Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday urged the Indian diaspora to develop India by investing both money and expertise in their land of origin.
“To me, FDI means First Develop India through Foreign Direct Investment, the norms of which have been fully liberalised for non-resident Indians and persons of Indian origin,” Modi said at the 14th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (Non-Resident Indian Day) held in Bengaluru.
Inaugurating the mega event, Modi exhorted the diaspora to participate in flagship government programmes such as Digital India, Make In India, Start-up India, Swacch Bharat (Clean India) and Namami Gange (Clean Ganga) for the country’s all-round development. “The diaspora can contribute to India by sparing some time and energy to implementing our flagship programmes and staying connected,” the Prime Minister said in his 40-minute address delivered in both Hindi and English.
Modi went on to announce a skill development programme that would be launched soon to aid unskilled youth seeking employment opportunities abroad. The scheme – called the Pravasi Kaushal Vikas Yojana – would ensure that workers planning to go abroad were provided “maximum facilitation”, he said.
Hailing the contribution of the overseas Indian community to the development of their motherland as well as the countries they are settled in, he said the government was proactively trying to turn “brain drain into brain gain”. There was new energy among the diaspora to connect to India’s social and economic landscapes, Modi said, noting that their annual remittance of nearly $69 billion contributes immensely to the Indian economy.
The event, which has Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa as the chief guest, was also attended by Union ministers Ananth Kumar and Gen VK Singh, and Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah.
Modi began his address by stating that Pravasi Bharatiya Divas was meant to mark the return of India’s greatest ‘pravasi’ – Mahatma Gandhi—to his homeland. He then paid glowing tributes to former Portugal president Mario Soares, who died at the age of 92 on Saturday. Soares was widely regarded as the “father of democracy” in the European country.
The Prime Minister then went on to highlight the BJP government’s efforts to rescue Indians stranded in conflict-hit countries. “The security of Indian nationals abroad is of utmost importance to us. External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj has been particularly proactive in reaching out to distressed Indians abroad through the social media,” he said.
Modi also announced a scheme for scientific communities abroad to conduct research in India.
The Portugal Prime Minister, in his address, said his government’s focus was on achieving a strategic partnership that would contribute to the progress of both the countries involved. Referring to his efforts to form a better framework for investment opportunities, Costa said: “We want to take advantage of our geographical position to attract foreign direct investment. As far as our relationship with India is concerned, I want to rely on its dynamic diaspora for the development of both the nations.”
The three-day event – held to mark the contribution of overseas Indians to the development of the nation – concludes on Monday, with President Pranab Mukherjee delivering the valedictory address.
(With agency inputs)