NEW YORK (TIP): The Global Organization of People of Indian Origin, a worldwide organization advocating since 1989 for non-resident-Indian and PIO causes, has expelled some of its members – most of them based in the Middle East and India – for holding an “illegal meeting” in Ahmedabad Jan. 6, where they tried to unseat GOPIO president-international Ashook Ramsaran and dissolve the existing executive council of the nonprofit, nonpartisan organization.
The dissident group that met in Ahmedabad was led by India-based GOPIO executive vice president Sunny Kulathakal, a publisher and author with interests in the Middle East and Kerala.
“As a result of the illegal meeting organized and actions taken by Sunny Kulathakal and others at an unapproved meeting held on Jan. 6, 2015, in Ahmedabad, India, in violation of GOPIO by-laws and contrary to explicit directives of GOPIO, the executive council of [GOPIO] decided at an extraordinary emergency meeting…to expel Sunny Kulathakal and others involved,” GOPIO said in a Jan. 18 press release.
Inder Singh, chairman of GOPIO International, told India-West Jan. 20 that the trouble with the disgruntled GOPIO members in India and the Middle East has been brewing for months over GOPIO’s election and appointment process.
According to the bylaws, he said, since GOPIO advocates for NRI and PIO concerns -such as India’s visa policies, for example -GOPIO members in India are not eligible for any of 14 elected offices and, unless they have lived in the U.S for a time and have returned to India, they don’t get appointed international coordinators and to other similar posts.
Indians in the Middle East are mainly working there on labor contracts, and since they, in most cases, can’t be citizens there, they are reluctant to lobby Middle East governments on NRI/PIO issues, so they are similarly largely left out of GOPIO’s hierarchy.
Singh sent a message this week to GOPIO members pointing out that at a Jan. 1 meeting of GOPIO’s executive council, he issued a “challenge” to Ramsaran, a New York-based Indian American elected president in May, to seek ways to “correct” the international coordinator appointment process and still remain consistent with GIOPIO bylaws, which Ramsaran promised to do.
Singh also said that Kulathakal, during the Jan. 1meeting, agreed that the Jan. 6 scheduled meeting in Ahmedabad would discuss only “moving forward” matters regarding “recommendations only,” and not rehash or address 2014 election issues.
However, according to dnaIndia, 44 life members and GOPIO members in Ahmedabad voted 35-4 to oust Ramsaran and elected Lord Dijit Rana – a hotelier from Northern Ireland and a former one-term GOPIO president – interim president/topic president.
GOPIO then at a special meeting Jan. 16, with GOPIO leadership from around the world participating through Web conferencing, expelled Kulathakal, Rana and others who became “members in the January 6…illegally organized ad hoc committee.”
Singh told The Indian Panorama that GOPIO is a democratic organization and the meeting was clearly illegal under GOPIO’s bylaws. “How can they throw (Ramsaran) out. There is no excuse for this kind of action. I guess they just want their piece of the pie.”
He added that if GOPIO members in the Middle East and India continue to appropriate GOPIO’s name, the executive council would have to consider a lawsuit.
Ramsaran told The Indian Panorama , Jan. 22 that, since being elected GOPIO president in May, he has expanded GOPIO’s international chapters to new countries in Europe and Africa and made inroads in former French- and Spanish-speaking colonies.
The dissident group, he added, has been making legal threats for months and they had the option to quit the organization instead of trying to take it over.
“They don’t want a piece of the pie, they want the whole pie,” he said.
Rana, who served as GOPIO president from 1999-2004, was defeated for reelection as president, Ramsaran pointed out, mainly because the organization’s bylaws forbid officials who vote in countries’ legislatures to hold GOPIO elected offices, and Rana votes in the House of Lords. “He opted to join the rebels,” he said.
Media reports from India said that at the Jan. 6 meeting longtime GOPIO member Piyush Agrawal resigned as senior vice president.
Singh and Ramsaran told The Indian Panorama that Agrawal did indeed submit his resignation, but that was because he was upset by what was happening at the meeting, and that he has subsequently withdrawn it.
An impeachment notice against Agrawal was dropped at the Ahmedabad meeting after he submitted his resignation.