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Nothing to come home to

New Delhi, Jan. 9: Chaos reigned on the first day of the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas.

Frazzled non-resident Indians complained about everything under the sky — the arrangements, the venue and the poor quality of the debate on hackneyed issues that they had gone over the last time round.

India is trying to project the image of a country that is ready for change — but the NRIs look far from convinced

Shiela, a resident of Geneva, was seen screaming at the event organisers for handing her a “delegate kit with necessary documents missing”.

“I came here last year also. But this time, it’s a lot worse. The sessions are not well organised. One can see participants fighting to voice their views, there is nothing interesting or different about the topics under discussion. The car parking arrangements are chaotic. It is difficult to go from one venue to another and, in general, nobody seems to be bothered about anybody,” she said.

However, there were others who were ready to put up with all the discomfort and yet have something to smile about.

Like Bharat Bhargav, a management consultant from Washington, who believes that India’s image is changing. “This kind of programme will only create more awareness and bring people closer to their country. With India laying huge emphasis on economic growth, such forums provide a platform for people to have a free interaction and suggest remedial measures.”

The ministry of external affairs and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci) have put together a budget of approximately Rs 9 crore to arrange the event.

Ficci officials claimed that around 2,500 NRIs have come from 62 countries. The number, however, seems to be a little exaggerated, considering today’s thin attendance.

Madhukanta Shah, a Gujarati photographer settled in the US for the last 25 years, said: “We see a more clean and green India now. The economy is surging, poverty is on the decline and the education system has improved massively. But there is something lacking in India which does not inspire an NRI to come and think of settling down in his own country.”

Shah’s husband joined in: “What is most depressing about India is the way the entire system functions. Nothing moves quickly. In addition, compared to the West, one notices that there is a lot of unproductive work that one ends up doing in India for which he neither gets a return nor any professional satisfaction.”

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