In these times of economic slowdown, Indian companies, especially real estate firms, are looking at diaspora in the Middle East for investment.
The government kick-started a series of “investment meets” last week in Muscat that had major Indian firms hard selling India’s economic stability to the diaspora.
The Muscat meeting, held under the aegis of the overseas Indian affairs ministry on November 12, is the first in over 16 such meetings to be held in the Middle East, UK and US.
These countries account for the bulk of the Indian diaspora. According to Col Harmeet Singh Sethi, head of the Overseas Indian Facilitation Centre (OIFC), the Indian government and business groups will target areas in the Middle East that remain largely ignored but represent big money including Sharjah, Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Bahrain.
According to Sethi, real estate, education and wealth management are key areas where India is looking for investment and support from the diaspora. One of the major obstacles in this area is the bureaucracy and red tapism. “We were told that India is rated the 83rd most difficult place to do business in. There were reservations expressed by business people there who are interested in investing in India but we were able to allay their fears to a large extent,” Sethi said.
The meeting included biggies like DLF, Career Launcher and Kotak Mahindra.
The investor tete-a-tete comes close on the heels of PM Manmohan Singh’s trip to Oman where he asked Gulf nations to invest in Indian infrastructure and help the country register 9% growth.
India is now looking at big-ticket investments in areas like infrastructure, healthcare, education, assisted living, wealth management and real estate.
Indians send the highest amount of remittances back home, beating even China. India has now captured one-tenth of global remittance flows with total remittances from overseas Indians growing steadily from $2.1 billion in 1990-1991 to $27.1 billion in 2006-2007.
But investment from the diaspora lags behind. Sources said the ministry of overseas Indian affairs was keen to convert this emotional bond into a financially productive one.