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NRI meet to miss some big names
Shweta Rajpal Kohli in New Delhi | January 08, 2003 11:47 IST
Absent from the list of participants for the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, the largest ever gathering of global Indians being held between January 9-11, are businessmen like Laxmi Mittal, Swaraj Paul, the Hinduja brothers, Sabeer Bhatia, Pulitzer-winning writer Jhumpa Lahiri, astronaut Kalpana Chawla, writer Vikram Seth, Hollywood director Manoj Night Shyamalan, and filmmakers Mira Nair and Ismail Merchant.
These are some of the leading non-resident Indians who have not responded to the invitation for the three-day event.
The organisers, the ministry of external affairs and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, however, say the absence will not make a difference because the response has been more than expected, with the registrations for the event crossing 2,500.
Sources in the external affairs ministry said some of the heavyweights declined the invitation because they were expecting to be sponsored.
"The participation is absolutely voluntary. We have not extended special invites to any of the NRIs and everyone should be willing to pay the delegate fee," an official said.
The inaugural function for the event was supposed to begin by a rare invocation by the three Bharat Ratnas, Pandit Ravi Shankar, Ustad Bismillah Khan and Lata Mangeshkar.
Though Mangeshkar had earlier agreed to the idea, she had to drop out owing to "some personal family commitments."
The other two will, however, be performing at the event. Another name missing from the list is that of Ela Gandhi, Mahatma Gandhi's granddaughter.
According to officials, a special invite has been extended to her because the event is being held to mark the day Gandhiji returned from South Africa. However, Ela's former husband, Mewa Ramgobind, will be attending the event.
Back home, Congress leader Sonia Gandhi has agreed to show up, though she has not confirmed the date and the timing.
However, there is still a lot of speculation regarding the presence of Finance Minister Jaswant Singh at the event.
The people likely to be seen at the event include Lord Dholakia, Lord Bhikhu Parekh, Shirdhath Rampal, former secretary-general, the Commonwealth secretariat, UK, B K Agnihotri, ambassador-at-large, the US, Rajat Gupta, McKinsey chief.
Nobel Laureates V S Naipaul and Amartya Sen, Anerood Jugnauth, Prime Minister of Mauritius and Dipak Jain of the Kellogg School of Management are among the others.