The Union Minister of State for Commerce and Industry, D. Purandeswari, who was scheduled to inaugurate the 120th annual conference of UPASI is giving it a miss this year. And this is not the first time that a Minister is giving the event a last minute ditch.

UPASI members maintain that the Minister could not be present for the event as Parliament session is now in progress.

The conference is now turning out to be an annual ritual of sort.

It may be recalled that the association had rescheduled its conference (usually held in the first week of September) to October third week in 2011, just to ensure that the Chief Guest (Union Commerce Minister Anand Sharma) could make it. But it was not to be.

Is the annual conference that is being hosted by the apex association in the South - The Annual Plantation Conference losing its sheen? It appears so, considering that in recent years, Union Ministers, who have confirmed participation, have in the last minute given a go-by to the event, leaving UPASI to find either a local Member of Parliament or the Chairperson of one of the commodity boards stand-in to inaugurate the conference.

This year though, UPASI did not depart from its schedule of conducting the event in September.

‘We start working on this from April, meticulously; a team visits the powers-that-be in Delhi between April and September, at least 3 – 4 times to confirm the Minister’s schedule and then after finalising the programme, print the invitations," said an official of the association.

The official seemed helpless/embarrassed as every visitor was more curious to know if the Minister would participate in the conference on Tuesday.

The attendance for the technical session was also thin. But the industrial exhibition stole the limelight with over 90 exhibitors participating in it.

(This article was published on September 2, 2013)
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