Historic talks by leaders of diaspora


  • Nation
  • Thursday, 09 Jan 2003

BY WANI MUTHIAH

PETALING JAYA: Thousands of ethnic Indians from six continents are expected to congregate at New Delhi’s Vigyan Bhavan convention centre today to commemorate a historic gathering aimed at resuscitating their ties with their country of origin. 

Dubbed Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, the three-day event is jointly organised by the Indian Government and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry to kick-start networking between the republic and the 20-million-strong Indian diaspora in 110 countries.  

The convergence of the diaspora is also expected to act as a platform for discussion of issues pertaining to dual citizenship, consular issues, welfare of overseas Indian workers, health, science and technology, media, education and culture, among other things. 

In a statement released to the Indian media, High Level Committee on Indian Diaspora chairman Dr L.M. Singhvi was quoted as saying that the diaspora, made up of people of Indian origin (PIO) and non-resident Indians (NRIs), was an extraordinary asset to India. 

According to University of Calcutta Associate Professor Dr Lipi Ghosh, the main objective of the “reunion” was the Indian Government’s vision of involving NRIs and PIOs, who share a combined economic output of about US$400bil (RM1.52tril), in the strengthening of the republic’s financial and economic stature.  

“India will also be able to foster strong economic relations with the countries where the NRIs and PIOs are located,” added Dr Ghosh, who is with the university’s Department of South and South-East Asian Studies. 

Dr Ghosh, who spoke in a telephone interview with The Star, said the convergence was also reflective of the Indian Government’s aggressive approach in improving relations with South East Asian countries through its diaspora in order to activate its “Look East” policy. 

She reckoned that there was also the possibility of India wanting to mend fences with China to forge an economic alliance through its diaspora in Hong Kong as well as in countries with strong diplomatic and economic ties with China, such as Malaysia and Singapore. 

Apparently, Indian computer software developers are eager to tap China’s potential after the world’s most populous nation had indicated its willingness to give up a generous portion of its domestic and export software demands in exchange for skilled IT resources.  

On Malaysia’ s stand, MIC president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu said the gathering would serve as a networking platform for the business fraternity from participating countries to facilitate trade with India. 

Malaysian construction companies currently have about RM4.56bil worth of projects in the sub-continent. 

Samy Vellu, who is scheduled to speak at the event, also hoped the conference would foster strong bonds of friendship between participating countries. 

Some of the prominent personalities of Indian origin attending the event are Nobel laureates Prof Amartya Sen and Sir V.S. Naipaul and Mauritius Prime Minister Anerood Jugnauth. 

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