The Bold Voice of J&K

India for Non-Resident Indians; where we stand

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R K Sinha
Until three-four decades ago, Indians living abroad were looked down upon by our society. General perception was then that it was wrong to have used our resources and then leave the country to settle abroad. It was not only wrong but it amounted to detraying the nation. But now the perception has changed. Now those Indians settled abroad are seen as our brand ambassadors in foreign countries. Even the government’s stand has also changed.
In this backdrop, the 14th Parvashi Bharatiya Divas or the Non-Resident Indians Day is being held in Banguluru from 7 to 9 January. Non-Resident Indians from over 150 countries will be taking part in the conference.
In fact, ever since Narendra Modi has become Prime Minister of India there has been paradign shift in our foreign policy for the better of the country and for better of Indians living abroad. From Sydney to New York and from Nairobi to Dubai, Prime Minister Modi invited people of Indian origin in those countries, held large meetings and interacted with them. Our Prime Minister raised the issues of Non-Resident Indians with heads of the States, Presidents, Prime Ministers, Kings and Monarchs of the countries he visited. The new approach and treatment given to Non-Resident Indians have bolstered the moral of our brothers and sisters living away from the country.
Before this, the normal practice was when our Prime Minister or President visited a foreign country, the Indian Embassy and Indian Commission would invited a few select non-resident Indians over lunch, dinner or tea for a brief interaction with the visiting Indian Prime Minister and President. This left a vast majority of non-resident Indians living abroad alienated from India. This practice of not having any relations with non-resident Indians was there since the era of Jawaharlal Nehru who was then our Prime Minister. Nehru had gone to the extent of making a statement in Parliament in 1957 that we have nothing do with Indians living and settled in foreign countries.
Now the Modi government has adopted a pro-active policy for non-resident Indians. Modi believes that Indians settled abroad are our brand ambassadors and many of the 250 crores NRIs are now holding high positions in multinational companies abroad giving a good name to our country. To name a few, indira Nyui is CEO of Coca Cola, Lord Meghnad Desai, Lord Swraj Paul in Britain, Lord Karan Bilimoria, Global Head of Mastercard Ajay Banga are famous entities in the world today.
Before 1970 majority of Indians who went abroad were skilled and unskilled workers. But the trend changed after that when many doctors, engineers particularly software engineers went and settled in foreign countries bringing good name for the country by their good work.
The good thing is that the Modi Government is taking care of Indians living abroad and helping them in any situation of distress. In 2015, thousands of Indians were rescued from Yemen by the government. Many coungries including USA, France and Germany took the help of India in evacuating their nationals from Yemen.
Prime Minister Modi has given major thrust to strengthen our ties with the Gulf nations where large number of skilled and unskilled workers are engaged in on going projects of those countries. During his last visit to Saudi Arabia Modi took up the issue of Indian workers there with the head of the state with positive outcome.
On our Republic Day Parade celebrations this year the Sheikh of Abu Dhabi Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan will be our Chief Guest. It will further cement our ties with Abu Dhabi where large number of Indian workers are settled.
I don’t want to criticize the policy of precious governments vis a vis Indian settled abroad. But I would like to place one instance here.
During the UPA Government headed by Manmohan Singh, questions were raised in Parliament over the plight of Indians working in the Gulf nations. Just look what E Ahmed, a Minister in the government then told the House:
“According to estimates, approximately six million Indians are working in the Gulf countries. The government receives complaint from them time to time. The Government of India through its missions in the Gulf has tried to resolve issues related to exploitation and sufferings of the Indian migrant force.” It is a brief version of the Minister’s reply in Parliament but one can imagine the casual approach of the then UPA Government on the plight of Indian workers in the Gulf.
Things have changed now. Modi Government is taking special care to see to it that NRIs are not exploited by foreign companies.
For the past few years, many State Governments have started organizing NRI Day. A large number of people from Andhra Pradesh have gone and settled in the USA. Andhra Pradesh, Punjab and Gujrat Governments are organizing Pravashi Day.
Until recently, Pravashi Diwas was held in the national capital of Delhi.

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