India seeks diaspora investment in energy, healthcare


    By Gyanendra Kumar Keshri

    Jaipur, (IANS) India Saturday asked its 30 million strong diaspora spread across over 130 countries to contribute in the development of healthcare, energy and infrastructure sector.

    Almost 1,500 non-resident Indians and persons of Indian origin from 54 countries have gathered here on the occasion of the 10th annual diaspora meet, the “Pravasi Bharatiya Divas”.

    Addressing a conference on the first day of the three-day event, Health and Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad urged the NRIs to help develop healthcare infrastructure in the country.

    He said the government targets to increase spending on healthcare to 2.5 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) during the 12th Five Year Plan, that starts April 1, 2012, from the present level of around one percent.

    “Indian diaspora of over 30 million people has acquired an enviable reputation for innovative start-ups, successful businesses, ground breaking research leading to Noble prizes and countless distinguished contributions in diverse fields such as education, energy, environment, research, literature, business and industry,” Azad said.

    Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi said the event would provide an opportunity to the overseas Indians to understand about their motherland and explore business opportunities here.

    He said the event also provides an opportunity to the Indian government to understand issues and problems affecting the workers employed abroad.

    On the occasion, India launched a special pension and life insurance scheme that would benefit over 5 million unskilled and semi-skilled workers employed overseas mostly in Gulf countries on temporary contract visas.

    The government has created a special fund called Pension and Life Insurance Fund which will be used to partly contribute to pension and insurance cover to the low-paid workers.

    Ravi also urged overseas Indians to play a role in development of infrastructure and energy security in the country.

    India targets to invest over $1 trillion in infrastructure development in the next five years. To fund the major infrastructure projects, the government is trying to woo foreign investors and overseas Indians.

    “Come back and give something that is important for the development of your motherland,” said New and Renewable Energy Minister Farooq Abdullah.

    He asked the Indian diaspora to invest in development of solar and non-conventional source of energy, saying it would offer lucrative returns in the coming years.

    “You should look at generating capacity and investment in research and development. It has the potential of high profits,” Abdullah said.

    The three-day event is organised by the ministry of overseas Indian affairs in partnership with the Confederation of Indian Industry and Rajasthan government.

    Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will deliver the inaugural address here Sunday, while President Pratibha Patil will deliver the valedictory address and also confer the Pravasi Bhartiya Samman awards a day after.

    Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said the event was intended to enhance interaction with the diaspora, rather than seek investment.

    Some of the diaspora, especially those in Europe and north America showed eagerness to move back to India because of economic turbulence in those countries.