New Delhi, Sep 17 : Over 35 overseas youth of Indian origin are on a three-week visit here to know about their parents' and grandparents' homeland, and spirituality of India has been the greatest attraction for them.

It is this "balance in materialistic pursuits and search for inner happiness" that they will take back to their present country and share it with their other diaspora friends and relatives.

The 36 youth, in the age group of 18-26, are from Fiji, South Africa, Suriname, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Israel, Slovak Republic, Trinidad and Tobago, Mauritius, Iran and New Zealand and have been in India since Aug 25.

They are here under the 21st Know India Programme (KIP) of the ministry of overseas Indian affairs (MOIA). The last KIP was held in April-May.

"India's spirituality is what caught our attention the most. We got to visit a lot of temples and religious shrines from all religions and I could understand the unity in diversity that is talked about in India," Sameer Chand, an analyst at the Reserve Bank of Fiji, told IANS at the valedictory event of KIP held at MOIA at Akbar Bhavan here.

"I will take this spirituality home and share it with all my family and friends in Fiji," Chand, 24, said.

His view was seconded by Adi Nissim from Israel, who participated in KIP along with her twin sister Shay Lee Nissim.

"I really loved the spirituality that is part of the Indian society and culture. Every individual here seemed spiritually inclined," Adi, 23, told IANS.

Shay Lee quickly added: "Israel is completely westernised and people there are after material prosperity. Here in India, even if people want to earn money, they maintain a balance between materialist pursuits and search for inner happiness. The smile on their faces says it all."

Chand and Nissim sisters are part of the 15 male and 21 female visitors from 11 countries participating in KIP held three times annually.

His views were echoed by other youngsters, who said this visit to India was a dream come true for them, having heard several stories about their ancestors' homeland from their parents and grand parents.

On Monday, the KIP participants got an opportunity to meet Minister of Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi, who asked all of them to come visit India again after they have made their respective careers and also to pass on their knowledge of India gained from the visit to their friends and relatives, as also their next generation.

"But, as you are all now citizens of the countries you live in, your first loyalty is to that country and hence do your nations proud. Your origin will still remain Indian and your success will be India's success," said Ravi.

He also apprised the participants about the Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) scheme and encouraged them to take advantage of it.

"The KIP programme is for youth of Indian origin from around the world to see India, know India and mingle with families in India and reinvent the idea of India and Indian culture," Ravi told the group at a reception hosted for them.

The programme for the overseas youth took them to Tamil Nadu where they experienced the culture of south India, and visited key temples in Chennai, Kanchipuram, Mahabalipuram, Pondicherry, Kumbakonam, Tanjore, Chettinad, and Madurai.

During the stay in Delhi, the group was also exposed to India's progress in economic, industrial, education, science and technology, administration, communication and information technology fields, apart from culture, through interactions with personalities in these sectors including the capital's Lieutenant Governor Tejendra Khanna and Chief Election Commissioner V.S. Sampath.

They also visited Doordarshan, Indian Council of Cultural Relations, Indian Institute of Public Administration and Jawaharlal Nehru University.


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