Minister for External Affairs Pranab Mukherjee on Monday called upon overseas Indians to play a role similar to the one being played by Chinese abroad in the growth of China.
Speaking at a plenary on 'Developmental Challenges of the States: Partnership Opportunities' at the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) 2007 in New Delhi, he said: "You have the knowledge, expertise, experience and capital and can contribute in a big way towards not only enabling India to be on the path of development and reforms, but also towards balanced development within India."
He urged the states to take specific initiatives and devise their own strategies to benefit from the creativity, talent and enterprise of the overseas Indian community.
Speaking about the areas in which such partnership opportunities exist, the minister said overseas Indians could play a great role in bridging the digital divide and taking basic services like education, health, drinking water and sanitation to the villages of India.
"Secondly, there remains a large infrastructure deficit in the country," he said.
"According to UN statistics, while FDI (foreign direct investment) inflows to India have risen by more than 20 per cent to reach $6.59 billion in 2005, this remains a fraction of the total global foreign investment of $916 billion. There is definitely a lot of scope for investment in infrastructure for our friends from overseas."
The minister also called for investments by the overseas Indians community in irrigation, food processing and marketing of agricultural products.
"I feel many of you have the advantage of understanding better the cultural moorings of the Indian farmer."
Mukherjee also called for a better role from the Diaspora for ensuring and enhancing as well as broader coverage of education for all Indians.
Turning to energy security, he said: "Our friends from overseas, having the knowledge, expertise and experience in the area, can contribute immensely in meeting the requirement of energy security in India."
He called upon the states to work out meaningful partnerships with overseas Indians in the course of PBD 2007.