New Delhi: Highlighting India's economic resilience, President Pratibha Patil on Sunday invited the Indian diaspora to share their skills and finances in diverse sectors in the country including education and health and help it build a better future and ensure inclusive growth.
Addressing the valedictory session of the Pravasi Bhartiya Divas in New Delhi, Patil asked the diaspora for a rapid increase in the "number, size and scope" of their involvement in the country's developmental process while underlining the strong fundamentals of the economy.
"Your expertise and skills will be a vital resource for India's efforts to forge inclusive growth for all its citizens. Your immense capacity in talent, skills, experience and finances are known to all," she said.
Seeking increased investment from the diaspora, Patil hoped that coming days will see more long-term projects involving the community that will have a significant positive impact on many lives.
"We would like to measure such projects not in terms of the money spent on them, but in terms of the humans touched and improved by them," she said, noting that Government was focusing on expanding coverage of quality education, health services and infrastructure.
"I call upon each and every one of you to participate to the best of your ability, in at least one endeavour in India for building a better future for the disadvantaged sections of society," she added.
Calling for deeper two-way engagement, Patil said the country has a "gigantic task of nation building" and the overseas community can contribute immensely in diverse sectors.
"Our economy has been robust in the recent turbulent times, because of the contribution of services and manufacturing sectors, as also of the traditional sectors including, agriculture, animal husbandry and informal services," she said.
"Government's efforts at reducing poverty, imparting schooling and skills, improving health and habitats, and increasing participation of women and socially disadvantage groups in economic activity, can only succeed with the help and co-operation of private initiatives and civil society," she said.
As the final day of Pravasi Bhartiya Divas also marked the 96th anniversary of the homecoming of Mahatma Gandhi, Patil also paid tribute to the father of the nation.
"Gandhiji's thinking had a tremendous impact in India and globally, making him one of the greatest personalities of our times," she said.
The President said Regional Pravasi Bhartiya Divas is being organised every year in one of the countries which have a significant number of Indians for close-interaction with more and more overseas Indians.
She also announced that the next Regional Pravasi Bhartiya Diwas would be held in Toronto this year.
Patil also conferred Pravasi Bharatiya Samman to 15 eminent overseas Indians from different walks of life including Governor General of New Zealand Sir Anand Satyanand, Veena Harbhagwan Sahajwalla from Australia, Lata Pada from
Canada, USAID administrator Rajiv Shah, British Minister Sandip Verma, leading Sri Lankan Industrialist Mano Selvanathan, Netherlands based philanthropist Saleh Wahid and former foreign service officer of Malaysia Dato Ajit Singh.
In her speech, Patil complimented Satyanand, an Indian origin, and said the country was proud of his achievements.
Satyanand was awarded for his "outstanding" contributions in public life.
Earlier, summing up the outcome of the three-day event, Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi said the 9th edition of the event saw participation of 1,600 delegates, which is the highest number among all the PBDs.
He said that the 9th PBD took forward the 'inclusive agenda' that was initiated last year.
"The focus this year was on discovering innovative areas in which overseas Indians can benefit from the many opportunities that India offers," he said.
Listing the outcomes, Ravi said the event provided an opportunity for the Diaspora to explore new areas for cooperation in the national priority areas of health and education.
"The PBD this year focused on engaging with the young overseas Indian. The young Overseas Indian is in a way the driver of India's image abroad as a young, vibrant and high performing destination," he said.
Ravi said the PBD has matured into a platform that sets the tone for the ways in which we can build a "reciprocal long-term strategic partnership with our diaspora."
"We need to work towards building a relationship that will see India emerge as an economic power in the true sense.
The Indian growth story is an absorbing, inspiring and continuing one," he added
"Backed by demographics where about 65 per cent of the population falls under the working age group, a paradigm shift is underway in India," he said.
The Overseas Indian Affairs Minister announced that a memorial plaque at Kolkata Port will be unveiled on Tuesday to honour and remember all the Indian indentured workers who had emigrated in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
He said that the next PBD, will be held at Jaipur, Rajasthan from January 7 to 9 next year.