Fly away home
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Fly away home

After Thanksgiving, it is a non-stop holiday time till the New Year. Taking advantage of this break, the Indians head for home, writes Gurmukh Singh.

india Updated: Dec 17, 2005 15:44 IST

After Thanksgiving, it is virtually a non-stop holiday season here till the New Year. Taking advantage of this break, the Indians settled here head home—means their native India.

Flights leaving India may not be full these days, but those landing at India's international airports in the midst of night are almost full.

Another reasons for the Indians to head home during this time of the year is the severity of winter. So many prefer to spend these cold months with their folks back in India.

Till some time ago, it was estimated that more than 60,000 people from Canada travelled to India each year. The figure might have gone up considerably now that Toronto is directly connected with India by non-stop flights.

Yet another reason for many to travel to India during this time is the so-called NRI mela season.

For years, many individuals and organisations have been bringing the overseas Indians to these `melas' in New Delhi and elsewhere.

Four years ago, when India was 'shining'the government under Atal Behari Vajpayee also held its own mela -- the first Parvasi Bharatiya Divas -- to recognise its sons and daughters abroad.

Ten prominent NRIs, who had made their mark in their adopted lands and raised India's profile in the world, were honoured on the occasion. Apna Ujjal Dosanjh was one among those honoured by India.

Of course, it is another matter that just about every participant in the Divas considered himself to be worthy of this honour. The chaos left a bitter taste in the mouth for the organisers.

Things were no different at the second Parvasi Divas. Whosoever mattered in the corridors of power in Delhi pushed for their favourites to be accommodated in the list of those to be honoured. Funnily enough, a Punjabi leader in New Delhi -- who is more of a Machiavelli than anyone's representative -- reportedly fought for his ``choice'' and got his way!

As a socio-psychologist friend of mine in Delhi suggested at the time, the Indian mind is wired hierarchically. Indians, whether they live in Peru or Patna, think ``vertically''. No Indian wants to be viewed as ``one among'' others. He wants to be viewed as ``one of'' them.

Hence the craze for recognition.

Since this craze doesn't get fulfilled in the west, they run to India to get this "recognition" -- whether they are MPs or MLAs or ordinary guys.

Who is bothered about the credentials of the organisations or individuals conferring these awards. Taking advantage of this craze among NRIs, many organisations have sprung up in India over the years to bestow ``honours'' on oversea Indians.

How much "honourable'' these honours are and how they are decided is simply laughable.

I remember reading a news item in Vancouver's Indo-Canadian weekly last year about an Indo-Canadian man who had been honoured by an organisation in India.

Everyone knows that this organisation is very dubious. It charges a handsome amount to give you the so-called (?) prize. But these worthies from across the seven seas are willing to shell out that amount willingly. After all, they are being ``honoured''. Mind you, this award has nothing to do with the government. The mere presence of one or two politicians or ministers doesn't make it an official award.

But this gullible man claimed that he was honoured by the government of India. He didn't know a damn thing about the organisation and its award. And the organisation didn't know a damn thing about this man. But it served his purpose to impress the gullible. And it served the purpose of the organisation to make a few hundred dollars off him.

Floating this kind of organisations has become a habit with Indians wherever they are. Celebrities and political leaders are more than willing to ``grace'' (or disgrace?) such occasions. So the whole exercise of money-making and award-giving seems to have a ring of authenticity about it.

But it is actually nothing. It is fake. And I have met people flaunting these awards.

Now I am told that some people are planning summits of NRI entrepreneurs. A great money-spinning idea!

Gullibility thy name is NRI!

First Published: Dec 11, 2005 00:00 IST