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New schemes launched to tap talent pool of diaspora


New Delhi : An advisory council to tap the talent pool of the Indian diaspora and a multilingual centre to help migrant Indian workers in distress were among some new schemes announced by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Tuesday, as India sought to engage better with its 25 million diaspora in 130 countries.

“An important constituent of overseas Indian community is the overseas Indian worker,” the prime minister told the 6th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, India’s annual conclave to engage with its diaspora.

“Estimated at about five million, they are mostly located in the Gulf and South East Asia and play an important role in India’s economy,” he said, acknowledging the $26 billion overseas workers remit to India every year.

“I am happy to announce today the launch of an Overseas Workers Resource Centre to provide relevant information and assistance to potential migrant workers,” Singh told the estimated 1,500 overseas Indian delegates from 50 countries.

The centre will also help overseas Indian workers in distress and address their grievances, he said, adding: “This is a pioneering effort and I hope this centre will in the long run expand the scope of services to promote legal migration.”

The prime minister said that the new initiative was in addition to the nationwide skills upgrade programme for an estimated 200,000 potential migrant workers during the 11th plan period to build a “strong cadre of highly skilled workers”.

Manmohan Singh also said he had decided to establish the Prime Minister’s Global Advisory Council of People of Indian Origin with members comprising leaders in various discipline among the diaspora.

“The Council would serve as a high level platform for the prime minister to draw upon the experience and knowledge of the best Indian minds wherever they may be based,” he said.

The prime minister also lauded the contributions made by the diaspora in areas like philanthropy, which he said was not a new phenomenon. India, he said, was aware of their help during calamities like earthquakes and the tsunami.

“To give impetus to the partnerships, a proposal to promote an India Development Foundation, as an autonomous non-profit trust, is being examined by the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs,” the prime minister said.

“This foundation will serve as a credible institutional mechanism to direct overseas Indian philanthropic propensities into human development efforts in India.”

The prime minister also said that his government had given its approval to the policy framework for a new university for people of Indian origin under the public-private partnership model.

“The university will have the autonomy and flexibility in the disciplines that it offers and in its academic governance,” he said, adding it will also help securing the assistance the Indian diaspora intends to provide in education.

“The Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs has, through a due diligence process, short-listed a few of the proposals and a final decision is expected to be taken soon. I am confident the work on the university will commence this year.”