Photo Credit: KIP website
A delegation of NRIs is in Punjab this week as part of the Indian government’s Know India Programme to engage the Indian-origin youth with their roots. The 40-member delegation comprises students living in countries such as the United States, Canada, Africa, Fiji, Indonesia, Israel, Malaysia, Portugal and Sri Lanka. For some of them, this was their first visit to Punjab.
The group visited Amritsar, Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur, Sri Anandpur Sahib, Patiala, and the historic war memorial at Chaparchiri. The program, organized by the Ministry of External Affairs, is a golden opportunity for NRIs to know about their motherland, Jaspal Singh, the Principal Secretary of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, Punjab, said to the media.
This is the 41st batch of delegates for the Know India Programme, according to MEA official Abhishek Sharma. “Every year the Centre through embassies invites applications from youth (18-30 years) for a 25-day program,” he was quoted as saying by The Tribune. The expenditure of the current Know India Programme is being borne by the states of Punjab and Haryana.
3 More Tours This Year
Launched in 2014 on the occasion of the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, the scheme has facilitated the visit of 1,293 Indian-origin youths to India so far. The program usually involves stay at a university; visits to an industry, a village and places of historical importance on the itinerary; exposure to Indian media and film industry; presentations on the country; and imparting information the constitution, political process, etc. The participants also interact with NGOs, organizations dealing with women affairs, high-level dignitaries, and attend cultural events. Each edition of the program involves up to 40 participants.
Three more programs will be hosted this year with states of Meghalaya, Assam, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh as partner states, according to the Ministry of External Affairs website.
The Scheme Revamp
The scheme saw a revamp in 2016 when the duration was extended from 21 to 25 days. It includes a 10-day visit to one or two states. Interested participants can directly apply via the government portal (http://kip.gov.in).
Preference is given to applications from Girmitiya countries — Mauritius, Fiji, Suriname, Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago, where Indians were taken as indentured labor. This was done by signing an agreement, which became “grimit” as the workers could not pronounce the word agreement. The countries then became known as girmitiya countries.
Bhavik Daya, a participant in the current program, lives in South Africa where his grandfather migrated. Calling his experience of visiting Punjab as exceptional, he told the Tribune, “Through this initiative, I was exposed to a different culture and now, I feel a strong connection to India.”