Darpan Prasher, a Pravasi Samman awardee, has been doing his bit to support Indian students in faraway Georgia during Covid times. Prasher was born in Amritsar and completed his education in Delhi. In 2002, he moved to Georgia with a job and now lives there permanently.
“I have many friends in Georgia and now, as many Indians come to this country to study medicine and work, we have started celebrating Indian festivals such as Holi and Diwali, as well as the Indian Independence Day, Republic Day and International Yoga Day with a lot of enthusiasm. Many local Georgians too participate in them,” he was quoted as saying.
Prasher, in 2017, worked to set up a non-governmental organisation called Cultural Diversity for Peaceful Future. The NGO was formed to promote cultural links between Georgia and India. They also organised Indian festivals where both Georgians and Indians would participate.
After the Covid-19 pandemic began causing devastation around the globe, Prasher, along with the NGO, stepped in to help Indians in Georgia.
“When the COVID19 pandemic started last year, the authorities declared an emergency in Georgia. Several Indian students in medical colleges here were stranded. I reached out to them and asked them not to move out of their homes. Students were having difficulties in procuring face masks and sanitisers, I supported them and distributed emergency supplies,” Prasher said.
Georgia is covered by the Indian Embassy in Armenia, Yerevan. As the two countries’ borders were closed, the Indian government could not provide students in Georgia with relief material.
At the time when the Vande Bharat mission was announced to evacuate stranded Indian nationals, Prasher helped students in a number of universities like European University, Caucasus International University, New Vision University, Geomedi University, David Tvildiani University, Kutaisi University and Batumi ta Rustaveli University, get in touch with the Indian Embassy and subsequently find seats on the flights.
“There were four Vande Bharat flights operated by Air India from here, but they were not enough to accommodate all the Indian students. I helped some of them arrange a special charter flight to go back to India. I also helped them when they faced difficulties over online classes and several other issues,” Prasher said.
Last year, an attempt to set up an Indian Chamber of Commerce in Georgia did not work out. Prasher said that he is confident he will be able to start it soon and host events in both countries.
In 2021, Prasher was awarded the Pravasi Samman, generally given to people of Indian origin.
Last week, Indian external affairs minister S Jaishankar met Prasher during his visit to the capital of Georgia, Tbilisi.
“I have also been invited to speak at the Parliament of Georgia and thanked by members of parliament here for my work. I am doing everything for the cultural integration between India and Georgia,” said Prasher.
Prasher’s last initiative is ‘Clean the Nature’, in which Indian and Georgian students together clear plastic waste from public spaces once every two weeks, practice yoga and arrange a picnic where everyone shares their views on Georgian and Indian culture.