BY BIKRAM VOHRA
There are five good reasons why I am not going to the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas celebrations in Gandhinagar starting in 24 hours. These reasons have held their own since 2003 when this whole love affair with NRIs began. For those anglicised folks of our 30 million diaspora who do not know what Pravasi Bharati Divas means let me enlighten you; Non Resident Indian day.
Which means a lot of high profile NRIs fly in to meet a bunch of Indian VIPs and there is much plastic love and affection and everyone swears by everyone else and each side tells the other how much they are needed and there is much backslapping and exchange of awards and globs of praise.
This year Mr Modi will give one of his passionate pieces of oratory and we will celebrate the centenary of Mahatma Gandhi coming home, he also being an NRI in South Africa till he retarced his footsteps.
Here are my five reasons.
Like the commonwealth conferences the NRI get together each year is a fax of the year before and ignore the whole Indian labour force that makes 80 per cent of the Indian diaspora. Besides there is no end result.
By the same token the middle class who leave their shores to establish their bona fides in the world are not given a look in.
The PBD is only for the privileged, the connected and it is a sort of a club cum association.
Resolutions so passed are only ones of intent and never really get to see the light of day. Consequently, they are without any validity and simply make passing headlines, if that.
The 1.2 billion Indians who live in India do not miss the 30 million and, frankly, couldn’t care less about the Divas day because it is highly irrelevant.
No one ever grasps the nettle and builds bridges between the home country and the NRIs at these conventions, stopping at lavishing praise of the sticky sort which is utter hypocrisy and of little consequence.
It is harmless but mostly just talk. And talk. And more talk. And then some more talk followed by Samman awards to a chosen few who are ostensibly feted for their good work. Like the unknown soldier the sacrifices of the faceless count for peanuts.
The awardees then bore the pants off the audience by volleying back more globs of praise and no one ever addresses the mountain of misunderstanding and the need to create a friendlier environment.
The other reason why I am not going is because they haven’t invited me.