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NRIs rue...What is PBD? Just shaking hands!

More and more angry faces are visible with each passing session at the NRIs' meet, reports Vibhuti Agarwal.

india Updated: Jan 09, 2006 19:53 IST

It's the final day of the 4th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas.

With each passing session, more and more angry faces are visible, agitated at seeing poignant speeches turn into sermons.

The irritation became evident when several NRIs very vocally announced that nobody was willing to listen to them.

"What is Pravasi Bharatiya Divas? Is it a platform, which focuses entirely on hand-shaking? The PBD is a concept, which lacks directive. I don't mind spending $25,000 but should be able to reap some good proceeds at least. Here, I don't see returns worth even $1," says an agitated Vijay Kohli, President, American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI).

Kohli believes the callous approach of the government was the primary cause for the low turn-out of the NRIs and PIOs this year.

"There were more pamphlets than delegates at the sprawling campus, housing the prestigious meet. The newly-created ministry (MOIA) should have been more meticulous in their approach. Instead of lengthy plenary sessions, the focus should have been more on interaction and exchange of dialogue. Nobody wants to stay back for cultural evenings and Bollywood shows," he says.

Likewise, Vasudha Sondhi, Vice-President, HRH Group of Hotels feels that her trip tuned out to be a total waste of time and money.

"Nothing much is happening here. PBD in Hyderabad is not a good idea. I feel Mumbai would have been a better option in terms of logistics and mindset. Instead of business and buyer-seller meet taking place, I can just see people wandering around. It is true that one should work hard and play hard. But there should have been more prefixed appointments and a better format should have been followed," says Sondhi.

Vasudha asserts that an event carves a niche for itself and PBD has miserably failed on this front. "Thankfully, I don't have to bear the torture of the final day as I'm leaving. It's sad people spend money and get nothing concrete in return."

Pawan Kumar Kaushik, an NRI from Taiwan, like most of his compatriots was very disappointed.

"We are Pravasis and not even allowed to speak. The MOIA thinks that they are gods. If they are asking for our feedback, it is like the seventh wonder happening. These ministers are our servants and they should take criticism with a right spirit."

As far as the concessions and sops offered by the government are concerned, the NRIs find the concept very feeble.

"The dual citizenship offered by the government to the NRIs has no teeth in it. Infact, it is a lethal weapon, a double-edged sword, which creates problems in both the countries. I have to use visa inspite of the 'great benefit'. I feel the dual citizenship by Pakistan offers a whole lot of advantages," believes an NRI from Guyana, Yesu Persaud, Chairman Demerara Distillers Ltd.

Several others complained that at the time of registration their names were missing from the list of Pravasis and now for over two days, they 'have been listening, listening, and listening.'

"It completely turns you off. The emigration process was really slack and there were no proper officials to assist us. We did not even get proper itinerary. If you call this development of the IT city, I think it's happening at the snail's pace," expresses a disillusioned Persaud.

AV Mohan Rao, Chairman ST-CLI Coal Washeries Ltd and his wife complained that they had been forced to spend money by Indian ambassadors in their country with no substantial end result of the conclave.

"The forum should concentrate more on solving NRI problems. Instead, they face discrimination by various organisations. I am the first NRI to start a power project called Spectra Power Project in 1992. But sadly faced favouritism by IDBI. When we get into trouble, we are moved to courts in India. The government should do more to eradicate such potholes in the system," expresses Rao.

The PBD finally enters into the last phase as the NRIs were upset over the entire affair and some of them vowed never to attend any other Pravasi meet.

Mohan Jain, an NRI from Chicago believes, "We taught the world what the Indian culture and religion is all about. But the hard reality is that talking of prosperity, we are zero. India has no work pattern. The IT, sales structure is very slack. The government merely wants the NRIs to come, invest and go away. India has to set focus, designate days out of 365 and systematize the entire process. What can be done from outside can also be accomplished from within the country itself."

First Published: Jan 09, 2006 11:11 IST