February 02, 2011

Govt asks NRIs to invest in health, education

Pravasi Bhartiya Divas -- country's annual event to connect with its diaspora -- began on Friday with the government asking overseas Indians to invest in sectors like health and education and in the north-east where the country needs massive investments.

In his inaugural speech, Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi invited the 25-million strong diaspora to be part of the 'India growth story' and take the country forward in diverse sectors.

Addressing the session, HRD Minister Kapil Sibal said the education sector needs about $150 billion of investment in the next 10 years and sought active cooperation of the diaspora in building quality education infrastructure in the country.

"India is a land of opportunity today. We cannot sustain the economic growth rate unless we have quality educational infrastructure and empower our youths. We invite you to invest in the educational sector where we need massive investment," Sibal said.

He said the government was in the process of introducing various bills in Parliament as part of educational reforms.

In this context, he said the obstruction by opposition is delaying the process and criticised them.

"I hope the bills will be passed soon. In democracy, one way to defeat the government is to bring a no confidence motion against it. If you cannot defeat the government through a no confidence motion, then you do not have the luxury of stopping business of Parliament," he said.

Inviting the diaspora for deeper two-way engagement in the sector, he said, "I think new frontiers of knowledge will be discovered in India through investment and greater carrying of knowledge."

He said government is bringing the Foreign Education Bill to encourage foreign investment and hopes to pass it soon.

Sibal said the government plans to increase the gross enrollment ratio of children reaching college from 12 to 30 per cent by 2020 and to cater to this increase in number of children reaching higher educational institutes, 1,000 more universities and 45,000 more colleges were needed.

"This is a mind boggling challenge," he said.

Addressing the session on health sector, Minister of State for Health Dinesh Trivedi suggested that all those present should come together and prepare a roadmap for investment in health sector.

Nearly 1,500 overseas Indians from 51 countries, including top businessmen, economists and scientists, are participating in the three-day conclave being organised by the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs.

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