India to set up Diaspora Knowledge Network

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New Delhi, Oct 3 (UNI) Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi has said the government would soon set up a 'Diaspora Knowledge Network,' an electronic platform to enable the 30-million strong Indian diaspora to deploy its knowledge and skills and transform ideas into individual initiatives and community action in India.

Pointing out that the overseas Indians constitute one of the largest, most diverse and best educated communities, he said they had added to India's brand as a 'knowledge economy' wherever they resided.

Speaking at the Harvard University yesterday on 'The Indian Diaspora: Its contribution to India's Economic Development' yesterday, Mr Ravi said the proposed electronic platform would enable the diaspora to work on projects in India without having to relocate.

'' The Indian Diaspora has an important role to play as overseas resource groups, facilitators of trade and investments with the home country, and transmitters of knowledge and skills.

I foresee a great role for the Indian Diaspora in forging partnerships between India and the rest of the world through social entrepreneurships that will enrich social capital.'' He said there was also a plan to establish a 'Global Indian Foundation,' to provide the Overseas Indian Community a credible window to lead Diaspora Philanthropy into deserving causes such as education, health and rural development in India.

Mr Ravi said there was tremendous response to the Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) scheme, which was similar to the 'Green Card' of the US.

He appealed to the Indian diaspora to make use of the recently-established 'Overseas Indian Facilitation Centre'.

The Centre, a non-profit trust under the OIA Ministry, could be the diaspora's window to invest in and benefit from India.

It will serve as a 'one stop shop', he said. The Minister said the size, the spread and the growing influence of overseas Indians was truly impressive.

Estimated at about 30 million in 130 countries, the Indian diaspora was a significant economic, social and cultural force in the world today, he said, pointing out that they produced an economic output of about 400 billion dollars.

Mr Ravi said this community is estimated to generate an annual income equal to about 30 per cent of India's Gross Domestic Product.

'' India is already the highest recipient of remittances from overseas Indians at over 23 billion dollars last year.

What is less known, though, is the fact that nearly half of these remittances -- about 12 billion dollars annually -- come from just five million overseas Indians in the Gulf.

Stating that India was a country of young people with 54 per cent of its population in the age group below 25 years, he said it would become the world's youngest nation with the largest workforce of 820 million in the working age group (18 to 59) by 2020 as compared to 400 million today.

'' This will be a time when it will have the potential to dramatically enhance labour supply and productivity,'' Mr Ravi emphasised.


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