A memorable homecoming to roots for Indian PIOsOctober 9th, 2011 - 1:35 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, Oct 9 (IANS) A trip to connect with their Indian roots has left a group of young Persons of India Origin (PIO) totally smitten and wanting to return as soon as they can.
The delegation of 28 PIOs were initially worried about hygiene, cleanliness and health issues, but their three-week stay has completely changed their perception of India.
The team is visiting India as part of the Know India Programme (KIP) initiated by the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs to help young PIOs settled abroad understand the country that their grandparents or great grandparents left years ago.
The group consisting of participants from Australia to Canada and Fiji to Suriname landed in Delhi Sep 21 and is here till Oct 11. During the first two weeks, it travelled to several places in Rajasthan and is to visit Taj Mahal in Agra Monday.
It is the group’s group’s first visit to India.
In Delhi, the visitors were taken to the Indian Institute of Public Administration (IIPA), Centre for Cultural Resources and Training (CCRT), Akshardham Temple, Rajghat, Gandhi Smriti and some other heritage sites before having a networking session with young professionals organised by the Indian Council for World Affairs (ICWA). The team comprises a mix of students and young professionals in the age group of 18-25.
“I always wanted to come to India but somehow couldn’t make it. When I came to know about KIP, I was like I have to apply for it. I was regularly in touch with the Indian High Commission and got successful in my second attempt,” Sinnapam Manian, a native of Malaysia, told IANS.
The 25-year-old, studying Bachelor of Education in Kuala Lumpur University, says he was apprehensive before coming to India as his family members warned him about poor hygiene and bad quality of food.
“My parents were like I should not eat out else will fall ill. But in the last two weeks I have put on weight as I am eating so much and find the food really good,” Sinnapam told IANS with a smile.
He is the fourth generation to have been living in Malaysia. Sinnapan’s trip has inspired him to come back to India in search of his relatives whom the family lost touch with years ago.
“I am sure some of our relatives are in Chennai and Bangalore but we are no more in touch. I would like to come back in search of them,” said Sinnapam, who left his part-time job in an orphanage to come for the trip.
Some participants said their parents keep coming to India but they never take them along and so this was a great opportunity to see the country.
“My father keeps coming to Jaipur and Delhi for business, but he never brings me here. There are a lot of similarities between Australia and India, and it was not a cultural shock for me as I had presumed before landing here,” said Chanelle Singh, an accountant from Australia.
Dressed in a black formal suit, the 23-year-old said she would come again to India early next year as she has fallen in love with the country. “It is beautiful and so culturally rich. I don’t understand why my parents did not get me here for so long … I am going to visit India frequently now,” she said.
Artika Devi from Fiji had imagined India to be as is projected in Bollywood movies but her visit to India made the 21-year-old realise there is so much more to it.
“I never thought Delhi is so modern and has such an advanced metro. What I knew about India was from Bollywood movies - affluent Punjabi families… But it is different when you visit smaller cities like Jodhpur, Bikaner and Jaisalmer in Rajasthan,” said the banker, who kept a fast during the nine-day Navratri festival.
The group liked everything about India but hated the security arrangements made for them as they were not allowed to go anywhere on their own.
“I would have loved to go around Delhi on my own, but due to security reasons we always moved in a group with organisers,” said Thanarajan. K from Malaysia.
Sarvajit Chakravarti, deputy director general of ICWA, described it as an important programme of the government to connect to people of India origin abroad.
(Richa Sharma can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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