NRIs are being turned away by RBI from depositing their demonetised currencies, although the centre had extended the date till June 30, 2017

Global Organization of People of Indian Origin, (GOPIO) takes up their cause

~By Sujit Bhar

When Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the US, soon after his taking over with a huge mandate, he was received at a massive gathering at the Madison Square Garden in New York. NRIs, Americans of Indian origin, anybody who had even the slightest Indian link, rejoiced at the arrival in the US of the Indian messiah and of the new Indian era.

The packed-to-the-brim 18,000 crowd at the huge stadium cheered and chanted Modi’s name as the messiah said: “India used to be known as a country of snakes and snake charmers… It is only because of you (Indian-American community) that we have made such a huge progress. If not for you all, there wouldn’t have been an IT revolution. You have earned a lot of respect in USA through skills and values.”

The Indian-Americans were charmed.

That was on September 28, 2014.

In just a few months, the NRI messiah has forgotten them, has pushed the Indian Diaspora, not only in the US, but across the globe into the insulting act of having to queue up for hours in front of banks to exchange the Indian currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 they had, and then being rudely refused.

They had acquired the money legally, respectfully, and then they were treated like sinners, just because their messiah of yesterday decided to go for a demonetisation misadventure.

The Diaspora was given a timeframe that obviously did not suit them, busy as they are. Mindless changes of direction by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) did not help either. If Modi and the RBI expected the NRIs to leave all the work at hand and rush to India to change all the tenders that the irresponsible government had decided to declare as illegal on the fateful evening of November 8, 2016, they were probably taking themselves a bit too seriously.

What resulted has sustained to date.

Listen to this clear declaration in an appeal to the Indian PM by the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO), issued on February 5, as published on the GOPIO site

The appeal says: “Diaspora Indians with foreign citizenship and OCI/PIO card holders are being turned away by Reserve bank of India from depositing their demonetized currencies, although govt (sic) had announced that it has extended the date for NRIs to deposit their currencies till June 30th, 2017.”

Only Indians can give back injustice, rudeness and apathy to those who have done the country proud around the globe. For all practical purposes, it wasn’t Mr Narendra Modi who put India on the global map. It was the tireless effort of these millions of Indians over decades that did. And how have they been rewarded? Read on:

“…Diaspora Indians with foreign citizenship after standing outside the gate for several hours and when they reach the gate (sic), they have been told that only NRIs with Indian passport can go inside. It is a major issue to be corrected. GOPIO has now taken up this issue and has sent this appeal to Hon. Prime Minister Modi.

“Indians who left India to earn their living should not be deprived of their hard earned money because they could not come during the period, Nov. 8th to December 30th, 2016. GOPIO has started a signature campaign requesting Prime Minister to allow Diaspora Indians to exchange or deposit their demonetized notes.”

That is how the GOPIO is trying to adjust to the situation. It has decided to conduct a signature campaign for a petition. Its appeal says: “(The) International Executive Council requests you to sign up this petition and forward this e-mail to your family members and friends (including in India) and request them to sign up and support this campaign.”

The GOPIO website hosts a signing page link on the homepage. This appeal moves through Change.org, the worldwide petition site.

No favours sought

The appeal to the Prime Minister of India is clear. The Indian Diaspora community is not asking for any favour. They want their rights, of which they are very aware.

The appeal further adds: “If you read some of the comments, Diaspora Indians are sadden and frustrated. India should not short-change them and ignore their request. They are the most reliable and valuable people India has around the world to promote India’s interest. They are not asking for any favour.

“They just want their hard earned money to be exchanged or deposited in their NRO account or deposit this amount at a bank such as the State Bank of India which is not far away from their homes in India. That is a fair request. We hope that GOI will heed to this request.”

What is GOPIO?

According to the website, “GOPIO is a non-partisan, non-sectarian global organization with chapters in several countries, actively promoting the interests of people of Indian origin worldwide by monitoring and addressing current critical issues of concern, and by enhancing cooperation and communication between groups of Indians living in various countries.

“GOPIO is looking forward to opening chapters in all major cities of the world, so as to network with people of Indian origin all over the world.”

The organisation’s chairman is Dr Thomas Abraham, Stamford, Connecticut, USA.

Revisiting the Modi charm

Look back again at the Madison Square garden extravaganza, and listen once again to what Modi had said about coming to power and about the Indian Diaspora’s involvement.

He had said: “Many of you didn’t get a chance to vote, but when the results came, not one of you must have been sleeping… Today, I am here to thank you all… You have a huge contribution in building India’s image… Winning an election is not just about post or chair, it’s a responsibility.”

So it is, and one hopes the Indian prime minister remembers it.