AGRA — Uttar Pradesh will soon develop policies and schemes for the 25 million Indian diaspora to have better relations with them, state minister Balwant Singh Ramoowalia said Jan. 5.

On the penultimate day of the maiden 'UP Pravasi Diwas' underway here, the minister, who was in charge of the event, said immediate and serious engagement with the NRIs was imperative to bring in investment, create business opportunities and guide India's workforce.

On initiatives of the Uttar Pradesh government, Sanjiv Sharan, principal secretary in the NRI department, talked about the newly formed department that would focus on solving grievances of NRIs and helping investors in the state.

A coffee table book was also being conceptualized for promoting the policies and familiarizing NRIs with progress and opportunities in the state, he added.

Saran said the department would launch a new portal for NRIs to facilitate and resolve their issues.

FICCI secretary general A. Didar Singh spoke about the importance of connecting the Indian diaspora both emotionally and through technology.

"Technology like creating forums for solving issues related to business establishments and showcasing the ease of doing business in the state would not only encourage investment opportunities but also connect the NRIs back to their roots," he said.

Congratulating the Uttar Pradesh government for the great initiative of engaging NRIs with their roots, Charu Mathur, CEO of the Overseas Indian Facilitation Center at the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs, focused on the joint responsibility of both the state and the Center to give a pleasant experience to the NRIs in their business ventures in India.

Earlier, the Uttar Pradesh government rolled out a red carpet welcome to some 250-odd members of the Indian diaspora Jan. 4 for the 'UP Pravasi Diwas'.

Addressing the NRIs and PIOs, Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav said the meet was a beginning of a never-ending dialogue between them and the state government and assured them of all help.

He said that the whole idea behind the ‘UP Pravasi Diwas’ was to reconnect the diaspora with their roots in the state and work on a common and meaningful dialogue of development of the state. "I am overjoyed to see such large number of NRIs here and must admit that the gathering has exceeded my expectation," he added.

Announcing that the event would be an annual affair, Yadav said that only the venues will change and would rotate among the major cities of the state. "We are here not only to welcome you in the Taj city but also to make you partners as the state endeavors to get its rightful place in the country," he added to a round of applause.

Later 16 eminent people with roots in Uttar Pradesh and now living abroad were given the 'UP Ratna' awards by the chief minister and his wife, Kannauj MP Dimple Yadav, while 13 MoUs were also signed at the event. Also present during the event, among others, were members of Bollywood that included film directors Sudhir Mishra, Muzaffar Ali, veteran actor Sanjay Khan and Zayed Khan.

The Times of India adds: On Jan. 4, 13 memoranda of understanding were signed with organizations run abroad but managed by NRIs to provide better living conditions to Indians settled abroad.

The state government entered into a MoU with Ashook Ramsaran, president of the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin, for forming a forum of NRIs from UP.

With Rajesh Chandra of South Pacific University, the state government entered into an MoU for sharing of information, telecommunication and technology.

MoUs were signed with the Canada-based Indo-Canadian Chamber of Commerce, the Sharjah-based Indian Trade Exhibition Center, Dubai's Indian Business Council, Nadeem Akther's Education Society, India Association of Japan, North America's UP Association, WTC Noida Development Company, HDFC and ICICI banks, among others.

Among the awardees of the ‘UP Ratna’ awards were former Trinidad and Tobago prime minister Basdeo Pandey; Global Organization of People of Indian Origin president Rajendra Tiwari; Ashook Ramsaran, president of Global Organization of People of Indian Origin International; Ataat Khan, chief executive officer at ClearPath Orthodontics; and S.N. Singh, senior material scientist.

Also honored were singer Alka Bhatnagar; Rajen Prasad, member of the New Zealand Labor Party; educationist Nadeem Akhtar; Indian American entrepreneur Talat F. Hasan; Nandini Tandon, for her contributions in the heath sector; Suman Kapoor, social activist from New Zealand; Krishan Kumar, president of the Asian Association of Physicians of Indian Origin; and Rajesh Chandra of South Pacific University.

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