PBD - lectures and nothing concrete?
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PBD - lectures and nothing concrete?

Not everyone is enamoured of the upcoming Pravasi Bharatiya Divas.

india Updated: Jan 06, 2006 17:25 IST

Not everyone is enamoured of the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) - the fourth Indian diaspora meet opening Saturday in Hyderabad.

Some have become jaded by it just a few years into the celebration of non-residents by Indians back home, according to one such disillusioned member, the respected physician in Greater Washington, Dr Navin Shah.

Shah is one who has over the decades fostered many projects and programmes in India, especially if they had anything to do with improving medical health services ranging from library to trauma centres.

"I will be in India during the Pravasi Divas, but I will not be going. I attended earlier ones and I find that it is a waste of time," Shah told the agency in an interview.

"They are not interested in what we have to offer or what we can do. Instead they give lectures about India by ministers, and others, and some of their handpicked Indian businesses who are trying to promote their businesses, rather than help India to prosper through NRIs," he complained.

Now, while some may think Shah is "talking down" to Indians in India that would be too quick an assumption.

The slight, soft-spoken urologist, who runs several kilometres most days of the week, tries to promote even Ayurveda abroad among his many commitments, and heads a host of doctors at the medical centre at the edge of Washington, is the co-founder and past president of the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin, and is known for his work to ease conditions for Foreign Medical Graduates coming here.

But he is outspoken and does not always go with the hoopla, rather rolling back his sleeves to get down to work.

"I can speak for doctors here," he qualifies when expressing his views. "We want to serve our motherland by improving education, healthcare.... But on concrete projects."

"All the doctors that went the first and second time, are not going (to PBD)," he says. "People don't want to go and waste time listening to lectures. We want to discuss a concrete agenda there."

Shah is leaving for India now to meet various ministers to get accreditation for hospitals and working on his pet project of establishing trauma centres that mirror the highly efficient ones that exist in major cities in the US, the first lines of defence against major injuries.

"We love entertainment and social interaction, but I think it's a waste of taxpayers' money in India to have this event without an agenda. I go every year and facilities are worsening, poverty is worsening.... maybe not for rich people. Many people who went in the past don't want to go for Pravasi Divas."

He said there are 45,000 Indian American doctors in the US. "And even if 10 percent or even one percent did some work in India, there are more than sufficient projects to do. But there is no agenda.

The ministers and secretaries don't even make an agenda until November-December, and then there is no follow-up," he contended.

"I think entertainment and camaraderie is all good and nice, but I think we have to do some important projects that we are capable of doing."

First Published: Jan 06, 2006 09:05 IST