Durban Chapter of GOPIO opened with fanfare

L to R - Pankaj Dooregaparsad Treasurer GOPIO Durban, K N Gupta, Director for Govt. Liaison in India, Munish Gupta, International Coordinator - Africa, Loshni Naidoo Country Coordinator South Africa, Gerelene Jagganath Secretary GOPIO Durban, Sudesh Maharaj President Durban, Amit More Convenor GOPIO Durban inauguration
L to R – Pankaj Dooregaparsad Treasurer GOPIO Durban, K N Gupta, Director for Govt. Liaison in India, Munish Gupta, International Coordinator – Africa, Loshni Naidoo Country Coordinator South Africa, Gerelene Jagganath Secretary GOPIO Durban, Sudesh Maharaj President Durban, Amit More Convenor GOPIO Durban inauguration

DURBAN, SA: Leading South African Indians joined speakers from India and the US to discuss ways to strengthen economic ties with their home country at a series of seminars hosted by the Indian High Commission and GOPIO in Durban and other cities during the last weekend of April.

GOPIO International South Africa also launched with fanfare its Durban Chapter on April 28 which was inaugurated by Secretary of the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA) Rajiv Mehrishi, in the presence of many dignitaries including Indian High Commissioner Virendra Gupta, Indian Consul General V K Sharma, Durban Mayor’s representative Councilor Michael Abrahams, GOPIO International’s Coordinator for Africa Munish Gupta and GOPIO International’s Director for Government Liaison K N Gupta. Nearly 300 South African PIOs and NRIs attended the five-hour extravaganza that took place at the chic Jaipur Palace Restaurant in Durban North.

GOPIO International South Africa’s Durban chapter achieved the distinction of making an inauguration in the city of Mahatma Gandhi, within six months of formation and with 100 members already subscribed. The highly successful inauguration of the chapter is expected to aggregate more than 250 members by the end of 2013.

The GOPIO-Durban launch held at the beautifully decorated Jaipur Palace Restaurant was adorned with drapes and fairy lights, hanging chandeliers and fresh flowers, typical of all the d├ęcor that goes with any East Indian function in South Africa that is now home to nearly 1.3 million PIOs and NRIs for over 160 years.

Overseas Indians from every walk of life, as well as from cities across South Africa – Zululand, Newcastle, Johannesburg, Pretoria and Cape Town – gathered to celebrate the launch of the first truly global Indian Diaspora organization as people and media later reported. Every detail was immaculately planned and executed by GOPIO International’s South Africa Coordinator Loshni Naidoo, with the first team of office bearers that include President Sudesh Maharaj, Vice President Kinesh Pather, Treasurer Pankaj Doorgapersad, Secretary Gerelene Jagganath, Joint Secretary Krishnan Nair and a long list of Executive Committee members who will be working on developing various sectors of the local GOPIO Chapter.

The GOPIO chapter launch event was a sell-out and the restaurant had to extend space to an overflow area to accommodate last minute arrivals.

Timed with the launch, the Indian Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs & the Indian High Commission arranged Diaspora conferences in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban, also attended and addressed by GOPIO International Africa Coordinator Munish Gupta.

There was overwhelming response and appreciation for the work done by GOPIO, evident to attendees who received a GOPIO brochure detailing the organization’s history and accomplishments. Gupta’s talk and Q&A with the community leaders, academics and media has sparked widespread interest in GOPIO International activities. Even prior to the Durban chapter launch, community activists held meetings with GOPIO International officials to start chapters in at least four cities across South Africa.

The Durban chapter launch on April 28th was the culmination of two and a half years of work that began with the Regional Pravasi Bharatiya Divas in October 2010 in Durban attended by Munish Gupta where he met Loshni Naidoo and several others from the community interested in the work of GOPIO International. Several community organizations exist in South Africa, including a GOPIO faction that started in the mid-1990s but faded away soon thereafter. The 2013 April launch of GOPIO International and the connectivity it brings through its chapters in nearly 50 countries as well as the close engagement with India has ushered in a new era for PIOs and NRIs who have accomplished much and are well respected in the nation that was second home to Mahatma Gandhi and still reveres the Mahatma for the non violence message and his fight against Apartheid.

The evening began with messages from India’s MOIA Minister Vayalar Ravi through video who spoke highly of GOPIO International’s role and engagement with India in reaching out to and serving overseas Indians. Ravi congratulated Durban on the launch event and talked about the historic ties between India and South Africa.

Mahatma Gandhi’s grand-daughter Ela Gandhi sent a wonderful message, speaking of a special role the Diaspora must assume and play to assimilate in their country as much as they cherish and stay with their roots. GOPIO International President Ashook Ramsaran congratulated Indians in South Africa on the momentous occasion and welcomed them into the growing GOPIO fraternity worldwide. Mrs Navanethum Pillay, United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights, based in Geneva, a PIO from South Africa, also sent her congratulatory note on the launch of GOPIO International chapter.

Ambassador Virendra Gupta applauded the role of organizations like GOPIO International and especially the hand they lent the Indian government and its missions overseas in reaching out to the community and meetings its changing aspirations. Ambassador Gupta echoed Munish’s sentiments in working closely with the youth.

MOIA Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi made an important presentation on the role of the Ministry and its various programs and activities.

India Post News Service

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