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Ties with diaspora must be strengthened: Gujral

By Our Staff Reporter

NEW DELHI, APRIL 8. The former Prime Minister, Mr. I. K. Gujral, today strongly argued for initiating steps to strengthen ties between India and its diaspora spread across the world.

``We should start thinking what we can do for our diaspora as most of the regions where they are settled are very backward areas,'' Mr. Gujral said inaugurating a three-day International Conference here on ``Culture and Economy in the Indian Diaspora''.

Experts from various parts of the world are likely to review the Indian diaspora in the U.S., Canada, Britain, Western Europe, East Africa, South America, the West Indies, South Asia, South- East Asia, the Far East and Australia on the issues of demography, economy, culture and future developments.

The Conference has been organised by the India International Centre (IIC) in collaboration with the University of Hull and the British Economic and Social Research Council's Research Programme on Transitional Communities.

Addressing a select gathering, the former Prime Minister appreciated recent efforts by Governments to invite heads of countries with the Indian diaspora as the chief guest for the annual Republic Day Parade. ``This sends a very healthy signal,'' he said, adding that of late there has been increasing interest in the diaspora.

Mr. Gujral felt ``the message of the type of India we are trying to build at home has not reached those places yet''.

The member of the British House of Lords, Professor Bhikhu Parekh, observed that the Indian diaspora is one of the most significant ones in the world today. Spread over 48 countries, the Indian diaspora is about 15 million strong, he said.

Giving details about migration of Indians to various parts of the world and the changing attitude of the Indian Government, he said things began to change in the 1980s during the balance of payment crisis when India realised the importance of its affluent community in America.

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