Expressing confidence that the country will return to 9-10 per cent economic growth within a couple of years, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh invited the Indian diaspora to on Friday to participate in the development of the country of their origin.
Inaugurating the Pravasi Bhartiya Diwas celebrations in New Delhi, he pointed out that infrastructure, agriculture, health and education were the key priorities for the second term of the United Progressive Alliance government.
"It is important to connect the second generation of Indians to India's march forward," he told the gathering.
People of Indian origin spread all across the world are participating in the meet attended by nearly 1,500 delegates from over 40 countries.
The prime minister said India's economy had fared well despite the unprecedented global financial crisis and recorded 7 per cent growth this year.
He said India's growth has been one of the fastest this year.
"We are equally optimistic of returning to sustained growth of 9-10 per cent in a couple of years," Singh said.
He noted that the rapid economic growth over the last two years had helped millions of people in the country 'but more needs to be done'.
But I cannot say that we have delivered in full measure on the enormous promise and potential of our country," the prime minister said. Singh said he recognises the 'frustration well wishers feel when they lament why things dont work faster or why well formulated plans and policies dont get implemented as well as they should be.'
In this regard, Singh said, "it is probably true that we are a slow moving elephant but it is equally true that with each step forward we leave behind a deep imprint."
He said there is 'a price that we pay' in trying to carry all sections of people along in national development.
"It is perhaps a price worth paying. Each citizen should feel that his or her voice is heard and have a sense of participation in national development. This is the only way we know to accommodate the enormous diversity of opinions and interests in our country," he said, adding, "It is also this characteristic that makes our democracy so vibrant."
He noted that underlying the Indian system is an inherent political and economic resilience "that gives our country and its institutions great strength and buoyancy".
The prime minister said the government has been able to expand access to education, healthcare and economic opportunities to a vast majority of the population.
"This is, however, a work in progress and much more remains to be done," he said. "I solicit your assistance to achieve those goals," he told the gathering of Indian diaspora.
Singh talked about the wish to accelerate efforts to effectively address the key constraints in the areas of infrastructure, agriculture, health and education, which are "the key priorities for the second term of our government."
He sought 'active involvement of the overseas Indian communities in accelerating the pace of our economic and social development.'
In this context, he said, "It is important that we make efforts to connect the second generation of overseas Indians with their ancestral heritage and involve them actively in Indias march forward."
Noting that India is one of the top investment destinations with expanding economic opportunities everywhere, he asked the overseas Indians to 'take a careful look at long-term investment opportunities now on the horizon in our country.'
He said Foreign Direct Investment in India by overseas Indians is low and far short of potential as they tend to be good savers and 'somewhat conservative investors' and most of their remittances are placed in bank deposits.
Singh said Indian industry is rapidly developing a global orientation with many of its companies transforming themselves into multinational corporations with global brand names.
"As Indian industry steps outward, the Indian diaspora could do more to inter-link Indian industry with global markets. They could reinforce the improving brand image of India," Singh said.
He hoped that the newly established Overseas Indian Facilitation Centre will become an effective hub for promoting two-way interaction between the overseas Indian community and our institutions.
Image: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the Pravasi Bhartiya Diwas. | Photograph: Rajesh Karkera.