Delhi : 24.1.2012 : Friends, It is a great honour for me to be invited to speak here today. Before Independence, and for sometime thereafter, India was looked down upon as a country of sadhus, snake charmers, and backward people. However, over the last few decades, thanks mainly to the technical prowess and IT driven entrepreneurship of Indians, spearheaded from the U.S. Silicon Valley and elsewhere, India and Indians now enjoy respect globally. We Indians are proud of you NRI.s.
The reason for this recognition was because you N.R.I.s invested heavily in education and scientific knowledge, and went on to study and graduate from the best universities and scientific institutes and demonstrated your high intellectual capabilities. It is this focus on education and scientific knowledge which is heavily required here in India to build our country.
India needs technologies in many areas to impact hundreds of millions of our people – areas such as healthcare, clean and potable water, energy, agriculture (including post harvesting infrastructure) transportation, education, etc. India has massive problems, and the solution to these problems is massive application of science and technology in every nook and corner of the country. We need your help in this connection.
I have had the opportunity to visit many overseas destinations and want to share a gist of my assessment about the additional steps that in my view, should be considered to accelerate the development of NRI relations with the Mother Country, India. Some of these are:
1. With a Diaspora of our 25 million NRIs spread all over the world, it is now necessary to structure our rules, regulations and administrative programs for specific regions. Apart from their love of India there is not much in common between NRIs in (a) America, Europe and Australia and (b) Gulf and Middle East and (c) South East Asia. Our promotional activity, passports and visa administration, and effective strategic plans, should be developed separately for each of these regions, so that NRI investments, cultural relations and promotional programs are more meaningful and effective. We have to understand that the NRIs in the Western region (America, Europe and Australia) where most of our NRIs have settled and acquired citizenships, are there for the long term and are not likely to return, except for visits etc.
On the other hand, the NRIs in Gulf and Middle East and far east have gone for employment or business on a short term basis and are likely to move back to India as soon as practicable for them.
In the Western countries I believe, our policies must be to enhance emotional attachment, particularly for the 2nd and 3rd generations of persons of Indian origin. This should include organizing language and cultural programs, promoting Indian history and all related areas, including visits to India, where they can feel proud of being of Indian descent.
2. Many NRIs are unhappy with the performance of the Indian Embassies and Missions in the cultural and promotional fields. They feel that Indian officials are shy of using the local national media and TVs for promoting India, compared to other countries such as China. They tend to confine themselves to the affluent Indian community for socializing. They have to broad base there endeavours, and try to make an impact for India (on the lines of the Chinese), from school and universities to Chambers of Commerce and other public bodies. The Indian officials in the overseas missions must change their attitude as typical bureaucrats to that of facilitators and sympathizers to the NRIs.
I would suggest setting up an independent agency by the Government of India which can be made responsible for evaluating and rating all aspects (except diplomatic) of our overseas missions and those who do well should be rewarded. India spends enormous resources on Indian missions and the time has come to make them accountable for their performance, otherwise it is a waste of money which a poor country like our’s can ill afford.
3. I have met many N.I.R.s, particularly in North America, who are anxious to contribute to charity in India but do not know how to go about it. There are numerous agencies which can be located on the internet, but in most cases there is no authentication. I would suggest that the Government or its agencies consider setting up independent agencies for accessing the charitable organizations in the country and rating them suitably, so that any misgivings about their credibility are dispelled and the NRIs have authenticated charities in which they can invest.
Justice M. Katju
Press Council of India