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Nostalgia and nuke deal mix

New Delhi, Jan. 8: In between pitching ideas on how doctors of Indian origin in the US could improve health care in India, chest specialist Hemant Patel spent time with a BJP leader, articulating support for the nuclear deal.

Swati Save, who is helping young Indian scholars in the US come and teach in universities here, plans to meet the BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate, L.K. Advani, to speak on the nuclear deal.

“I believe the BJP should support the deal in its present form. They have said that if they come to power, they will renegotiate the deal… but with the way the first primaries are going in the US, they may not have much of a chance.” Barack Obama, she said, was less likely to give India a “good deal”.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today thanked the Indian community in the US for their role in garnering the support of political leaders in the US for the nuclear deal.

“I wish to record our special gratitude to the Indian community in the US for efforts by them in mobilising support of the political leadership in that country for Indo-US co-operation in civilian nuclear energy,” Singh said, speaking at the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas.

“There is clear recognition in India of the growing clout and influence of Indian communities in their adopted homes,” he added.

But the Pravasis appear active in India as well.

Some who are here for the Divas have used the opportunity to lobby for the deal with political leaders in India.

“We have been pro-active,” said Hemant Patel, president of the Association of American Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI).

Patel said he had met Dr Harsh Vardhan, the BJP’s Delhi state president, and discussed mainly health affairs but also exchanged views on the nuclear deal.

“We think the nuclear deal is good for India, but we know we can’t influence the thinking of any political party,” Patel said.

The AAPI and the Asian American Hotel Owners’ Association had teamed up to lobby for the nuclear deal in the US.

Save said she hoped the Left parties would “withdraw their opposition”.

Other than Advani, Narendra Modi’s was the most prominent face from the Opposition. The Gujarat chief minister, a hit with NRIs, had turned out in a suit for the occasion.

In his speech, Prime Minister Singh said he would establish a Prime Minister’s Global Advisory Council of People of Indian Origin to draw on the experience and minds of Indians everywhere.

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