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Kul Bhuhsan: Wish List to Modi Government from Indian Diaspora 

NEW DELHI -- The Modi Government has invited overseas Indians to list some areas for improvement on issues they face. Here is his wish list, reports Swami Anand Kul Bhushan.

Hooray!

The Modi Government has invited the Indian Diaspora to list out some areas where there is scope for improvement on issues faced by NRI community on its official site MyGov.nic.in.

Thank you! And this invitation comes on the eve of Modi government marking its first hundred days in office.

So it is heartening to note that within the first hundred days, the new government has kick-started a project to get its 25-milion strong diaspora’s feedback on what areas it needs to improve and attend to.

For what’s it worth, here is my bit.

VISAS: From the moment they plan to go to India, overseas Indians expect courteous and efficient service in obtaining their tourist visas.

When applying for long-term visas for over six months and up to five years; and especially PIO and OIC cards, overseas Indians have encountered a lot of problems.

Often officials talk down to the visitors and there have been accusations of officers demanding money to sort out documentation speedily.

In a majority of cases, visitors are told to come back and their cases drag on for weeks and months.

Outsourcing visas approvals has not helped much.

This area needs a major overhaul with the latest information offered on the official sites for each country, in hard copy at the offices and with friendly officers at the desk.

PIO AND OIC: Person of Indian Origin (PIO) and Overseas Indian Citizen (OIC) status need to be clarified. Should PIO be stopped as OIC is available? But then, OIC is more difficult to obtain than PIO.

These problems need to be resolved.

VOTING: Indians living abroad holding Indian passports are now allowed to vote in Indian elections.

But only if they travel to India for this purpose.
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In this day and age of digital communication, this is antiquated and they should be allowed to vote in the countries of their residences by visiting the Indian embassies or other designated centres.

CUSTOMS: Overseas Indians are never sure what they can bring into India as these regulations keep changing all the time.

You can bring so much Indian currency and take out so much.

Then the rules are changed: no import or export of Indian currency.

It’s the same with gold ornaments and so on.

The best solution is to issue a brief note about the latest rules with every visa issued so that the overseas Indians know what and how much they can carry without problems.

PROPERTY: Overseas Indians have invested heavily in property in their home towns or villages.

With astronomical property prices in India, these real estate assets have become very valuable even in terms of hard currency.

Plus, the Indians government allows an overseas Indian to remit up to one million dollars from the sale of property without any permission.

So it is no wonder that many a time, these properties are grabbed by their greedy relatives or caretakers and so they land up in courts.

Thousands of these property cases are lingering in courts and the only solution is to setup fast track courts to hear and clear these cases speedily for overseas Indians.

INVESTMENT: If overseas Indians want to invest in India, then setting up of a new industry takes a very long time due to the jungle of red tape, laws, rules and regulations.

Endless permissions are also needed before a start- up. Prime Minister Modi has made his state Gujarat very investor friendly and attracted massive investment from overseas Gujaratis.

 
     
 
Sushma Swaraj Minister of External Affairs of
India and Minister for Overseas Indian affairs

Sushma Swaraj is an Indian politician and the current Minister of External Affairs of India.

She is the second woman to be India’s external affairs minister, first being the late Indira Gandhi.

She has been elected seven times as a Member of Parliament and three times as a Member of the Legislative Assembly.

The Minister of External Affairs (or simply Foreign Minister) is the head of the Ministry of External Affairs of the Government of India.

One of the senior-most offices in the Union Cabinet, the chief responsibility of the Foreign Minister is to represent India and its government in the international community.
.

She also plays an important role in determining Indian foreign policy.

Occasionally, she is assisted by a Minister of State for External Affairs or the lower-ranked Deputy Minister of External Affairs.

The Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA) is part of the government of India.

The ministry, is headed by Sushma Swaraj.

  Minister Sushma Swaraj | Coastweek

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Minister Sushma Swaraj

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It is dedicated to the multitude of Indian nationals settled out of India.

Ministry was established in May 2004 as the Ministry of Non-Resident Indians’ Affairs and in September 2004 it was renamed as the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA).

Driven by a mission of development through coalitions in a world without borders, MOIA seeks to connect the Indian Diaspora community with its motherland.

Positioned as a ‘Services’ Ministry, it provides information, partnerships and facilitations for all matters related to Overseas Indians: Non-resident Indian and person of Indian origin.

 
     

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Now his task is to make India also investor friendly and for this purpose he has announced Vibrant India Investment Conference - on the lines of Vibrant Gujarat - in November this year.

REPRESENTATION IN RAJYA SABHA: Overseas Indians send no less than 70 billion dollars annually to India and take a very keen interest in what’s going on in India.

It is high time that the diaspora was represented by at least two members in the Rajya Sabha appointed by the government.

SUPPORT: Strong support for all overseas Indians has been promised by the prime minister.

This is most welcome.

Now overseas Indians hope that a strong India will support them and boost their morale when they face a crisis in their countries of residence and also help them.

During the 2014 election campaign in India, Modi made a historic statement for all overseas Indians during a long TV interview.

He clearly said that if he is elected, he would strongly support all overseas Indians in every manner.

All overseas Indians, no matter what passport they hold, can come and settle in India.

This stems from the strong support from overseas Indians for his campaign. Now it’s time to walk the talk.

MINISTRY: The Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA) needs an overhaul to become more responsive and pro-active with the diaspora.

The new minister, Sushma Swaraj, announced greater coordination between MOIA and the Ministry of External Affairs since she heads both of them.

The annual Pravasi Bharatiya Divas conference should get a shot in the arm and attract many more overseas Indians as it will be held in Gujarat next year.

ECONOMY: Modi has taken over the reins of an economy growing at 4.7 per cent.

This is a lot lower than eight per cent growth India enjoyed earlier.

His government aims to reach nine per cent growth during his five-year term.

To achieve this high growth rate, the new government will require rapid infrastructure development and modernization of air, rail, road and sea transport; reduce fiscal deficit from 4.5 per cent to less than three per cent, increase revenue, boost investment, tax reform and a host of other measures.

He has clear plans to start this exercise but the initial reforms mean some harsh measures or bitter medicine. Coupled with dramatically improving governance, implement efficiency in the civil service and streamlining policy decisions are other factors for his success.

HIMALAYAN: Modi has heralded a new era of accountability, governance and fast response.
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But he faces tremendous challenges: a depressed economy, low economic growth, low investment, lethargic civil service, entrenched corruption and a weak monsoon.

Putting India back on track is THE major challenge.

Modi’s powerful leadership should overcome these Himalayan challenges and make every overseas Indian proud of him and India.

 
 

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