Dr A. Didar Singh
Secretary General, Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry

“Good opportunities in health and education sectors”

As a former Secretary in the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA), Dr A. Didar Singh oversaw preparations for three high-profile Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) events. Today, as Secretary General of the FICCI that is managing the 11th PBD at Kochi, Dr Singh brings in a wealth of experience. Editor Sayantan Chakravarty caught up with him at Federation House for a pre-PBD interview

Dr Didar Singh brings in a wealth of experience to FICCI insofar as dealing with the diaspora is concerned

 The FICCI is tasked with conducting the PBD after a gap of eight to nine years, having partnered the Government during the first two PBD events. Bagging the event rights is itself an achievement. How do you plan to add value to the event, especially given your vast experience in dealing with the Indian Diaspora?
Well, let me make a couple of things clear at the outset. The decision to have FICCI to manage the PBD was solely the Ministry’s. As you know, I demitted charge of the MOIA more than a year ago. So, much before I joined, the Ministry in its best wisdom had decided to firstly conduct a PBD at Kochi. It is a very good decision to go to a state Government for the PBD, in 2012 the MOIA had gone to Rajasthan. Secondly, the Ministry went through a due process before FICCI was selected. We are going to conduct the event on the directions of the MOIA. All decisions regarding sessions that will be organized, the type of people that would be invited, are essentially the Ministry’s. FICCI, of course, has been giving some suggestions in terms of speakers and inputs. But as I’ve mentioned, the decision-making in this entire process will be the Ministry’s.
Now you asked me what will be FICCI’s value add. First of all FICCI has matured over the years and today we have an excellent trade fair management division as well as a seminar and conferences division where we follow management processes. We will definitely bring the very best of expertise to the PBD event. And I hope delegates that come as well as the MOIA, on whose behalf we are running this event, will find our management to be of value and worthy of appreciation.

We have about 10 international events each year where we go for outreach. Indian Diaspora connecting at such events would be very welcome

FICCI is not new to managing the PBD, having partnered the Government of India at the first two events. As an institution, what plans do you have to increase outreach to the diaspora?
Yes, eight to nine years ago FICCI was involved in organizing the PBD. Much has happened since. Our expertise has definitely grown. The other thing that has happened is that FICCI plays an important role in the whole policy process of the Government of India as a whole. In this context, FICCI has established Invest India, a major joint venture with the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion. As a partner in Invest India we look at the entire investment climate in India, and more significantly we do the handholding for the entire last mile for investors which is required in such investment scenarios, and I believe that is a tremendous value-add for anyone that wants to actually invest in India. Our outreach with the Indian Diaspora has been there. Being connected with the PBD and also the fact that we have separately signed an MoU with the GOPIO gives us an automatic outreach with the Indian diaspora and those who wish to economically engage with India, possibly in terms of investment opportunities.

FICCI does organize events outside India. How many events have you planned outside India, ones where NRIs could also possibly be engaged, and about which we can spread the word through our magazine?
Yes, FICCI does a very large number of events overseas that include trade delegations, seminars and conferences, India Shows—two of which we did recently in Pakistan and Bangladesh. We have this whole exhibitions and conferences division that work with the international division. There are definitely opportunities for the Diaspora. We have about 10 international events each year where we go for outreach. Indian Diaspora connecting at such events would be very welcome.

Do you have any special sectors where diaspora can invest in India, and if so does FICCI have the divisions to handle such queries that flow in?
FICCI runs something like 70 plus verticals across sectors, groups and areas in which we do research, have committees, have policy debates, do conferencing. All this information is available on our website. Certainly, if the diaspora wishes to have more interaction in any of that, it is available. In terms of where they can or should invest, it is always, I believe, a choice of any investor, looking at the Indian economy. There are obviously choices available across the board, but if I were to look at areas where the Diaspora can come in a major way, they have to be education and health.
Both these have lot of opportunities in India, along with the area of skills. FICCI is doing a lot of work in this area, right from standards and certifications to skill missions where we are supporting Government of India. We would welcome professionals from Diaspora and other investors who’d want to be associated. At a generic level, since FICCI is so involved in the manufacturing sector because that is what investment is all about, definitely if the diaspora wishes to consider the manufacturing sector and its different facets, they could connect with FICCI. In the services sector, I would name the following where FICCI plays a very important role—tourism where we have a very large role to play, IT and related areas, entertainment spanning the entire spectrum, including Media.

January 2013

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