The Indian government is keen to engage the Indian Diaspora in projects and programmes that are designed to foster economic growth, industrial development and social progress, Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh said.
Inaugurating the 11th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (the annual conference of people of Indian origin) at Kochi in Kerala on January 8, 2013, he said that the overseas Indian community should be a vital partner and participant in India’s social and economic development.
“Whether you wish to invest or share your knowledge, technology and skills, whether your enterprise takes you to the cities or your compassion brings you to a remote village, I assure you of our continuing effort to support your endeavours,” he said.
The three-day event, organised jointly by the Overseas Indian Affairs Ministry, the Kerala State government, the Confederation of Indian Industries and other organisations, this year’s theme was Engaging Diaspora’: the Indian Growth Story.‘
Dr Singh said that the theme was appropriate since “there have been concerns recently about the direction and content of India’s growth story and about larger social and governance issues.”
Handbook for progress
He released a Handbook for Overseas Indians to facilitate economic engagement, saying that overseas Indians have served as a bridge of friendship and cooperation between India and their adopted homes abroad.
“Regardless of whether they are successful professionals, traders and entrepreneurs, second generation Indians comfortably reconciling their two identities, or workers toiling hard to build a future for their families, they are at all times a most effective window for the world to India’s heritage and its progress,” Dr Singh said.
He repeated an announcement that he had made at an earlier PBD that those holding the Overseas Indian Citizenship or Person of Indian Origin Card would be given ‘certain privileges,’ but did not provide fresh details.
“We will deepen their connection with India and advance their interests.
While honouring their achievements, we will also seek to facilitate their travel, business and education and make it easier for them to be a part of life in India, enjoy due rights and participate in India’s economic development,” Dr Singh said.
He also acknowledged that Indians living abroad become vulnerable to economic crises, conflicts, civil unrest or just senseless hate crimes.
“At a time of turbulence in many parts of the world, the safety and security of overseas Indian communities are uppermost in our minds. “
“We derive comfort from the assurances that we have received from governments in the countries of your residence that they will do everything for your safety and security.
“We recognise that the primary responsibility rests with the host countries, but when needed, as was the case last year in Libya, our government will provide prompt and necessary assistance,” he said.
Delivering the valedictory address on January 9, President Pranab Mukherjee said that the Indian government has created institutions for better interaction with its Diaspora more effectively.
“Since 2006, the Overseas Indian Affairs Ministry has set up institutions such as the ‘Overseas Investment Facilitation Centre’ for enhancing economic engagement with the people of Indian origin and the ‘India Development Foundation’ to channel the philanthropic impulses of overseas Indians,” he said.