Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has praised the overseas Indian community for the remittances they send, which has been an important factor in keeping the country's current account deficit in the balance of payments in a zone of comfort.
Speaking at the inauguration of the Servin XPO 2006 exhibition organised by the Federation of Indian Export Organisations here on Thursday, he said that the "remarkable service provided by our emigrants" tends to get ignored.
"The largest single item in our export basket today is the remittances sent back home by workers in foreign countries," he said.
Indian emigrants send over $20 billion as remittances annually, a significant proportion of which comes from expatriates in the Gulf.
The prime minister said that, globally, the total remittances to the developing countries exceed foreign direct investment (FDI) flows and are twice the amount of official development assistance extended by the developed countries.
"We need to focus on this important service activity," he said.
The Indian diaspora, comprising both people of Indian origin and non-resident Indians, number around 25 million spread across 110 countries.