President Pratibha Patil on Saturday called upon overseas Indians to participate and benefit in India’s “unfolding growth story.”
Delivering the valedictory address at the Pravasi Bhartiya Diwas on the day Mahatma Gandhi returned to India in 1915, the President pointed out that overseas Indians, estimated at over 250 lakhs, had come to be recognised as the ‘Knowledge Diaspora.’ With India making its investment environment more conducive, it was time this Indian community with its knowledge, expertise, skills and resources became an important input in “India’s march to becoming a developed country.”
India’s investment needs were over dollars 500 billions spanning both the social and physical infrastructure sectors and the country was looking at investment increasingly in the public-private partnership model. While the requirements in physical infrastructure were well documented, Ms. Patil drew attention to the social side with the government focusing on improving the quality of education at all levels and estimating an annual growth arte of about six per cent in healthcare infrastructure.
She pointed out Indian banks and financial institutions, based on best practices’ in fiduciary responsibility and well-regulated, had not only coped with one of the worst economic downturns in recent history but also catalysed a quicker recovery than many other countries.
She also acknowledged the contribution of Indian blue collar workers abroad who year after year had made huge remittances back home. India’s remittances from overseas Indians, estimated at over dollars 50 billions last year, are the highest in the world. But what is less known, is the fact that nearly forty percent of these remittances - about dollars 20 billions annually - comes from overseas Indian workers in the Gulf consisting of temporary contractual skilled and semi-skilled workers, she pointed out.
Hails Indians in Gulf
They often face harsh living and working conditions and are separated from their families for long periods of time. “I take this opportunity to salute Indian workers in the Gulf,” she said.
The Government was alive to their contribution and was trying to make life easier for them by setting up Indian Community Welfare Funds established in 18 countries to provide timely succour to overseas Indians in distress. The bilateral Social Security Agreements as well as the Labour Welfare and Protection Agreements that have been concluded will be useful in getting the cooperation of the host governments on issues impacting the Indian community, she hoped.