External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj today invited children of Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) and Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs) to grab the opportunity to pursue higher education in India as the country now possessed world-class university infrastructure and R&D capacities with institutions such as the IITs and IIMs.
"Along with high-quality education, we want India to be a hub for high-end research & development capacities. We have started various programs such as VAJRA, GIAN and Mission Shodh Ganga to enable the overseas scientific community to conduct high-end research and development in India,” the Minister said at the inauguration of the Youth Pravasi Bharatiya Divas here.
She said, recognizing the importance of engaging with the youth diaspora, the Government decided to start the Youth Pravasi Bharatiya Divas along with the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas Convention in 2015.
“This Youth Pravasi Bharatiya Divas is not only about discovering your roots, and appreciating your heritage, but it is also about learning how you can be a part of India’s development journey towards a New India.
“We would like to create an environment in India that will enable you to have the conviction that you and your children can excel in this country as much as you could anywhere else in the world. Whether you are looking for an affordable quality education or tech start-ups, India offers limitless opportunities,” she added.
“We have also increased the scope for the NRIs and OCI cardholders to conduct better research in Indian institutions and universities. Today, India has over 41% of its 1.3 billion population below 20 years of age. I would like you to contribute to the higher education and research and development sectors with your technical expertise and knowledge sharing and help India harness its huge demographic dividend.
At present, about 7.5 lakh Indian students are pursuing higher education in research and innovation abroad. “To address their grievances, we have constituted an Expert Group comprising Ambassadors of Foreign Missions in Delhi, where the majority of our students are pursuing higher education. We have held two meetings in 2018. The recommendations of this meeting are currently being considered,” the Minister said.
“Every week, we come across stories on Indian youngsters, making news in foreign countries with exciting achievements in academic and non-academic spheres. Reading about their journeys and the odds that they have faced is quite inspirational and gives us the hope that the citizens of the future have the potential to make the world better.
“During the last four and a half years, we have taken several measures to safeguard emigration of Indian workers under the motto 'Surakshit Jaaye, Prasikshit Jaaye'. We made online registration of foreign employers mandatory in 2015 to streamline overseas recruitment procedures and introduce safeguards into the migration cycle.
“Grievances, complaints and petitions of the Indian migrant workers are being addressed online through e-Migrate and MADAD. We are taking strict action against illegal and fraudulent recruitment agents, who are cheating Indian workers seeking overseas employment,” Ms Swaraj said.
“We have an Indian Community Welfare Fund for carrying out welfare activities for distressed overseas Indians. We are strengthening the entire ecosystem of our administrative arrangements and our embassies and my colleagues are pro-actively reaching out on social media to solve your problems on a real-time basis,” she pointed out.
The Minister said while the Indian diaspora started migrating centuries ago, it was the migration of the educated, highly skilled and dynamic young Indians that has brought laurels to India.
"Today, many of the multi-national corporations are headed by young Indian origin CEOs. Whether it is Sundar Pichai of Google, Satya Nadella of Microsoft, Ajay Banga of Mastercard, or Geeta Gopinath of IMF – it is indisputable that Indians are leading the world today.
“Our diaspora has dramatically changed the world’s perception of Indians, and of India as well. They have kindled a new wave of appreciation for this land which has produced and exported so many achievers. The benchmarks for success, which the Pravasi community has set, is a motivation for us in India.
“They encourage us to create a business, investment and economic climate, which is as conducive to success as anywhere else in the world,” she added.
The government was making full use of digital platforms and social media to actively enhance the outreach to the Indian Diaspora. “Today we are present on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Google+, SoundCloud and Flick as well as Linkedln.
“We are disseminating real-time information about our bilateral and international relations and official engagements, and creating awareness and understanding about India’s foreign policy issues through the use of social media.
“We are using various other tools like podcasts and digital magazine to enhance our access to the diaspora youth. Our MEA App mobile application has brought all the websites and various social media handles of over 170 Indian missions on a common platform to further its public outreach," she added.
“Our embassies have been proactive on the digital media, providing consular help and guidance. Whether it is Facebook or Twitter, help is just a message away from any Indian National in distress,” she pointed out.
Ms Swaraj said that, during the colonial regime, Indians were sent as indentured labour to work on lands as far apart as Fiji and Mauritius, Suriname and Sri Lanka, Trinidad & Tobago, Burma, Guyana and Malaysia. The next wave of emigration saw Indian entrepreneurs and traders sailing fearlessly into uncharted waters for unknown countries.
“Since the '70s, young Indian professionals have been migrating abroad to corporate boardrooms, research laboratories, engineering workshops and university faculties. We have seen the growing emigration of doctors, nurses, engineers, managers, plumbers, and electricians to West Asia and the Gulf.
“Today, we have people of Indian origin, as heads of state and heads of government, and as heads of large multi-national corporations, raising India's global profile,” she added.
The Minister said several initiatives like the Know India Program (KIP), through which many of the youth were visiting India at present, aimed at giving a flavour of India and providing a platform for interaction with policymakers, industry and civil society.
“This program reconnects you with Indian roots, culture and heritage. We have organized 49 editions of this program so far. I am happy to note that the participants of the 50th KIP or the Golden Jubilee Edition, as also 51st and 52nd KIP are also participating in the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) Convention.
"Bharat Ko Janiye (Know India) Quiz program which Prime Minister had launched for young overseas Indians is another initiative which has received a tremendous response. Over 40,000 overseas Indians participated in the 2nd edition of this quiz.
“The winners will receive the medals from the Prime Minister tomorrow during the inauguration of the 15th Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas Convention. We had also organized seven conferences in 2018 to have a sustained dialogue with our diaspora experts on issues of relevance,” she said.
“It is projected that India will be the source of skilled manpower to the world by 2022. Our Skill India initiative is aimed towards making India ready to become the Skill capital of the world by 2022. We have the Pravasi Kaushal Vikas Yojana which aims to enhance the skills of Indian youth, who seek overseas employment.
“Our aim is to not just export manpower to the world, but to export skills. Exporting skilled manpower will not only garner a better image for India on the global space but will also lead to better salaries and better remittances, thus raising India’s GDP further," she said.
She said the Pravasi youth, with their talent and skill, could benefit from the immense opportunities that are arising from India’s fast-paced development and transformation.
“India is now a land of innovation and start-ups. The contribution of the Indian diaspora in the technical field is exemplary. Nearly 16% of startups in Silicon Valley had an Indian co-founder.
“The figure for Indian startups is even higher in some areas such as business software. We can partner in building an infrastructure for skill development which will contribute to greater employment in India as well as abroad.
“India is now recognized as one of the leading countries in science and technology. It has garnered world prestige in fields like Supercomputing to Space Technology. Rapid technological advancement has to be matched up with training and education infrastructure.
“We have launched a number of flagship programmes to achieve our developmental objectives. The Smart Cities Mission; Digital India; the Skill India; Start-Up India; Swachh Bharat Campaign are all part of our efforts to realize the dream of a prosperous, skilful, enterprising, clean and futuristic India. We want you to partner with us to realize that dream,” she added.
The inauguration was attended by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, Union Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, Special Guest Himanshu Gulati, Member of Parliament from Norway, and Guest of Honour Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi, Member of Parliament from New Zealand, among others.
(Our News Desk can be contacted at email@example.com)