Vast Potential of MSMEs needs to be Harnessed

Vast Potential of MSMEs needs to be Harnessed 

Shri Giriraj Singh, the Minister of State of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises presided over the Valedictory Session of the 2-day Symposium on “Growth and Prospects of MSME Sector in Emerging Scenario” organised by The National Institute for Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development (NIESBUD) in active association with Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) here today. 

Speaking on the occasion the Minister of State said that “Make in India” is not merely a slogan but a way of thinking for the Government. 

Shri Singh emphasised that “intention” and “belief in leadership” are vital for transforming the fortunes of any Sector including the MSME Sector. Shri Singh also elaborated as to how emphasis upon increasing the share of eco-friendly khadi products in the MSME Sector from the present less than half a percent to 5% over the years would generate large scale employment opportunities mainly for women who constitute half of the population. This would also transform the face of rural India. 

Recalling the significant contribution of the Sector to the Indian Economy, Shri Singh added that MSMEs have the potential of transforming themselves into a vehicle of enabling the country to regain her glorious ancient status in the economic affairs of the world. 

The Minister of State also assured the delegates that the Government is committed to extend all possible help for maintaining and improving competitiveness of the micro and small units in the emerging economic scenario. 

Shri Arun Kumar Jha, Director General, NIESBUD, briefly dwelling upon different issues discussed during the Symposium expressed the hope that based upon the deliberations of the Symposium, a Road Map for the Sector in the Emerging Scenario would be finalised and presented to the Ministry. 

Shri Ashok Saigal, Managing Director, Frontier Technologies, representing CII, while emphasising upon the imperative of organising skill training in active association with Industry Associations for achieving the desired results, expressed hope that the Indian MSMEs will get a great boost from the emphasis being laid by the Government upon increasing the manufacturing activities in the country. 

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

The recommendations as emerged out of the deliberations of the Symposium inter -alia include easier, timely and cost effective access to credit for MSMEs; strict monitoring of implementation of Public Procurement Policy for MSMEs and simplification of registration and regulatory mechanisms for micro and small units. 

Overseas Indians Have Knowledge and Resources to Reinforce India’s Effort in Niche Areas: Shri M Hamid Ansari 

Vice President addresses the Valedictory Session of the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 16 Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Awards Presented 

Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 2015

Following is the text of the Address by Hon’ble Shri M Hamid Ansari, Vice President of India at the Valedictory Session of the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 2015 on January 9, 2015 in Gandhinagar, Gujarat.

I am happy to be here this evening to confer the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Awards, on the occasion of the 13th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, to fifteen distinguished personalities.
This year is a special one. It coincides with the centenary of Mahatma Gandhi’s return to India from South Africa, following which he took on the mantle of leadership of perhaps greatest non-violent struggle for independence against the colonial yoke. Gandhi ji was also, unquestionably, the greatest Pravasi Bharatiya of all.
Today’s Awards, as per our national legislation, are conferred on Non-Resident Indians and on Persons of Indian Origin, or on organizations and institutions established by them, who have made significant contributions in any of a set of eight fields in which they have through their individual contributions brought name and fame to India and Indians. 
Many amongst the vast body of Overseas Indians have done so, and continue to do this in their own chosen way. A common thread amongst them is their affection for their land of origin and their adherence to its heritage, culture and traditions and the values emanating from them.
I congratulate the winners of this year’s Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Awards. We are grateful for their contributions to society. They are deserving recipients of this recognition. Through their exemplary work, they have also proved to be outstanding envoys of peace, friendship and cooperation between India and countries of their residence.
Today, Overseas Indians are estimated to be around 25 million. They are in virtually every country and region of the world. Jidhar dekhta hoon faqat tu hi tu hai. Some, particularly in recent times, have gone voluntarily; the ancestors of others were victims of circumstance; compulsions of livelihood propelled many others.
No less diverse is the mix of skills and professional callings that range from blue collars workers to white collar experts in diverse fields, to men and women of science, doctors, engineers, IT professionals, business persons, entrepreneurs and investors. Some reside permanently in the countries of their work and have acquired nationality; others remain abroad for shorter periods and return home after a few years.
They have, like most of us, multiple identities: a common denominator is their emotional bond to India, and to its cultural legacy. They cherish it, individually and collectively, and so do we here. The institution of the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas is an occasion of bonding.
Beyond these emotional bonds, and nourishing them, are modern day economic imperatives. NRI remittances, principally from those who are short-term residents abroad and need to sustain families back home, constitute an important element in our balance of payments. They also help propel in varying degrees economic activity in their home states. The more affluent segments of the NRI groups are increasingly a source of investments in diverse fields including information technology, healthcare, energy, mineral resources, retail, hospitality, gems & jewellery etc. The continuing liberalisation of the Indian economy, and the most recent policy initiatives taken or proposed by the Government, are expected to galvanise the involvement of the Overseas Indians in the many fields of economic activity. 
Relationships, even emotional ones, are not a one-way street. The Overseas Indians have expectations aimed at facilitating and intensifying their involvement with India. The Government of India, and the State Governments, have acknowledged the validity of these sentiments and taken or initiated steps to attract, assist and promote a deeper and multifaceted relationship, which is mutually beneficial and long lasting. We in India attach highest importance to issues of interest and concern to the overseas Indians.
India today is on the cusp of change, in the process of actualising the expectations of its vast population for a better life. India aspires for a better place in the comity of nations. Both of these require rapid economic development, accompanied by better educational, health and social parameters. This requires a massive collective effort by all segments of our population. The governments at central and state levels need to provide visionary leadership and are determined to do so.
In this endeavour, an important role can be and must be played by the Overseas Indians. They have knowledge and resources to reinforce the effort in niche areas; they also have the experience of other lands where similar efforts were pursued successfully. We welcome such initiatives, which will replicate these valuable experiences here and save us from reinventing the wheel.
What then is the challenge before us in this task of linking India more closely with its overseas community? In my view it is to maintain and strengthen the linkages between the next generation of Pravasis and their counterparts in India. It is essential that the new generations at both ends continue and strengthen this mutually beneficial bond. The Youth Pravasi Bharatiya Divas organized on the 7th of January is a good step in the right direction.

I thank you all for your presence today. We hope to see back in the years ahead. We will continue working closely together in order to realize our collective desire to see India as a modern and prosperous nation.
Jai Hind.


External Affairs Minister's speech at Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Awards ceremony 

Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 2015

Following is the text of the External Affairs Minister`s address on Awards Ceremony at the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas – 2015

“I welcome you in the midst of our extended family of Indians at this celebration of multifaceted talents of the Indian diaspora. Overseas Indians, who include Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) and Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs), have carved a unique place the world over, with their relentless hard work, enterprise and innovation. They are bridge-builders between their ancestral land and their adopted countries, they have stretched the boundaries of achievement and excellence wherever they have chosen to settle and live.

Today’s event is special. It coincides with the centenary of Mahatma Gandhi’s return to India, a historic moment that also marked the beginning of the long journey of national renewal and re-making of our nation and civilisation.

Mahatma Gandhi is easily the most famous and celebrated ‘Pravasi Bharatiya,’ the greatest pravasi of all times. We are fortunate to celebrate 100 years of the return of the ‘Sarva Shrestha Pravasi’; the one who remapped the destiny of India and lit up for the world a radiant and humane path of non-violent salvation.

Today, there is not a patch of foreign land which is not inhabited by Indians and glows with traces and influence of our multi-layered culture. Cutting across continents and countries, from America to Africa and from Australia to Argentina, persons of Indian origin and NRIs are making their presence felt in countless ways, big and small. The sun may have set on the British Empire, and Mahatma Gandhi ensured that it did, but the sun never sets and will never set on the extended community of overseas Indians who are shining and thriving in every part of the world.

It’s not that it’s been smooth sailing for them all the way; they have had their share of difficulties and hardships, but they have persisted, overcome, and made a well-earned place for themselves in their adopted foreign lands. And, in this process they have brought glory and honour to India. It, therefore, is a matter of joy and pride to honour outstanding overseas Indians and to confer on them the much-coveted Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award.

Given the rich spread of talents and the proliferating number of outstanding overseas Indians, the choice is always difficult to make. It’s heartening to see overseas Indians making a mark in just about every field or arena. From business, the professions, academia, law, science and engineering to media, social activism and fashion designing to Hollywood as actors, film makers and producers, they are setting new benchmarks for excellence and achievement. 

Overseas Indians are not just content with tried and trusted professions and vocations; many of them have successfully carved a career in politics, government, and diplomacy. In many countries, PIOs have become heads of state and government. This year, we have President of Guyana Donald Ramaotar here in our midst, and I warmly welcome him and thank him for finding time to be here.
Those gathered here in such large numbers live in different countries and regions and pursue varied professions, but there is one vital spiritual bond that unites them – it is the sense of organic connection to this ancestral land, the deep-rooted sense of Indian-ness that is civilizational and predates nation states.
They are proud and accomplished citizens of their own respective countries, but their heart also beats for India. They instinctively sense a stake and deep kinship in the unfolding India story. The rise of India, let me stress, is not just about India; the destinies of India and of the larger world are interlinked. For when 1.2 billion people of India attain their full potential, it’s not just India that will be energised and enriched, the whole world will be enriched and find itself redeemed.
This is a time of unprecedented hope for India.
Ever since the change of government in Delhi seven months ago, the world is looking afresh at the India story and is ready to bet big on India. And I am sure all gathered here also feel this thrill and excitement of a great nation trying to remake itself, and striving to reclaim its place in the community of nations.
Our government has been specially proactive in nurturing the bonds that bind Mother India and its children in distant lands. The Diaspora is close to Prime Minister Modi-ji’s heart. Where-ever he has gone, he has made a passionate appeal to NRIs and PIOs to be partners in India’s ongoing journey of development and national resurgence. We believe in infusing a new energy and vitality into this lasting relationship between India and its Diaspora.

In this context, we were happy to have so many young overseas Indians and the first ever day-long youth PBD that was held on the Day 1 of the conclave. Over 50 per cent of India’s population is below 25 years, and they are bursting with new hopes and aspirations. There is no bar for the dreams of youth, and it should be so.
It is hugely gratifying to see young overseas Indians taking the initiative to connect with the country of their origin, and build lasting connections with the Indian youth back home. So, we look to build on the success of the initiatives that we have had this year with ‘Bharat ko Jano’ and ‘Bharat ko Mano’ . We hope that they kindle the young with the spirit of - "Bharat ko Banao and Bharat Mein Banao.”
This is one of those rare times when if all of us show enough imagination and initiative, rise to the occasion and seize the moment, anything is possible. This is not just about talk; those gathered here today can make you contribution felt in many ways. The government of Shri Narendra Modi has only one mission: to re-make India into a great nation, a mission in which every Indian and equally every overseas Indian has a vital stake. It will be a perfect fit, a confluence of dreams and interests, and I have no doubt that with such interlinking and intermeshing, both India and the adopted countries of overseas Indians will benefit enormously. 

The contribution of over 25 million-strong Indian Diaspora is deeply valued and cherished. The global Indian has become a brand synonymous with excellence, achievement and the indomitable human spirit to shine forth in all times, in all places and in all conditions. On this day, we have gathered to salute their never-say-die spirit. Today, we have gathered to acknowledge their achievements.
Just as Gandhiji upon his return sought to remake India, many of you can walk in his footsteps and help create new milestones in this journey of India. The idea of India is richer and more complex than many of you would think it to be, and we all here can partner in the India growth story in myriad ways. We all can walk hand-in-hand, shoulder-to-shoulder to make Gandhi’s dream true, and not just for India, but for the world, a peaceful world, free of conflicts, and flowing with genuine freedom and harmony.”


Transcript of Media Briefing by Official Spokesperson on the ongoing Pravasi Bharatiya Divas-2015 on 8 January 

Official Spokesperson: Good evening friends and thank you very much for being here this evening. I will have three areas to focus on during today’s briefing and after that you can ask me any questions on those three areas or on anything else after that.

So let me start with three areas. Those three areas are, of course you’ve been there this morning for Prime Minister’s speech that was as a part of his on-going engagement with Indian Diaspora. Number two is that I’ll try and run through Prime Minister’s bilateral interactions today with visiting dignitaries. Number three is the notification that is being issued for the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Awards. There are 15 awardees this year. So let me try and run through all these three areas and then I am open to any questions that you may want ask on any of those things or on anything else.

As you are aware, Prime Minister’s speech this morning was to set the tone of India’s new government’s engagement with its Diaspora. This is the third major interaction that the Prime Minister has had with the Diaspora, the first one was at the Madison Square Garden in New York, the second one was at the Alphonse Arena in Sydney and today was the third major interaction.

One of the principal areas of focus today was that he had delivered on what he had promised in the earlier two interactions. For example, he had promised on unification of the OCI cards and PIO cards, that is done; an ordinance was issued. Number two was that both OCIs and NRIs will have only one time visa that will be available for a life time. They do not have to renew their requirements for visa year after year. Number three was- those of them who were not benefitting from either of these could avail of tourist visa on arrival. These were the three areas that he had promised and all have been delivered. So, that was one theme that the Government of India, in its engagement with the Diaspora, is willing to walk the talk. It’s not only talking but in six months or less since the announcement was made, they are also walking that.

Number two was that India is a land of opportunities. It is a land where we would invite the entire world to come and invest in and the NRIs in particular. Number three was that there are some sentimental areas where we would like to engage NRIs more than others and those are things like clean Ganges initiative. Prime Minister also emphasized that this engagement with the Diaspora is not a one off thing; it will be a continuing thing. So, these were the main themes of the engagement this morning.

Subsequently, I come to number two and that is Prime Minister had fairly substantive meetings with three leaders who have come here. The first meeting was with the President of Guyana, Mr. Donald Ramotar. In that meeting, they discussed on-going possibilities of India assisting Guyana and the Prime Minister has informed the President of Guyana that, for the two major projects that Guyanese President is interested in, India will be providing a Line of Credit for approximately US $ 60 million. These two projects are: relating to the East Coast Road which is going to enhance road connectivity in Guyana; and the second one is an ocean ferry, they require ocean ferries for riverine traffic. So, these were the two major projects to which India is going to contribute. In addition, the Prime Minister also informed the President of Guyana that apart from the 43 countries for whom visa on arrival has already been notified, the 44th country will by Guyana. That notification is now under process. So, Guyana will be the 44th country for whom visa on arrival facilities will be provided. It is, as you are aware, a country which has a large Indian Diaspora. They would want in places where they do not have PIO or OCI cards to visit India in a more frequent basis. So, that was the other major element of the discussion. The third element was that sugarcane is a major product for Guyana, and the President of Guyana was keen to know about facilities and the cooperative movement in India and how Guyana can benefit from it. I understand that the Prime Minister has suggested that he visit Valsad in Gujarat where they have a very active cooperative sector focussed on sugarcane. These were broadly the areas which were discussed with Guyana. Of course, the President of Guyana was grateful for the Indian gift of a cricket stadium as well as the lighting for the cricket stadium for T20. He said that this has made Guyana the best cricketing venue in the region because of the facilities that are now provided for the stadium that was built by India and which has been lighted up by India.

After that, Prime Minister had a meeting with the visiting Foreign Minister Mashabane of South Africa. The discussion was largely in economic terms and the Prime Minister explained to her the various reforms that are underway in India and invited greater economic cooperation between South Africa and India. The major sectors that he outlined were infrastructure and deep mining because South Africa is a leading mining country. They have technology and ability for deep mining which we could find useful. So this was in relating to South Africa in terms of bilateral relations. In addition, they have agreed that the External Affairs Minister Smt. Sushma Swaraj will visit South Africa in the first quarter to further pursue opportunities for increasing bilateral economic ties. They also discussed various other international issues including reform of the Security Council because both India & South Africa feel that this year, which is the 70th anniversary of the United Nations, is a good opportunity for India and South Africa to work together for reform of the Security Council. They discussed the BRICS grouping in which both India and South Africa are members; possibilities of activating the new development bank at an early stage. As you are aware, an Indian will be the first President of the new development bank which is an initiative of the BRICS.

Finally, the Prime Minister met the Vice Premier of Mauritius. Incidentally, he said that he traces back his ancestry to Kachch in Gujarat. There is a new government in Mauritius which has just been elected and the Vice premier is very keen that the Prime Minister visits them on their National Day which is, I think, March 12. Prime Minister said that he will work out his schedule which has not been worked out for the rest of the year and he will keep in mind the request that has come from Mauritius. Also, there was a discussion about possibilities of greater economic cooperation, especially when Mauritius is trying to utilize its ocean resources and their focus is on what is called the blue economy or the ocean economy. For your information, Mauritius has one of the largest EEZs in the world. So, they want to utilize it appropriately. The Vice Premier has asked Prime Minister for Indian assistance and the Prime Minister has agreed that a multi sectoral Indian team will work on certain projects and visit Mauritius to see how we can take this project further because this is a new concept called the Ocean Economy whereby you can utilize your ocean or riverbed resources or seabed resources to the maximum and India is also very keen to work with Mauritius on this. There will also discussion regarding possibilities of cooperation in existing sectors of the civilian infrastructure etc.

That is what I have for Prime Minister’s bilateral meetings and now I can inform you that the President of India has issued the notification for announcing 15 Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Awards for this year and in addition one of last years’ awardees who could not except the award last year this was Senator Liza Singh from Australia is also here. So there will be 16 awards presented this year. Let me read out the names and the countries for your information. This is Ms. Mala Mehta from Australia, Mr. Esop Ghulam from South Africa, Mr. Satyanarayan Nadela from USA unfortunately he will not be here so this award will be in absentia, Dr. Kamlesh Lula from the US, Mr. Mahendra Nanji Mehta from Uganda, Lord Raj Lumba from the United Kingdom, Prof. Nathuram Puri from the United Kingdom, Dr. Sanjay Rajaram from Mexico, Justice Karunakaran from the Seychelles, Mr. Rajamal Para from Oman, Mr. Bharat Kumar Jayantilal Shah from the UAE and Mr. Ashraf Pellarkunnmal from UAE, Ms. Nandani Tandon from US, President Donald Ramavtar from Guyana and Mr. Kanwaljit Bakshi from New Zealand. These are the award winners- 15 from this year and one from last year.

Now the floor is open for any question that you may ask.

And as all of you know only one person one question.

Question: There was a mention of reform needed in the Bretton Woods institutions in the address given by the South African Foreign Minister …(Inaudible)…Was that also discussed? I understand BRICS Bank is an alternative which is right there for that purpose itself. But in the interim if we have the BRICS Bank with the World Bank and other institutions, was that also discussed? Secondly, you mentioned about an early start for the BRICS Bank. Is there any date or something which has been given?

Official Spokesperson: Let me try and answer your questions because both are interlinked. As regards the possibilities of reform of the Bretton Woods system, both India and South Africa are committed to it. As you are aware, the issue is that while several countries have agreed to increase their share, these have to be approved in their respective Parliaments or their legislatures. And you are aware that there are issues in some countries about their approvals. That is where we are on that.

That said, yes, the issue of how India and South Africa can within the BRICS construct or bilaterally work to speed up the possibilities of enhancing economic exchanges through trading in respective currencies did come up. This of course was in addition to what is the present trading system. These were the elements of international trading or World Bank, IMF related issues that came up. But no timeframes were set for these. As you would appreciate, these meetings are about half an hour in nature. These are meetings where we flag or highlight important issues rather than get into further details on this. But these are issues which are important for India and certainly they were discussed.

Question: Is the United Kingdom included in the countries which have been granted visa on arrival? And if not, why not?

Official Spokesperson: Madam, there is already a decision on 43 countries who are utilising it. Let me tell you, the effort of the Government of India is to in a phased manner move to a system where we can provide visa on arrival or e-authorisation for as many countries as possible, if possible everybody. We always have to make a judgment call on who to choose.

Those who are responsible have several months ago chosen 43 countries. Now, as regards what were the factors that went into it, obviously it is also traffic, it is security concerns, it is our infrastructure. It is not a foreign policy decision that you choose ‘x’ or ‘y’ country. It is purely done on what we see are, it is like a pilot initiative, it is a first phase. You will notice that as we go along we will unveil other phases. And as I said to you, there is one more country added today, that was Guyana. But down the line, after this works well, after the infrastructure is in place, you can be certain that we will unveil for several other countries.

Question: I am from Germany and I think I am the only one from Germany.

Official Spokesperson: Welcome, Sir.

Question: Thank you. But unfortunately I would like to ask a critical question. The Government of India’s Representative Mission Office does not give any kind of information on the PBD. Neither they give any information and if any enquiry is made they say they do not know …(Inaudible)… What is the reason? Is there any communication deficit between India and Germany or your Mission Office on which Government people are sitting? Or is there any other reason? Why is it that the information is not being given?

Official Spokesperson: Thank you very much. You are from Germany. I presume that internet facilities are available both there and here and you can apply online. We are in an information age where at the click of a button, you need not go and talk to anybody, information is available openly in the public domain for everybody to do what they want. You may have had a not so good experience. This is your anecdotal experience and we understand that, we will try and find it out. But let me tell you that there are people from several other countries who come. The very fact that you have e-portals means you do not need to talk to individuals in those countries, you can directly connect. And that is our hope that you will have a relationship where you will directly connect between the organisers and you. If you had a problem I regret your problem, but please you are a wise man and I would suggest that connect directly.

Question: Sir, aapne ek baat kahi ki joh Guyana Sarkar hai voh kahin kahin Valsad se cheeni vyavsay ko lekar ek MoU jaisa ya sahkarita mein kuchh karna chahegi. Voh kya hai thoda vistar se janna chahenge.

Official Spokesperson: Dekhiye, sugarcane Guyana ke liye ek important product hai. Toh voh dekhna chahte hain ki aap kya innovations kar rahe hain yahan par. Suna hai ki Valsad mein cooperative movement kafee strong hai. Kyon ki cooperative movement ek aisa movement hai, sab jaante hain Gujarat mein Amul movement kitna strong hai lekin voh milk sector mein hai. Suna hai ki even in sugarcane sector there are opportunities of how cooperatives can grow. So, the President of Guyana wants to study and understand if there is something that they can take home from here in terms of best practices that are being adopted in this region.

Question: Now that the ordinance has been signed by the President, how many days, weeks, months External Affairs Ministry will take to make it a reality for the people?

Official Spokesperson: Which ordinance, Sir?

Question: The one the President signed yesterday on PIO and OCI. Will …(Inaudible)…be the same as they were previously …(Inaudible)…that is if the father is from India, then children also can be …(Inaudible)…

Official Spokesperson: This is not a Ministry of External Affairs issue at all. But I am not evading that question. What I am telling you is this. As the Prime Minister himself said, when he came back he realised after the announcement that there were some delicate issues that needed to be addressed. I have already told you previously that what we say, we implement. We explained to you when the decision was taken, the ordinance is now done. Please be patient. In the Ordinance itself there is a Gazette Notification which is done with that. Along with that, the date of the new regulations coming into being will be the date of the Gazette Notification. Usually this is done in consultation with various other organisations.

For visas the main Ministry is the Ministry of Home Affairs. The External Affairs Ministry acts as a connection to you for these matters. But let me tell you the idea is not to delay these. These will be implemented within a finite time. I cannot tell you until the Gazette Notification is issued because it will be specified in that. But rest assured, it will be quick and it will be swift.

Question: You mentioned about the 60 million dollars loan to Guyana …(Inaudible)…Does it just include a loan or …(Inaudible)…Indian companies should be a part of that bidding system. Any update on that?

Official Spokesperson: It is an LOC and an LOC always has some component in it which will indicate what amount has to be from India. And it is provided for when the agreement is signed. There are significant components which will be for Indian companies. After all this is Indian taxpayers’ money and we will ensure that Indian companies benefit from it but it will be a bidding process.

Question: How many NRIs took part in this PBD and how many NRGs were there?

Official Spokesperson: NRGs?

Question: Non Resident Gujaratis.

Official Spokesperson: I understand your eagerness to know on a state-wise basis, but I represent the Government of India so we do it on a national basis. They are tabulating this. When I come to you tomorrow I will have the facts of how many. I do not know whether they are tabulating it on a state-wise basis. State-wise, language-wise, district-wise, these are areas of interest I understand. But at this stage we are tabulating the totals and we will let you have that tomorrow.

Question: For the first time in the PBD we have a theme specific session on people from Francophone countries, and there are quite a few persons of Indian origin from those countries. Is there a Minister from any of those countries present here? Is there a plan for a bilateral? Is there a specific plan?

Official Spokesperson: Manish, as you know, the Vice Premier of Mauritius is here. Mauritius is both Francophone as well as Anglophone. So, there is a Minister from Francophone countries also. The Chief Justice of Seychelles who is one of the Prasar Bharati Samman awardees is here. Again Seychelles is one of those countries which are Anglophone as well as Francophone.

Question: Will you be distributing the names of Pravasi …(Inaudible)…

Official Spokesperson: Yes, Sir, there is no problem because this is a Gazette Notification. I will ask my colleagues, they will photocopy and give you.

If there are no more questions on the topics that I raised today, you may ask questions on anything else now.

Question: The Pakistan Foreign Office has said that there is no conclusive evidence, no substantive evidence to prove Pakistan’s hand in the terror boat episode.

Official Spokesperson: I think you are aware of the Defence Minister’s statement followed by the Home Minister’s statement, and the Defence Minister also indicated a timeframe in which information on this will be provided. So, please just wait. He has given a timeframe in the statement he made a couple of days ago that he would bring into the public domain information which will provide substantiation for what he has said. So, just wait for that.

Question: Sir, Paris mein kal ke hamle ke baad aaj vahan par dharmik sthal jitney bhi hain vahan par bhi golibari ki khabrein aa rahi hain. Kya reaction has Ministry ka?

Official Spokesperson: I can tell like the rest of the world we are all shocked. Our leadership has condemned this incident in no uncertain terms. The Prime Minister immediately condemned it as a dastardly incident. The External Affairs Minister wrote a letter to her counterpart Mr. Laurent Fabius in which she expressed her shock. She said that India stands with France and its people in its fight against terrorism, also we intend to continue to work with France both bilaterally and in multilateral forums to tackle issues of terrorism. That is where we are. As far as we are concerned, the people and the Government of India are committed in the fight against terrorism, and we are shocked by what has happened. We condemn this dastardly attack. And we are there on the side of France and its people against this.

Question: What specific anti-terror mechanism we have with France to see that we prevent such sort of attacks?

Official Spokesperson: In diplomacy there are some things which are transparent, there are some things which are translucent, and there are some things which are best left unsaid. Tackling terror is not something that we need to put upfront. But let me tell you, we have cooperation with France on this front.

Question: Do you have any information regarding Indians affected by ISIS militants in Iraq?

Official Spokesperson: This is a very difficult subject. We all have been working on it. But the situation is what it was when we communicated to you last and that is, at this stage we keep getting information in driblets from different sources but we do not have any concrete information on what is their status today. However, we will not give up our quest to find out, because we have information from various other sources, which are not being corroborated by us in terms of evidence. But sources keep telling us that they are aware of Indian nationals who are in that region who have been abducted.

As far as India is concerned, we will never forget these people, we will continue to pursue it. And once we have corroborative evidence on anything, we will certainly share it with the families and with the public because we do understand that everybody is concerned on this. But at this stage I have nothing further to add to what has been our public position previously.

Question: Nine Chief Ministers are coming …(Inaudible)…

Official Spokesperson: I have already announced that yesterday. They will be. I have given you the names of those Chief Ministers. And some are also coming at the Ministerial level because of some reasons. Mr. Rajnath Singh, the Home Minister will be chairing that session where those Chief Ministers are coming.

Question: Dawood Ibrahim ka audio …(Inaudible)… baad Indian government ka kya view hai?

Official Spokesperson: Dekhiye joh hamara view pehle tha, woh ab bhi hai ki Dawood Ibrahim is an absconder from justice. We have not forgotten what he has done, that is the Mumbai terror attacks of the 90s. We will pursue him wherever he is, and we assure that he will be brought to justice. Wherever he is, at some stage he will be brought to justice. That remains our position as it was previously.

Question: There are reports that the Government is considering e-voting for Pravasis. Is there any proposal in consideration?

Official Spokesperson: I do not know. If you believe everything in newspapers, you can believe this. As far as I am aware, the Election Commission is considering various options on this. They are to give their recommendations to the Government on this. When those recommendations come they will be public and known. Rest is you know what it is, I will not say more about it.

Question: Sir, kal Akhilesh Yadav khud aa rahe hain ya unke Cabinet se koi aa rahe hain?

Official Spokesperson: I understand that UP will be represented at the Ministerial level.

Thank you very much. With that we end this interaction.



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.”


Opening Remarks of Shri Rajnath Singh Union Home Minister at the CMs Session on Investment Opportunities in States 

Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 2015

I welcome the honourable chief ministers of all the states participating in this session of the 13th ‘Pravasi Bharatiya Sammelan’. I take this opportunity to applaud the hard work, dedication and determination displayed by the 25 million strong Indian diaspora that has earned global respect for its work culture, discipline and successful integration with the local community. You are truly an embodiment of ‘The Indomitable Spirit of India’ of which we are all proud of.
It was exactly one hundred years ago from today that the brightest beacon of Truth and Non-violence in modern times – Mahatma Gandhi - returned to India from South Africa. As you all know, Gandhiji’s epoch-making return to India shaped the country’s struggle for Independence.
Mahatma Gandhi believed that political freedom would lead to the social and economic transformation and cultural revival of the country. Gandhiji’s call for ‘Khadi’ and ‘Swadeshi’ were an attempt to deal with the problems of shortages in the economy and create a sense of confidence among the people. ‘Swaraj’ would be incomplete without ‘Swadeshi’ – which in a broad sense signifies economic vitality of our country.
When Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee became the Prime Minister of India he also had to deal with the problems of shortages in our economy. He was successful in transforming our economy from an ‘economy of shortages’ to an economy which was self-reliant. He made ‘Good Governance and Development’ the biggest priority of his government and he ensured people’s participation in this endeavour. It was the vision of Shri Atalji to connect with the Indians living abroad which fructified as this annual meet and the first ‘Pravasi Bharatiya Divas’ was organized in 2003. This event marks the historical importance of the return of Mahatma Gandhi to his motherland and the success of ‘Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas’ lies in rekindling the spirit of ‘Bharatiyata’ in every ‘Pravasi’. 
Mahatma Gandhi assertion that “True ‘Bharat’ is to be found not in its few cities, but in its seven hundred thousand villages” is true even today in its spirit. On the one hand rapid growth in urbanisation has created new opportunities in the cities and on the other hand our villages cannot be left behind. The process of development has to reach the far flung areas of our country and even our villages in the remotest areas should be brought within its ambit. If we fail to develop our rural areas it would create a sense alienation and distress among the major sections of our society.
India’s potential to prosper lies in the growth of its villages, cities and States and Union Territories. From spinning India’s textile success to harnessing information technology for good governance, from leading in conventional and renewable energy to exploring exciting vistas in tourism, every success of the state has added to the nation’s strength and prestige. And this is the reason why today’s session on ‘Investment Opportunities in States’ holds a special significance.
In democracy we follow the dictum of ‘collective wisdom’ and ‘collective responsibility’. No state is an island itself and there has to be an active cooperation and connection among all the states and also between the Centre and States. We are here to share our ideas and experiences on how this great nation can lead to a path of more progress and prosperity.
There could be difference of opinion on how to pursue our national goals but I am confident that our collective wisdom will definitely help us in overcoming all our differences and outlining the future course of this great country.
We are here to deliberate on economic issues and opportunities present before us. There are certain challenges facing the economy and the country but we have to put up a collective fight against these odds. India as a nation is not a ‘Lifeless Idea’ but it is a ‘Living Organism’ which comprises of a body and soul. It gets adversely affected if one of its organs malfunctions. Therefore regional imbalances and lopsided development are major problems which need to be addressed on priority for a healthy and equitable growth in this country.
As a ‘Federal Polity’ India offers a unique opportunity to all the states to pursue its agenda for development and governance with the active support from the Centre. India today demands greater impetus to ‘Cooperative Federalism’ than the ‘Competitive Federalism’. The Centre and the states need to work together in one direction to fulfil the dreams and aspirations of its people.
The new government headed by Shri Narendra Modi at the Centre has taken a series of measures to re-ignite the economy. We have reasons to be optimistic as we are constantly making course corrections to gain investor confidence. The Government has taken a number of policy measures to stabilize the economy and restart the engine of our economic growth.
Our Government is focused on infrastructure development and a number of new road and rail projects have been taken up, including priority to completion of projects already announced. Projects of metro rail and high speed rail systems are being structured on fast track. Industrial hubs and smart cities are being given planned. We are seriously pursuing early implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) which will create a buoyant source of revenue and place the fiscal position on a permanently solid footing and serve to make India more of a common market by eliminating internal barriers to trade.
We are focusing on bringing transparency in allocation of natural resources including coal blocks, iron ore and other minerals as well in time to come. In particular e-auction of coal blocks and the recent amendments to the Mines & Minerals (Development & Regulation) Act will bring more transparency, competitiveness and efficiency in the system. Through these measures we have been able to rebuild confidence and trust that is extremely important to revive investments and drive higher growth.
In his Independence Day Speech the Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi gave us a vision and exhorted investors from all corners of the globe to come and ‘Make in India’. The “Make in India” initiative was launched in the background of a stagnating manufacturing sector and increasing levels of unemployment among the youth. ‘Make in India’ is a mission to transform this country from an importer of manufactured items to an exporter of manufactured products. India has a vast pool of natural resources and skilled human resources to make this country a ‘New Manufacturing Hub’.  The people of Indian origin and the NRIs should invest in actualising the dream of ‘Make in India’.
The Prime Minster is focussed on improving the business environment in the country. He has stressed on improving the business conditions and drew the attention towards the mantra of ‘Minimum Government, Maximum Governance’. The vision at the root of this transformational endeavour is ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas’.  It naturally encompasses all of the Union of India, including all of its States.
In order to improve the global perception about difficulties in doing business in India the Centre is working tirelessly to remove the bottlenecks and busy cutting the red tape. There was never a better time to invest in the country that is determined to take its rightful place in the comity of nations. Today, I exhort the people of Indian origin to come and invest in this great country and become an active partner in our definitive march towards prosperity and in making India a global superpower.
The government under the astute leadership of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Bhai Modi is committed to resolve all the key issues facing the people of Indian origin. Addressing the concerns of our overseas brothers and sisters the Prime Minister announced that all PIO card holders will enjoy life long visa and exemption from police reporting. Now the government has issued an ordinance merging both PIO and OCI cards giving way to an improved scheme where they can enjoy life long visa facility and other benefits pertaining to citizenship.
Before I take my seat, and we all listen to our Chief Ministers on the opportunities in their respective States, I sincerely thank the organisers for giving me the honour to chair this session. I thank you all for your attention, and look forward to interesting presentations on the remarkable opportunities in our States.


Government removing bottlenecks to promote NRI partnership to script India’s success story : Rajnath Singh 

Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 2015

The day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke about India being  the country offering abundant opportunities, Union Home Minister Shri Rajnath Singh elaborated on the new policy initiatives being undertaken by the government for promoting inclusive growth.  Chairing a session on “Investment Opportunities in Indian States”  at the Pravasi  Bharatiya Divas in Gandhinagar, Shri Rajnath Singh asserted that the country is moving towards an era of cooperative federalism,  giving voice to states in shaping the economic destiny of the nation. He said, with this objective in mind, the erstwhile Planning Commission has been replaced with the Niti Ayog, w.e.f 1st January 2015. “In democracy, we follow the dictum of ‘collective wisdom’ and ‘collective responsibility’. I am confident that our collective wisdom will help us in overcoming any differences” he  said.

The Home Minister said, the new government  headed by Shri Narendra Modi has already taken a series of measures to re-ignite the economy. “We have reasons to be optimistic as we are constantly  making course corrections to gain investor confidence” he added.  Shri Rajnath Singh said the ‘Make in India’ initiative is a mission  to transform this country from an importer of manufactured items to an exporter of manufactured products.  The objective is to increase   the share of manufacturing in the GDP from the current level of 14% to 25 %."

In order to improve the global perception about difficulties in doing business in India the  Centre is working tirelessly to remove the bottlenecks and busy cutting the red tape.  Mr. Rajnath Singh said the Prime Minster is focussed on improving the business environment in the country and has  stressed on the mantra of  ‘Minimum Government, Maximum Governance’.  He said the Government is seriously pursuing early implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) which  will create a buoyant source of revenue and create a large common market by eliminating internal barriers .  Mr. Singh said a decision has  been taken to allocate natural resources only through e-auction to ensure  transparency. “Such measures are necessary to rebuild confidence and trust that is extremely important to revive investments and drive higher growth” he said.  

Mr. Singh said India has a vast pool of natural resources and skilled human  resources to make this country a ‘New Manufacturing Hub’.  The people of Indian origin and  the NRIs should invest in actualizing the dream of ‘Make in India’.  “India’s progress can not be achieved only by the people living within   the country. Today, I exhort the people of Indian origin to come and invest in this  great country and become an active partner in our definitive march towards prosperity and in  making India a global superpower”, the Minister said.

The Home Minister however, did not forget to stress on inclusive  growth and removing regional imbalances. Stating that  India’s potential  to prosper lies in the growth of its villages,  Shri Rajnath Singh said “the process of development has to reach the far flung areas  of our country and the villages even in the remotest areas should be brought within its ambit.  If we fail to develop the rural areas of India it would create a sense of alienation, isolation  and dejection among the major sections of our society.”

Chief Ministers of some prominent states like Prakash Singh Badal , Punjab,  Manoharlal Khattar, Haryana, Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Madhya Pradesh, Raghubar Das, Jharkhand, Anandiben Patel, Gujarat, Devendra Fadnavis, Maharashtra,  Laxmikant Parsekar, Goa,  N  Chandrababu Naidu, Andhra Pradesh,   Oomen Chandy, Kerala made brief presentations about investment opportunities in their respective states.  States of Gujarat, Maharashtrta, Karnataka, Kerala, Punjab, UP, Bihar and Jharkhand  are also holding separate investor meets.

Vast Potential of MSMEs needs to be Harnessed Vast Potential of MSMEs needs to be Harnessed Reviewed by Ajit Kumar on 12:23 PM Rating: 5

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