GOPIO’s 25th Anniversary Jubilee Convention a historic success

PORT OF SPAIN (TIP): The Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO International) concluded its 25th Anniversary (Jubilee) Convention 2014 in Port of Spain in Trinidad & Tobago, with a memorable and highly successful celebration from 27th May through 30th May, 2014 coinciding with the 169th anniversary of Indian Arrival Day commemoration in Trinidad & Tobago.

The convention was a historic event in the Indian Diaspora attended by delegates from several countries where GOPIO is prominent and where persons of Indian origin reside in substantial numbers and even small numbers. Countries include: Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Malaysia, Mauritius, Sri Lanka, India, South Africa, Netherlands and other countries of the European Union (EU), UK, Canada, USA, and the Caribbean region: Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago, Suriname, Belize, St. Vincent, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Grenada and St Lucia.

Among the many events of the convention, some of the notable highlights include: Welcome reception at the Diplomatic Centre residence of Hon. Kamla Persad-Bissessar, Prime Minister of Trinidad & Tobago, GOPIO’s elections for new officers, all-day academic conference, special guests at cultural performances held at National Cultural of Indian Culture (NCIC), and unveiling of arrival monument marking the first arrivals of indentured Indian laborers in Trinidad.

A significant highlight of GOPIO’s 25th Anniversary Jubilee Convention was the special welcome reception of GOPIO delegates at the Diplomatic Centre residence of the Hon Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar on 28th May. The reception was hosted by Ministry of National Diversity and Social Integration with Minister Dr Roger Samuel making the initial remarks, followed by GOPIO International president Ashook Ramsaran and presentation of gifts.

GOPIO Jubilee Recognition Recipients with GOPIO officials, Indian High Commissioner G. Gupta,Trinidad & Tobago’s Minister Dr. Vasant Bharath MP and Minister Ramona Ramdial MP.

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Hon Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar formally welcomed GOPIO’s delegates, recounted GOPIO’s special reception/dinner during the visit to the Kolkata Memorial on 12th January, 2012 and thanked GOPIO for holding its 25th Anniversary Jubilee Convention in Trinidad & Tobago. In attendance were several ministers and members of parliament of the Government of Trinidad & Tobago as well as the Indian High Commissioner HE Gauri Gupta. The evening included a special celebratory treat of Caribbean and Indian music with delegates joining in dancing. On 28th May, a Business-to-Business seminar featuring prominent scholars and business leaders was held at the Radisson Hotel.

Some of the Legacy Generation Residents of Trinidad & Tobago with GOPIO officials, Indian High Commissioner HE Gauri Gupta, With Trinidad & Tobago’s Min. Dr. Suruj Rambachan, Min. Ramona Ramdial, Counselors Abdool & Seepersad, Couva Regional Chairman Henry Awong. Unveiling of Indian Arrival Monument at Waterloo-by-the-Sea

It was sponsored by Trinidad & Tobago’s Ministry of Trade & Investment. Sessions include: Investment & Trade Opportunities in Trinidad & Tobago; Investment & Trade Opportunities in St Vincent & Grenadines; Investment & Trade Opportunities in Guyana; Success Stories of Doing Business in the Caribbean; Free Enterprise, Market Economy and Business Successes; The Growth of Education and Medical Services for Bi-Lateral Trade; Media as Marketing Tool in Emerging Economies The Academic Conference segment of the convention was a full 1-day event held on 29th May at the Radisson Hotel.

There were several sessions designed round the convention theme of “Indian Diaspora Today & Tomorrow” The chief guest at the Inaugural Session was Indian High Commissioner HE Gauri Gupta and the keynote speaker Dr Mahin Gosine, Professor of Sociology and Anthropology at SUNY, New York, USA. Prof Kumar Mahabir, Assistant Professor at University of Trinidad and Tobago, concluded the session. Other sessions with prominent and suitably qualified speakers from several countries were: Global & Regional Diaspora Investments & Economic Opportunities; The Indian Diaspora: Issues, Challenges & Opportunities; Diaspora’s Youth, Children, Gender & Inter-Generational Issues; Multi- Cultural Diversity & Inter-Ethnic Cooperation in the Indian Diaspora; Education, Science & Technology as Significant Assets in the Indian Diaspora; Health, Wellness, Lifestyle & Nutritional Factors in the Indian Diaspora; GOPIO’s 25th Anniversary Resolutions; Wrap-up & Conclusion. Elections were held by GOPIO International Council for several positions in GOPIO at the international level.

The following officials were elected by unanimous vote: President – Ashook Ramsaran; Executive Vice President – Sunny Kulathakal; Senior Vice President – Dr. Piyush Agrawal; International Coordinator North America – Dr. Renuka Misra; and International Coordinator Caribbean, Dr. Arnold Thomas. Chairman Inder Singh was elected for another term. The Jubilee Recognition Gala was another highlight of GOPIO’s 25th Anniversary (Jubilee) Convention 201, held on 29th May, 2014 in the Grand Ballroom at the Radisson Hotel in Port of Spain. In attendance was Indian High Commissioner HE Gauri Gupta, Trinidad & Tobago’s Minister of Trade & Investment, Dr. Vasant Bharath; and Min. Ramona Ramdial, Minister in the Ministry of Environment & Water Resources. The event was emceed by prominent radio and television host Zelisa Boodoosingh.

GOPIO’s Jubilee Recognition for outstanding achievements in selected categories were awarded to several persons “who contributed to the betterment of people of the Indian Diaspora. The Jubilee Recognition recipients achieved significant and prominent levels of stature and recognition in their respective fields of endeavor and have served interests of people in their respective countries of domicile and others as well, in addition to generating pride and respect among the Indian Diaspora and others in country of birth or domicile”. Posthumous: Henri Sidambaron (Guadeloupe); Dr. Najma Sultana (USA); Baleshwar Agrawal (India); Lall Paladee (Trinidad & Tobago). Friend of GOPIO: HE Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, Prime Minister of St. Vincent & Grenadines.

Professional, Civic, Culture, Entrepreneurship, Media, Philanthropy: National Indian Cultural Centre (Trinidad & Tobago); John Barath (Trinidad & Tobago); Brenda Gopeesingh (Trinidad & Tobago); Dr. Hans Hanoomansingh (Trinidad & Tobago); Sattaur Gafoor (Guyana); Dr Yesu Persaud (Guyana); Chief Justice Carl Singh (Guyana); Dr. C. Baidjnath Misier (Netherlands); Dr. Lakshmi Persaud (United Kingdom); Ishwar Ramlutchman (South Africa); Nicole Vaitylingon (Guadeloupe); Dr. Vivian Rambihar (Canada); Dr. Parmatma Saran (USA); Dr. Sudhir Parikh (USA); TV Asia H R Shah (USA); India Abroad (USA); Kedar N. Gupta (India); Israel Khan (Trinidad & Tobago); Ashok Motwani (India). In addition to recognition of those who contributed to GOPIO’s formation in 1989 as well as all previous life members, GOPIO recognized the newest life members since 6th January, 2014 in attendance: Yamonee Barbaro (USA); Balkrishna Naipaul (Canada); Deo Gosine (Trinidad & Tobago); Sasenarine Sankar (Guyana); Claude Sheikboudhou (Guadeloupe); Elie Shitalou (Guadeloupe); Shaji SM Alex (India); Shaji Baby John (India). The National Council of Indian Culture (NCIC) hosted GOPIO delegates at its major events held at its Diwali Nagar in Chaguanas.

NCIC president Dr. Deokinanan Sharma and Mr Surujdeo Mangaroo graciously welcomed GOPIO delegates as special guests. Special events were: 27th May: Concert — famous Bhojpuri singer, Kalpana Patowary from Assam, India; 29th May – Indian Arrival Day commemoration with a special treat of music, songs, dances, recitals and authentic Caribbean and Indian foods. GOPIO 25th Anniversary Jubilee souvenir brochure is 112-page bound, elaborate keep sake publication distributed at no cost to all convention delegates and visitors, as well as mailed subsequently to worldwide officials, businesses, organizations.

The brochure messages of congratulations and well wishes, articles, program details, convention and international team, facts about GOPIO, its formation and history, as well as an extensive photo gallery. The convention team organized around the GOPIO chapter in Trinidad & Tobago, working diligently with dedicated and focused efforts to plan, coordinate and hold a magnificent GOPIO milestone convention in a country distant from the other regular venues which GOPIO has used over the years for its major events. Convention Convener: Ena Maraj, president of GOPIO International chapter of Trinidad & Tobago; General Convener: Dr. Arnold Thomas, GOPIO International Coordinator Caribbean; several chapter members serving in various capacities. The convention was endorsed and supported by a wide cross section of public and private sectors as well as civic and cultural organizations, academicians and academic institutions, media and others.

In addition, prominent persons of Indian origin and several Pravasi Samman Awardees also participated in the convention. HE Shri Gauri Gupta, Indian High Commissioner to Trinidad and Tobago, provided unwavering support and participated as chief guest in several major events of the convention. The National Council of Indian Culture (NCIC) provided meeting facilities during the planning stages. Special support by various ministries of the Government of Trinidad & Tobago, as well as National Council of Indian Culture (NCIC). Grand patrons: Deo Gosine (Labidco Port Services Ltd, Trinidad & Tobago); Dr. Chandrikaersad Baijnath Misier (Surichange NV, Netherlands). Indian Arrival Monument at Waterloo-by-the- Sea The Indian Arrival Monument at Waterloo-bythe- Sea was unveiled on 30th May 2014, the 169th anniversary of Indian Arrival Day in Trinidad & Tobago, another significant and historic marker of the journey of Indian migration to other lands for better livelihood.

The monument is another commemorative milestone marker in honored tribute and well deserved recognition of the first arrivals of indentured Indian laborers in Trinidad & Tobago. This unveiling was attended by Trinidad & Tobago’s Ministers Dr. Suruj Rambachan MP, supporter Mininister Ramona Ramdial, Counselors Abdool and Seepersad, Couva Regional Chairman Henry Awong, among many others officials. GOPIO International President Ashook Ramsaran and Indian High Commissioner HE Gauri Gupta unveiled the monument in the presence of hundreds of people including several “legacy generation” persons, a few over 100 years old.

This was followed by an authentic Indian lunch served Caribbean style. The inscription, patterned after the Kolkata Memorial in India and Indian Arrival Monument at Highbury in Guyana, read as follows: In honour of Indian indentured labourers whose arrival in Trinidad and Tobago began on 30th May 1845. In recognition of their pioneering spirit, sacrifices, endurance and determination to seek better livelihoods for themselves and their descendants.

In gratitude for their invaluable contribution to the social, spiritual, cultural, economic and political development of Trinidad and Tobago”. Remarked GOPIO International Chairman Inder Singh, “this is the best GOPIO convention since its formation in 1989”. GOPIO International President Ashook Ramsaran added that, “this silver jubilee convention is unparalleled in historical significance, with the special welcome, warmth and hospitality of the people of Trinidad & Tobago”. For more information, please contact GOPIO International at +1-718-969-8206, Email: (Based on a press release).

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