Return with wallets, vote, PM tells NRIs

Manmohan invites Indian diaspora to join politics and public life
Last Updated 08 January 2010, 19:44 IST

But in Singh’s invitation was attached a rider: vote in the next general election scheduled for 2014, but also bring along some investments.

Singh invited non-resident Indians (NRIs) to join politics and public life in their country of origin while inaugurating the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas here. Singh said: “I recognise the legitimate desire of Indians living abroad to exercise their franchise and to have a say in who governs India. We are working on this issue and I sincerely hope that they will get a chance to vote by the time of the next regular general election.”

After putting before the assembled NRIs the political rights bait, the prime minister sought greater investments from them.

“India is today one of the top investment destinations. Economic opportunities are expanding everywhere. Overseas Indians, however, while being good savers, tend to be somewhat conservative investors. Most remittances are placed in bank deposits.”

Investing in India
Pointing out that while foreign direct investment by overseas Indians was low and far short of the potential, Singh urged NRIs to “take a careful look at long-term investment opportunities now on the horizon in our country.”

In this context, Singh said about 40 per cent of the total remittances of over $50 billion in 2007-2008 came from skilled and semi-skilled overseas Indian workers. On the issue of safety and security of Indian overseas workers and students, Singh they were a top priority of his government.

“Many of them have been badly affected by the economic crisis. We are conscious of the need to structure an appropriate ‘Return and Resettlement Fund’ and we are working on a project to provide a social security safety net for the returning workers.”

He told the gathering that India was negotiating with governments of countries with large emigrant Indian populations to improve their welfare and protection.

Dangling carrots
*Govt to consider allowing NRIs to invest in infrastructure bonds
*NRIs welcome PM’s voting proposal
*Diaspora invited to “actively” participate in the country’s economic development
*Government working on a project to provide social security net for the workers returning home.

(Published 08 January 2010, 06:12 IST)

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