London: Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Wednesday announced the global launch of his government’s unique `Connect with your roots’ (CYR) programme from London (UK), which he said would apprise Indian origin youth in other countries of the ground realities in Punjab and wean them away from false Khalistani propaganda.
Third and fourth generation youngsters born and brought up in other countries were being misled and influenced by false propaganda, especially that which endorsed the Khalistani movement, said Amarinder, adding that the initiative was aimed at creating awareness among these youth about the true situation in Punjab.
He called upon these youth to join the campaign to rediscover their identity and understand the ground realities of Punjab in a free environment, unshackled by preconceived ideas. He exhorted young boys and girls, between 16 and 22 years of age, especially those who had never visited India, to participate in the two-week programme which will provide them a platform to strengthen their roots.
The programme, said the Chief Minister, was inspired by his party’s and government’s thinking, as well as the desire of the Government of India, that such young people should come to Punjab and interact with various sources, including students, to find out the strengths and failures of the state. It would provide them with a platform to connect with their history and culture, and know their ancestral roots better.
Assuring them that it was not his government’s intention to take them for a political ride, Captain urged the youngsters to come and interact freely with any democratic party in India and arrive at their own conclusions about the country, and then go back and apprise others of the reality. This little partnership would be of mutual benefit, he said, adding that `you can help India prosper and we will, in turn, help you prosper in your adopted countries.’
He said he personally wanted these youth to visit Punjab and tell the government what they felt about the state and what could be done to further improve things. They should see everything for themselves, he said, lamenting that there appeared to be many misconceptions in their minds about the true state of affairs in Punjab.
The Chief Minister said while he and his colleagues would be personally there to welcome such youngsters in Punjab, the visitors would not be shadowed or prevented from moving around freely wherever they wanted.
He said he wanted the youth to become the true voice of Punjab, adding that while his government was doing as much as it could for the development of the state, particularly the nine million odd unemployed youth, it wanted the diaspora to come and see for itself how far the new dispensation had been successful in putting Punjab back on the path to progress.
The programme, said the Chief Minister, will provide the youngsters with an opportunity to visit their native place or the town where their parents or grandparents were born or the place where spent their early years. It will give them a chance to learn and speak their native language.
There will be a batch of 15 youth coming every two months under the programme, with each covering a different country. Since the state government had already made a budgetary provision for the programme for this year, it could consider taking the first three batches from UK itself, before extending it to other countries.
In the first phase, it is proposed to cover Canada, US, Australia and EU, besides UK, as part of the programme, which requires the applicant to bear expenses for to and fro travel from India, while boarding, lodging, local travel and sightseeing expenses will be borne by the Government of Punjab. Publicity material will be supplied to the Embassies/High Commissions in countries/regions selected. The Secretary, NRI Affairs, may be entrusted with the task of taking the scheme forward.
Besides a home-stay programme in a village for three days, the initiative would include visits to old monuments and the chance to savour traditional delicacies famous food joints in Patiala, Amritsar, Ludhiana and other places of their interest. It would also encompass visits to historic, cultural and tourist places, such as Sri Harmandir Sahib: Golden Temple, Jallianwala Bagh (Amritsar), Indo-Pak Border at Wagha (Amritsar), Bhagat Singh Memorial at Banga, Khalsa Heritage Memorial (Anandpur Sahib) etc.
To promote awareness about the programme, a Facebook page has been created. Interested youth can reach out for more information through e-mail –email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.
CYR complements another government programme `Friends of Punjab – Chief Minister’s Garima Gram Yojna’, seeking to connect with the millions of NRI Punjabis who have made foreign soils their homes and contributed to the progress of countries around the world with their hard work and dedicated commitment. This programme seeks to encourage them to connect with their routes and invites them to support the government’s rural development initiatives through matching financial assistance.