Punjab Govt’s Program for Punjabi-origin Youth to Visit State Finds Few Takers
Only one application from the United Kingdom has been registered on the online portal of the program since its launch in September 2017.
The “Connect with Your Roots” (CYR) program announced by the Punjab government in September last year has attracted few people. Only one application from the United Kingdom has been registered on the online portal of the scheme so far, the Indian Express reported.
In December 2017, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh had written to the Indian High Commissioners situated in United Kingdom, United States, Canada and Australia, telling them that the state government would be pleased to welcome the first batch under the CYR program on the occasion of Lohri — around Jan. 12, 2018.
To make things easier, Singh also said that the dates of the visit could be aligned so it could match with the holiday calendar of the respective countries. The Punjab government also sent the itinerary of the program in pamphlets along with the letter. However, the initiative has received no response.
There have been no takers in the United States, Canada and Australia until now. The initiative aims to connect Punjabi-origin students living abroad with their roots and help them interact with their counterparts in universities in the state. Targeted at youngsters aged between 16 and 22 years who have never been to India, mainly the third or fourth generation immigrants, the initiative will involve organization of two-week tours in the state for groups of 15 students every other month.
To get more NRI youth to apply for the program, the Punjab government is now planning to promote it by running advertisement campaigns in these countries and by requesting the respective High Commissions to complete the task on its behalf. The state government would pay for the advertisements, the report said.
“The jingle is on air in the UK since last month,” Punjab’s NRI Affairs Department Commissioner Kavita Singh said, adding, “Probably, we need to give more time. We may announce the dates for the program two months for the youth to plan the visit. We will also seek feedback from the High Commissions on probable reasons for the low response. Since this is new program, we may plan accordingly in future after getting feedback.”
In regions of Punjab that are home to a majority of NRIs, like Doaba and Malwa, the jingle has been on air on the radio for a few days.
An applicant can apply for the program on the CYR portal. The Punjab government was hopeful of hosting the first batch from the United Kingdom from March 30 to April 10 around the Easter holidays in Britain, after its communication with Indian High Commission in the UK and following radio advertisement there.
“It is our desire through this initiative that the generation of youngsters who have only heard stories about Punjab or seen it on television get to really know Punjab and what we call Punjabiyat,” Singh had said at the launch event held at the Indian High Commission in London last year, which was attended by British Punjabi students.
The Punjab government’s program is on the lines of the Know India Programme (KIP), an initiative for diaspora engagement organized by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA). It aims to familiarize Indian-origin youth, in the age group of 18-30 years, with their Indian roots and contemporary India. Since 2016, six KIPs are being organised in a year, according to a statement from the ministry.
In 2017-18, four editions of Know India Programme have already been organised, with the total participation of 160 persons of Indian-origin (PIO) youths, 40 in each group. “Two more editions were organized from Jan. 29 -Feb. 22, 2018 and Feb.12 to March 8. So far a total number of 1,460 PIO youths have participated in this program, till the 44th edition of KIP. An online portal for the program was launched in 2017, where Indian-origin youth can submit their applications online for participation,” the statement added.