New Delhi, Jan.9 (ANI): President Pratibha Patil on Saturday asked the non-resident Indians spread across the world to come forward and play a greater participatory role for India's development.
Speaking at the valedictory function of the 8th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas convention and conferment of the Pravasi Bharatya Samman Awards, President Pratibha said: "As we turn the corner of the first decade of the 21st Century, it is in fact, becoming more and more evident that we live in an increasingly inter-connected world. Such a world requires that each one of you must play the responsible role of a global citizen."
"There is immense capacity that you have both in talent and in financial terms, that can be invested in India. We hope to see your greater participation in the coming years in the development of India. Of course, India's remittances from overseas Indians, estimated at over 50 billion dollars last year, were the highest in the world," President Patil added.
"What is less known, though, is the fact that nearly 40 percent of these remittances-about 20 billion dollars annually-come from overseas Indian workers in the Gulf consisting of temporary contractual skilled and semi-skilled workers. They often face harsh living and working conditions and are separated from their families for long periods of time. I take this opportunity to salute Indian workers in the Gulf," Patil further added.
Patil said NRIs' knowledge and expertise could be significant in India's march to become a developed country.
"Overseas Indians estimated at over 25 million and spread across the world, have come to be recognized as the 'Knowledge Diaspora'. The knowledge, expertise, skills and resources of this vast and diverse Indian community can be an important input in India's march to becoming a developed country," Patil stated.
President said that in the social infrastructure sector as also physical infrastructure development, India is looking at investment increasingly in the public-private partnership model.
"Our infrastructure financing needs are estimated to be over 500 billion US dollars in the next five years. We are focusing on improving the quality and quantity of education at all levels of the education pyramid. The expenditure on healthcare infrastructure in the country is projected to grow at 5.8 per cent annually. This presents an unprecedented opportunity, including for our overseas community to participate and benefit in India's unfolding growth story," Patil said.
President said the Indian growth story is an absorbing, exciting and a continuing one.
"We are a big and a growing market. We have a strong capital market regulator and a strong Central Bank. Our banks and financial institutions are based on 'best practices' in fiduciary responsibility and are well-regulated. All this enabled us to cope with one of the worst economic downturns in recent history, better than many other countries and it has also meant a quicker recovery," Patil said while adding that India posted a growth of 6.7 percent in 2008-09. "We will achieve over 7 percent this year. In the post-crisis world, India is increasingly perceived as one of the principal engines of growth, a safe destination for investment and an emerging educational and technological hub." resident Patil, on this occasion, congratulated Minister of Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi and his Ministry, for taking welfare measures for Indians living abroad.
"The Indian Community Welfare Funds established in 18 countries will provide timely succour to overseas Indians in distress. The bilateral Social Security Agreements as well as the Labour Welfare and Protection Agreements that have been concluded will be useful in getting the cooperation of the host governments on issues impacting the Indian community. Similarly, the Government is strongly taking up concerns about the protection and security of Indians, particularly students, with Governments of countries in which they live," Patil said.
"Each of you by the dint of hard work and determination overcame many a difficulty in far away lands, to carve out a niche for yourself in your chosen fields. We are proud of your achievements," said President Patil.
"I am confident that with your calibre, creativity and enterprise you will continue to contribute to the advancement of human civilization, particularly as your roots lie in this, one of the most ancient civilizations of the world, in which acquisition of knowledge and universal welfare have been laudable objectives," Patil told the NRI audience.
Every year the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas is celebrated on January 9 to commemorate the return of Mahatma Gandhi to India on this day in the year 1915. (ANI)