PM: Tough time on growth front, GDP may slip to 7% Jaipur, January 8
Jaipur, January 8
Addressing the delegates at the 10th Pravasi Bhartiya Divas here, Manmohan Singh said: “Our country is going through difficult times. But we are up to the task of meeting these challenges.” He exhorted the diaspora to contribute more to building of modern India.
The country recorded a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate of 8.5 per cent in 2010-11 and was initially estimated to grow by 9 per cent in the current fiscal. But the growth rate projection was gradually scaled down by the Reserve Bank and the Finance Ministry.
“We are hoping to bring back the rhythm of our growth process,” the Prime Minister told over 1,900 delegates from 60 countries. He said the efforts to combat inflation have started yielding results and there has been an improvement in the situation.
“We have sincerely attempted to address the rising expectations of our people with regard to governance and timely delivery of public services. The Right to information Act has proved to be a powerful instrument when it comes to transparency in governance,” said the Prime Minister.
He also sent out a message of comfort to the diaspora saying that his government is “acutely conscious” of the safety and security of Indians living abroad, particularly in the Gulf and West Asia.
“There are over six million Indians living in the Gulf and West Asia. We need to be alert to the unfolding developments in this part of the world,” said the Prime Minister. “We have conveyed to the countries of the region that we have a stake in the peace and stability of this region, and that we expect that they would appropriately look after the interests of Indian communities in their countries,” he added. The Prime Minister pointed out that following the upheaval in Libya last year, the Indian Government had launched Operation Safe Homecoming to evacuate more than 16,000 people from the strife-torn areas through special flights, passenger and naval vessels. Similar evacuations were carried out from Egypt and Yemen on a lower scale. “We stand ready to extend such help elsewhere should the need arise,” he said. The Prime Minister said the people of India and the government recognise and "greatly value" the important role being played by Indian communities living abroad. "We believe that the Indian diaspora has much more to contribute to the building of modern India. We propose to facilitate, encourage and promote this engagement," he said.
Announcing a novel pension and life insurance scheme for overseas Indian workers that is expected to benefit over 5 million workers, especially those in the Gulf, the PM said it will help them save money for their return, resettlement and old age.
“Today, People of Indian Origin are welcomed around the globe for their values like hard work, excellence and enterprise,” said Manmohan Singh.
He also said his government has taken a number of initiatives to engage the diaspora like voting rights for NRIs. The PM made a special reference to a Bill brought in the last session of Parliament for merging together the PIO and OCI schemes. The new Bill will rectify some of the anomalies in these schemes and provide for an Overseas Indian Card, which will be given to foreign spouses of such card-holders as well, he said.
.Earlier, welcoming the chief guest and Indian-origin Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Kamla Persad Bissessar, Manmohan Singh heaped praises on the Caribbean nation and said: "Our shared passion for cricket is well known.”
Also praising the Indian diaspora in the Caribbean, the PM said: “Their journey, often in very difficult circumstances, began many years ago but their links with India remain strong and deep.
Minister for Overseas Indians Valayar Ravi said to position India as a global supplier of skilled and trained workforce, a scheme, ‘Swaranpravas Yojana’, has been prepared to train 10 million youth over the next two Five Year Plans.
He said bilateral social security agreements have been signed with over a dozen countries that have a significant overseas Indian population. An agreement was signed with Germany last year.
Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlor announced a special scheme for encouraging second and third generation of overseas Rajasthanis to visit their motherland by offering them free boarding and lodging and transport besides reimbursing 90 per cent of the cost of their air tickets.