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Forgotten Children of Mother India

Forgotten Children of Mother India

Author: Pramod Kumar
Publication: Organiser
Date: April 29, 2001

Introduction: International Roma Conference
It was a unique and emotional moment in the life of Roma people when they got an opportunity to visit the land their forefathers had left one thousand years ago. They were in India on a week-long visit to attend a conference in New Delhi and also to visit the religious and historical places about which they had so far been reading in books and listening from their forefathers.

The two-day conference was held in New Delhi on 8th and 9th April by Hindu Heritage Pratishthan in cooperation with the Ministry of Tourism and Culture and the Modi Foundation. Thirty-three Roma scholars, Romanologists, Social Scientists including the Roma leaders from 20 European countries participated in the conference.

The conference requested the Government of India to recognise Romas as the ancient Indian migrants and as part of the People of Indian Origin like the Indian emigrants of Mauritius, Surinam, Fiji and other countries. It also urged the Government of India to launch a programme to promote art, literature and other subjects of humanities through regular, exchange of students, scholars, social activities and business persons among India and countries with large Roma communities world over.

Sarsanghchalak of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), K. S. Sudarshan while addressing the delegates said that the Roma should not depend on the Government assistance as there are some devoted non-Government organisations also, which will be more useful than the Government organisations. In this connection, he referred to the activities of RSS in India and abroad. He, however, assured the delegates to help them in socio-cultural fields as far as possible.

Union Minister of Human Resource and Development, Dr. Murli Manohar Joshi stressed the need for more inter-action between Roma and Indian scholars and intellectuals. He agreed to consider the demand made by Roma scholars for inclusion of material on Roma people and their cultural, heritage into the textbooks, prescribed for the students of India to know about the Roma, the forgotten children of India. Dr. Joshi was of the opinion that the literature about India should also be translated into Romani. He asked the organisers to prepare a project in this regard.

Inaugurating the conference Working President of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), Ashok Singhal said that Roma brethren are ancient Indian migrants. He advised the people of Indian origin living abroad to join them in their struggle for human rights. President of Hindu Heritage Pratishthan, Dr B. K. Modi, asked the Roma delegates to have regular interaction with Indian scholars.

On this occasion President of International Roma Union (IRU), Dr. Emil Scuka, spoke about the painful history of Roma migration from India. He narrated tale of torture and humiliation faced by the Roma people in different countries even today. He said it is a matter of special honour for them to come to India. "We would like to be the moral protector of the Romani people around the world," he said asking the Government of India to help these forgotten children of mother India in socio-cultural and political fields as well.

Later, the Roma delegation called on the Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee at his residence. Addressing the delegates Shri -Vajpayee assured India's support to the cause of Romas. "India will support your cause if the matter is raised in the United Nations or any other international forum," he told the delegates. Recalling that he had attended several functions organised by the Roma people, Vajpayee said he is aware of the struggle carried out by them for a dignified living. "We are ready to help you and extend our cooperation to you," Shri Vajpayee assured them.

Among the foreign delegates the prominent scholars were: Dr. Vania Kochanawski, President of Romani Yekhibe (France), Dr. Hristo Kychukov of Bulgaria, Secretary General of IRU, Balic Osman, President, Scientific Board of YUROM, Yugoslavia, Ms Lilyana Kovacheva, Bulgaria, Shri Nilole Georghe, Advisor on Roma from Poland. A number of intellectuals and scholars from India also attended the conference. Dr. Shyam Singh Shashi, the Gypso Anthropologist and Poet who is the General Secretary of the Pratishthan, played a key role in organising the conference. His book entitled Roma Culture and Heritage, based on his 20 years of research on Roma people, was also released in the conference.

After the conference the delegates left for Hardwar, Rishikesh and Kurukshetra to visit their forefathers' ancient land. It was for the first time in the Roma history of one thousand years that they visited these sacred places.

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