An NRI should be made the Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs in the next government, a leading organisation of Indian-Americans has said here.
Chairman of the United States India Political Action Committee (USINPAC) Sanjay Puri said that this would help the government connect with the 29-million strong Indian diaspora better.
The convention of appointing someone from Kerala or Gujarat as the Overseas Indian Affairs Minister should be stopped and instead an NRI should be given the chance, he said. "...in India you appoint somebody (as Overseas Indian Affairs Minister) from Kerala, they focus on middle-east. You appoint somebody from Gujarat, they will focus on the United States. Appoint somebody who has got a broader perspective of NRIs.
"Appoint somebody from the diaspora who can be an NRI minister. Somebody who understands their problems. Somebody who really knows what an NRI needs and wants...," he said.
Puri, a recognised authority on US-India relations, said this when he was asked what is the expectation of Non-Resident Indians from the new government to be formed at the Centre in May after the ongoing elections.
"You bring an NRI and give him award. Why don't you give him a Rajya Sabha seat? There are so many qualified people," he said, adding just bringing the NRIs to Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas and giving them awards is not enough and the government should look into their problems.
"They sit in consulates for days with frustration, trying to understand the crazy rules. You have a 29 million-strong diaspora. 29 million assets you have around the world," Puri said.
He said a large number of Indian doctors are working abroad and they are ready to come and do service at least once or twice a month in the country's poor tribal villages which lack basic health infrastructure, but bureaucracy is an obstruction that stands in the way.
"For outsiders, the hardest thing to do in this country is to do charity. Because it gets stuck in the bureaucracy. You cannot do charity," he said.
USINPAC is an independent, bipartisan political action committee representing over 2.7 million Indian-Americans.