OTHERS

Norms for content to be specified

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, JULY 6. The Information and Parliamentary Affairs Minister, Mr. M.M. Hassan, has said that norms will be specified for inclusion of news and links on the web sites of Norka (Non-Resident Keralites Affairs Department) and other Government departments.

The Minister was replying to questions at a press conference here today on government web sites selectively promoting private agencies, giving them publicity and mixing links to their sites with links to government sites.

Mr. Hassan said that the Norka web site provided information on various government schemes for non-resident Keralites, and served as a forum for airing grievances by non- resident Keralites. News capsules concerning Kerala would be added on a weekly basis. Links to major Kerala-related web sites were provided in the section titled Kerala web sites, he said.

Future plans for the site included setting up of a directory listing the names and contact details of non-resident Keralites. A chat room for NRKs was also proposed at the site.

The Secretary (Norka), Mr. Amitabh Kant, who was also present, claimed that the site was not merely a web site, but a portal for the non-resident Keralites.

NRK conclave

The Minister said that the Government would organise a conclave of non-resident Keralites in Kochi on August 20 and 21 to discuss NRI investments and related issues, and draw up an action plan.

Mr. Hassan said that it would be a highly structured conclave with professional sessions on industry, information technology, tourism, infrastructure, biotechnology, education, health and welfare of non-resident Keralites. The Ministers concerned and Secretaries would be participating and making presentations.

The Union Minister for External Affairs, Mr. Jaswant Singh, had been requested to be the chief guest at the conclave which would be inaugurated by the Chief Minister, Mr. A.K. Antony. Members of Parliament from Kerala would also attend the programme.

He said that the participation in the conclave would be on the basis of registration without any fee. Non-resident Keralites' organisations and individuals could register online through the Norka web site. The managing director of the KSIDC, Mr. Jiji Thomson, would be the nodal officer for conduct of the conclave, he added.

The conclave, he said, would be discussing the problems faced by non-resident Malayalis. However, a separate meeting would be arranged to discuss the problems of Malayalis who had returned from abroad.

The Government proposed to set up a cell, headed by an IAS officer, in Delhi to tackle various problems faced by non- resident Keralites. The cell would be liaising with the Ministry of External Affairs and embassies to solve the problems of non- resident Keralites, he said.

He said that various development in the labour importing countries were threatening to reduce future income flows from abroad and posed critical questions for development planning in Kerala. There was a strong case for formulation and implementation of public policies which would enable both the non-resident Keralites and their resources to be the catalyst in the advancement of the State. Identification of development projects in which the emigrants have a stake and assurance of a reasonable return could be the key to the success of utilisation of NRI resources, he added.