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Emerging Indo-US Relations Discussed At GOPIO Fairfield Chapter Launch

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Emerging Indo-US relations discussed at GOPIO Fairfield Chapter launch meet

The Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO) has a new chapter, i.e. GOPIO-Fairfield County (CT). On Friday, March 24, 2006 GOPIO organized a meeting with the US House Representative Christopher Shays as the keynote speaker at Meera Restaurant, Stamford, CT, which was attended by over 100 PIOs and Americans mostly from Connecticut and some from New York and New Jersey. Shays spoke on “Emerging US-India Relations – A Congressional Perspective.” The dinner/Talk meeting also served as the launch for GOPIO-Fairfield County (CT) Chapter.

In his welcome address, Dr. Thomas Abraham, Chairman of GOPIO, briefly narrated the history of GOPIO and its many achievements in the past decade. He said, GOPIO was founded at the First Global Convention of People of Indian Origin in New York in 1989. The initial thrust of GOPIO was fighting human rights violation of people of Indian origin. Although this has been improved in the last one decade, human rights violations continue to be an issue for PIOs living outside India. GOPIO has now set its priorities in pooling PIO resources, both financial and professional, for the benefit of PIOs, the countries they come from and India.

The GOPIO Chapter in Fairfield County was launched with the lighting of the traditional lamp, among others by Congressman Shays, Thomas Abraham, and India’s Deputy Consul General in New York A.R. Ghanashyam. Thomas Abraham appealed to the participants to join in this international PIO movement to look after NRI/PIO interests and to help the Motherland India..

Dr. Abraham said, “There is a change of perception in the US about India, and that is basically as a result of bridging the gap between reality and perception. This is also based on recognition of India’s fast growing economy. I see this not only in a bilateral context, but in the context of the world, the global context. How do we make the world a safer and a better place? India have taken concrete initiatives. For example, democracy. The US and India support democratic principles, which is to help to build capacity in countries in transition to democracy.”

In his brief address, Ghanashyam, Deputy Consul General of India in New York, asked and answered, why India and the US are important to each other and the world. He aid, i is a fact that India-US engagement in the earlier period was often episodic and there were periods of time of misunderstanding and long periods of benign neglect by both countries. It was during the Reagan Administration, some of the most important steps were taken to improve the relationship between the two great democracies. The turning point of the US re-engagement with India was towards the end of the second term of the Clinton presidency. The challenge today is not what the US can do for India, nor what India can do for the United States, but what both countries can do together bilaterally for their mutual benefit and for making the world a safer and more secure place, the diplomat said.

GOPIO –Fairfield Host Committee member Venkat Sharma introduced the Congressman Shays, who represents Fairfield County in Connecticut, as the latest US Congressman to join the powerful India Caucus in the US House. He is a Member of the US Financial Services Committee, Government Reform Committee Vice Chairman, Chairman of subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats and International Relations, Homeland Security; and Select committee on Hurricane Katrina.

In his keynote address, the US Congressman lauded contributions made by Americans of Indian origin to the culture and economy of the United States. “I have always appreciated and stand in awe at the Indian community in the US, its culture and professionalism,” he said.

India, which has been on the front lines in the fight against international terrorism for many years, directly shares America's determination to fight terrorism around the globe, he said. The United States and India are engaged as partners in a global coalition to combat the scourge of international terrorism, a partnership that began well before the tragic events of September 11, 2001, he said. Stressing that India, the largest democracy in the world needs its rightful place on the world map, Shays said, “UN is simply not relevant unless it does not recognize India’s right to be a permanent member of the UN Security Council,” and added, “India deserves a place at the UN Security Table permanently.”

Shays pointed out that rather than viewing India in a sub-regional context, during the current Bush administration, India has come to be viewed as an emerging global power with which it was in the interest of the United States to develop a strategic partnership. “Our relationship, which is based on shared interests and aspirations, also long-term shared values and interests, we have no difficulty in reconciling principle and practice, ideals and interests,” he said.

The senior US Congressman said, cooperation between India and the United States extends beyond the current international campaign against terrorism, and has been steadily developing over recent years. While highlighting that India has in recent years opened its economy to a considerable extent to trade and investment and has liberalized its internal economic system, the Congressman said, India’s relationship with the United States has deepened in past years and encompasses cooperation on matters relating to international security, political stability, world trade, technology, science, and health. 

“Since the beginning of the second term of the current Bush administration, there has been marked change in the US perception of India, which has resulted in a deeper engagement between India and the US. These cultural connections are sure to build more harmony between the two nations,” stressed Shays. Two recent controversies - the sale of port facilities to a company owned by the government of Dubai and the negotiation of a controversial nuclear cooperation deal with India - underscore the tensions and contradictions between America's commitment to economic globalization and its political priorities in a post-9/11 world.

While commenting on the recent agreement signed in New Delhi by both President Bush and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, which marked a significant break from decades of U.S. nuclear policy, Shays highlighted the increasingly close relationship between the world's two largest democracies that has enabled both the nations work closely in the coming years to save the world from oil dependency to a large extent. The agreement would enable the US to nuclear power assistance to India for civil purposes, while separating it from the nuclear weapons production program. The Congressman said, the agreement is not without many hurdles before it becomes a reality. The agreement requires the US Congress and the Senate to adjust US laws and policies to accommodate it in its present form.

While, praising India for its willingness to voluntarily separate its civilian and military nuclear facilities and place its civilian nuclear facilities under IAEA safeguards, the Republican Congressman pointed out that the changes of such magnitude are bound to find critics in both countries. While confessing that no one in the Government knows whether it will be approved by both the Houses, Shays said, he hoped that both the nations continue to work together to clear the doubts of the world and the lawmakers on the feasibility and the advantages of the agreement to both the US and India. “If India can convince the Congress, the deal will be a reality,” he said.

The organizing committee included Dr. Thomas Abraham (Stamford), Paul Ahuja (Stamford), Ravi Ahuja (Stamford), Pravin Banker (Greenwich), Bhom and Meera Banta (Stamford), Steve Chainani (Stamford), Arun Dongre (Stamford), Louella D’Silva (Stamford), Rita Ghei (Westport), Bala Krishnamurthy (Ridgefield), Rajeev Menon (Norwalk), Ashoka Mitra (Westport), Kuriakose Pannikodu (Fairfield), Suti Prakash (Stamford), Viresh Sharma (New Canaan), Venkat Sharma (Bridgeport), Rajendra Shukla (Weston), and Sara Tierno (Stamford) The event concluded with Sangeeta Ahuja proposing the vote of thanks and the participants treated to a delicious Indian cuisine served by Meera Restaurant.


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