India lent a new thrust to economic engagement with its Diaspora on 10 th January 2020 as the Ministry of Commerce & Industry (MoCI), Invest India (an autonomous organization under the Ministry) and the PIO Chamber of Commerce & Industry (PIOCCI) announced the creation of the PIO INVESTOR HELP DESK to facilitate and streamline Diaspora investment.
Indian Diaspora business leaders and representatives from more than 20 countries gathered at the Taj Palace Hotel, New Delhi, to participate in the first such public-private initiative that will be powered by the partners virtually as well as through on-ground activities.
PIO INVESTORS HELP DESK was inaugurated and launched by Honourable Union Minister for Commerce & Industry and Railways, Shri Piyush Goyal. Attending were senior officials of the Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Ministry of External Affairs, Invest India team, PIOCCI officials and representatives. The Honourable Minister said the Indian Government will ensure that Diaspora investors received all information, hand-holding and support to set up enterprises or pure investment. He said his Ministry and the Government will be keen and willing to entertain special requests, emphasizing the vision of the Honourable Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi to woo Diaspora investment and utilize the Diaspora’s accomplishments especially in science, technology and innovation across all sectors.
Among the dignitaries addressing the gathering included Additional Secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs Ambassador Dinesh Patnaik, Joint Secretary of the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) in the Ministry of Commerce & Industry Ministry Smt. Sumita Dawra, CEO of Invest India Shri Deepak Bagla, Patron of PIOCCI Shri Raj Kumar Bhatia, Working President of PIOCCI Shri Atul Kulkarni and Vice President of PIOCCI Shri Munish Gupta. The august gathering included several Secretaries and Joint Secretaries of the Government of India, Resident Commissioners of different States of India, representatives of other Ministries, Ernst & Young, Indian National Students Association alumni who have set up businesses and start-ups in India and across the world and members of the media.
PIO INVESTOR HELP DESK was virtually introduced on the Invest India website (and, other connected online platforms) and also on PIOCCI website. It was explained that queries invited and generated electronically through websites as well as received by PIOCCI will be handed over to Invest India for resolution through responses elicited from Central or State Government, or any other authorities as required. PIOCCI would also embolden the initiative by offering its Indian members to match with prospective Diaspora investors / joint venture seekers.
Supported by Indian Missions overseas through the Ministry of External Affairs, specifically the Overseas Indian Affairs (OIA) Division, PIOCCI and Invest India intend to undertake activities to generate awareness on investment reforms in India, showcase opportunities as well as specific projects across different priority sectors in India, assess and understand the investment interests of the Diaspora, address Diaspora queries with regards to setting up enterprises, work with nodal Ministries and State Governments / local authorities, to induce, facilitate and enhance Diaspora economic engagement, specifically investment. It is felt that Diaspora is enthused with growing opportunities in a New India with dynamically changing policies especially reforms aimed at encouraging investment, emphasis on manufacturing and expanding trade opportunities. The Diaspora has an inherent and emotional attachment that attracts them to invest in the changing India. Yet, it is felt that to drive Diaspora investment with a focused approach required a platform with like-minded and able partners that guide and even hand-hold prospective investors to pave the way for efficient processing of proposals and projects.
PIOCCI will collaborate with Invest India to significantly expand the outreach and connect with businesses and investors among the 30-million-strong community of Non Resident Indians (NRIs) and People of Indian Origin (PIOs). NRIs include those who continue to retain Indian passport and are residing on long term visas in countries for work or business or may have gained permanent resident status of other countries. PIOs include those who possess passports of other countries and typically comprise two categories – one, that have now lived for 4 or more generations in certain countries where migration dates back 200 years, and, two, those categorized as Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) Card Holders who have naturalized as citizens with first and second generation families in western/ developed countries. With India offering special, long-term NRI visas, and OCI Cards (now merged with earlier PIO Cards) allow special rights to visit and stay in India for longer periods, engage in professional/ work and business activities.
Formed in 2003 and headquartered with a full secretariat in New Delhi, PIOCCI has successfully created a hub-and- spoke model of 50 Country Chapters around the world as well as 20 State Chapters across India. PIOCCI vision and mission is to not only enhance Diaspora’s economic engagement with India, but also business network the Diaspora worldwide.
PIO INVESTOR HELP DESK will be manned in India as a nodal point to then support investors to coordinate with State Governments and Central Governments and any statutory authorities. In special cases, incentives may be offered or discussed. The objective goes beyond generating awareness to actual facilitation, helping remove bottlenecks and efficiently responding to concerns. Invest India will serve as an official representative through the Ministry of Commerce & Industry, and in tandem with Ministry of External Affairs, to connect with all other Ministries and State Governments.
After the inaugural session, two intense conference sessions followed with presentations by Invest India, Ministry of External Affairs Overseas Indian Affairs Division, and a dialogue between Diaspora business leaders and government officials.
Discussions during sessions and off-line during the course of the day highlighted that this new public-private initiative should target small and medium investments from the Diaspora. Large investments have their own pathways.
a. A mechanism of enhanced economic engagement to be led by Invest India (Ministry of Commerce & Industry – DPIIT), Ministry of External Affairs - OIA (Missions) and PIOCCI.
b. MEA officials are now placed in State Secretariats (CM office) to provide liaison for investment. Invest India also plans to beef up its presence in States. PIOCCI Country Coordinators (globally) and State Coordinators (India) will work through PIOCCI Secretariat in Delhi to liaise with Invest India and MEA. A team will be created for PIO INVESTOR HELP DESK with a representative from each organization to evolve a working relationship.
c. PIOCCI will enable extended and expanded outreach to Diaspora business community through virtual and on- ground events conducted through Missions of India overseas and Invest India. Objective is to inform and generate awareness on investment reforms, special projects, incentives and fast-tracking proposals.
d. Immediate areas of interest were identified as –
e. Diaspora also serves as a foundation for expanding technology transfer and trading. This creates new markets overseas.
f. Diaspora has been making individual investments/contributions in philanthropic projects. This needs to be streamlined with a view to safeguarding such projects and ensure outcome. This could significantly expand and grow philanthropic investment in Education, Skilling, Culture, Water & Sanitation, Healthcare and even noble missions such as the National Clean Ganga Mission.
g. Going forward, it is proposed that PIOCCI and Invest India work together to enable an ecosystem of stakeholders in India and constantly engage with them, to include -
Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana, Jammu & Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal and Northeast States.