India to use diaspora resources for women’s empowerment


New Delhi : The resources of overseas Indians will be used by the government in a big way to address the issue of women’s empowerment, Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi said here.

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“The issue of empowerment of women, particularly rural women, was discussed in detail in this year’s Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD). We have received several recommendations and are taking these all up in serious consultations,” Ravi said Wednesday, the concluding day of PBD 2008, the annual conclave of the Indian diaspora organised by the overseas Indian affairs ministry and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

He said that a new non-profit foundation would help in the proper utilisation of the resources of the Indian diaspora in helping women’s empowerment.

“The foundation will aim at forming micro-finance and self-help groups among rural women.”

The minister added that every ministry would be asked to ensure that the issue of gender equality is addressed in their budgets.

Summing up the two-day event, Ravi said that education was another area where delegates at the convention have offered to help.

“We intend to have a system under which eminent, qualified (overseas Indian) people can come and deliver lectures at schools and colleges in India.”

He said persons of Indian origin (PIOs) could also be included in educational and vocational courses in India.

As announced by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the inaugural session of PBD 2008, Ravi said work on the proposed PIO university would start this year.

“But let me make it very clear. The university will be an investment from (Indian origin) foreigners. There is no government money involved,” he said.

Another issue that came up for much discussion at the event was the demand for better air services between India and the Gulf nations.

“This was discussed in the working session on the Gulf. The problem is mainly with the Calicut airport (in Kerala) from where most people go to Saudi Arabia and which is currently served only by Air India.

“But this issue will be solved soon. We have received confirmation that, under the open sky policy, at least three new airlines will operate from Calicut,” he said.

This year’s PBD was attended 1,500 delegates from 50 countries.