700 Gulf delegates threaten protest if PM doesn't announce concrete steps

As Karnataka and the Centre beckoned the Indian diaspora seeking investments, 700 delegates from the Middle East stood waiting for an assurance from Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Despite being the source of maximum remittances to the country, they felt ignored and not engaged enough.

On the sidelines of the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 2017 event here on Saturday, the delegates articulated their concerns about rehabilitation, denial of voting rights and a lack of direction in the Centre’s engagement with them.

The demands had been pending for 25 years, the Sharjah-based Indian Association president Y A Rahim told DH. “Millions of Indians settled in the Gulf have been seeking contributory pension and NRI free-zones in districts to help them set up small-scale industries,” he said. The Gulf community had matured enough to turn entrepreneurs, and the governments here could exploit it for mutual benefit. “China has done so, making millions of dollars in the process. We contribute $ 69 billion to India in remittances every year. But there is a clear lack of initiative from the Indian side.”

The concerns were communicated to the Ministry of External Affairs repeatedly. “We now expect results, concrete decisions from Modi. We will protest if it is not forthcoming here,” said Rahim.

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