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Terror kept NRIs away: Oscar Fernandes

The Minister of State for Overseas Indian Affairs talks to Vibhuti Agarwal on low turnout at the annual overseas Indians' conclave.

india Updated: Jan 11, 2006 12:26 IST

Minister of State for Overseas Indian Affairs, Oscar Fernandes, on the sidelines of the 4th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, explains how the mega event this year was different from the previous ones, instead of being a carnival to a "productive and outcome oriented" meeting of NRIs:

Most of the NRIs feel that choosing Hyderabad as the place for the 4th PBD was not a very wise step. Why did you choose Hyderabad as the venue inspite of Mumbai being the hub of all commercial and business activities?

The reason behind this is that the Government wanted to portray the rich Indian and expose the country's ethnicity to the world from every direction. The people of Andhra Pradesh are happy to showcase the beauty and progress made by their state in the recent years. Moreover, we wanted the NRIs to do Bharat Darshan from everywhere and not just the Gateway of India.

What was the reason behind the low turnout of NRIs this year?

Yes, compared to previous years, the number of NRIs and PIOs visiting India was considerably low. The reason could be attributed to the constant terror episodes taking place in the country. The fear and horror created by the IISc, Bangalore might be one of the reasons. But such incidents can take place anywhere from Delhi to London. The Government had made adequate security arrangements and proper measures were taken well in advance.

Where do you plan the next Pravasi Bharatiya Divas?

Nothing has been decided so far. The Government is working out the modalities and the decision will be taken soon.

What are the important areas where you think there was some kind of exchange?

There were a whole lot of agenda-based measures, which the business meet managed to accomplish. Our ministry is small and we propose to remain small. But the ministry is unique in the sense that we are positioning ourselves as a service ministry to function as a friend and guide to the vast overseas Indian community.

What criterion did you follow while finalising the names of the awardees for Pravasi Bharatiya Samman?

The selection procedure is complex and detailed. A committee is constituted for this task in various countries which looks into the contribution and accomplishments of the NRIs towards the Diaspora in different fields like literature, science or communal harmony, culture. Based on their recommendations, the final decision is taken by the Government of India.

How was the event this year different from the previous PBDs?

The Government, this year, managed to transform the PBD into a business-oriented forum with more focused and targeted discussions taking place. It was not at all a carnival, as some people call it. We managed to strike some important business deals and partnerships and attract huge foreign investment. Another important accomplishment was that the Government managed to rope in states, industry and private sector as stakeholders. I believe the government did an outstanding job in reaching out to every Indian across the globe."

First Published: Jan 09, 2006 19:28 IST