RSTV: THE BIG PICTURE- TAPPING OVERSEAS INDIANS
Prime Minister Narendra Modi described NRIs as India’s brand ambassadors and said they were the symbols of the country’s capabilities. The prime minister was inaugurating the 15th Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas convention in his parliamentary constituency of Varanasi. The theme of this year’s convention was ‘role of Indian diaspora in building new India’. The Prime Minister of Mauritius Pravind Jugnauth was the chief guest of the convention, while Himanshu Gulati, Member of Parliament of Norway, was the special guest.
“Diaspora” is an omnibus phrase which brackets people of Indian origin who have emigrated since the 19th century to all corners of the world. They spread the Indian Culture and traditions abroad benefitting India in general and send back remittances back home helping the foreign exchange reserves in particular. Over 31 million overseas Indians are living throughout the globe. They are contributing in their countries and also participating in Indian development. Diaspora serves as an important phenomenon for non-state actors, soft powers in foreign policy analysis and an ‘inevitable link’ between the home and host lands for the people. It is recognized that there is a convergence of Diaspora policy and foreign policy of a country due to the embedded role of Diaspora in the foreign affairs.
- Government has made it easy for overseas Indians to invest in India.
- The government has started, since 2003, the Pravasi Bhartiya Diwas, to mark the contribution of the overseas Indian community to the development of India.
- Government is activating and energizing them.
- Merger of the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs with the Ministry of External Affairs.
- India also allowed visitors from 43 countries, including the United States, Australia and Fiji, to receive visas upon arrival, replacing the previous process, which took weeks.
- Efforts have been taken to unify different diaspora organization.
- The Overseas India Facilitation Centre was set-up by the Government of India in partnership with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), to facilitate economic engagement of overseas Indians with India.
- The government evacuated Indian Diaspora in Yemen in 2015 through the Operation Rahat and from South Sudan through Operation Sankat Mochan.
- The government is emphasising more on youth and has started a scheme “Know your country”.
- “Pravasi Kaushal Vikas Yojana” targeting Indian youth seeking overseas employment.
- The Indian government is active on the social media and the government provides quick response and solves the problems of Indian Diaspora through the social media.
Pravasi Bhartiya Divas 2019:
Context: The 15th annual Pravasi Bhartiya Divas (PBD) was held in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh. Usually celebrated on or around 9th January, the grand scale of arrangements that went behind this year’s celebrations pushed the event to January 21-23.
Chief Guest: The Prime Minister of Mauritius, Pravind Jugnath.
Theme: “Role of Indian Diaspora in building New India”.
The first chapter of Pravasi Bhartiya Divas was held in 2003 to recognise the contributions of NRIs in academic and professional fields across the world.
The reason 9th January is usually set aside for celebrating Pravasi Bhartiya Divas is that Mahatma Gandhi returned from South Africa on this day in 1915.
Significance: These conventions provide a platform to the overseas Indian community to engage with the government and Indian communities in India for mutually beneficial activities. These conventions are also very useful in networking among the overseas Indian community residing in various parts of the world and enable them to share their experiences in various fields.
- There is now a linkage between Indian diasporic community and development of the country. Diaspora has become an important feature of India’s foreign policy today.
- There are special outreaches to Indian communities during high-level visits to the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Singapore, Israel, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
- Diaspora policy not only focuses on the rich, industrialist, white collared professionals but gives due respect to the working class population.
Asset in Disguise:
- The Diaspora population bring technical and domain expertise to domestic start-ups and often act as angel investors.
- Diaspora Indian faculty abroad volunteer time and resources to help faculty on Indian campuses improve the quality of education — as in the case of member institutions of the Indo Universal Collaboration of Engineering Education.
- This was reflected in advancing projects whether through government arrangements or private commercial deals related to Make in India, Skill India, Digital India, Start Up India as well as those aimed at improving our infrastructure and transportation links and fostering all round sustainable development in urban or energy sectors.
- The diaspora can step up and act as Indian ‘ambassadors’, as it is insufficient and ineffective for a country or its missions abroad to rely only on press releases to change public opinion.
- The diaspora can provide the requisite strategic impulse, which makes it all the more important to unlock their potential.
- To ensure that Diaspora members feel welcomed on their arrival in India, easier procedures for immigration and customs clearances that are marked by courteous service are essential.
- Ease entry of foreign funds.
- Address the problems of our overseas blue-collar workers
- Negotiating a Standard Labour Export Agreements with the host countries
- Monitoring and supervision of our overseas workers by our Missions
- compulsory insurance schemes covering the risks faced by our overseas workers
- Inclusive Diplomacy.
- PIOs make frequent visits to their home state or to visit their relatives. There should be greater focus on promoting tourism among 2nd generation PIOs.
- Welfare of Indian Women married to NRIs/PIOs
- Economic Development
- Diasporic professionals are working in senior positions in manufacturing industry can be helpful in promoting India as an important destination for out-sourcing.
- Government should also consider setting up Special Economic Zones, exclusively for projects to be set up by NRIs/PIOs.
- The Government should consider issuing special infrastructure bonds for attracting NRI/PIO investments on the lines of the Israel Bonds.
- The challenge before India lies in the way it taps its widespread Diaspora’s financial and intellectual capital.
In recent times, the government has laid a strong foundation by making diplomacy people-centric with government’s constant interaction with the Indian diaspora. The Indian diaspora is the bridge between their nation and India where they can grow simultaneously for betterment of their citizens. The diaspora can provide the requisite strategic impulse, which makes it all the more important to unlock their potential.
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