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PBD encounters starting problem

Ehtasham Khan in Mumbai | January 07, 2005 21:40 IST

The pravasis -- Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) and People of Indian Origin (PIO) encountered some bumps at the very beginning of the 3rd Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD), in Mumbai on Friday.

It was pandemonium at the main venue as delegates from all over the world jostled to get themselves registered for the three-day event.

Many, including elderly men and women, had to stand in queue for about two hours on a bright sunny day at the National Centre for Performing Arts building at the end of the famous Marine Drive facing the Arabian Sea.

In the bargain, some missed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's inaugural speech at the S N Kohli Stadium, about five kilometres from the main venue of the festival.

There was hardly anybody to guide the delegates as they ran from one counter to the other seeking information. The organisers present at the venue were themselves confused.

The event has been spread across three locations. The inaugural was held at the S N Kohli Stadium while the other functions were scheduled in the Tata Hall and Jamshed Babha Hall of the NCPA.

Delegates had got themselves registered online through, the website hosted by the organisers - ministry of overseas Indians' affairs and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI). They had made payments through credit cards and told that they would get the registration cards at the venue of the inaugural function.

A registration card is mandatory to attend the event.

So Mahesh Gupta, who came from Los Angles along with his wife Usha, reached the S N Kohli Stadium early on Friday morning.

There, he was told that the registration card would have to be collected at the main venue, which is the NCPA building. The couple braved the Mumbai traffic and reached the main venue.

Only to see the situation turning from bad to worse. There was no body at the counter meant to distribute the delegate's kit. Security personnel told Gupta to go to the registration counter next door.

At the registration counter, 50-odd people were arguing with five youngsters distributing the registration cards.

"I have shown them all the documents but they are delaying it (issuing the cards). I don't know what the problem is," rued C R G Nair from Dubai. "I have standing in the queue for the last two hours but nobody is listening to me. There is no chair where I can sit."

This, after Nair had got himself registered online about two months ago!

Gradually the crowd thickened and everybody had the same complaint - they couldn't get the registration cards.

Five computers meant to help speed up the process had been rendered useless because of a technical fault. The staff distributing the cards had to check every detail manually. It only served to delay the process.

An angry Sunil Gandhi from Dubai said: "I wanted to attend the prime minister's function but I missed it. Just because of these people. I thought we would get to see an improved India but it is the same."

Narender Grover, a consultant in his 70s, from England said: "Nobody knows what is happening. There is not even a glass of water to drink. It is a hot day."

Till around afternoon when the first session was over, many were still struggling to get their registration cards.

But there were some who simply refused to give up on their country, like Usha Gupta, who said, "How can we criticize? India is our country."

Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 2005: The Complete Coverage

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