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Growing Number of Non-Resident Indians are Giving Back to Their Native Villages

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From NRIs with love: barber shops, gyms and crematoriums

Article posted on The Times of India by  4 January 2013

CHANDIGARH: Even as Punjab awaits multi-dollar investments in new industries from its cash-rich NRIs settled across the globe, a few baby steps of philanthropy by the members of the Punjabidiaspora are ushering in a new hope of altruism.

According to a state-run scheme ” Mera Pind“, at least 100 NRIs have contributed to several projects aimed at improving the standard of living of the people in their native villages. If Rs 5.25 lakh investments have poured in for a health club in Palli Jhikki village in Nawanshahr, Rs 10 lakh have been contributed for building an eye hospital in Hoshiarpur. Even crematoriums, worth Rs 40 lakh, have been built in Jalandhar and Moga.

Some NRIs have opened barber shops and offered software content for teaching like Encarta and Britannica CDs. In two years, ever since the inception of scheme in March 2010, the total investment has gone beyond Rs 11.40 crores.

The scheme has been implemented on the basis of 50% share from NRI and matching grant share from the government of Punjab.

Punjabi NRIs have often been criticized for bringing no investment to their home state, when Gujarat managed to garner $450 billion investment during the annual Vibrant Gujarat convention for NRIs last year.

However, the villages are yet to see an investment on Punjab’s two big issues involving drug and cancer. Experts also believe that setting up of industries in the much-desired sectors like power and oil only can help change the investment sentiment for NRIs in Punjab.

“Investment will come where there are profits. They need to find such industries that can solve the crisis of power or fuel here,” says Dr Pramod Kumar, chairman, Punjab social development reforms commission.

The government now plans to discuss the charity largely in education and health sectors.

“It’s heartening to see some NRIs get magnanimous. We are going to offer more such communal projects such as opening a school, setting up community bio-gas generation plant, carrying out road repairs, improving sewerage system and so on to them,” said Punjab NRI minister Bikram Majithia.

 

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