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The call of homeland

Nina C George Jan 10 , 2017, DHNS 0:04 IST
BACK TO ROOTS (From left) Winston Chandarbhan Dookeran, Sonia, Sherly, Dhruv and Navin Dookeran.
A deep emotional connect with their motherland is what most NRIs, who turned up to take part in the 14th edition of the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD), felt. Some of them were coming to India for the first time, while some others said they hadn’t had the opportunity to visit the country as often as they had wished to. There were also those who said they frequented the country at least thrice a year. Most NRIs were amazed at the development that they saw around them and said they wanted their children to come to India more often to experience the change and feel one with the country.

Michellel Moodley, a lawyer, was born in South Africa and has been raised there. This is Michellel’s first visit to India. She said that she was stunned by what she saw. “I felt like I’ve come home; I experienced an instant emotional connect with India. I am amazed with the way the country has grown and find the people here very well-informed,” said Michellel. She wants her children to come to India.

“After this visit, I am keen on sending my children here to understand and experience the culture. This is the only way to ensure that they remain in touch with their roots,” added Michellel. Like Michellel, Priti Kotecha, director-overseas operations, BWT India Aid, too has lived in the United Kingdom all her life and occasionally visits India.

“The image of India being a poverty-stricken nation changes after one comes here. We have many of our India-aided projects doing well here. However, the social service sector in the country needs to be strengthened and we are working towards that in a small way,” expressed Priya.

Several NRIs present at PBD like Jagadeswara Rao Maddhukuri, a resident of Poland and native of Hyderabad, have set up businesses in India and abroad. Presently, the president of Poland India Business Council, Jagadeswara, has been living in Poland for the last 30 years. “I make it a point to visit Hyderabad at least twice a year, just to ensure that the many collaborations my company has forged with India don’t lose focus,” said Rao. He thinks events like PBD give the NRI community an opportunity to meet and connect on a more productive level. Jayant Kantelal, another businessman and managing director of Reymon from Portugal, has been enjoying his visit to India. “There’s a lot that the two countries can do in terms of employment exchange programmes. I am also looking forward to working with the government towards ensuring more transparency in the government-related projects that we are working on,” shared Jayant.

There were also heads of educational institutions among the crowd. Dr Shafi Ahmed Sattar, Syed Mohammd Shankat Perwez, Asma Ali Shah and Meera Rahiman are faculty at the International Indian School in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. This group observed that the country now has more educational opportunities than ever before. “We’ve come here hoping to work out some educational collaborations and exchange programmes,” said Dr Shafi Ahmed Sattar.

While education-related issues remain this group’s primary focus, Asma Ali Shah pauses to reflect on the Bengaluru of the early 90s. “The city has grown and transformed so much. The weather was colder back then, it’s very hot now. But the warm culture and openness among the people remain intact,” said Asma. Young women like Bharadia Deepa Vikrant, who has been living in the UAE for the last four years, say that they yearn to return home. “I feel India is more secure now than ever before. I find there are a lot of measures being taken by the government to protect women and make them feel safe,” she said. She also found that the work culture has tremendously improved.

It was also a proud moment for several NRIs who were awarded for their outstanding contributions in various fields and their commitment towards strengthening the economy of India. Winston Chandarbhan Dookeran is a Trinidad and Tobago based politician and economist.

One among the awardees, Winston said it is an honour for him to be nominated for the award. He had brought his wife Shirley, son Navin Dookeran and grandchildren Sonia and Dhruv because he wanted them to be a part of this proud moment. “I am excited to be here and feel humble to receive the honour from the Indian government. My grandchildren were eager to travel to India. We visited Delhi before coming to Bengaluru and we will travel and explore a bit more before heading back home,” said Winston.

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