Punjab NRI Sammelan to strengthen Diaspora ties, Investment and Punjabiyat

Published Date:   Sunday, Jan 19, 2014

Punjab NRI Sammelan to strengthen Diaspora ties, Investment and Punjabiyat

Since 2003, the Ministry of Overseas Indian (MOIA) Affairs has been organizing the Pravasi Bhartiya Divas (PDB) on every 7th-9th January to celebrate  diasporic lives and capitalize from knowledge, expertise, skill and investment from the  worldwide Indian diaspora, while at the same time it provides a common platform to interact with fellow diasporas. In the same way State Governments are also looking forward to attract their (State) diasporas. States like Gujarat, Kerala, Rajasthan and Punjab are among other few states that are celebrating the diaspora’s achievements and providing platforms for diaspora engagement

NRI Sammelan organized by the Punjab government at Anandpur Sahib recently on 10th and 11th January is one of the occasion to show case the state in front of Punjabi diaspora and vice versa. Anandpur Sahib, popularly known as The Holy City of Bliss has its unique place in Sikhism as it was founded by the ninth Sikh Guru, Guru Teg Bahadur in 1665. Once a Punjabi NRI enters to India, he/she surely thinks of visiting the Golden Temple & the Anandpur Sahib, even though his first destination is Chandigarh. The Sammelan had focused on following major areas where the state government looking forward to have diaspora engagement.

Investment Opportunities: Apart from the taste of live culture and delicious cuisines, govt. of Punjab offers a number of investment options to the NRI. Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal states that if the remittances come to households only, then it would not serve the larger goal of overall development of the state. Therefore he announced a number of options to NRIs. Some of them are:

1.      Single Window Clearance for NRIs Projects in the state. He said Punjab is one of the first State in the country with citizen charter & simplified documentations.

2.      100% rebate in stamp duty if they buy land for the investment or for projects.

3.      100% rebate in property tax for 10 years.

4.      50-100% rebate on paver duty.

5.      Simplified NOC Procedure.

6.      Firm basic infrastructure including Roads, Airports, 24x7 power supply etc.

7.      10% reservation in Industrial & residential plots.

From the diaspora side there was matching reciprocity. Influential Diaspora  players have assured the following:

1. Tim Uppal, minister in Canada government assures that within two years Canada will try to increase business upto $ 15 Billion. He said from 2010 onward the rate of increase is remarkable (25%) and he sees indefinite opportunities in India’s energy & education sector. Majority of NRIs in Canada are from Punjab, therefore Punjab will be the biggest beneficiary of that business.

2.Bal Gasal, Sports Minister of Canada said that NRI believes in open market where all players can enjoy their economic and political interests without unnecessary hassles and favours. He said clean and bias less governance is the requirement of the time and hoped that the Punjab Government would work hard to ensure that. At the same time, he emphasized on game diplomacy where youth of both countries would feel connected. He said India and Canada should work hard to include Kabaddi in Olympic.

3.Lord Daljit Rana, British politician and member of the House of Lords said that today’s demand is knowledge. India has 65% young population and if we invest in knowledge industry than it will not only create jobs for youth but will provide a firm base too.

4.Harinder Takhar, politician & former Legislature from Ontario, Canada said Govt. of Punjab met all our demands that were raised by us in the previous sammeelans and now no issue is left. So it’s our humble duty to invest in our homeland and develop it in every aspect.

5.Peter Sandu, another politician from Canada raised another important issue that the Govt. of Punjab & the Govt. of India must work hard to scrap minor cases against NRI’s so that they can come to India and Invest freely.

6.Sachin Gupta, Mayor, Hounslow, London said if all NRIs from Punjab take oath to develop their motherland than Punjab will not surpass only Gujarat but soon it will be comparable with developed world. He assures all possible help to Punjab in every aspect.

7. Canada’s another Legislature Darshan Singh Kang suggests that Punjab must promote tourism. When our second & third generation will come here then they will bring the business for sure.

8.Kamaljit Bakshi, MP (Shift back) from Newzealand who signed an MOU with the Technical Education of Dept. of Punjab said that Technical Education would bring prosperity to the State in many ways. At the same time, she suggested the Punjab govt. that issues referred from other countries to Punjab must be addressed as soon as possible and that exercise would bring good name and trust to the State from international community.

While the NRIs from developed world were taking on the issues related to industrial development, investment, tourism, cultural capital and promotion of Punjabiyat in coming generations, the Pakin’s Legislator Ashok Arora was worried on the security related issues of minorities in Pakistan. He described that only after Prime Minister Nawaj Sharif govt. minorities are feeling a bit safe. Now the closest neighbors and business partners should focus on peace, visa simplification and promotion of business.

Apart from all these discussions, the Deputy CM Sukhbir Badal said that ‘our farmers did miracles to feed our country and now we are coming up with another revolution without losing our momentum in Agriculture’. He described that Punjab is growing as an Industrial state  and performing well in all levels of Human Development Index (HDI). Further he clarified that Punjabi society is getting richer and sophisticated while at the same time it’s submissive to our guests & Diaspora.

Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal raised the issue of terrorism. He appealed to the NRIs not to support rebellious peoples either ideologically or economically. He remembered the days of the Khalisthan movement while addressing the forth NRI conference at “Virasat-e-Khalsa” complex at Anandpur Sahib. That was a very emotional moment for Mr. Badal when he recalled that thousands of Punjabis lost their lives and property during this rebellious movement which in turn pushed Punjab 100 years back. We cannot compensate that time but now we can thrive for a developed peaceful State, he said. Mr. Badal said that today Punjab is the ideal state for communal harmony and peace. In the mean time he also brought in a filmy humour into the gathering by saying that as the movie Bhag Milkha Bhag shows, in Punjab we say- Bhag Punjabi Bhag.

Punjabiyat

Mr. Badal also asserted that we are not only interested not only in investment and developmental issues but also in building the network of Punjabiyat. He considered the Punjabis as a strong ethnic group and Punjabiyat as a cultural movement around the world. He said we want strong socio-cultural web between all Punjabis present in every corner of the world. He urged all the NRIs to re-visit and relearn their roots and “Virsa” (Heritage). He again came up with a humour by jokingly advising the NRIs to ask their children to visit Punjab and if possible marry here. He dreamt of a golden Punjab when the second and third generation of NRIs would come back to Punjab & settle down here for better future.

Mera Pind Meri Scheme: Mr. Badal also assured the NRIs of all level supports in case they want to develop their own village. Panchayat will support in their project and they can handle their investment as per their desire. Under this scheme many NRIs are working in their respective villages. Some are providing free biogas to their whole village; some others are working on clean water, irrigation, medical assistance, computer education etc.

On the whole, the exercise was very important and meaningful to both the NRIs and Punjab at large.

A Report by Vinod Kumar, Asst. Professor, Department of Sociology, Panjab University

Chandigarh. He can be contacted at: vinodchoudhary09@gmail.com

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