"If India wants to be a superpower, NRIs cannot be ignored"
Mr Madhu Goud Yaskhi, a lawyer, was a Member of Parliament for two terms, starting 2004 and ending 2014.
NRI, and former Lok Sabha MP from Nizamabad
He vehemently advocated the creation of a new Ministry for NRI Affairs (later to be known as the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs), and opposed several voices that wanted the NRI desk in the MEA to continue. Today when the Government has announced the merger of the MOIA with the MEA, his views become all the more important. Mr Yaskhi provides a unique perspective on how India should treat its NRIs, and leverage from their experience in countries across the globe. He speaks to India Empire’s Editor Sayantan Chakravarty at his office in the Constitution Club, New Delhi
As an NRI yourself, do you think India has the administrative and political mechanism to deal with, respond and enthuse NRIs who wish to intensify their engagement with India?
Yes I do believe that. As an NRI, I attended the first Pravasi Bhartiya Divas in 2003, and then in 2004 I became the first NRI Member of Parliament. Later in 2009, Mr Shashi Tharoor also became an MP. Following the initiative of Pravasi Bhartiya Divas started by Mr A.B. Vajpayee in 2003, the UPA Government built on this further and created the Ministry for NRI Affairs in 2004, later to be renamed as the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs. Regarding this there was a big discussion in the standing committee of Ministry of External Affairs. The committee members were apprehensive about having a new ministry for NRIs. They felt there would be duplication of work, and felt the new Ministry would do the same thing and the proposal should be scrapped. So I intervened and told them that India requires an NRI Ministry in every aspect of its development. India expects NRIs to rush to help when there are natural calamities. India expects NRIs to come to its rescue when there is a crisis in foreign reserves (1991). We keep talking about China’s development because of the involvement, and historical role, of the country’s large diaspora. If you look in 2004-2005, the foreign direct investments in India were only USD 3 billion dollars, but NRI remittances were of the order of USD 27 billion dollars. But today if you look at it, the remittances have gone up to USD 75 billion, which is much more than the FDI. If you want double-digit growth, involve the NRIs. If India wants to be a superpower, NRIs cannot be ignored.