GOPIO Gives Desi Businesses a​​
New Networking Platform


By M. P. PRABHAKARAN

Picture taken after the ceremonial lighting of the lamp, by Ambassador Riva Ganguly Das, at the Consulate General of India in New York. The ceremony marked the launching in the U.S. of the GOPIO International Chamber of Commerce (GICC). Shown in the picture, from left to right, are: Jhairam Persaud, president, GOPIO-Upper New York; Rajul Shah, vice president, GOPIO-North Jersey; Lal Motwani, GOPIO’s Tri-State area coordinator; Dr. Sudhir Parikh, chairman, Parikh Worldwide Media, who is also a life member of GOPIO; Dr. Thomas Abraham, chairman, GOPIO International; Dr. Rajeev Mehta, coordinator, GOPIO International; Riva Ganguly Das, consul general of India, New York; Beena Kothari, president, GOPIO-New York; Govind Munjal, president, AIA; Raj Mukherjee, New Jersey State Assemblyman; Prakash Shah, co-chair, GICC; and Anita Bhat, president, GOPIO-Connecticut. (The picture is reproduced courtesy GOPIO International/Chhotalal Mehta.) 
 


​​​​The 30-million-strong Indian diaspora is the largest of its kind in the world. There is hardly any country that doesn’t have at least a few people of Indian origin (PIO).

There are numerous Indian organizations, too, that represent the diaspora’s interests. While each of them represents the interests of a particular group – be it ethnic, linguistic, social, cultural, political, etc. – there is one Indian organization that represents the interests of the entire diaspora: the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO).


It was founded in New York, in 1989, largely on the initiative of Dr. Thomas Abraham. Dr. Abraham has been playing key roles in various Indian organizations ever since he arrived in New York in the early 1970s, as a student at Columbia University.

Ever since its founding, GOPIO has been championing the cause of the Indian diaspora on various issues. At its 2016 biennial convention in New York, it decided “to be more involved in business, technology, investment and philanthropic activities to mobilize Diaspora resources for the common good,” to quote Dr. Abraham who is also chairman of GOPIO International. The outcome of the decision is a new entity under its auspices: GOPIO International Chamber of Commerce (GICC).


The new entity was inaugurated in Mumbai, the business capital of India, by Governor Chennamaneni Vidhya Sagar Rao of Maharashtra, on January 10, 2017. Its USA unit was launched on April 28, 2017, at a function at the consulate general of India in New York.


Addressing the nearly 150 PIOs who attended the launching ceremony, Consul General Riva Ganguly Das said that economic diplomacy was an intrinsic part of the work that career diplomats like her were engaged in. She said that GOPIO’s new initiative “is most timely and very much needed at this time.” She expected GICC to “complement the work the government has been doing” to expand India’s bilateral trade” with other nations. “You must decide on your space” in that area, she told the members of GICC.


Dr. Abraham told the audience that unlike other organizations of its kind, GICC “will cater to the Indian diaspora businesses and entrepreneurs and will be the only globally networked Indian chamber of commerce.” The Indian diaspora owns 3 million businesses around the world. There are about 400,000 in the U.S. alone.


Prakash Shah, co-chair of GICC, said in his introductory remarks that the new GOPIO initiative “has gotten off to a flying start after the January 10, 2017, global launch in Mumbai … with requests from around the world pouring in to open GICC chapters in all the major cities.”


H. R. Shah, chairman of TV Asia, who also chairs the GOPIO’s board of directors, provided facts and figures on the vast network of businesses owned by the Indian diaspora and stressed the need for a worldwide organization like the GICC to serve its interests. Mr. Shah, it may be added, is one of the recipients this year of the Indian government’s coveted Padma Shri Award.


Others who spoke at the New York consulate event included Dr. Sudhir Parikh, chairman of Parikh Worldwide Media that publishes two weekly newspapers, “News India Times” and “Desi Talk”; Raj Mukherjee, an Indian-American member of the New Jersey State Assembly; and Ashwini Tewari, who is the head of the State Bank of India’s operations in the U.S. The event was sponsored by the State Bank of India.




​​(Published on May 4, 2017)


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