Speech by Indian External Affairs Minister during interaction with the Indian Community in Dubai, UAE

I am extremely happy to visit UAE and be with you all. This is my first visit to UAE after taking charge as the External Affairs Minister.

The Indian diaspora has made us proud- both by their contributions to the country of residence as also to their mother land –India. Our trade links with the Arab world has seen Indian pearl traders reaching the shores of Dubai, Sharjah and Fujairah during the early 19th century. From there, it has been a long journey for our community. Today, an estimated 2.6 million strong Indian community form the largest expatriate group in the UAE. You all are the vital organic links between India and UAE which has emerged as one of the largest trading partners to us and is a gateway for our exports to the region.

My fellow Indians,

Let me congratulate each one of you for your contribution. You have earned a reputation for being disciplined, hard-working and law-abiding. You are a microcosm of India, reflective of its vibrant diversity and its talents.We are proud of your achievements.

Over the time, the profile of our community in the Gulf is undergoing transformation. Though large numbers of Indian workers were employed in the UAE in the 1990s as a result of the construction boom, gradually more and more professionals in the fields of finance, banking, insurance and IT have gained employment in UAE. This transition is commensurate with the UAE economy gaining momentum in the knowledge-based service sector. By providing highly skilled service at a competitive cost, our community’s role has proven indispensible for the UAE economy.

Your sustained remittances over the years have contributed to our foreign exchange reserves and are a valuable livelihood source for millions of dependents in India. May I add that India is a recipient of the largest global remittances sent by the expatriate populations and the Gulf region is the largest source of these remittances for us.

Friends,

The country has a new government voted in with a huge majority. With such a majority, come heavy responsibilities and the task of meeting the expectations of our people.

When the new Government took over, the GDP growth was under 5 percent, inflation high, no confidence in the economy. But the people of the country and the world showed confidence in this government – as was evident by the high sensex figures and the euphoria.

Our Government is firmly committed to bring back growth, have clear policies which will facilitate business environment, transparency and speed, well thought out decisions. The result is there before you in just five months: GDP growth is showing early signs of recovery. Interest in the economy has surged, queries for investment increased and the investment sentiment improved.

Our focus is growth with good governance & transparency with eye on manufacturing, infrastructure & trade.In a major boost for the infrastructure & real estate sector, the government is proposing tax incentives for two new investment instruments -- Infrastructure Investment Trusts (InvITs) and Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) - to promote long term investments from foreign and domestic investors, including the NRIs.

Our Prime Minister, in his Independence Day speech, has spelt out his government’s utmost priority of making India an investment and manufacturing destination. He launched "Make in India” campaign on 25 September inviting foreign entrepreneurs to come and set up manufacturing bases in India. This will make India an important partner in the global value chain.

The "Make in India” programme lays emphasis on 25 manufacturing sectors with focus on job creation and skill enhancement. These sectors include automobiles, auto components, design manufacturing, renewable energy, mining, textiles, bio-technology, pharmaceuticals, electronics and ports.

As part of the plan, foreign investment caps in construction is being eased to enable greater participation in the government’s 100 smart cities project and affordable housing. The FDI caps in railways and defence production have already been eased to 100% and 49%, respectively.

Our infrastructure financing needs are estimated to be One trillion US dollars in the next five years. We have ambitious targets and have put in place mechanisms to overcome implementation bottlenecks. Our policies are transparent, stable and are designed to provide a level playing field to both domestic and foreign investors. An ambitious US$90 billion Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) project is aimed at creating mega industrial manufacture corridor along the Delhi-Mumbai Rail Freight Corridor.There are opportunities available in other industrial corridors, including Chennai-Bengaluru Industrial Corridor,East Coast Industrial Corridor (including Chennai-Vizag Industrial Corridor), Amritsar- Kolkota Industrial Corridor and North East-Myanmar Industrial Corridor.

We believe that the overseas Indians must be a part of the growth agenda of the nation, hence the announcement in the Union Budget to set up an NRI fund to clean and develop Ganga.

The welfare of our nationals outside India, particularly in the Gulf region, is one of the top most priorities of our government. Our Government, in collaboration with the State governments, has been proactively devising ways and means to address the concerns of our nationals living abroad.

We are engaged with the UAE Government in continuous dialogue on various matters concerning our community here. We have a Memorandum of Understanding on Manpower signed between the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs in India and Ministry of Labour in UAE.

The Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs has undertaken a number of measures to ensure the welfare of Indian community in UAE, through the institution of Indian Community Welfare Fund (ICWF), setting up of Indian Workers Resource Centre(IWRC),online information system regarding transportation of mortal remains etc.

Since the inception of the ICWF, more than 6,000 Indians have benefitted directly from it. IWRC has attended to more than 65,000 telephone calls, conducted 200 awareness camps and provided more than 4,500 free counselling sessions since its establishment in November 2010.Recently, our Embassy in Abu Dhabi brought out an advance copy of ‘Guidelines for Indians’ in limited numbers which I hope will prove quite beneficial for the Indians in UAE. More numbers of this booklet will be printed in English, Hindi and other regional languages.

In addition to providing assistance from the Indian Community Welfare Fund directly to overseas Indians in distress, the Government of India has also sanctioned substantial amounts to Indian Associations in the past. I am happy to share with you today that in response to requests received from UAE, a grant of Dirham 500 thousand will be given to Indian Association, Sharjah for the newly built crematorium. We will also be providing a grant of Dirham 500 thousand to the Indian Association in Ajman for the construction of a social centre.

I have been informed that our Embassy in Abu Dhabi and the Consulate in Dubai have started a system of open house on each working day from 10.00 AM till 12.00 noon where any Indian national can visit the Embassy or the Consulate without prior appointment and meet the concerned officer. I congratulate our Ambassador for this initiative of bringing our Mission closer to our community.

The thirteenth edition of the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas Convention, the flagship event of my Ministry, will be held in Gandhinagar, Gujarat on 7-9 January, 2015. In this event, we are expecting enthusiastic participation from the diverse overseas Indian community spread across the globe. The effort is to have a meaningful and interactive event that would address the issues and concerns of our overseas community effectively. Considering the opportunity that the event presents for the overseas Indians, as well as the prestige attached to the event, I would like to personally invite you to attend the PBD.

To conclude, I must also place on record my deep appreciation for the UAE leadership for hosting our citizens. The UAE is in the forefront of the GCC countries in terms of offering expatriates not just a good quality of life but also with regard to labour laws, freedom to practice one's faith, freedom to form associations and fulfillment of other cultural rights.

I would like to emphasize that each one of you as members of the vibrant Indian community has done proud to your motherland.Our Government realizes your potential to contribute not only to India’s economy but also to the international profile of India. Therefore, I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere appreciation to each one of you for your contribution to strengthen our relations with the UAE. I wish you all successful and a prosperous future.

Jai Hind

11.11.2014

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