Before bidding goodbye to 2007, here is my list of top 10 NRI newsmakers - the achievers and those who suffered.
The selection is subjective, based on news value and the degree of interest and concern to NRIs.
1. Sunita Williams: As a woman and an NRI, she made everyone proud with her new record for the longest uninterrupted space flight by a woman in June. "Planet Earth looks beautiful from space. There are no borders on the Earth," she said, recounting her space experience of 195-days aboard the space shuttle Discovery. The Shuttle's re-entry held everyone on edge but its smooth landing made history. Reminding Indians about the late Kalpana Chawla, Sunita visited India in September and made news wherever she went.
2. Bobby Jindal: In October, the 36-year-old Jindal became the youngest US governor of a state in the US and the first chief executive of any state who is of Indian-American descent. He won convincingly against heavy odds by over 50 per cent of the primary votes against a field of 12 candidates. Now, can an NRI in the US dream of the White House?
3. Sir Salman Rushdie: In June, the Queen knighted him for his services to English literature. Rushdie went into hiding and was in police protection in 1989 under threat of death after an Iranian fatwa as his book The Satanic Verses offended Muslims worldwide and a bounty was placed on his head. He returned to public life in 1999 and has remained a secularist. This year, he was separated from his wife, the model Padma Lakshmi.
4. Dr Haneef Mohammed: The Indian doctor working in Australia made headlines when he was accused of involvement with terrorist bombers in Britain. His distant cousin, Kafeel Ahmed, had crashed a burning Jeep Cherokee into the terminal at Glasgow's international airport. He was freed in July and returned to India. Later in December, he was allowed to return to Australia. He is currently performing the annual Haj pilgrimage in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, with his wife and mother.
5. Ugandan Indians: They came under attack from African protestors in April reminding the world of the programme by the late dictator Idi Amin. Two Indians were killed and some others injured in Jinja and Kampala. But peace was restored soon and Indians continue to work and live there.
6. Mother India: Celebrated 60 years of independence in August with great fanfare in every country where NRIs live. NRIs across the world held their heads high in pride celebrating her achievements in the six decades. The new status of India as a 'soft' super power on the global scene with its vibrant democracy and economic progress were hailed.
7. Indian Doctors in Britain: Around 15,000 doctors have been fighting an immigration law abolishing permit-free training for overseas doctors, mainly Indians. They have been embroiled in a long legal fight for almost two years to force the British government to treat non-European Union medics at par with Europeans. The legal battle affects 3,000 international medical graduates, mostly Indian, who were able to secure jobs in August. But many thousands did not and some thousands have left for India, which brings the number of affected Indian doctors down from 15,000.
8. NRI Investor in India: Reaped high returns when the Sensex touched 20,000 and also made a killing on the Indian stock exchange with the Subprime financial crisis in the West. The Indian economy crossed the $1 trillion mark and continued with its nine per cent growth rate - standing up global downturns. The strong domestic demand and exports resulted in high dividends for NRI investors.
9. Malaysian Indians: Attacked in December when they launched peaceful protests in Kuala Lumpur demanding compensation from Britain for decades of discrimination. Many were injured and also imprisoned but released later. Originally brought by British rulers to work on rubber plantations, their Hindu descendants organised these marches to highlight their demand for four trillion dollars. After the government's high-handed response to Indians, Indian tourists to Malaysia may rethink over their plans.
10. Vayalar Ravi: India's minister for overseas Indian affairs has been constantly visiting countries with significant NRI populations. As a native of Kerala, he has accorded high priority to Indians in the Gulf Region, where millions of Keralites have gone to work. He hammered out measures to ease their working conditions. His pet projects, an NRI University and an NRI Centre in Delhi, are progressing to cheer NRIs.
So there you have it! If you think some major NRI news, positive or negative, has been left out, write in so that another list can be compiled....after all, there is no dearth of NRI newsmakers!
(Kul Bhushan previously worked abroad as a newspaper editor and has travelled to over 55 countries. He lives in New Delhi and can be contacted at: email@example.com )