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Plan to rope in overseas Indians

Special Correspondent

Manmohan unveils mechanism

NEW DELHI: The government will appeal to the heart of the overseas Indians and tap their mind by setting up a mechanism for canalising their donations into development projects and forming a think-tank to pick on their brains.

This was stated by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the inaugural session of the sixth Pravasi Bharatiya Divas here on Tuesday.

The government, he said, was planning an India Development Foundation to serve as a “credible institutional mechanism to direct overseas Indian philanthropic propensities into human development efforts.”

The proposed foundation — an autonomous non-profitable trust — would assist the overseas Indians in contributing for the educational, health and rural development of their native village, district or State. It would partner with credible NGOs and philanthropic organisations to provide a strong public-private partnership bridge between the overseas Indians and their target beneficiaries.

Dr. Singh announced the establishment of a Prime Minister’s Global Advisory Council of People of Indian Origin. Comprising PIOs, who are recognised as leaders in their respective fields not only in their countries of residence but also globally, the Council would serve as a high-level platform for the Prime Minister to draw upon the experience and knowledge of the best Indian minds based anywhere in the world.

Describing the overseas Indians as “global citizens” of an inter-dependent and inter-connected world, he expressed gratitude to the Indian community in the U.S. for their efforts in mobilising the support of the political leadership of the U.S. for cooperation in civilian nuclear energy.

Gulf scenario

Another lot of Indians abroad who got a special mention in Dr. Singh’s speech were the Indian workers in the Gulf, who account for close to 50 per cent of the $26 billion that came to India in 2006 by way of remittances from its overseas community. He said the security and welfare of Indians abroad was the priority of the diplomatic missions.

This year’s chief guest and Mauritius Prime Minister Navinchandra Ramgoolam urged the Indian diaspora to grab the opportunity to engage in India’s development. Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi highlighted the measures taken to engage with PIOs and NRIs.