PM says dispora has much more to contribute

Jaipur: Recognising the role of overseas Indians in the country`s development, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said the diaspora has much more to contribute to the building of modern India and Government is committed to promote this engagement.

Addressing over 1,900 NRIs here, Singh also said that there is a need to be alert to the unfolding developments in Gulf and West Asia but assured them it was ready to extend such help to them anywhere should the need arise.

Listing several steps taken for the welfare for overseas Indians, the Prime Minister said the government was also "acutely conscious" of the safety and security of Indians living abroad, particularly in regions characterised by instability.

"The government and people of India recognise and greatly value the important role being played by Indian communities living abroad. We believe that the Indian diaspora has much more to contribute to the building of modern India.

"We propose to facilitate, encourage and promote this engagement. Over the past year we have taken a number of steps towards this end," Singh said.

The Prime Minister told the overseas Indians that the government has decided to introduce and sponsor a new Pension and Life Insurance Fund for overseas Indian workers.

The Union Cabinet had cleared a proposal for setting up of a Pension and Life Insurance Fund (PLIF) for them in the Emigration Check Required (ECR) countries on January four.

"The scheme will encourage, enable and assist overseas workers to voluntarily save for their return and resettlement and old age. It will also provide a low-cost life insurance cover against natural death. This scheme fulfils a long pending demand of our workers abroad," Singh said said.

The Prime Minister also hailed Kamla Persad-Bissessar, the first woman Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, who was present on the occasion.

"The "global Indian" is a symbol of this diversity of our ancient land. Your individual prosperity and personal achievement are a symbol of what a diverse people like us can achieve," he said.

Highlighting the issues of safety of Indians overseas, the Prime Minister said that there are over six million Indians living in the Gulf and West Asia and there is a need to be alert to the unfolding developments in this part of the world.

"We have conveyed to the countries of the region that we have a stake in the peace and stability of this region, and that we expect that they would appropriately look after the interests of Indian communities in their countries," Singh said.

Recalling that operations to evacuate the overseas Indians from Libya, Egypt and Yemen were carried out by the Government earlier, the Prime Minister assured, "we stand ready to extend such help elsewhere should the need arise."

He also told the NRIs that the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs has prepared an Action Plan to implement the recommendations an inter-Ministerial Committee constituted by the Government on issues relating to repatriation, relief and rehabilitation of Indian nationals affected by recent developments in West Asia.

Listing the steps taken by the government for the welfare of overseas Indians, the Prime Minister referred to e-migrate project saying it will provide end-to-end computerised solutions for all processes in the emigration system by linking all key stakeholders on a common platform.

Singh described the government decision to issue notifications for registration of overseas Indians under the Representation of People Act, 1950 as "first major step" to enable Indian residents abroad to participate in the country`s election processes.

"In the last session of our Parliament, we have introduced a Bill intended to merge and streamline the People of Indian Origin and Overseas Citizen of India schemes by amending the Citizenship Act. This will rectify some of the anomalies in the schemes and provide for an Overseas Indian Card which will be given to foreign spouses of such card holders as well," Singh said.

He said that the scope of the Labour Mobility Partnership Agreements is being expanded to cover not only skilled workers but also students, academics and professionals. Such Human Resource Mobility Partnership agreements are being negotiated with The Netherlands, France, Australia and the European Union.

"This decade has been marked by a visible accretion in the influence and impact of the global Indian across the world. We have witnessed a steady growth in their numbers, levels of prosperity and their skills," the Prime Minister said.