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9 Jan, 2014

India Calls on Overseas Diaspora to Help Build Country’s Brand Image


New Delhi, Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs, 08-January-2014 – Minister of External Affairs Mr. Salman Khurshid, has exhorted the overseas Indians to become India’s best ambassadors to spread and popularize the country’s values, beliefs, culture and heritage overseas.

Presiding over the session on ‘India Soft Power’ on Day-2 of Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 2014, (the annual caucus of the Indian overseas diaspora) Mr. Khurshid called upon the delegates to be active in social networking to enable India to build its brand name and image so that deeper economic engagements are concluded with overseas economies, irrespective of their size.

In the same session, Mr. Kapil Sibal, Minister of Communication & Information Technology and Law & Justice said, the present aspirational India will begin to inspire the remaining part of the globe by 2025, as it will have 90 crore people in the working age population, throwing a lone challenge for successive governments to provide infrastructure and growth opportunities for the people to realize their collective potential.

Mr. Sibal said that by 2020, 60 crore Indians would have migrated to large cities, embracing latest technologies with the best of education at their command. This would create windows for them to unleash their potential and make India a hub to interact and interconnect with the rest of the world.

The revenue generated in 2006 through IT &ITEs was estimated at $40 billion which has gone up to $100 billion now. Of this, $75 billion was contributed by export earnings. This was indicative of the strides made by the Indian economy, he added.

Mr. Sibal complimented the diaspora present at the convention, saying that it epitomized India’s soft power and has done India proud and hoped that it continued to serve India.

Minister of Culture, Mrs Chandresh Kumari Katoch in her presentation, stated that the Indian diaspora should actively spread its civilization, heritage and cultural ethos in their host countries and organize promotional events.

Improving travel experience of NRI youth is high on Civil Aviation Ministry’s agenda: K.C. Venugopal

Mr K.C. Venugopal, Minister of State for Civil Aviation, has underlined the Government’s commitment to improve the travel experience of the youth who search for greener pastures across the world.

Addressing a session on ‘Young Achievers’ at the Youth Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, the Minister said, “Air India as the National Carrier is indebted to the Overseas Indians and always offers you the opportunity to fly you around. Air India had a bad time combating with debts. Now we are regaining the ground. We are happy that the improved customer confidence is being reflected in the bookings as well. There were certain issues and concerns about the performance of Air India Express, the low cost carrier from Air India Group. Air India Express is specially designed for Gulf sector services. The process of empowering Air India Express as an independent business entity is progressing. We have rolled out many initiatives to make Air India Express complaint free. We have also increased our services to Gulf Sector, and on time performance is monitored at the apex level to ensure customer satisfaction. To hear from the NRIs personally about their concerns about Air India Express, I started a mail service too”, he said.

The Minister said that every generation of NRIs has its own specific opportunities and challenges. The long cultural exchange and bartering between the countries have set the soil ready for larger acceptance of young Indians.

He said, “The second generation NRIs are the ambassadors of a resurgent India, which has opened its doors for the world. Ambition, innovation and management expertise in international trade are the trademarks of a successful Young Indian. They have enhanced footsteps of Indian business across the world. Even in Kerala, we have many such young investors who ventured to go out from their middle class houses in small towns to international business hotspots. However, the expectation levels and competencies of new generation NRIs are manifold compared to their predecessors. They deserve more handholding and enabling policies by the Indian Government.

“It is a fact that there are initiatives to motivate the young investors back home in India. But I do believe that we have to expand our net so that a government umbrella for Young Overseas Indians can be set up. Such a body will have to extract data regarding investment potential in each sector, may tie up prospective cash flow for various PPP models, may ensure single window clearance for NRI investments etc.

“As a country and a responsible government we are committed to provide young Indians similar opportunities elsewhere, so that they can confidently invest in India. It is high time that we need to develop our own engineering research and reduce dependence on the borrowed technologies. In this liberalized economy now we can afford to integrate R&D into the prime business of Indian companies. The companies also need to promote the synergy between industries & education,” said Mr Venugopal.

Five reasons to believe in the future of India – Prime Minister Manmohan Singh

Following is the text of the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh’s address at the Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas, 2014, in New Delhi today:

“I am delighted to extend to all of you a very warm welcome on the occasion of the annual Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas. I am glad that, once again, the New Year is beginning with a celebration of the emotional, spiritual, economic and family ties that bind the expatriate Indian community to the motherland. This year, we welcome particularly the younger generation among the expatriates. Their presence in our midst gives a special resonance to this year’s theme of connecting across generations.

Our chief guest this year is Datuk Seri G. Palanivel, Federal Minister for Natural Resources & Environment of the Republic of Malaysia and President of the Malaysian Indian Congress. He embodies the ideas that bring us together for Pravasiya Bharatiya Diwas. Not only does he have an outstanding record of public service and personal accomplishments, he also represents a vibrant Indian community, which has made an immense contribution to Malaysia’s progress and served as an effective bridge of understanding and friendship between India and Malaysia. Ours are two pluralist democracies that have many common interests in their shared neighbourhood and have built a strong partnership in the last decade. We are delighted, Datuk Seri Palanivel, to have you with us today.

It is not only the size of the Indian expatriate community as the world’s second largest, but also your achievements that give you a very significant global profile. The Indian community’s contribution to India has also been invaluable – from the workers who labour abroad to support their families and communities at home; the professionals who share the fruits of their skills for India’s development; the entrepreneurs who bring investments into and promote exports from India; and, the community leaders who interpret India for the world and advance its interests abroad.

We on our part will continue to support and assist you, and promote your links with India in every possible way. It was for this purpose that, when our Government came to power, we established the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs. We have also recently launched the Mahatma Gandhi Pravasi Suraksha Yojana to provide social security to Indian workers abroad. The Pravasi Bharatiya Kendra in Delhi will be completed this year. We also intend to start a scheme to assist state governments in establishing Pravasi Bharatiya Bhawans. I compliment the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs and my colleague Mr Vayalar Ravi for these initiatives.

On this occasion, I would also like to record my appreciation for the work of the Ministry of External Affairs and the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs, as also the Government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, for successfully addressing the challenges that more than a million Indian workers faced following changes in Saudi Arabia’s labour policies. As always, our objective is to support our emigrant communities and I hope this year’s Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas will again provide an opportunity to discuss how we can forge a more productive partnership.

I know that many of you have questions about the future of the Indian economy and concerns about social challenges, the shape of our polity and the issues of governance in our country. There is a perception in some quarters outside India that the country is losing its momentum of the past decade. This is also amplified by the political contestations here in India, which are inevitably louder in the election season that is now on the horizon. I wish to assure you that there is no reason to despair about our present or worry about our future. Indeed, as I have said earlier, we are heading into better times ahead and I would urge you to remain engaged in the future of this country with confidence and optimism.

Let me make five broad points to bolster this argument.

First, regardless of the outcome of the next elections, they will once again demonstrate to the world the strength of our democracy and our institutions, and the enduring nature of these ideals that constitute the bedrock for our nation’s progress and our quest for a life of opportunity, justice and equity for all citizens of our diverse country.

Recent developments point to the greater enrichment of our democracy, which is becoming more participative and interactive, with people using both traditional methods and new digital tools to mobilize and communicate. It is especially encouraging to see our youth from all walks of life not only articulate their expectations and aspirations, but take actively to politics to shape their future. This is only to be welcomed. It is only thus that the extraordinary transformation that is taking place in our country on multiple levels can be distilled constructively into our democratic process, which has the vitality and responsiveness to reflect the new and emerging concerns and hopes and aspirations of our people. I am confident and so should you be that the future of our country as a pluralistic democracy is safe and secure.

Second, our economy has done well over the past decade. In the nine years since 2004, we averaged a healthy growth rate of 7.9% per annum. There has been no doubt a slow down in the recent past, and we will probably end this year at the same level as last year with 5% growth. A number of international as well as domestic factors have contributed to this situation. Despite these challenges, our economic fundamentals remain strong. Our savings and investment rates are still over 30% of our GDP and the entrepreneurial spirit in India is very much alive and kicking.

In recent months, we have also taken a very wide range of decisions to accelerate the implementation of mega infrastructure projects, reform tax administration, improve fiscal management, liberalize foreign direct investments and rationalize the system for allocation and utilization of natural resources. With greater political support, we could have legislated deeper reform measures – for example, in the financial and insurance sector. However, our decisions are already beginning to make an impact and India is re-emerging as an attractive investment destination. I am confident you will see the evidence clearly in the next few months.

Third, India is changing in a way that is significant but not always evident to those who do not see the big picture. Over the past ten years, our communication networks have expanded exponentially and much of rural India will be connected by broadband in the very near future. About a thousand institutions of higher education are today part of the high speed National Knowledge Network. Telephony is now within the reach of everyone.

The education sector has been radically reformed with Central Universities having gone from 17 to 44 and the IITs and IIMs doubling in number. At the primary level, nearly every child in India is going to school today. The National Skills Development Authority is working with other stakeholders, including those from the private sector, to train 50 million people for the workforce during the next 5 years.

We have added over 17000 kilometers of highways and more than 200,000 kilometers of new roads in rural areas. Our power generation capacity is expanding rapidly, aided by initiatives in solar, wind and nuclear energy to give ourselves a more sustainable energy future.

Fourth, India’s economic growth has not only accelerated, it has also become socially more inclusive and regionally more balanced. Inclusive development has always been the guiding principle of our Government and we have pursued it with great vigour and purpose in recent years. Our poverty levels are declining at faster rates; economically weaker states are growing at faster rates; agriculture growth has accelerated; and real rural wages have increased three times since 2004.

This is the result of path-breaking legislation and schemes that have created unprecedented rights to work, food security and right to education. For our government, inclusive development is not merely a moral imperative or a political necessity, but an essential ingredient of sustainable long-term economic growth and social stability.

Finally, one of our key priorities has been to provide open, transparent, accountable and clean government. The Right to Information, the Lokpal legislation, the Government Procurement Bill, changes in the systems for the allocation of natural resources and empowering our law enforcement and audit agencies are some of the steps we have taken in that direction. The task is complicated because we have to overhaul entrenched practices and systems while respecting the federal nature of our polity. Strengthening governance is an ongoing process and we can never say that we have done enough, but I am confident that we are moving in the right direction.

India is changing rapidly from within at the same time as being called upon to adjust to a rapidly changing world. This is a formidable challenge for a country of our size and our diversity. But it is a challenge we are equal to. In particular, we draw strength from the energy and optimism of India’s youth; from the freedoms that empower our people; from the debate that enriches our thinking; from the sense of unity that only becomes deeper when tested the most; and from the political consensus that underpins our economic policy.

I have no doubt that we are prepared to assume the international role and responsibilities that the world at large expects from a rising India. I am also confident that the association between India and its over twenty-two million roving ambassadors in the expatriate Indian community will continue to deepen and prosper in the years that lie ahead.

With these words, let me conclude by wishing you and your families a very happy and successful 2014 and I thank you once again for joining us for the Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas. May your path be blessed.”

Pravasi Bharatiya Divas-2014 to Connect India Diaspora Across Generations

India’s efforts to engage with the India Diaspora will receive a shot in the arm when the three-day Pravasi Bharatiya Divas from January 7, 2014 to January 9, 2014 is organised in Delhi at Vigyan Bhawan which will seek to connect persons of Indian origin and non-resident Indians across generations. The main event will be inaugurated on January 8, 2014 by the Prime Minister of India.

The President of India, Mr. Pranab Mukherjee, will deliver the valedictory address on January 9th and will confer the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Awards.

Addressing a press conference Minister of Overseas Indian Affairs, Mr. Vayalar Ravi said the purpose of the PBD is to have a meaningful integration with overseas Indians that would address their issues and concerns. The PBD Convention provides a unique platform for overseas Indians to interact among themselves and with the Government of India and the Governments of various Indian States. It is forum where the Government of India showcases investment opportunities in India and its potential in various sectors.

Mr Ravi said that the key focus area of PBD 2014 is Youth PBD on January 7th. The event is expected to open new horizons of a strong network of Young Overseas Indians to contribute to India’s engagement with youth in all sectors. The Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports will be the Partner Minstery for the event. India is a young nation and youth is one of the engines that drive a nation and if we are to propel India to greater heights, we need to harness this energy, Hence, it is in the fitness that the 12th editions of PBD is focusing on youth, the Minister added.

He said that India is fast emerging as a youthful and exuberant nation where approximately 50 percent of the working population falls in the age group 18-35 years. There has been a sharp reversal in migration trends and a number of experienced and educated NRIs are now returning home to use their knowledge to build an inclusive and economically sound future for the country. This led to the creation of a unique synergy where in young Indians worldwide are now set to shape the future of the Indian growth story. This synergy is expected to be directed by the core principal of inclusive prosperity and driven by innovation and technology.

Mr. Vayalar Ravi said that the demographic dividend expected from this synergy is the one which creates a self sustaining impetus where in young Indians are expected to contribute towards all the variables that determine economic growth. They are attracting investment into the economy; being more educated than their previous generations they are providing the human capital required to service industrial growth; and finally are working towards building institution that are becoming a medium of change in society, he added, On the first day a session on ‘Aspiration of Diaspora Youth’ will be held during the Youth PBD. Followed by concurrent session on ‘Sharing a Common Heritage: ‘The Emotional Connect’, and on Young Achievers.

On January 8th, after the inauguration session, Plenary sessions on ‘India’s Growth & Development Agenda’, ‘India’s Soft Power and ‘PBD Oration’ will be held.

The final day of PBD will witness sessions on ‘Investment Opportunities in State’ and “Parallel State Sessions’ Concurrent sessions on ‘Innovation and Technology’; ‘Healthcare Opportunity in India’; ‘Meeting of Diaspora organization’; ‘Making India the Hub of Media & Entertainment Industry’ and “Issues of NRIs in the Gulf’ will be organised.

PBD 2014 will showcase the participation of the state governments, corporate, financial institutions, NGOs and other sectors through the Exhibition that is behind the Vigyan Bhawan.