Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 2015

The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi lighting the lamp at the inauguration of the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 2015, in Gandhinagar, Gujarat on January 08, 2015. The Union Minister for External Affairs and Overseas Indian Affairs, Smt. Sushma Swaraj, the Chief Minister of Gujarat, Smt. Anandiben Patel and other dignitaries are also seen.

External Affairs Minister’s Introductory Speech at the Session with Indian Achievers, Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 2015 

Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 2015

Following is the text of the External Affairs Minister`s Introductory Speech at the Session with Indian Achievers, Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 2015

“I would like to begin this session on Indian Achievers in a globalised world by recounting the words of one of the most well known votaries of globalization Thomas L. Friedman who said, "The challenge in this era of globalization—for countries and individuals—is to find a healthy balance between preserving a sense of identity, home, and community, and doing what it takes to survive within the globalization system”. 

It is indeed my good fortune that today I am surrounded by eleven exceptional personalities- who, nourished by their Indian roots, have shown to the world how the right balance between progress and the preservation of ancient traditions, ensures a better future for all-living embodiments of our Prime Minister’s clarion call for ‘sabka saath, sabka vikas’.

I would like to take a few minutes to summarize the exceptional record of public service and the many ‘firsts’ that our panelists can proudly claim as their own:

We have the honour of having with us H.E. Mr. Showkutally Soodhun, the Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Housing and Lands of Mauritius. He is a seasoned politician and been a parliamentarian in Mauritius for more than three decades. He has also served as Minister of Industry and Commerce.

Dr. Bhishma Agnihotri was appointed as India’s first Ambassador at large for Diaspora Affairs by Atalji. Dr. Agnihotri has done notable work in bringing the Government closer to its Diaspora’s sons and daughters and making us more sensitive to their concerns. 

The Rt. Hon. Baroness Prashar, throughout her illustrious career, has led a number of public and voluntary organizations with great distinction. For instance, she became the Director of the prestigious ‘Runnymede Trust’ Think Tank, when she was only 28 years old, where she focused her work on racial equality in a multi-ethnic Great Britain.

When during the recent November visit by Prime Minister Modi to Australia, the two countries agreed to collaborate in the field of agricultural research; it was, in many ways, an acknowledgement of Indian minds like Sh. Paras Ram Punj- the ‘Pulses King’ Down Under and the role that his Parasram Group-global leaders in agro-processing; have played in that sector! 

We are honoured to have amongst us today, Dato` Seri Samy Vellu Sangalimuthu, the longest serving President of the Malaysian Indian Congress (since 1979 for 11 consecutive terms) and the longest serving minister in the Cabinet of Malaysia (till 2008).

Sh. Ashok Kumar Mago, founder Chairman of the US-India Chamber of Commerce, was a moving spirit behind the setting up of the "Friends of India Caucus” in the US Senate; making India the only country with an individual Caucus at the Senate.

Sh. Sunil Chopra, like me, started young- in the cut and thrust of student politics in India- although from the opposite end of the political spectrum! His election as the mayor of the central London borough of Southwark in June 2014, was significant due to the low percentage of people of Indian origin in his area (only about 1.5%,), indicating his wide-spread popularity across various communities.

One of the striking achievements of Sh. Hans Hanoomansingh’s public service through journalism in Trinidad and Tobago is his life-long crusade for multiculturalism. While inaugurating ‘Divali Nagar’ celebrations- born out of a concept enunciated by Hanoomansingh, Prime Minister Basdeo Panday had said, "Few gifts of greater value have been given by a single citizen to this nation, this region and this hemisphere”.

Dr. Ravi Jahagirdar, the President of American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI)- one of the largest ethnic professional organizations in the US (representing about 100,000 Indian doctors) compared office-bearers of AAPI to "caretakers of established plans and projects, advancing progressively towards these goals with the vertically expanded use of diverse professionals”. Such resolve has deep resonance within the Gandhian socio-economic philosophy of ‘Trusteeship’.

Sh. Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi, a self-made entrepreneur from sadi Dilli, has had a truly impressive rise. Since moving to New Zealand in 2001, he has not just set-up diverse business interests, from fashion to real estate, but also emerged as the first ever Indian and the first ever Sikh Member of the New Zealand Parliament.

Finally, I welcome Dr. Rajindre Tewari, Chairman, India Business Council, Netherlands Council for Trade and Investment. As we ‘Link West’ under the Prime Minister’s flagship ‘Make in India’ initiative, we would do well to learn from the experiences and expertise of leading venture capitalists like Dr. Tewari, who have focused on ‘sun-rise’ sectors of particular interest to us; like bio-technology and financial services.

All these Achievers have set benchmarks in distant lands and diverse fields. It is my privilege to now invite them to share their unique experiences in quest of realizing their full potential and making their dreams come true, so that we can all collectively benefit from their individual journeys.”


External Affairs and Overseas Indian Affairs Minister's Address at the Inaugural Session of Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 2015 

Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 2015

Following is the text of the External Affairs Minister`s address at the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas - 2015

“Let me, at the outset, extend a very warm welcome to all of you, to this Pravasi Bharatiya Divas. It is apt that this year PBD is being held in Gujarat, marking the 100th Anniversary of the return of Mahatma Gandhi to India from South Africa. Bapuji gave shape and character to India`s freedom struggle. He demonstrated the power of non-violence, by precipitating the disintegration of the mightiest empire in the world at that time. He also fought against indentureship and the exploitation of Indians around the globe.

It is a fitting tribute to Bapu that we have with us today Hon’ble Donald Ramotar, President of Guyana, as the Chief Guest. Our warm and friendly relations are embedded in historical, cultural and traditional links. We have just commissioned well-known sculptor and Padma Shri awardee, Biman Das, to build a monument dedicated to the arrival of Indian indentured labourers in Guyana. Excellency, we look forward to taking our relationship to greater heights, for the mutual benefit of our peoples.

Friends, it is also a particular pleasure for me to welcome our Guest of Honour, Hon’ble Madam Mashabane, the Foreign Minister of South Africa. Excellency, your presence here today underscores the value you attach to our common legacy and cooperation in the struggle for freedom from colonialism and oppression. I am happy to note that South Africa is a partner country at the Vibrant Gujarat Summit being held in Gandhinagar from 11-13 January 2015.

We are pleased to have with us Vice Prime Minister of Mauritius, Hon’ble Mr. Showkatally Soodhun.

The historical and civilizational connection of Mauritius with India is so deep that they take pride in calling the country "Chhota Bharat”.The PIOs in Mauritius celebrate the arrival of Indian indentured labourers as `Aapravasi Divas`which I had the privilege of attending two months back. Gandhiji visited Mauritius in 1901 and as a tribute to him the National Day of Mauritius is celebrated on March 12, which is the date of launch of the Dandi Salt Satyagraha.Owing to the strong Diaspora ties and the great pride in our shared ancestral heritage, Mauritius has been an active participant in the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) since its inception in 2003.
I respectfully welcome the Hon’ble Prime Minister without whose guidance and leadership this event would not have been possible at this scale. I welcome Governor of Gujarat Shri Kohliji for gracing this occasion.I welcome Smt. Annadiben, Chief Minister of Gujarat; Gujarat happens to be the partner state of PBD this year. I welcome my colleagues Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad and Shri Jayant Sinha who have helped us in releasing the commemorative stamp and coin. I welcome my colleague Gen. V.K. Singh, MOS who has personally supervised all arrangements for the PBD. Last but not least, I welcome Secretary MOIA Shri Soni who has executed our decisions with speed and efficiency.
Friends, the term diaspora, in ancient Greek, refers to "a scattering or sowing of seeds". The presence of Indians abroad can be attested to from the days of remote antiquity. Our classical texts describe the long journeys that saints and monks undertook for the spread of knowledge, peace and love. This was followed by several waves of outward migration over centuries, from the medieval period to the colonial and then the post-independence era, resulting in diverse communities of people of Indian origin in various parts of the world. The present-day travel of Indians as professionals, labourers, traders and entrepreneurs to the rest of the world is a continuing saga of Indian Migration.Our common bond, however, continues to be the mother tree – India.

The Indian diaspora today constitutes an important, and in some respects unique, force in world culture. In the past couple of decades, it has grown into an energetic and confident community of over 25 million that has given India a presence in many parts of the world. However, it is not a one-way interaction that benefits only one side. It pleases all Indians when the Overseas Indian community is respected for its work culture, discipline, successful integration with the local community and for its outstanding contributions in their countries of residence. A successful, prosperous and politically influential diaspora is an asset to India, much as a strong and self-reliant India would be a source of strength and inspiration for the diaspora. This synergy acts as a vibrant bridge between us and sustains our relationship.

The Government of India is determined to work closely with the diaspora to leverage each other’s strengths to mutual benefit. The Prime Minister himself has taken the lead in reaching out to the Overseas Indian community and engaging you. We welcome entrepreneurs, investors and professionals from the diaspora to partake in our endeavour to develop the motherland and restore it to its past glory. I promise you that it will be a mutually rewarding and satisfying partnership. I believe you have the unique insights, perspectives and the extensive natural links that can make this partnership work.

I again welcome the delegates who have joined us from far corners of the globe. I hope the deliberations in the next two days generate new ideas to address issues of concern to you and help enhance the quality of your engagement with India. The doors of my Ministry are always open to you all. We would welcome your new ideas and suggestions on how we can work closely together. With these words let me welcome you once again.”


FM: Benefits of Demographic Dividend will flow only if our Population is Healthy, 
Educated and Properly Skilled; Meets Representatives of Social Infrastructure, 
Human Capital and Development Groups as Part of his Pre Budget Consultative Meeting 

The Union Finance Minister Shri Arun Jaitley said that apart from on-going schemes and programmes for the marginalized and vulnerable section of the society, the Government has initiated various special social sector programmes. He said that these programmes among others include Swacch Bharat Mission (Gramin), which will set the base for improving sanitation and health standards; Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) and RuPay debit card which will extend financial inclusion and give financial empowerment to the account holders at large. The Finance Minister, Shri Jaitley was making his Opening Remarks during the Pre Budget Consultative Meeting with the representatives of Social Infrastructure, Human Capital and Development Groups here today. He said that more than 63% of the population is in the age group of 15-59 years, broadly termed as India’s demographic dividend. He said while this young population provides India a great opportunity, but it also poses a great challenge to the Government. He said that benefits will flow only if our population is healthy, educated and properly skilled. In this context, he said that investments, especially in social infrastructure that build-up human capital are crucial. Shri Jaitley said that India needs to take advantage of this demographic window in the next couple of decades and garner its benefits. Therefore, the Finance Minister said that his Government has put thrust on skill development as well as on ‘Make in India’ as the Government’s endeavour to improve employability and create large employment avenues for the youth among others. He said that skill development has been given focused attention for which a dedicated Department of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship has been created in the Central Government. He said that the challenge for the country now is in planning and acting towards converting its potential demographic force for enhancing opportunities of growth by dovetailing the quality of manpower to the requirements of employers, both domestic and international. 

The Union Finance Minister Shri Arun Jaitley said that emerging trends indicate the growth deceleration in India has bottomed-out. The Finance Minister said that significant downward trend in inflation has also been recorded in the second and third quarter of 2014-15. He said that external environment has also largely turned in India’s favour. In such a back drop, the Finance Minister said that domestic policies to achieve macro-economic balance and the on-going process of economic reforms would lend further strength to the recovery of the economy. 

The meeting was attended among others by Shri Rajiv Mehrishi, Finance Secretary, Shri Shaktikanta Dass, Revenue Secretary, Shri Ratan P. Watal, Secretary (Expenditure), Shri V.S. Oberoi, Secretary (WCD), Shri Lov Verma, Secretary, Health and Family Welfare, Ms Vrinda Sarup, Secretary, Department of School Education and Literacy, Smt. Gauri Kumar, Secretary, Ministry of Labour and Employment, Dr. Arvind Subramaniam, Chief Economic Adviser Ms. Anita Kapur, Chairperson, CBDT, Shri Kaushal Srivastava, Chairman, CBEC, and other senior officers of the Ministry of Finance. Among the representatives of the various social sector groups included Shri Paul Divakar, National Campaign on Dalit Himan Rights, Ms. Barsha Poricha, National Foundation for India, Shri Sreedhar Ramomoorty, Mines Minerals and People, Ms Dipa Sinha, Right to Food Campaign, Shri Subrat Das, Centre for Budget and Governance Accountability, Shri Ashok Bharti, National Confederation of Dalit Organisation, Ms. Sonali Khan, Breakthrough, Shri Ashraf Patel, Pravah, Shri Ajay Jha, Public Advocacy Initiatives for Rights and Values in India (PAIRVI), Shri Thomas Chandy, Save the Children, Shri Sandeep Chachra, Actionaid, Shri Avinash Kumar, Wateraid, Shri Pradeep S. Mehta, CUTS, Shri Ambarish Rai, Right to Education Forum and Ms Yamini Aiyyar, Centre for Policy Research among others. 

Various suggestions were received from the representatives of the different social sector groups during the meeting. Major recommendations include that immediate steps be taken in the budget to prevent any scope of diversion and misallocation of funds meant for the benefit of dalits and adivasis. This will result in about Rs. 30,000 crore to be available for the development of Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes. Other suggestions include to set apart in the coming budget the entire 16.2% for Scheduled Castes and 8.2% for Scheduled Tribes, establishment of well designed and dedicated institutional mechanism for Schedule Caste Sub Plans (SCSPs) Tribal Sub Plans (TSPs) separately at the Centre and State levels, creation of a separate unit within Niti Ayog with power to review, monitor and direct to ensure effective implementation of the SCSP and TSP as well as setting-up of a nodal unit headed by a Joint Secretary with the responsibility of preparation of Annual SCSP Plans and their subsequent implementation. 

Other suggestions include adequate allocation for ICDS budget, Mid Day Meal Scheme and for the programmes for the nutrition of mother and child under Food Security Act as well as clear demarcation of funds to remove malnutrition among children of dalits and adivasis etc. Besides this, there was suggestion for budget transparency at local level in order to have better utilization of funds and results of various social welfare schemes at the grass root level etc. 

Other suggestions made during the aforesaid meeting include that a mechanism needs to be built to develop entrepreneurship among dalits, schemes to be brought out for developing art and culture of dalit and adivasi communities. Suggestions were also made about proper implementation of Prevention of Domestic Violence against Women Act, appointment of women protection officers, increasing the scope of Nirbhaya Fund to cover the domestic violence against women etc. A suggestion was made that Finance Minister may include a statement in his Budget Speech condemning violence against women showing unequivocal commitment of the Government in this regard. 

Some suggestions were also made on investment on youth, especially from those of socially excluded communities, investment in skill and entrepreneurship building, more spending on education and social enterprises, inclusion of youth leadership in CSR activities, higher spending to change the social mindset of people against the use of toilets etc. 

Other suggestions include adoption and implementation of the National Competition Policy to push the growth on higher trajectory, adoption and implementation of Public Procurement Act. As public procurement accounts for almost 30% of the total GDP worth US $136 billion annually, therefore, Public Procurement Act would help in promoting the good governance by curbing corruption in public procurement; and adoption of a National Public Procurement Policy; adoption and implementation of Financial Consumer Protection Act, fixing of fiscal management practices by establishment of Parliamentary Budget Office, adoption of international best practices in budgetary planning and reduction of non-merit subsidies among others. 

In end, suggestions were also made for enhancement of allocation to education with an emphasis on making functional investment in early childhood and elementary education, enhanced allocation to education to 6% of GDP in line with Kothari Commission and National Education Policy recommendations and enhance allocation to elementary education by 1% to accommodate a cumulative gap in education, enhanced allocation to areas with strongest implications on quality–availability of teaching learning materials, improved libraries and strengthening of the capacity of the resource unit at the cluster level, enhance allocation for research, monitoring and evaluation, address gaps in financial and planning process to ensure full expenditure of allocated funds in education sector among others. 


Immense Opportunities for MSMEs: Kalraj Mishra 

The emerging economic scenario in the country has thrown upon vast opportunities of development and diversification for the units in the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise (MSME) Sector. This was stated by Shri Kalraj Mishra, the Minister of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises while inaugurating the 2-days’ Symposium on “Growth and Prospects of MSME Sector in Emerging Scenario” being organised by the National Institute for Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development (NIESBUD) in collaboration with (CII) here today. 

The Minister said that the Sector owing to its inherent characteristics and innate strengths will play a much larger role in the revival of the Indian economy and emerge as a potent tool to exploit the demographic dividend being enjoyed by the nation at present. He added that the present Government’s initiative of “Make in India” and its emphasis upon increasing the share of the Manufacturing Sector in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) from the present 14-15% to 25% by 2022, have the potential of transforming the fortunes of the Sector enabling it to scale hitherto unheard heights. 

Shri Kalraj Mishra delineating the plans and schemes of the Government of India for enabling the MSME units to play the role expected of them in the changing economic environment, impressed upon Panellist and Delegates of the Symposium to deliberate upon the strategies for strengthening the units so that their products are of world standard and easily acceptable in the global markets. The Government, he assured on its part is taking all steps for spreading the cult of entrepreneurship, skill development and sustenance of MSME units. Shri Mishra also expressed hope that the deliberations during the course of the Symposium would further strengthen Government’s efforts in this regard. 

The Symposium is being attended by more than 400 delegates representing different Government Ministries; Industry; Industry Associations; Academia; Financial Institutions; Support Organisations and Experts connected with the Sector. 


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