View from India: Youth diaspora, prized possession of the world

This week India is celebrating Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD), a flagship event set up by the Government of India in 2003 to recognise the contributions of the overseas Indian community to the country’s development.

The date was chosen to mark the return to India of Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of the Nation, on 9 January 1915. Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi or Mahatma Gandhi went to South Africa for a professional stint but stayed there for 21 years, before returning to his home turf.

The 2023 event is being held from January 8-10 in Indore. It is the 17th edition of PBD, known in English as Non-Resident Indian (NRI) Day, and is being organised in partnership with the Madhya Pradesh Government.

This year’s theme is Diaspora: Reliable Partners for India's Progress in Amrit Kaal. With 18 million Indian-born people living abroad, India has the world’s largest diaspora. PBD provides an important platform to engage and connect with the overseas Indians and enable the diaspora to interact with each other. Over 3,500 diaspora members from nearly 70 different countries are attending the event.

The PBD Convention has also recognised the contribution of the Indian diaspora. A case in point is Zaneta Mascarenhas, Member of Parliament, Australia. Her parents are of Goan origin and migrated to Australia. She felt that the duality of two opposite parts coexist in India and this helps making the diaspora successful. “I first came to India when I was 15 years old, I’m an engineer, mother of two and my husband encouraged me towards a political career. I feel politics can be personal, positive and powerful,” said Mascarenhas, the Guest of Honour at the 17th edition of PBD, which I watched virtually.

What makes Madhya Pradesh (MP) an attractive investment destination? Well, several factors (and not necessarily in this order). Connectivity is core for any civilisation to thrive. The state is home to 300,000km of roads. It has a land-bank of 200,000 acres, backed by adequate water. Indore, host city of PBD, is the base of premier educational institutions like the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) and the Indian Institute of Management (IIM). MP’s automotive high-speed track is the longest in Asia. Given this ecosystem, understandably auto companies have invested in MP. An EV policy is also in place. All this could open up investment corridors as India marks its 75th year of Independence this year.

“We strive to make India a better workplace through partnerships with countries like Germany and working holiday programme with Austria. India has a young population, one-fourth are under 15 years of age and less than an eighth are over 60 years of age. The energy of the youth in India has led to the PBD’s theme, they have a key role to play in the country’s development,” said Dr S Jaishankar, Minister for External Affairs.  

Along with the youth population, India’s rapid advancement in technology could well be a case study. The scale of the country’s digital delivery of services is beneficial to society, as well as improved health infrastructure. “The rise of India could attribute to one-sixth of the world’s population. Technology makes our lives simple,” explained Anurag Singh Thakur, Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports. “ABC, which can be understood as artificial intelligence, block chain and cloud computing, can help tackle climate change and waste management. The tech solutions with their outcomes can activate generation Y and inspire the next generation, that’s generation Z. Youth diaspora is the prized possession of the world.” 

The MP Start-up Policy and Implementation Scheme 2022 is making the state conducive for start-ups and entrepreneurs. “MP is home to 15,000 start-ups. For start-ups to innovate, their ideas should be encouraged. A roadmap needs to be created for its execution and technology leveraged to scale and innovate,” added Shivraj Singh Chouhan, chief minister of Madhya Pradesh.  

MP has rolled out proactive measures in sync with its tagline of being the Future Ready State. For instance, the food processing sector is being incentivised through financial assistance, and infrastructure development subsidy. More so, as MP is regarded as the food basket of India. It has bountiful land, 45 lakh (4.5 million) hectares irrigated area with 10 major rivers and 11 agro climatic zones. As for the health sector, MP has Pharma clusters. The state has clocked ₹10,000 crore plus (over £1m) of pharma exports in 2021. MP has woven a story of its own. It accounts for 43 per cent of India’s and 24 per cent of the world’s organic cotton production. At a glance, it has 60+ large textile mills, 4,000+ looms and 2.5 million spindles. All this in a nutshell. That explains how chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has announced that the state’s contribution to India’s economy will reach USD 550 billion by 2025, when the country is expected to become USD 5 trillion economy.

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