January 2014 \ Interviews \ Interview—Government of India
“We want our bonds with Overseas Indians to strengthen”

Interview with Mr Prem Narain, Secretary, Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs

The Know India Programmes have made a steady impression on the minds of young overseas Indians about an India that is changing and growing rapidly. In that direction the Youth Pravasi is a commendable move. Your comments please…
We are into the 27th KIP. Each KIP is on an average attended by 40 young overseas Indians. It is an effective tool to familiarize them about India. They meet constitutional authorities, they ride the metro. They get a physical idea of what India is like. They get impressed, and then they want to continue their connection with India. This has been our endeavour, to get them interested in India. Now we are getting into the 3rd and 4th generation of overseas Indians, and even beyond, so it is important that the younger generation engages with India. We do not want their bonds to be lost, and their interest to wane. There is another aspect to this engagement. As per the 11th census, about 50 per cent of Indians are below 25 years of age. There is also a strong need for the youth in India to engage with youth from overseas. This year we have taken a conscious decision to hold a youth PBD on January 7. Two batches of the KIP youth will be there, as will be those who are part of the Study India Programme (SIP). We are trying to give them a feeling that we care. We want social and cultural bonds to flourish in years to come.

The diaspora is diverse. The older diaspora and newer emigrants have vastly different expectations from their engagement with India. How do you plan to address their different issues in months to come?
Yes, that is true. The expectations of different generations of the diaspora are different, that is the basic premise. That is why the Ministry has different schemes that cater to different sections of the diaspora. Like we have the KIP for youth, we have tracing the root programme, we have insurance and emigration schemes, social security agreements. We realize the differences within the diaspora and have come up with different programmes. Also, platforms such as the PBD are one of the most potent ones that allow for discussions and dialogues, expectations and aspirations to be voiced and recorded. There is another very important platform—the Prime Minister’s Global Advisory Council for Overseas Indians (PMGAC-OI)—that is made up of eminent overseas Indians. It is encouraging that most of them find the time to come every year to attend their meetings. They have become the brain behind some of the new engagement, for instance the FDI in multi-brand retail has emerged out of the recommendation of the PMGAC. Similarly, Doordarshan is now present in Africa, it is a result of another recommendation made by this high-powered Council.

Anything special this PBD that you’d like to highlight?
The Youth PBD on January 7 is, of course, important, because as mentioned, half of our population is below 25 years of age. We want to engage the overseas Indian youth, and this platform will provide a good opportunity to engage in a better way. This time the exhibition will be held on a grand scale, we’ve had huge demand for exhibit space. We also will surpass previous registration records at this PBD.

Tags: Interviews