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QUESTION NO.2885 NUMBER OF OVERSEAS INDIANS ABROAD

July 18, 2019

RAJYA SABHA
UNSTARRED QUESTION NO.2885
TO BE ANSWERED ON 18.07.2019

NUMBER OF OVERSEAS INDIANS ABROAD

2885. SHRI MANISH GUPTA:

Will the Minister of EXTERNAL AFFAIRS be pleased to state:

(a) the number of overseas Indian abroad, country-wise;

(b) whether the presence of overseas Indians in significant numbers is an important factor in our relationship with countries of their settlement and if so, the details thereof; and

(c) whether Government has any action plan of engagement with overseas Indians in the developed countries and if so, details thereof, country-wise ?

ANSWER
THE MINISTER OF STATE IN THE MINISTRY OF EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
(SHRI V. MURALEEDHARAN)

(a) There are about 31 million overseas Indians abroad. A statement indicating estimated country-wise population of overseas Indians abroad, compiled in December 2018, on the basis of inputs received from Indian Missions/Posts abroad, is attached as Annexure.


(b) Yes, Sir. The presence of overseas Indians in significant numbers is an important factor in our relationship with countries of their settlement. The Indian diaspora does contribute in the strengthening of India’s relationship with countries of their settlement in various fields including trade & investment, business exchanges, tourism promotion, technology transfer, research & development, higher education, etc. Besides, many of our diaspora members are placed at top level positions in industry, including Heads of Global Corporations; a number of them also have high level positions in politics, including Parliamentarians, and a few Heads of Government.

(c) Since 2014, several new initiatives have been taken and old programmes have been revamped by the Government for interaction of overseas Indians with India in the fields of Culture, Education and Trade.

The new initiatives taken by the Government are as below:

(i) The Know India Programme (KIP) is a flagship initiative of the Government to reconnect young persons of Indian-origin with their roots and give them an exposure to various aspects of Indian life, cultural heritage, art and contemporary India. The frequency of KIP has been increased from 2 to 6 editions in a year. The duration of the prograame is increased from 21 to 25 days, the upper age of participants is increased from 26 to 30 years. More States can now be made partners in this programme with increased duration of the State leg from 7 to 10 days. In the last four and half years, 1060 young persons of Indian-origin participated in KIP programme.

(ii) Besides, the Government has initiated a Special Know India Programme titled "Pravasi Teerth Darshan Yojana” for the people of Indian Origin (PIOs) in the age group of 45-60 years to connect them to the spiritual and religious aspects of India. This programme is aimed to help them visit India on an organized pilgrimage, paid for by the government of India, and have an all round exposure to all faiths in India. Two editions are organized every year.

(iii) The 1st PIO-Parliamentarian Conference was also held on January 9, 2018 in New Delhi, with an aim to strengthen the engagement with the Overseas Indians. The one-day Conference was attended by 137 sitting PIO Parliamentarians and Mayors from 24 countries.

(iv) Pravasi Bhartiya Divas is celebrated every two years. The 15th PBD Convention was held from 21 to 23 January 2019 in Varanasi with Uttar Pradesh as the Partner State. In reverence to the sentiments of the larger diaspora, participants were offered to participate in Kumbh Mela at Prayagraj on 24 January, 2019 and to witness the Republic Day Parade at New Delhi on 26 January, 2019. In the spirit of "Atithi Devo Bhava”, the delegates were also offered hospitality in the homes of Kashi citizens under "Kashi ka Athitya” programme.

(v) Under a new initiative since 2015, Theme-based PBD Conferences are held on topics of concern to our diaspora with participation from overseas diaspora experts, policy makers and stakeholders. The result of these conferences are presented in the Plenary Sessions that are held in the PBD Convention. Their recommendations are then evaluated and implemented, which gives our diaspora an opportunity to play an important role in policy formulation of the Government.

(vi) The Scholarship Programme for Diaspora Children (SPDC), which was launched to make higher education in Indian Universities/Institutions accessible to diaspora children and promote India as a centre for higher studies, is now extended from 100 to 150 scholarships and from 40 to 67 countries. The scholarship amount has been increased from US$ 3600 to US$ 4000 per student per annum. The eligibility requirement of monthly income of parents is relaxed from US$2250/- to US$ 4000/- per month, and the documentation process is eased by introducing self-attestation of documents. Of the 150 scholarships, 50 are given to the children of CIWG (children of Indians working in Gulf) of which 1/3rd slots are reserved for wards of CIWG living and studying in India. SPDC is now also extended to wards of Indians living in Nepal (as they are not entitled to OCI/PIO/NRI status).

(v) Ministry of External Affairs supports the diaspora to organise the cultural events under the Promotion of Cultural Ties with Diaspora (PCTD) scheme with an aim to showcase Indian culture and new initiatives & developments of modern India. Under the guidelines of ICWF, all the HoMs have also been delegated powers to spend money on these events.

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