Patil pitches for private investment in health, edu

The President presented Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Awards to 15 eminent overseas Indians.

Jaipur: President Pratibha Patil on Monday
pitched for harnessing private investments in the crucial
areas of health, education and skill development at a time of
"economic uncertainty" and asked the overseas Indian community
to be partners in the country`s development.

Addressing the valedictory session of the 10th Pravasi
Bharatiya Divas here, Patil said India has lifted tens of
millions of its people out of abject poverty but the country
still has a "very long way to go."

"Health, education and skill development were key areas
of the strategy of inclusive development in India`s 11th Plan,
and they will continue to be focus areas in the 12th Plan.

We must ensure that these sectors receive adequate resources
and to ensure that resources are spent to achieve maximum
efficiency in terms of outcomes," she told over 1,900
delegates from 60 countries across the globe.

"We also need to harness private investment in these
areas at a time of economic uncertainty and profound change in
the world. We will continue to actively engage with the
overseas Indian community as partners in the development and
progress of India," she said.

The President also presented Pravasi Bharatiya Samman
Awards to 15 eminent overseas Indians, including to the Chief
Guest of PBD 2012 and Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago.

PBD is celebrated every year from January 7 to 9 to
commemorate the return of Mahatma Gandhi after his "successful
struggle" against apartheid in South Africa, she said.

Patil also said efforts to promote greater exchanges
between the youth as an important aspect of forging linkages
and maintaining the tradition of close bonds should be

Lauding the contributions of overseas Indians, Patil
said the footprints of the Indian Diaspora are wide-spread and
its presence felt in every continent.

"The Indian overseas community is not only large, but is
becoming increasingly influential in the economic,
professional and political fields, in the countries in which
they are now living. We are proud of their accomplishments,"
Patil said.

Noting that the human society faces the daunting yet
inspiring task of forging "sustainability," in all its
activities in this century, Patil said while meeting current
human needs, the requirements of future generations are also

"It is a great challenge. You all can play a decisive
role with the knowledge and experience you have gained as
academics or scholars, scientists and technologists,
professionals or businessmen," she said.

India deeply cherishes its relationship with the diaspora
and the Government is keenly interested in the well-being of
the people of Indian origin living overseas, she said and
noted the major development in West Asia and North Africa,
which is a region of great importance to India because of its
traditional warm ties and also because a large number of
Indian nationals live there.

"The Government of India had to evacuate about 19,000
Indian nationals from Libya and Yemen.

The Government sent special aircraft and ships to these
countries to bring back Indian citizens free of cost.

Similarly, special flights were flown out of Egypt for
more than 700 Indian tourists and Indian nationals working
with various companies there," she said.

Patil also said the Indian Community Welfare Fund,
originally established in 18 countries to provide timely
succor to overseas Indians in distress, has now been extended
to all Indian Missions and congratulated Overseas Indian
Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi and the Ministry for their "keen
concern" for the welfare of Overseas Indians.

She also noted that the Know India Programme brings
groups of young overseas people of Indian origin to India,
with a view to promote awareness on different facets of life
here and the progress made by India in various fields.

"I have had the occasion to meet some of the groups
coming under this programme, and in my interaction with them,
I have spoken about their abiding links with the country of
their origin India," she said.