India Diaspora
Many overseas Indians' work still going unrecognised
Jan 13, 2007 - 9:24:04 AM

There was a time when Indians who left India and settled abroad were considered as not only contributing to the phenomenon of brain drain but also selfish. It was considered that they utilised the subsidised educational and other opportunities in India and then left the country to enrich themselves without paying any compensation or regard to the country.

We have come a long way from those days. Now the perception of NRIs has not changed dramatically. They are not only considered valuable resources but also honorary ambassadors of India and are publicly honoured for their contributions.

But there are three specific categories of NRIs whose contributions deserve to be recognised by the Indian government.

First, those who left India before the country's independence. Many of them performed stellar services in promoting the cause of India's independence abroad.

In the United States alone, there were people like J.J. Singh, Taraknath Das, Dr. Haridas Muzumdar, Gobind Bihari Lal, to name a few. They were the ambassadors of India and a powerful lobby for the cause of independence. It is sad to note that they and their contributions are not only forgotten but are not even part of Indian history and the current generation is completely ignorant of the role played by them.

The Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs - should take steps to recognize them and make them a part of the knowledge base of the Indian educational system.

Second, those who left India after independence and are now in the forefront of not only remittances from abroad, agents of technology and knowledge transfer and a very valuable source of charitable contributions to various causes in the fields of health, education, rural development and education. They are also promoting India's cause in the corridors of power in their respective countries. They are being recognized now.

And third, those who went abroad, achieved professional and financial success but their love for India brought them back. They settled in rural or urban areas, had no governmental or non-governmental support and devoted the rest of their life to the uplift of the country in various fields like rural development, healthcare, education and sanitation. They are doing a great service but again they are ignored or forgotten on occasions like the annual conclave of the Indian diaspora called the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas.

The Indian government should recognize them, honour their sacrifices and make them part of the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas because they serve as role models for the NRIs and their children.

Next, lets take a look at the future. What about the second and third generation of NRIs?

Will they have the same interest, commitment, same dedication and love for the country of their parents' origin? What can be done to ensure that they continue what the current generation is doing? Should not they invest in these projects, which will ensure the benefits India is currently enjoying from this generation of NRIs?

Although some overseas organizations like Indicorps, American India Foundation and others are promoting a concept for overseas youth to come and volunteer their services for a year in India, it is not enough.

A good ides would be to develop a three-fold 'India Service Corps' for young professionals, retired NRIs who are active and would like to serve India in their field of expertise and those who are willing to come back in the middle of their successful careers to serve the country.

We also need to develop some databases to enumerate the contributions of NRIs in terms of annual charitable contributions, investments, remittances to families, besides knowledge transfer and technology transfer and how best to channelise these.

India and Indians have great expectations from NRIs, which they are fulfilling admirably, but what about India itself? Has it fulfilled and reciprocated its responsibilities towards NRIs? What are the plans for these? What will MOIA and the Government of India do to address the concerns and problems of NRIs?


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