After Ravi addressed a gathering of about 1,900 Non-Resident Indians and Persons of Indian Origin for about five minutes, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee took centre stage.
Citing example of China, Mukherjee on Sunday said that India too needs to fully tap the investment potential of non-resident Indians and their entrepreneurial skills and promote inclusive growth.
"We have not yet reaped the full benefits of India's great diaspora. The most obvious area remains that of investment and entrepreneurship. For instance, in China a large chunk of foreign direct investment has come from overseas Chinese," he said, while addressing the NRIs.
Though there have been "large ticket investments" by NRIs and PIOs, he said, "it is far less than the potential and perhaps too concentrated on the formal sector. Rather, we must pursue an alternative model. One that is more balanced and holistic in a socio-economic sense".
Overseas Indians, he said, should increase their contribution in social and economic areas like education, healthcare, and skill development and supplement the efforts of the government to promote inclusive growth.
He quoted Jawaharlal Nehru who in 1961 had said, 'Nationalism will be a narrow creed. We should be global citizens. Our windows and doors should be open to internationalism."
He said that in the colonial age our growth was only one per cent. Between 1951 and 1979 it was 3.5 per cent. In the eighties it was five per cent and in the nineties it was six per cent. Post liberalism, in 1991 it began to shoot up. From 2005 to 2008 it was a robust 9 per cent, Mukherjee said.
"In 2008-09 when there was global recession India grew at 6.8 per cent. In 2008, when the Eurozone crashed India was growing at 8.5 per cent. The year 2011 was difficult or India and the world. I am proud to say that we are among the fastest growing nations in the world today," he added.
India is a member of the G20 and, within the G20, it is considered a part of the systemically most important seven, he said.
On the issue of brain drain, the finance minister said, "The movement of the diaspora is no longer unidirectional as it was in the past. What started as a brain drain, has now become a brain gain, not just for India but the world as a whole."
"Indians contribute to global growth in these troubled times. Many are doing small businesses here and elsewhere. The global talent movement is bringing the best global practices into the Indian economy," he said.
Praising the contribution of NRIs he said, the entrepreneurial skills of the Indian business community settled abroad are a matter of envy for other nations.
"On January 9, 1915 Mahatma Gandhi returned to India from South Africa. That is the day we are celebrating now. He gave us dignity of labour and also the importance of rural social inclusiveness," he said.
With inputs from PTI