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Plenary Session V: Diaspora organisations: Bridging distances, unlocking opportunities
Diaspora organisations are bridges that connect the Indian Diaspora with India. From community service like helping new arrivals settle in a foreign land to collaborating with Indian Missions in India’s growth story, Diaspora organisations have an important role in facilitating India’s engagement with the Indian community abroad. They are also an instrument to realise the full potential of cooperation between India and the host countries of the Diaspora. They could also contribute in furthering the bilateral ties. Hence, it is critically important to empower the Diaspora organisations and provide them with all necessary support. The session aimed at understanding the role of Diaspora organisations as well as their partnerships with India.
Recommendations & Action Taken
A PBD Conference titled “Diaspora organisations: Bridging distances, unlocking opportunities” was held on 12th November 2016 in New Delhi under the chairmanship of Gen. (Dr) V.K. Singh (Retd.), Minister of State for External Affairs, and Mr M.J. Akbar, Minister of State for External Affairs, Government of India. The conference was attended by eminent personalities from the US, Canada, Australia, Mauritius, the UK, South Africa, New Zealand, Singapore, Trinidad & Tobago, Qatar, the UAE and Suriname.
Mr Munu Mahawar, Joint Secretary (AMS), Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, presented the key recommendations of the Conference, action taken by the Government and other challenges that need to be addressed.
The PBD 2016 Conference recommended the following:
Actions taken by the Government with regard to the recommendations:
Plenary Session & Q&A
Mr Mahawar, during the course of his presentation, stated that Diaspora organisations could be effective instruments for Government of India to connect more deeply with the Diaspora community. The Diaspora organisations could also build awareness of the key initiatives of Government of India among the Diaspora as well as encourage them to contribute to the Government programmes and become a part of India’s growth story.
The Diaspora organisations have played an important role in projecting India’s potential and the Indian missions should work more closely with the Diaspora to further propagate Government of India’s vision and mission, he said.
With reference to the recommendations made at the 2016 PBD Conference, Government has initiated steps to enhance the outreach by updating the Diaspora database and make effective use of IT solutions; establish 24x7 helplines in several countries; launch the Pravasi Kaushal Vikas Yojana for skill development; and engage with the young Diaspora.
Some of the issues and challenges that still needed to be addressed are: to bring the diverse Diaspora organisations under one umbrella and to facilitate their engagement with Indian Missions and Posts; innovative funding opportunities; and, greater participation of the Diaspora in Government of India programmes.
Gen. (Dr) V.K Singh (Retd), Minister of State for External Affairs, Government of India stated that the fundamental aim of the Diaspora organisations should be to work diligently for the welfare of the NRI community. He urged the Diaspora organisations to work in collaboration with Government of India’s mission to fulfil bigger goals. The Diaspora organisations should also work towards strengthening relations between India and their respective home countries.
Dr Ruby Dhalla said that the 30 million Indian Diaspora spread over 130 countries have gone through many struggles and hardships to establish themselves in their respective fields. Praising the efforts of Government of India to establish deeper relations with Diaspora organisations, she asked the Diaspora to work towards bridging the gap between India and their respective home countries. Diaspora organisations have risen out of situations like women suffering abuses, international students facing challenges abroad, individuals facing discrimination at their workplace, and they should continue to work together towards the betterment of their community. She also proposed that the Diaspora should be engaged in ‘Diaspora diplomacy’ to strengthen the relations between the Diaspora organisations and the Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India.
In the course of the discussion, a suggestion was made for creating a digital platform for exchange of ideas, best practices and experiences among Diaspora organisations. Addressing a question on resolving social issues of NRIs like poverty, unemployment, difficulty in re-settlement, drugs and alcohol abuse, the experts on the panel referred to social work being done by many Diaspora organisations in countries like the US and the UK.
Key Recommendations of the Plenary Session
In the interactive session with PBD delegates following suggestions and recommendations were made: