Diaspora event looks to boost Indian-American investment

Diaspora event looks to boost Indian-American investment

The government is looking to use the three-day 6th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas beginning Monday to spur diaspora investments into India.

After a high-profile show in New York last year, once again Indian-Americans will be in focus this year, especially since latest data shows that this community has grown in size as well as affluence in the seven years since the last US census in 2000.

“As India hopes to attract diaspora money to invest in its economic growth, events such as Pravasi gain a lot of importance. It is an opportunity for all to explore opportunities overseas," said an official, who did not wish to be identified,in the ministry of overseas Indian affairs, which coordinates the programme along with the Confederation of Indian Industry, an industry lobby group.

He said people of Indian origins (PIOs) and non-resident Indians (NRIs) in the US are especially relevant to the annual function.

Government numbers show that about 10% of PIOs currently outside India are in the US. This population is growing at about 6.8% annually, according to census data from the US released in 2000.

The 10-year census in the US counted roughly 1.67 million Asian Indians in 2000. The American Community Survey (ACS), based on sample surveys and also conducted by the US Census Bureau, released in October, shows that the Indian-American population rose by nearly 50% to 2.48 million in 2006. The ACS data has an error margin of around 48,000.

Of this, the foreign-born, or those born outside the US, accounted for 62% of the Indian-American population. Since they still hold strong links to India, the government believes that they would be more amenable to invest in India.

Among Indian-Americans, 25.8% attained a professional degree or graduated, compared with the average of 9.9% for the entire population. At the same time 9.7% Indians in the US had less than a high school degree, compared with more than 15% for the total population.

ACS data shows the annual median income of Indian households in the US was $78,315 (about Rs30.8 lakh) in 2006, 61% higher than the median household income in the US, which was $48,451 in the same year.

The Chinese population had a median household income of $62,705 in the same survey.

“The overall GDP (gross domestic product) contribution of NRIs and PIOs to India’s economy was $22 billion in 2005; and, back in the US, half-a-trillion dollars is attributed to Indian presence in the Silicon Valley," said Prashant Gupta, one of the chairpersons of the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin, an international organization that promotes interaction between Indians in the US and India.

This year, investments are to be sought in removing the social and equity challenges that Indian states face and in developing crucial infrastructure, such as roads and national highways, across the country.