January 2015 \ Interviews \ Interview—MOIA
"We will use technology for constant dialogue with Pravasi Indians"

Mr Sunil Soni, Secretary, Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs, speaks to India Empire's Editor and Publisher, Sayantan Chakravarty on a range of issues concerning the Indian Diaspora and the PBD 2015

By Sayantan Chakravarty

You have the IDF for OIs. Do you think this institution can play a greater role insofar as overseas Indian philanthropy is concerned?

Certainly yes. And that will come out from the first point that I mentioned, a constant dialogue with the Indians abroad. We can have that dialogue electronically, then they can easily step into the idea. And you will see whatever they want to contribute—I know lot of people would like to contribute to the villages that they come from. If we can build a database along with the states, about which village they come from, and in that village what is required by the state Government, if we can link the two, it can become an excellent way of using IDF meeting the requirements of the village. IDF can become the medium, the intermediary between the state Governments and the NRIs and PIOs. And also ensure that this money is well spent. We need to have a dialogue with the state Government as well, the Rural Development Ministry. And let’s see how these linkages can be built up.

The OIFC has been one of the most active facilitators for overseas Indians in the past several years. What vision would you have for this body which works in a PPP model between the Government and CII?

Like IDF is basically looking after philanthropic activity, OIFC is looking after industrial investments. So OIFC’s role has to be to build partnerships between industry and India, or some investor in India, and somebody abroad and try to bring in investments from that. As a PPP model between Government and CII my initial impression is that it is not working the way it should be working. I was seeing what their achievements are, they do not seem to have a solid sense of figures. They just have a lot exchanges and case studies. They do not excite me really too much. It seems to be going in a routine manner rather than some sort of mission mode work. It is time that they step up their activities a bit. But it has to be a PPP model, it can’t be brought under the Ministry certainly. Ministry would be working in its own bureaucratic manner with too many upheavels, so outsourced model has to continue. But it has to become a more active one. A new person has taken over, she is trying to revive the thing, and I am hopeful of that thing happening.