Mukherjee lauds Indian Diaspora, urges them to invest in India

Modi also speaks on last day of the PBD.

By Denisha Sahadevan

KOCHI: As yet another edition of the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas wound up here, the overwhelming call from one and all, including the President of India Pranab Mukherjee, was for expatriates to invest in India to make it a global power, and help achieve its goal of galloping ahead at a smart eight percent annual growth.

In his valedictory address at the Le Meridien Hotel here, Mukherjee appealed to the packed crowd, comprising of more than 2000 delegates from more than 40 countries around the world, to show confidence in India’s potential and do business in the country.

He acknowledged that the country has also been susceptible to the global economic slowdown, and had failed to achieve its set target of eight percent annual growth in the last two years.

“The growth rates have declined from 8.4 per cent in 2010-2011 to 6.5 per cent, and further to 5.4 per cent in the first half of 2012-13,” he said.

Mukherjee, however, said that India will bounce back, like it has done in the past, and show resilience once again.

“I am hopeful that this resilient character of the economy will help to reverse this short-term deceleration and bring economic growth back to the level of eight to 9 per cent. You too can become partners in the progress of the nation,” he said.

Goading the NRIs present in the room to share opportunities in a resurgent India, he pointed to the fact that the yield of Indian equity markets is amongst the highest in the world, as well as the fact that multinationals have come in by the hordes to do business in the country. Mukherjee also highlighted his own achievement as a finance minister, when he opened up the country’s capital market for Qualified Foreign Investors, which allowed investors to directly invest in Indian equities.

Mukherjee also talked about remittances, a subject the state of Kerala understands well. He informed that total remittances into the country was a whopping $33 billion during the first half of 2012-2013 as against $67 billion at the end of October 2012, figures which indicate that despite a global slowdown, money continued to flow unabated into India.

Mukherjee also lauded the contributions and achievements of the Indian Diaspora, pointing out that it was “a matter of pride for every Indian that today there are at least five heads of states or heads of governments and over 70 senior political leaders such as deputy heads of state, speakers and ministers in various countries who can trace their roots to India.”

Another star speaker on the concluding day of the meet was the Gujarat Chief Minister, Narendra Modi, who in a video conference address from Ahmedabad, also laid out a framework for the Indian Diaspora to get involved in their motherland’s progress and encouraged them to believe in India’s youth.

Describing the youth of India as yuva sampath, Modi told an audience comprising mostly of delegates of Gujarati origin: “We should make them masters. We should provide them better work environment, make changes in rules and regulations, change our priorities, if needed, to ensure this.”

Modi, the consummate politician, also touched upon the contribution of women in the agriculture sector in India, saying that the country needed to make “more efforts for women’s empowerment,” pointing out that 50 percent of India’s population comprises of the fairer sex.

“If we can utilize their services to the maximum we can reach greater heights,” he said.

On the concluding day, several state government officials, including from Kerala, Punjab, Gujarat and Bihar, made a pitch to delegates present to take advantage of the business potential that existed for potential investors.

The Chairman and CEO of Hampshire Hotels and Resorts, Sant Singh Chatwal, when asked by The American Bazaar about what he had gleaned from the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, said: “on having the future generation NRIs come back to India for a better future.”

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