Jaipur: Fulfilling the long-standing demand of its diaspora, India on Sunday said it would allow Non-resident Indians (NRIs) to vote and participate in the election process.
He also listed the number of initiatives undertaken by the government like voting rights for NRIs and the new Pension and Insurance Scheme among others.
"I am happy to inform you that the government has decided to introduce and sponsor a new Pension and Life Insurance Fund for overseas Indian workers. The scheme will encourage, enable and assist overseas workers to voluntarily save for their return and resettlement and old age," he told over 1,900 delegates from 60 countries.
The scheme, which was recently cleared by the Cabinet, will also provide a low-cost life insurance cover against natural death, Singh said, adding that this fulfills a "long pending demand of our workers abroad."
Under the scheme, the government will co-contribute Rs 1,000 per annum for all subscribers who contribute between Rs 1,000 and Rs 12,000 per year. Women overseas workers will enjoy a special additional co-contribution of Rs 1000 a year.
The scheme for overseas Indian workers that is expected to benefit over 5 million workers, especially those in the Gulf, and help them save for their return, resettlement and old age.
Singh said the "global Indian" is a symbol of the diversity of our ancient land. "Your individual prosperity and personal achievement are a symbol of what a diverse people like us can achieve," he said.
"Pursuant to the law that was enacted to enable Non-resident Indians to vote in our national elections, the government has issued notifications for registration of overseas electors under the Representation of People Act, 1950," Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said.
"This constitutes the first major step to enable Indian residents abroad to participate in our election process," the Prime Minister said while addressing the annual diaspora meet.
He said diaspora plays an important role in the growth and development of the country and the government recognises it and was committed to address their concerns and fulfil their demands.
"The government and people of India recognise and value the important role being played by Indian communities living abroad. We believe that Indian diaspora has much more to contribute to the building of modern India," the prime minister said.
"We propose to facilitate, encourage and promote this engagement. Over the past year, we have taken a number of steps towards this end," he added.
Addressing the delegates in Jaipur, Manmohan Singh also said that the Indian economy is expected to grow by 7 per cent this financial year despite the adverse impact of global economic slowdown.
"World is passing through a difficult phase. Many countries are facing global economic crisis and there is a greater protectionism and job losses. Our economical fundamentals are strong," said Singh.
The Prime Minister also asked the Indians residing abroad to participate in the electoral process in the country. "The Government is encouraging, for the first time, people living abroad to take part in elections in the country," said Singh.
The Prime Minister formally inaugurated the 10th annual diaspora meet called the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD).
Minister of Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi said nearly 1,900 delegates from almost 60 countries were participating in the annual conclave.
With Additional Inputs from Agencies