"GULF NRIs and Pravasi Bharatiya Divas" A Review by Khaja Anwar
On 9th January 1915, the greatest NRI (Non Resident Indian) of this
century came back home with a noble vision, a special mission and determination.
Over period of time he proved to be the greatest Indian for India – started the
Non violent freedom struggle which resulted into India’s Independence in 1947.
This incredible NRI was none other than Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, Father of
This historical date was almost forgotten by the Indian Citizens and many
historians too but relived in 2002 when Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee the Prime
Minister of India declared the 9th January as the NRIs day (Pravasi
Bharatiya Divas) and further announced to celebrate it every year to unite
global Indian Diaspora.
January 2003 people of Indian origin from 62 countries got together to create
a global vision at the First Pravasi Bharatiya Divas celebrations where almost
2000 NRIs participated.
This year, at
the second annual celebrations, there were happenings and implementations –
Gulf NRIs who are over 3.5 million in number, were in focus. The Indians in
the Gulf who are skilled and semi skilled contract employees constitute almost
the 70% of the total Gulf Indian Diaspora. Hence, it accounted to be
significant for the World’s largest Indian Diaspora in this single region.
Saudi Arab consists of the World’s largest NRI population at 1.6 million and
USA stands at second place with 1.55 Million Indians.
If we look at
demographic classification – The state of Kerala constitutes the largest share
atleast in the GCC region. The Prime Minister of India at the inaugural
address on Pravasi Bharatiya this year applauded the contributions to the
National economy by the NRIs specifically appreciated the state of Kerala
whose 2.5 million Diaspora alone contributed the 50% of $ 102 Billion of
foreign exchange reserves that India enjoys as of December 2003. The Prime
Minister further added “Thanks to my NRIs family whose contributions helping
us to repay back our loans to the World Bank and we have the privilege of
lending to other nations too”. There are over 22 million Indians living
GULF NRIs AND
THEIR ISSUES AT PRAVASI BHARATIYA:
Shri LM Sanghvi the Chairman of Indian Diaspora High level committee who is
an ex Ambassador to U.K. in addition to many other high grade international
designations – took the initiative, made a research and submitted his
recommendations to the Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India. This
unique celebrations and with a global vision is the result of Sanghvi’s
recommendations which provided the NRIs a platform from where you voice your
issues, talk about the investments, discuss the possibilities of making India
a developed Nation and participate in India 2020 vision programme and
Home-Coming to many non gulf NRIs to look back home who rarely visit India.
Shri Vajpayee announced two major issues - Dual Citizenship and Insurance
Scheme to the overseas contract workers.
Citizenship: The right of dual citizenship raised a good amount of
excitement among the World NRIs, but made no appeal to the World’s largest NRI
community in the Gulf. This facility makes no sense as none of the GCC
countries provide the expatriates with immigration or citizenship facility.
After passing through a big exercise with its foreign counterparts the
Government was to implement the Dual Citizenship status for 16 countries
effective from November 2003. Other countries could not accept this proposal
from Indian Government due to their existing non flexible immigration laws.
Insurance Scheme for Gulf NRIs: How important is this Scheme for the
Gulf NRIs? Does it really mean anything? Yes, it is a good security for the
Overseas Workers. Since we are a community with 70% surviving with below $ 400
per month income, The insurance scheme is essential for us. Atleast over 80%
of the NRIs in Gulf do not have any Insurance policies.
came into effect from 25th December 2003 as a gift to the Gulf NRIs
from the Prime Minister on the occasion of his 79th Birthday.
Primarily, New India Assurance Company is given the contract and the rights to
start issuing the policies. The premium per annum is a nominal sum of Rs.
1,000-2,000 with the maturity clauses described such as in case of death
overseas, accidents or partially handicapped etc. etc. And is made compulsory
for all the Indians who are leaving on employment contracts to foreign
point raised at the Gulf NRIs session at the PBD celebrations this year was
“Why this Insurance scheme applicable to only the new comers”? Shri Vinod
Khanna the Minister of State for External Affairs assured to make a study on
it and will come out with some solution.
GULF NRIs GOT THIS YEAR?
In 1977 the
then Foreign Minister Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee gave a special gift to NRIs by
relaxing the multiple window procedures to obtain a passport within 40 days
from the date of application which used to take atleast 6-8 months. In result,
it eased the unemployment burden on the nation and created a good amount of
relief among the citizens who were eyeing for the Jobs in Gulf over the start
of Oil Boom. This wise decision benefited both the Citizens and the Government
from all angles – and its outcome is a history and whole World is witnessing
years now from the date of any Sop given to the NRIs. During this long span of
almost two decades the NRIs were not given any sops nor considered the Gulf
NRI issues seriously. This year, the same dynamic bachelor who is proved to be
one of the most successful Prime Ministers of India gifted the Gulf NRIs once
again by approving two of the Core issues.
IDEAS – the
Indian Doctors Engineers and Architects Society founded in 2001 which
transformed into the World’s largest network of Indian Professionals abroad in
a very short span started with a determined objectives of Gulf NRI issues.
IDEAS kept knocking the doors consistently at all levels and through various
of memorandum in 2001 to the Indian Consul General Shri Syed Akbaruddin who
played a very important role by recommending the plight of Gulf NRIs to the
Ministry of External Affairs. A representation by IDEAS delegate at state
level to the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh Shri Chandra Babu Naidu in 2001
followed by a huge press conference in Hyderabad through which The Gulf NRI
issues hit headlines in more than 100 newspapers across the nation for the
first time in history. IDEAS high level committee meetings, correspondence and
discussions with the Chairman Diaspora Committee Shri LM Sanghvi and Shri JC
Sharma the Secretary in charge for PBD in 2002 & 2003. The focus and voices of
Gulf NRI issues once again rose at the IDEAS NRIs convention and Festival 2003
at Hyderabad which was organized for the first time by an NGO from the Gulf.
The submission of petition to Shri Vinod Khanna the minister of state for
external affairs during his visit to Jeddah in September 2003 – Our hopes
liven up when Shri Khanna answered the questions and interacted with over 100
IDEAS professional members at the “Meet Indian Intellectuals Program” which
was specially conducted to address the Gulf NRIs core issues.
Shri Vinod Khanna who heads the NRIs portfolio also in the Ministry of Foreign
affairs took the Indian Overseas Workers issues very seriously, recommended
and endorsed it. He proved to be the “DAYAVAN” in real for Gulf NRIs.
RESERVATION QUOTA IN COLLEGES FOR GULF NRIs:
Minister of India Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee while addressing to over 1500
Indian Diaspora at the Second Pravasi Bharatiya Divas made a history for Gulf
NRIs once again by announcing “We offer a reservation quota of one third of
15% supernumerary seats in all the educational institutions for all the NRIs”.
This facility is
effective from when? There is a big question mark as there are only 4 months
left over for
the beginning of
new academic year that is 2004-2005. This question was raised by the panelist
Indian Diaspora of
Saudi Arabia at the Gulf NRIs session. The answer is we have to follow up and
touch with the
Indian Embassies and the Consulates to know the exact requisites.
ABOLITION OF SPECIAL NRI FEE AT THE PROFESSIONAL COLLEGES:
By adding to the
above announcement Shri Vajpayee felt pleased to announce one more very
“From now on the NRIs from Gulf and South East Asian Countries
need not have to pay a special
NRI fee for
admissions into the professional colleges in India”.
What is the
Special NRI fee? The NRI students who apply for the admission into private
professional colleges had to pay a special NRI fee that was regulated and
described by the Government of India in late 80s. This capitation fee or the
tuition fee is 5-10 times more than that of what the local Indians pay.
announcement does not mean that we Gulf NRIs need not have to pay anything –
we will have to pay the regular normal fee on par with the local residents.
This was the core issue which voiced over last 10 years and the people who
mostly suffered due to this regulation were the poor and middle class Gulf
NRIs. This valuable sop itself solves another Gulf NRIs major concern --
DOMICILE REGULATION: Many states in India have the domicile
regulation which labels you as a non domicile if a student have schooled last
three consecutive years outside the state or the country – Over 90% of the
parents in the Gulf planned or planning to admit their children in India from
9th Standard in order to avoid the incredibly high NRI capitation
fee which is applicable when you are a Non Domicile – and some Medical
colleges in South India take from 25 to 35 Lakh Rupees for one seat. Whereas
it costs only 7 Lakh rupees to a local resident.
historical gift from the Prime Minister, the regulation of Domicile does not
mean anything to the Gulf NRIs. Whether your children do schooling in India or
Abroad, and if you are planning to admit your wards in private professional
colleges – pay only the normal regular fees that are described for the local
Prime Minister allots Rs. 25 Crores to set up NRIs Bhavan (Pravasi
Bharatiya Bhavan) at New Delhi.
NRIs can carry a Laptop (Computer) to India without
paying any customs.
An Individual can remit upto $25,000 abroad, no questions
asked. Previously the slab was upto $5,000.
Corporates can make overseas investments upto 100% of net
NRIs REPRESENTATION AT THE SECOND PRAVASI BHARATIYA DIVAS:
Gulf is the
single largest region for the Indian Diaspora with 3.5 million NRIs. And Saudi
Arabia houses the World’s largest NRI community with 1.6 Million, just a half
million more than that of United States of America.
But the pity
is, the lowest turn out was from this largest region. Total delegates
participated at this second PBD were over 1200 – a less number compared to the
last year. Out of these 1200 delegates, there were only 40 odd delegates from
the gulf countries which represent 3.5 million Indians and only four from the
world’s largest NRIs community that is Saudi Arabia. The maximum participants
were from U.S.A.
around 40 panelists and speakers chosen globally by the Ministry of External
Affairs of India to speak and present various issues, proposals and topics.
Out of which there were four panelists from the Gulf including one from Saudi
director Khaja Quadeer Anwar who is also the Founder Chairman of NRIs
convention and festival 2003 was chosen to present the Gulf NRI issues at the
second pravasi bharatiya divas. This special session on NRIs in the Gulf
proved to be fruitful as it was chaired by Shri Vinod Khanna.
thanked and appreciated the efforts of Shri LM Sanghvi, JC Sharma and Vinod
Khanna for working out the facilities for the Gulf NRIs in his address. Before
leaving for New Delhi, IDEAS had organized an open forum on Gulf NRI issues to
discuss and highlight the issues at the same time a message forum and opinion
poll was conducted on its widely popular web portal (www.ideas-gulf.com)
on which it received more than 2000 responses and suggestions.
director compiled the most common issues from these responses, highlighted
them and made a demand to the government.
Presentation that IDEAS director made was titled
“WHAT IS HAUNTING GULF NRIs”?
Major Gulf NRI
Issues voiced over at this session:
Waiving off the Non Domicility regulation for
Overseas Contract Employees.
Reservation Quota in Jobs for the Repatriated OCE’s from GULF countries.
Revision of age limits for the Repatriated OCE’s
from the Gulf.
Reservation Quota in Schools/Colleges for the OCE Wards.
NRIs Ministry in the States which has a Diaspora
of more than 1 Million.
Reservation of MLA and MP Constituencies in the
states where there is a Diaspora of more than 1 Million.
Nomination of atleast one NRI MP for Rajya Sabha.
NRIs Housing Corporations in the States.
Welfare Schemes for Overseas Contract Employees.
Pension Schemes for the OCEs.
Voting Rights for the NRIs.
FORMATION OF PRAVASI JANATA PARTY (PJP)
this Mr. Khaja Anwar – declared and announced that – “If the Government does
not address to the above issues seriously, we have a big demand from NRIs that
we float a party called “Pravasi Janata Party” and send the NRI
representatives to the State Assemblies and to the Parliament.” This idea was
much applauded by both the Indian press and NRIs. Even the NRIs from USA
appreciated this tool which will work at all levels and came forward to
support this concept.
summing up this session – Shri Vonod Khanna who chaired this panel gave the
The Pension Scheme for Gulf NRIs is a core issue - it will be
debated seriously at all levels.
Voting Rights for the NRIs is a necessity; I will make a
recommendation to form a committee which will comprise both Government and NRI
delegates to work out its mechanism.
About the formation of PRAVASI JANAT PARTY, it’s a good threat
to us, You are welcome to start this party and we wish it good luck and look
forward for their joining N.D.A.
About nomination of NRI MP to Rajya Sabha, I will recommend
this option which is a noble idea and why not, our prime minister posses 12
nominations for the Upper House and reserving one nomination for the NRIs is
About the NRI Ministries, it is a valid point – we should have
the relevant ministry where atleast there is Diaspora of more than one million
– I will recommend it.
INTERACTIVE MEET WITH THE NRIs:
On the last
day of three day pravasi bharatiya celebrations, Shri A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, the
President of India hosted a tea party for NRIs at the lush green historical
Mughal Gardens at presidential palace. The Nuclear Scientist turned president
who is also a bachelor, is very famous for his simplicity and the guest NRIs
were overwhelmed by his messages and answers.
One of the
senior NRI from USA asked him, Sir! How and When we can eradicate the
corruption fully from India? - His highness replied, “If we add 10 more laws
also it is difficult to remove corruption, but, there are only three people
who can help in removing it – and – The one is Father, the second is Mother
and the third one is the Teacher.” It is true, a big sound of applause from
NRIs on this message.
Anwar the Founder Director of IDEAS who was a panelist in Gulf NRI sessions
asked informed him. “Your highness, we in Saudi Arabia are the largest NRI
community in the World, and we invite you to Kingdom to perform Hajj or Umrah”.
His reply was, “I will come to perform Hajj as an ordinary man, and I am
saving money from my salary and will come when I save enough for the expenses
required for the pilgrimage”. We Love you Mr. President, resounding chants
from all the NRIs who were present there.
work hard for the country itself in which you are living, work to keep India’s
good image alive, you are the Ambassadors of our country, do the best and at
the same time do not forget the poor brethren back home” Shri Abdul Kalam said
answering to one of the Women NRI, he said “We are working out to implement
33% reservation for women in the parliament”, on this Mr. Khaja Anwar demanded
“We NRIs should have 10% seats in Parliament” – Mr. President smiled at it and
did not reply anything, but a roar of applause from NRI delegates present
there meted this demand.
HIGHLIGHTS / SIDELIGHTS OF SECOND PRAVASI BHARATIYA DIVAS
Total Participants : Around 1200 from 36 different
From Gulf : Over 40 delegates
From KSA : 4 Delegates
Panelists & Speakers : 40
Panelists from the Gulf : 4
Panelist from KSA : Khaja Quadeer Anwar on Gulf NRI issues
Venues : Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium
: Vigyan Bhavan
: Talkatora Indoor
- No. of
Volunteers : Over 600
: Well Equipped with 60 computer stations
Presentations : Power Point Presentation on Gulf NRI
issues by Khaja
of Animated Documentary Film on Gulf NRIs-
Present and Future titles “Ghar Ka Na Ghat Ka” Produced by
Entertainment Programmes :
Programme and Musical Concert by
Annu Malik, Sonu Nigam, Hari Haran, Shekar Suman, Isha
Koppikar and Mansi.
A Fusion Ballet by NRIs group from Mauritius
Performance by USA NRI pop singer Vicky of “CHUTNEY” fame.
– A Fashion show directed by Muzaffar Ali (The Director of Hindi Classical
The theme of
the fashion show was ‘Various Eras of fashions in India from the Mughal Era to
the current Era”. This event was the most expensive and a hard work of 6
months. But due to the intensity of classical fillers, it did not appeal the
audience much and over half of the audience started leaving the venue from
middle of the program.
were honored with this prestigious award. But the criterion for nomination and
selection is not open and is not clear. They are all handpicked by the
influential. The only one who deserved a Samman was Late Mrs. Kalpana Chawla
the NRI Astronaut who died last year due to the failure of space shuttle. Her
husband received it to honour the dead.
By: YaHind Staff Reporter