To address the long felt need for an organization devoted to engaging with the large number of Overseas Indians(OI), both NRIs & PIOs, some like minded intellectuals, journalists and social workers initiated a Forum to discuss the issues pertaining to Pravasi Bharatiyas or the OI. Thus the Antar Rashtriya Sahayog Parishad(ARSP) or the Indian Council for International Co-operation was established in 1978 as a non- profit, non- governmental and non- political organization to promote universal brotherhood and harmony, embodied in its motto, “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” or ‘the world is one family’.
One of the key guiding spirits behind the establishment of the ARSP was Shri Baleshwar Agrawal, a veteran journalist and social activist. He was a founder member of ARSP, serving as its Secretary General from 1983 to 2013, and he contributed to bringing diaspora issues into India’s foreign policy formulation. Shri Agrawal’s contribution, interalia, to the Report of the High Level Committee on Indian Diaspora led to the introduction of a number of new diaspora related initiatives like Pravasi Bharatiya Divas celebrations, the PIO/OCI card scheme, Know India Programme and the Know your Roots programme.
Since its inception three decades back, the ARSP has emerged as an important non-governmental organization connecting the people of Indian origin across the world. The ARSP acts as a voice for the diaspora with the Government of India articulating diaspora concerns with the Ministries/departments for Overseas Indian Affairs, External Affairs and Culture. The wide ranging activities of ARSP include programmes on cultural, educational, social and civilizational matters, travel and tourism, economic links; interactions with think tanks, opinion makers like Parliamentarians, media, etc and linguistic and literary promotions. Further, the ARSP regularly organises International Conferences, Seminars and Symposia on relevant diaspora related subjects and has organized three PIO Parliamentarians’ Conferences. ARSP actively promotes inter-cultural understanding and appreciation, and strives to enhance connectivity with the diaspora.
ARSP publishes a monthly newsletter, ‘ARSP Bulletin’, for the dissemination of Diaspora related issues and events. Over the years, ARSP has published books under the series “Mother India’s Children Abroad” on countries like South Africa, Fiji, Guyana, Mauritius, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Suriname, Malaysia, Thailand, Trinidad & Tobago, Myanmar, East Africa, Australia & New Zealand.
ARSP maintains contacts with Diplomatic Missions of India in diaspora countries and those of diaspora countries in India and organises special sessions for the diaspora youth visiting India under the Government’s ‘Know India Programme (KIP)’. The ARSP regularly interacts with the leadership of countries like Mauritius, South Africa, Trinidad & Tobago, Guyana, Suriname, Fiji, Malaysia, Nepal and Bhutan.
The ARSP has its own building, the ‘Pravasi Bhawan’ located at Deen Dayal Upadhyay Marg, New Delhi.