Ravi seeks strong partnership between motherland and diaspora

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New York, Sep 24 (UNI) Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi has called for constant interaction between expatriates and their motherland.

Mr Ravi was speaking at the inauguration of Pravasi Bharatiya Divas yesterday, being held for the first time outside India. It is a weeklong celebration of all things Indian to ensure the attention of Americans, particularly New Yorkers, is focused on the country's various aspects of life.

''This is an ideal time for us to forge strong partnerships between India and its diaspora,'' Mr Ravi said at the celebrations' inaugural function held at Chelsea Piers in Manhattan. The celebration, titled ''India At Sixty'' to mark the country's 60th independence anniversary was held at the aptly chosen Pier 60.

The minister added, ''This is important because in an increasingly globalising world, overseas communities can and should play an important role.'' Pointing out that the global economy is currently so much integrated that what happens in one part of the world has repercussions in others. He noted the latest half a percentage point interest rate cut in the United States, and said as a result India's stock market crossed the 16,000 mark.

Overseas Indians, who are estimated to number around 30 million, produce an economic output that equals 400 billion US dollars and the diaspora has been projected to generate output that nearly equals a third of India's gross domestic product.

Despite all this, the role of the Indian diaspora in the nation's economic growth is much less than the actual clout of expatriates.

''We, therefore, need to take a medium to long-term perspective of sustainable and strategic engagement between India and diaspora,'' Mr Ravi stated, addressing a gathering of NRIs who came from across North America and the Caribbean. The gathering included several Americans at large.

The minister also noted with contrast the contributions of Indians from North America and other developed regions of the world with Gulf and other parts, where many Indians work and regularly remit money to their families back home.

''India is already the highest recipient of remittances from overseas Indians -- over 23 billion US dollars last year. What is less known though is the fact that nearly half of these remittances come from just five million Indians in the Gulf,'' he said.

Mr Ravi pointed out that scope of diaspora's investments in India can be greatly widened, and cited that only eight billion US dollars is overseas Indians' investment, which constitutes only five per cent of the total foreign direct investment into the country.

Mr Ravi's ministry recently set up a non-profit body Overseas Indian Facilitation Center along with the Confederation of Indian Ministry to help promote expatriates' business interest. ''It will help you to invest in and benefit from India. It will serve as a one-stop shop,'' he said.


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