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Bigwigs stay away from Pravasi Bharatiya Divas
Josy Joseph in New Delhi | January 10, 2004 17:33 IST
The second Pravasi Bharatiya Divas is increasingly proving to be a disappointing fare, turning out to be a pale shadow of the first one last year.
The intellectual engagements, the giants of Indian Diaspora who stirred up debates and dissent last year are all missing. There are very few individuals who are able to attract the crowds back to the halls this year.
It was most stark on Friday when some of the most famous members of Diaspora were missing from the festival, though they were present in India.
And he also gave an interview to a foreign channel wherein he criticised the Bharatiya Janata Party for its anti-Indianness and its attempt to suppress dissent in an autocratic manner.
United Nations under secretary general Shashi Tharoor, who was one of the 12 members of the Diaspora selected for this year's Pravasi Samman, was in India but skipped the meet. He was in Mumbai releasing his book on Nehru, in the company of men like Rashid Zakaria.
With several others like V S Naipaul also missing, Diaspora meetings, which last year were good quality debating forums, are now fast turning out to be uninteresting and dull.
In the meeting halls, the NDA ministers are not missing any opportunity to appeal for votes and to project India's 'feel good factor'.
Impatient with cynics within the country, Advani told the NRI crowd that sometimes he felt that they understand India's achievements better than the cynics.
The increasing influence of the government, and right wing organisations, is also visible on the festival.
During the session on Diaspora youth, editor of RSS mouthpiece Panchajanya Tarun Vijay was so excited that he felt 'Indianness' more among the Diaspora youth outside India than in the youngsters around him in India.
Vijay had some concrete suggestions for improving the interactions between the Diaspora and India. One among them was to take a team of Diaspora youth every year to the Kailash Mansarovar in China.
In between the meetings the crowd was also getting down to business. A team of delegates from the Malaysian Indian Congress found time to tie up with the youth wing of the BJP for better exchanges.
What is adding to the disappointment is the failure of organisers on some fronts, especially in their dealings with the media. Last night they did not invite most of the media groups to the entertainment night saying the invitation was only for a select group.
More reports from Delhi
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