The Global organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO International) in collaboration with GOPIO-Kolkata Chapter and in association with the Bengal Chamber of Commerce, hosted special dinner at the Palladium Lounge in Kolkata on January 10, 2012 for Trinidad & Tobago’s Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, who made an historic visit to the Kolkata Memorial on the first anniversary of its unveiling on January 11, 2011. She also visited her ancestral village in Buxar, Bihar, amidst an emotional homecoming. PM Persad-Bissessar, the first female Prime Minister of the twin-island state of Trinidad & Tobago, was the chief guest at Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) 2012 held in Jaipur on January 7-9, 2012.

The Kolkata Memorial pays tribute to those who left India as indentured Indian laborers from 1834 thru’ 1920 and is inscribed with memorial plaques in Hindi and English in “recognition and remembrance of their journeys as Indian indentured laborers taken too far away lands seeking better livelihoods for themselves and their descendants”. GOPIO’s role, spearheaded by GOPIO’s President Ashook Ramsaran who drafted the inscription, was crucial to the design and construction of the Kolkata Memorial. It was inaugurated on January 11, 2011 at Kidderpore Depot along the Hoogley River in Kolkata by MOIA Minister Vayalar Ravi and the then Railway Minister Mamta Banerjee, who is currently the Chief Minister of West Bengal.

Photo above left: GOPIO Life Member Manoranjan Sinh presents flowers and a presentation to PM Bissessar. Photo above right: GOPIO Executive Vice President Sunny Kulathakal and GOPIO Life Member and program coordinator Mridul Pathak presents memento plate to PM Bissessar.

The special dinner event was coordinated by GOPIO Life Member Mridul Pathak and supported by the Bengal Chamber of Commerce and local sponsors such as Ms. Bipasha of  Palladium Lounge, Mr. Kapil of IFSD (International Foundation for Sustainable Development, Kolkata), Mr. Utpal Ganguly of Jolly Roger, Bobby Talukdar of BTTI and Arundhuti Ganguli of Arcus. Also in attendance was GOPIO Executive Vice President Sunny Kulathakal who, along with Mridul Pathak, presented the special GOPIO memento plate inscribed “Presented to Her Excellency, Honorable Kamla Persad Bisessar, Prime Minister of Trinidad & Tobago by GOPIO International and GOPIO Kolkata in Honor of Her Historic Visit to Kolkata and the Kolkata Memorial Monument” and signed by GOPIO International president Ashook Ramsaran. GOPIO-Edison Chapter president Arvind Sood emceed the event. Representing GOPIO Kolkata was Mr. RK Tripathy IAS ret’d (former Add’l Chief Secy, Govt of West Bengal), Kalyan Datta, Mr. Manmohan Maheswari, Mr. Hari Kanoria and Mr. Kapil Pathak. GOPIO Life Member Manoranjana Sinh presented the Prime Minister with flowers and organized her television network to film the event of January 10 and the visit to the Kolkata Memorial on January 11, 2012. Other attendees included former Chief Secretary, Gov’t of West Bengal, industry heads, senior media officials and Chambers officials.

Other speakers included Trinidad & Tobago’s Minister of External Affairs Dr. Suruj Rambachan; Trinidad & Tobago’s High Commissioner in India, Dr Chanderdath Singh; India’s High Commissioner to Trinidad & Tobago Malay Mishra; Dr Sudarshan Ghosh Dastidar, Minister of Environment, Government of West Bengal.

Addressing the gathering, PM Persad-Bissessar lauded the efforts of GOPIO in bringing the global Indian Diaspora closer. She shared the global perception that PIOs have become highly successful in their chosen fields as business men and professionals. She proudly stated that the people of Indian Origin who constitute 42% of the population of Trinidad and Tobago have managed to keep alive the values, traditions and festivals of their forefathers. While thanking the GOPIO for the gracious hospitality, she assured the organization of her government’s help in all its efforts towards a better world and a better Trinidad and Tobago.

 

Photo above: Prime Minister Persad-Bissessar is speaking at the event. Seated from l. to r.: Bengal Chamber of commerce Director General P. Roy Director General, GOPIO Executive Vice President Sunny Kulathakal, West Bengal Minister for EnvironmentDr. Ghosh Dastidar standing in for ChiefMinister Mamata Banerji.

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