‘Jackpot awaits overseas businessmen of Indian origin’

By P.K. Balachandran, IANS

Colombo : The sky is the limit for businessmen of Indian origin spread across the globe if they establish links and strike deals with each other, says a Sri Lankan tea tycoon with roots in Tamil Nadu.

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D. Eassuwaren, who heads the Business Forum in the Global Organisation of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO), told IANS: “There are 25 million people of Indian origin spread over 130 countries. Out of these, at least 50 percent or 12.5 million would be businessmen, traders, entrepreneurs and industrialists.

“And out of the 12.5 million, at least 25 percent or 325,000 would be in the export-import business. If these establish links with one another, the sky would be the limit for trade.”

Eassuwaren, a major exporter of tea from Sri Lanka, said: “If I can find 50 partners from among people of Indian origin, and if 25 of the partnerships turn out to be successful, I will have hit the jackpot!”

Businessmen of Indian origin will soon come to know about one another at a click of the mouse when the business forum launches its own website.

“We cannot guarantee the credibility of the persons and companies listed in the website, but those interested can contact the local office of GOPIO and check,” he said.

Subsequent to the Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas conference in New Delhi in early January, the business forum of GOPIO met. About 250 businessmen and entrepreneurs took part in the discussions, on invitation.

There were some top Indians in the group, besides businessmen from Singapore, Australia, France, Mauritius and Sri Lanka.

“At the forum I suggested that the People of Indian Origin (PIOs) start a bank. It would be enough if one million Indian businessmen put $100 each into the fund. Initially, the bank could be staffed by volunteers from the community. There is an enormous amount of untapped potential in the community. So far, we have not even seen the tip of the iceberg,” Eassuwaren said.

The Sri Lankan tycoon, who is also honorary consul for Mauritius in Sri Lanka, said that he was impressed with India’s economic thrust, especially Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s call to Indians overseas to invest in India and participate in its booming growth.

But he regretted the apparent lack of interest in Tamil Nadu, the place of his origin, about securing investments from overseas Indians.

“Six chief ministers, including Narendra Modi of Gujarat, participated in the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas functions this year, and urged the guests from overseas to invest in their states. But sadly, Tamil Nadu’s presence was not noticeable. It had a stall but there were no high profile representatives from that state,” Eassuwaren said.

But he was not going to give up. He would try to get a high-level delegation from the Tamil Nadu government to participate in the next business forum meeting in Hyderabad Feb 15.

“We are also planning a world Tamil businessmen’s conference in Mauritius,” Eassuwaren said.