NRIs to be urged to invest in rural sector

New Delhi(IANS) : In an attempt to pull in India’s 25-million strong diaspora to assist in rural development, the sixth Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) will focus on education, healthcare, empowerment of rural women and knowledge economy.

According to Overseas Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi, the annual conference of non-resident Indians, to be held here Jan 7-9, will urge the overseas Indians to be a party to the country’s socio-economic development.

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“The focus will be on social areas and issues with special emphasis on women including rural women,” Ravi told a press conference here.

He said the focus of the last five PBDs had been to attract investment from the overseas Indians rather than their ideas and skills. “The investment or money has not been forthcoming. Therefore, we decided that we will not ask for any investment this year but seek partnership from NRIs for philanthropic projects.”

The ministry has mooted the idea for establishing ‘India Development Foundation’ (IDF), which would be act like a “single window clearance system” to channel the investments – both small and large – ideas, skills and technology for around 6,000 rural blocks across the country.

“The potential investors – it could be anyone who wants to do something for his or her village or district – could approach the IDF and it would guide him to implement the plan without going through the red tapes,” Ravi told IANS.

The PBD, being organised jointly by MOIA and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), will focus on micro-finance institutions at the block level and the health sector. “After much thought and research, we found that these were the sectors that could attract a lot of interest from the NRI community,” Ravi said.

A highlight of the PBD would be the ‘market place’ organised by the Overseas Indian Facilitation Centre (OIFC), where the potential investor and the Indian businessmen could meet and discuss to establish joint ventures.

“It will be a side event and will involve providing B2B partnerships and answering queries to overseas Indians by eminent knowledge partners of the OIFC. It will be a unique opportunity to find a one-stop shop for answering queries of overseas Indians especially in the real estate, wealth management and taxation,” said a ministry official.

The sixth PBD is also projected as a platform where issues of social concern of regional diaspora groups could be discussed in details. There will be parallel sessions of different regions – such as Gulf and the Middle East, Asia Pacific, Africa, USA etc – where there is significant Indian presence.

The minister said the conference was expected to be attended by at least 2,000 delegates from over 50 countries. The chief guest for this year’s conference would be Mauritian Prime Minister Naveenchandra Ramgoolam.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will inaugurate the conference and the concluding function will be addressed by President Pratibha Patil. The president will also distribute the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award to selected personalities.