Indian diaspora in Belgium hails Patil’s address

June 5th, 2009 - 9:33 pm ICT by IANS  

Pratibha Patil Brussels, June 5 (IANS) Welcoming the address of President Pratibha Patil to the Indian parliament, the Global Organisation of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO) in Belgium said the importance of the Indian diaspora must not be viewed only in static economic terms but as social and cultural ambassadors of India, EuAsiaNews reported Friday.
President Patil in her address to the parliament said Thursday India would deepen its ties with its 25-million diaspora in 130 countries that has emerged as an important force in respective countries of domicile.

“The Indian diaspora is an important economic, social and cultural force and my government will deepen its engagement with it,” Patil said in an address to a joint session of the new parliament that convened after the national election last month.

GOPIO president Sunil Prasad said Friday that many countries regard their diasporas as strategically vital political assets, while others such as India recognised diasporas’ massive contributions through remittances.

Prasad called on the Indian government to actively focus two important segments of the diaspora - the young and second generation of overseas Indians and those approaching retirement.

“In absence of this, India risks losing its link with the vast majority of its diaspora community,” he cautioned.

Prasad said the Indian diaspora is a minority in the country of their habitat and in order to protect their interest, it is important the government has aggressive policy to defend their rights in addition to having a strong relationship with host countries.

Referring to the recent attacks on the Indian students in Australia, Prasad said opening of a Diaspora Centre in each country where it has a presence would help address the problem.

Prasad, who is also the secretary general of the Brussels-based Europe India Chamber of Commerce, said although India is not as affected as Europe and the US by the economic crisis, the Indian economy is not insulated from the economic recession and the Indian diaspora can help India fight the global economic downturn.

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