Government foundation to promote NRI phlanthropy


New York : The Indian government is to establish a Global Indian Foundation to promote non-resident Indians’ (NRIs) philanthropy in India and to work as partners in progress, Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi announced while speaking at the Harvard University Tuesday.

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“We will soon establish a Global Indian Foundation, to provide the overseas Indian community a window to lead diaspora philanthropy into deserving causes, such as education, health and rural development in India,” said Ravi at Massachusettes.

Ravi said this was among the four ideas the Indian government was working on for raising the level of engagement between India and its diaspora.

The other three ideas were the Overseas Citizenship of India scheme, the Overseas Indian Facilitation Centre – a single-window system to help overseas Indians invest in India – and the soon-to-be established Diaspora Knowledge Network, an electronic platform to enable the Indian diaspora to deploy its knowledge and skills into individual initiatives and community action in India.

Stating that the size, spread and growing influence of overseas Indians is truly impressive and that an invisible thread held the vast Indian diaspora together and bound it with India, Ravi said: “Estimated at about 30 million in 130 countries, the Indian diaspora is a significant economic, social and cultural force in the world today.”

The minister said India was the fastest growing free-market democracy, with a growth rate of 9 percent last year, and “we are within striking distance of achieving a double digit growth rate soon.”

Recalling that in 1991 when India was in grave danger of defaulting on its international debt commitments, he said it was the “remittances of the overseas Indian workers in the Gulf – the housemaids, the drivers, the construction workers and the cooks – that helped us tide over the crisis”.

Calling the overseas Indians the brand ambassadors of the country, Ravi emphasised the diaspora should aim to generate income up to 30 percent of India’s gross domestic product by means of investments.

“The bulk of the diaspora money is in portfolio investments of a short-term nature and the time horizon a mere 3 year…..Overseas Indians must, as the foreign direct investors are already doing, look at investing in India on a longer-term basis and develop stakes in India’s growth story.

He said that though every 10th Indian American is a millionaire and every fifth start-up company in the Silicon Valley is owned by an Indian, the fact remains that India’s growth story so far has been driven primarily by the energy, enterprise and resources of domestic companies.

“By 2020, India will become the world’s youngest nation with the largest workforce of 820 million in the working age group (18 to 59) as compared to 400 million today. This will be a time when it will have the potential to dramatically enhance labour supply and productivity,” the minister said.

“The overseas Indian community represents a reservoir of knowledge, skills, resources and enterprise and it is time we work together as partners in progress,” he said.