Free Travel Program to India for Youths

Free Travel Program to India for Youths

Photo : Sushma Swaraj

The External Affairs Minister of India, Sushma Swaraj, has sent out a report on its inauguration of a portal for Know India Programme (KIP). KIP is the Ministry's (of External Affairs or MEA) flagship initiative for engagement with young overseas Indians. It allows for an almost all expense paid trip to India. There is a separate program for non-Indian diaspora youths. The KIP is highly recommended with participants telling this writer they learn a lot about India and its diverse culture with minimal costs to them. It is a unique opportunity and youths are urged to take advantage of it.

Several Guyanese have accessed KIP to visit and study in India. The program encourages Indians overseas to come to India and learn about the country and its people; the Indian government funds 90% of the expenses with participants contributing the rest. The program costs thousands of US dollars invested by the MEA on each participant. Several Guyanese went last January and preceding years. This writer met Guyanese youths in Bangalore last January for PBD and at other cities in preceding annual PBDs when they were invited and hosted by the MEA.

The Ministry of External Affairs will take care of participants only for the duration of the program for just over three weeks. If participants wish to arrive in India early or stay extra, they will have to make their own arrangements; but airfare is covered. Participants will advise when they wish to travel but they must attend the required sessions. Gratis visa will also be granted to selected participants by the Indian Missions/Posts abroad.

The portal enables Indian-origin youth to apply online for the KIP programs.

KIP is an engagement program for Diaspora youth (between the age of 18-30 years) of Indian origin to introduce them to India and promote awareness about different facets of Indian life. This program is open to youth of Indian origin with preference to those from Girmitiya countries (Mauritius, Fiji, Suriname, Guyana, T&T, Grenada, Jamaica, etc.). The program has been in existence since 2003 when initiated by the BJP-led Vajpayee government at the request of several Indo-Caribbeans, including this writer, who met him a few years earlier in Manhattan when he came to address the UN. Vajpayee had also committed to an increase in scholarships for PIOs to study in India but he did not win a second term in 2004. Scholarships to the Caribbean did increase under the BJP government thanks to lobbying by a few of us in New York. Vajpayee was very impressed with cultural retention by Indo-Caribbeans and committed to programs relating to culture, education, and skills training.

The main elements of KIP: Understanding of India’s political system, economy, society, and developments in various sectors; visit places of historical, cultural, religious importance; familiarisation with art, music and culture; visit a village; interaction with non-profit organizations; meetings with senior leadership/officials in India and visit to a select state in India for 10 days.

This year i.e. in 2017, the Ministry will organise four KIPs with participation of 40 overseas Indians in each program.

The schedule of KIPs is online. Applications are being accepted:

  1. Date State Partner

41st KIP 3-27 September 2017 Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh

42nd KIP 1-25 October 2017 Jharkhand & Chhattisgarh

43rd KIP 1-25 November 2017 Meghalaya & Assam

44th KIP 29 Nov -23 Dec 2017 Andhra Pradesh & Telangana

Applicants can indicate their preferences online for any three KIPs. The Ministry will do their best to accommodate them in the KIP of their first preference. The program is open to youth of Indian origin (excluding non-resident Indians) in the age group of 18-30 years,

Applications can be submitted online by the overseas Indians from 23 June to 21 July 2017. The Indian Consulate can be consulted for further info and assistance.