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February - March 2007


Political News

Let us join hands to make India a developed nation - Kalam's appeal to Indian Diaspora

Indian President Dr A P J Abdul Kalam has exhorted Non-resident Indians (NRIs) to work closely with India in the mission of taking the country into the league of developed nations by 2020.

Speaking at the valedictory session of the 5th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD), India's annual conclave to connect with its 25 million diaspora in some 130 countries, Kalam said a great opportunity awaited overseas Indians in contributing to India's transformation.

'I request all of you to participate in this mission of 'developed India 2020' and to make it a reality by your attitude of give, give and give of the knowledge and experience you have gained over the years,' the president said.

'I am convinced it is possible for the country to be developed by 2020,' Kalam declared before the 1500 members of the diaspora from 47 countries, who had gathered here at Vigyan Bhavan.

Unveiling his ideas for close networking and connectivity, Dr Kalam, in his speech dubbed `World Technology Platform - A Mission', mooted the idea of integrating the core competences of partner countries to develop knowledge products and also enable joint design, development and cost effective production and marketing of knowledge products of various domains.

Kalam spoke at the closing ceremony of the three-day Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) meet here Tuesday evening highlighted by the presentation of the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman to 15 distinguished overseas Indians.

Detailing his vision for India to become a developed nation by 2020, the president envisaged the creation of two global human resources cadre -- one constituting youth with high quality education and research while the other with world class skills necessary for gainful employment in the manufacturing and services sector.

Congratulating the overseas Indians, Dr Kalam said that PBD-2007 integrates the 25 million overseas Indians who are constantly maintaining their umbilical connectivity with their motherland.

e years,' the president said.

Meanwhile, Union Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi, on the occasion, announced the setting up of a single window Overseas Indian Facilitation Center for investment advisory services.

Promising to have this center in place before PBD-2008, the minister also announced the launching of the Central Council of Overseas Employment in the context of overseas Indian workers.

Welcoming the new ideas that would constitute initiatives in the field of health, education, agriculture, as well as approaches to address issues pertaining to youth and women, Ravi said that the ministry would soon finalize a policy framework for establishing a PIO university in a special economic zone under the UGC Act.

The President praised the overseas Indians for keeping India high in their respective countries and also for their concern and support for their mother India.  He spoke on his theme “World Knowledge Platform” A Mission? and provided the overseas Indians with his vision on what he can give as a message to overseas Indians.  He asked the overseas Indians to work unitedly to alleviate the problems of their brethren in their respective countries and work with dignity for the success of their adopted countries. In particular, he mentioned that large number of people of Indian origin living abroad do not have proper education and have no opportunity to upgrade their skills.  They don’t have time to empower themselves to higher education and higher earning potential.  He proposed that while we meet annually in India, we should also select 10 places in different parts of the world and hold a meeting at least once in two years and invite those who cannot afford to participate on their own with their families. 

Meanwhile, empowering them with education and training must commence immediately. He spoke of launching a World Knowledge Platform to achieve this global objective through collaboration similar to the Brahmos missile project  which was achieved in record time through an Indo-Soviet joint venture.  The success of the Brahmos project is through the shared expertise of two countries and this product is internationally competitive  and is the fastest operational cruise missile existing in the world today and can be launched from any type of platform: land, seas and air and precisely reach the targets either on land or at sea with high lethal effect.

The President highlighted his vision for a Developed India by 2020.  He said if this vision is achieved then the people below poverty line will be close to zero and our literacy rate nearly 100%.  Every Indian will either have an university degree or quality training with employable vocational skill.  E-governance would be in a position for all Government-to-Government (G2G) and Government-to-Citizen (G2C) transactions making the governance system transparent with citizen identity card in position.  Tele-density will reach over 75%.  All our villages will be electrified.  The interlinking of the rivers and water bodies will result in equitable distribution of water in irrigation, drinking and navigation and there will be no shortage of water. We will be using more of renewable energy such as solar energy, wind power and thorium based nuclear energy and adding less to the pollution.  Through venture capital system and entrepreneurial training both in schools and colleges, we will have more enterprises leading to large number of employment generators rather than employment seekers.  The country will become a destination for world citizens coming to India for quality affordable medical attention.  The President requested all overseas Indians to participate in this mission of Developed India 2020 and to make it a reality by your attitude of give, give and give of the knowledge and experience that they have gained over the years.

Fifteen overseas Indians who have distinguished themselves in different walks of life were presented with the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman awards. Their names are: Dave Sukhdip Singh Hayer (Canada), Sir Moti Tikaram (Fiji), Sibabrata Roy (Germany), P. Jayaraman, Nirmal K. Sinha, Dr. M. Anirudhan and Gopal Raju (all from the US), Kenneth S. Benjamin (Jamaica), Pheroze Nowrojee (Kenya), Abdool Magid Abdool Karim Vakil (Portugal), Billy Nair (South Africa), Dr. K.R. Somasundaram (Malaysia), Syed M. Salahuddin and B.R. Shetty (UAE) and Lord Daljit Rana (United Kingdom).

Gopal Raju founded the New York-based India Abroad, the oldest and largest circulated newspaper serving the Indian American community, as well as the India Abroad News Service - that later became what is the present-day Indo-Asian News Service (IANS).

He also started the Indian American Center for Political Awareness (IACPA) in 1994 to empower the community and to encourage them to participate in the political process and public policy in the US.

Dave Sukhdip Singh Hayer has been playing an active leadership role in the community and has held several important positions in the Canadian government. He is recognised for his contributions in the field of public service.

Sir Moti Tikaram was the first Fijian of Indian origin to be appointed as a judge of that country's Supreme Court in 2000. He is recognised for his outstanding achievements in the field of legal and juridical services and for his contribution to the community.

Sibabrata Roy: As president of the German-India Society, Hamburg, Sibabrata Roy has actively promoted Indian culture and tradition in Germany. Roy is a community leader of outstanding repute.

P. Jayaraman is the founder director of the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan USA and has promoted Indian culture and education in the US. He has been teaching Hindi and Sanskrit and has authored several books on Indian languages and literature.

Nirmal K. Sinha played an important role in mobilising support of prominent American leaders in favour of the Indo-US civil nuclear deal. He has been extensively involved in community activities, served on the board of the National Federation of Indian Associations and as president of the Asian Indian-American Business Group.

Dr. M. Anirudhan is a prominent businessman in the field of nutrition and has also actively promoted Indo-US ties. His roles as a director of the National Federation of Indian Associations, as founding director of the US-India Chamber of Commerce of Mid-West, and as director of the Chicago Red Cross Society have won him recognition as a leader of the community.

Kenneth S. Benjamin: an eminent businessman, diplomat, environmentalist and art lover, has been actively promoting Indian culture in Jamaica. He is recognised for his business and political acumen and his role in enhancing understanding of India in the Caribbean region.

Pheroze Nowrojee: A multifaceted personality, Pheroze Nowrojee is one of the most respected members of the Parsi community from India and one of the most successful attorneys in Kenya. He is chairman of the Asian Heritage Foundation and has been actively involved in cultural activities related to migration of Indians to Kenya in particular and Africa in general.

Dr Abdool Magid Abdool Karim Vakil: A leading banker and economist, Dr. Abdool Magid Abdool Karim Vakil has served on the boards of several important public sector undertakings of Portugal. He has been very active in the Portuguese Islamic community and is known for his secular and modern approach. Vakil has been decorated by the Portuguese government with several awards.

Billy Nair has been a champion in the fight against apartheid and in protecting the interests of people of Indian origin in KwaZulu Natal Province. He spent 20 years in prison on Robben Island.

Tan Sri Dato Dr. K.R Somasundram:

Dr. K.R. Somasundaram major contributions include service in the Indian National Army during 1944-1945 and in the Malaysian Indian Congress from 1947 to 1960. He served as a senator in the Malaysian parliament and devoted much of his life for the well being of the plantation workers through the National Land Finance Cooperative Society, which he was instrumental in founding.

Syed M. Salahuddin:

Highly regarded in the community, Syed M. Salahuddin has promoted India's interest in the UAE. He has supported sports and cultural activities in the UAE and has made significant contribution towards the construction of the Indian Social and Cultural Centre in Abu Dhabi.

B.R. Shetty:

The first Asian to receive the prestigious Abu Dhabi Order Award instituted by the Abu Dhabi government besides several other awards. He was also instrumental in the setting up of the Indian Social and Cultural Centre in Abu Dhabi.

Lord Daljit Rana:

Lord Daljit Rana was made a Member of the British Empire in 1996 and was appointed to the House of Lords in 2004 for his contribution to the peace process in Northern Ireland. He is recognised for furthering India's interests and for enhancing the understanding of India.

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