guyana. The convention was inaugurated by President Bharat Jagdeo of Fiji and keynote address was delivered by Mrs. Kamla Persad-Bissessar, Minister of Law in Trinidad and Tobago. The convention passed several resolutions and gave a mandate to the Secretariat to start GOPIO Business Council, which we accomplished early this year.
GOPIO’s success in the last six years can only be attributed to the Secretariat members. We worked as a team, met almost every month since 1998 and worked hard to bring back the activities of GOPIO. I would like to recognize the members of the Secretariat, Dr. Jagat Motwani - Secretary General - Dr. Sushila Gidwani-Buschi, Treasurer, Mr. Jaswant Mody - Associate Secretary, and the following members, Ms. Sudha Acharya, Mr. Ramesh Kalicharan who also served as our Caribbean Coordinator. Since the Executive committee was not functioning, the General Body meeting added four more members at the last convention to expand GOPIO activities to different communities. They are: Mr. Ashook Ramsaran (originally from Guyana), Mr. Prakash Singh (originally from Guyana), Mrs. Bhanu Dwarika (originally from Trinidad and Tobago) and Dr. Asha Samant (originally from India). We were also assisted by two international coordinators, Mr. Dharmatma Saran from New York and Mr. Ashok Motwani from Mumbai.
After we assumed office in 1994, I had sent letters to all Regional VPs to set up the country chapters and to collect the annual fees from each country chapter. However, none of the VPs could implemented them. I may point out here that the constitution we adopted was not a workable constitution. Here, even if collect the prescribed fee from the country chapters, one cannot run a global organization with that small amount.
All the finance was provide by GOPIO America. We had to revert back to our original concept of individual life members and collect funding from those who believe in the cause. Even for the future, I don’t see any other way to raise funds other than our Life Membership. Therefore, we need to amend the constitution to include the Life Members to the General Body.
We are registered in the U.S. as a tax-exempt non-profit organization. Our Treasurer has done a great job in filing appropriate papers to the Internal Revenue Service. We were tentatively approved as a registered charitable organization in 1994 and final approval came in 1998. Therefore, any contribution in the U.S. is exempt from personal income tax and we have maintained this status every year since 1994.
A young engineer Mr. Prashant Gupta who works for Motorola is our webmaster. He has done a great job in updating our website, www.gopio.net. Slowly, our website is becoming very popular. Also, we are reaching a large number of people through E-mail. Therefore, it has become much easier to organize future conventions and other GOPIO activities.
GOPIO Business Council
With the mandate from the General Body meeting of GOPIO Convention 1999, the Secretariat initiated the Business Council. It was inaugurated on April 7th with a dinner and attended by India’s Counsul General, Ambassadors from Fiji and Mauritius and prominent businessmen. The Secretariat appointed Mr. Chander Khurana as its Chairman with Prof. Parveen Chopra and Mr. Ashook Ramsaran as its Co-Chairmen. The Council should be organized on an international level at this meeting.
OTHER COMMUNTY SERVICE INITIATIVES
GOPIO organized two conferences, one on issues Indian senior citizens and other for providing social services to the community. Both resulted in the formation of "National Indian American Association for Senior Citizens" and "South Asian Council for Social Services." Both these groups are in a position to share their experience to those in other countries.
Within two hours of the coup in Fiji, GOPIO issued a statement condemning the coup and telling in strong words that if they do not release the hostages and restore the democratically elected government, the 22 million Indian community will campaign economic boycott of Fiji. We got over 200 e-mail from all over the world. We also campaigned with the State Department and White House to issue strong statement against the coup. We are very glad our message reached most of the Indo-Fijians and GOPIO should take the Fijian crisis not as an Indo-Fijian issue but as an issue for the whole PIO community.
Currently there are chapters in New Delhi and Mumbai. With this convention, well organized by the Switzerland community, the convention organizers should form GOPIO Switzerland.
I also want to make point that our constitution should be changed such that for large countries, the chapters should be based on the cities. Where the physical distance is higher, the chapters can be effectively organized only based on the geographical area of a large concentration of PIOs. The most important aspect of these chapters should be that our people coming from different countries should meet under the GOPIO banner irrespective where they are born. Where ever there are more than one chapter in a country, the chapter presidents should meet together and decide amongst themselves who should serve as the country chapter president for a term..
The best ongoing activities for GOPIO chapters are dinner/talk. The speakers could be from India and community and political leaders from PIO dominated countries. GOPIO America has effectively done this for the last 6 years. It should be an ongoing basis. The chapters should also be involved with other local Indian organizations for effectively campaigning and educating our people on issues.
One of the biggest achievements for GOPIO has been building networking. We have also been successful in building networking on the net too.
LOOKING TO THE FUTURE
Looking back from 1989, it was in idea, then selling the idea by traveling to various parts of the world, then the First Convention, adopting a constitution, looking for issues where the community can be brought on a common platform, the gestation period and now taking off. However, there is lot of work to be done. We need volunteers who can devote time and money for the sake of our community. Other than campaigning on issues and making an active Business Council, I see the following opportunities in the next three years.
1. Global Convention 2001
2. A Gobal Meeting of Indian Entrepreneurs
3. Regional Convention in Australia
4. Regional Convention in Trinidad and Tobago