Banerjee: Taking CII to great heights

Director General, Confederation of

 Indian Industry (CII) 

You have built a long-term partnership with the MOIA in so far as organizing and managing the PBD is concerned. Is this event, according to you, better focused now and adding more value to Overseas Indians
CII has been working with the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs for the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas since 2007. During this period, the topics under discussion have remained focused with outcome-oriented dialogue on the PBD platform. Several concerns expressed by Overseas Indians have been addressed and their suggestions have been taken into account. Some of these include allowing professionals in certain categories to practice in India, extending the OCI card benefits, reinforcing diaspora initiatives in health and education, creating institutions such as OIFC for facilitating investments, etc.

The OIFC is under the direct executive control of the CII. How have Overseas Indians benefited from this institution thus far?
Through its agreements with counterpart organizations across the world and its extensive relations with various organizations representing overseas Indians in different countries, CII has been able to build OIFC into a strong and outcome-oriented service delivery platform for investments, information and partnership for NRIs and PIOs. CII has leveraged its networks overseas for hosting focused Investment & Interactive Meets and Market Place Forums for Overseas Indians in key centers such as the USA, the UK, Gulf, and South East Asia. Over 9 such Meets & 4 forums have been held so far, attended by more than 1200 delegates comprising of HNIs, professionals, entrepreneurs, investors, of Indian origin and policy makers of the Government. 
OIFC, under the guidance of CII, has also designed an interactive online business networking forum for the Overseas Indians, with a host of features including 20X5 live chat service & online facilitation desk for prompt query addressal, free registrations for the business network, project listing for B2B matchmaking, and promotion of state specific investment opportunities.
OIFC’s monthly e-newsletter,’IndiaConnect’, broadly covers the sectoral overviews including contributions from the professional diaspora groups & OIFC Partners, investment trends, news /policy updates and economy watch, reaching out to a subscriber database of over 11000 members.
CII through OIFC is the direct point of contact for overseas Indians, connecting them with growing opportunities in India and to Indian business.

How useful have the regional PBDs been (New York, Singapore, Hague, Durban) in reaching out to this important global community?
The regional PBDs have attracted high interest from Overseas Indians as they were held in the areas of their presence. They drew large audiences, which got a chance to discuss concerns with officials, while India too had the opportunity to clarify the initiatives taken for benefit of PIOs/NRIs. OIFC disseminated information about its services and the platform of Global-INK for knowledge-sharing.

Apart from the PBD, which are the events organized by CII where you see potential for more Overseas Indian participation?
Practically all CII events, such as trade fairs, conferences and seminars, and business missions have large presence of overseas Indians who represent multinationals working in India or Indian companies operating overseas. We would like to see greater representation of Overseas Indians at our events in smaller cities and regional events as the sub-regions of India present great new opportunities. Overseas Indians can also work with our network of partner NGOs across the country for social sector engagement.

As a leading industry body in India, what is your message for Overseas Indians?
We would like to strongly send out the message that India and CII are keen to engage on multiple levels with Overseas Indians and offer them every facilitation for their endeavours in India, be it trade and investment, social sector and philanthropy, cultural activities or just getting to know the land of their forebears.

You have strong partnerships with several institutions across the world, they number close to 300. Any plans to tie-up with Overseas Indian organizations?
We already have strong links with many Overseas Indian organizations such as GOPIO, AAPI, Indian American Council, etc. CII includes them in our overseas events.

You have said earlier that you have plans to leverage Indian demographics, and use the population to your advantage. Can you please elaborate on this point?
Industry recognizes that the next big wave of India’s growth will emanate from the addition of young persons to the workforce, from their consumption propensities and their savings habits. This is expected to be in the region of 15-20 million annually, the largest in the world, adding a huge new energy to the growth process. CII is working with the Government in its Skill Development Mission to skill 500 million youth by 2022 so that they can be productive and engaged members of the economy and have the capacity to fill emerging global workforce gaps due to ageing populations in other countries. 

—Empire Bureau

January 2011

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