To tap the potential of non-resident Kannadigas (NRKs) for the development of the state and address their needs and concerns, the Karnataka state government has unveiled a new "Karnataka NRI Policy," aimed at wooing non-resident Kannadigas. The policy was released on the 5th of January 2017 by the Chief Minister, Mr. Siddaramaiah. The policy will be valid for five years.
While speaking at a recently held press briefing in New Delhi, the newly appointed Deputy Chairperson of the ‘NRI Forum Karnataka,’ Ms. Arathi Krishna, had this to say: “Karnataka has taken several leadership initiatives in bringing-in NRI Investments into Karnataka. The Government has been a role model for other states on how to engage with NRI investors and strengthen our relationship with them. The key success of the state in attracting investors is exemplified by the innovativeness in creating opportunities and nurturing investors by giving them all that is required for faster and scalable growth”. The NRI Forum of Karnataka will implement the policy unvieled by the CM through coordinating with various government departments. The government has already constituted a high-level departmental monitoring committee to implement the policy, which has adopted the vision and mission of playing a catalytic role in building sustainable linkages between the Karnataka State and Non-Resident Kannadigas across the globe to build a progressive, vibrant and prosperous Karnataka. The new state NRI policy aims at providing:
Exclusive NRI/NRK investment promotion cell: Karnataka state will offer a special package of incentives and concessions to NRKs who come up with investment proposals worth INR 250 crore each. The policy also envisages issuing NRK cards to provide them a unique identity. The card will be linked to leading banks and corporate houses to provide special value privileges to NRKs, like discounts at hotels, jewellery showrooms and hospitals. The card will also help them get speedy services from various government departments. Per Karnatka Industries Minister R V Deshpande, an exclusive NRI/NRK investment promotion cell will also be established at the Karnataka Udyog Mitra for speedy clearance of investment proposals.
Building business incubation centres for budding NRI entrepreneurs: The government will offer business incubation centres to encourage entrepreneurship among NRIs/NRKs. These incubation centres will be provided at special monthly rentals for one year in association with the IT&BT and the Science & Technology department.
Providing support services to workers who intend to go abroad for employment: The policy also envisages addressing issues relating to dissemination of the information on opportunities in overseas markets, skilling, and will encourage Kannadigas to take up overseas employment, along with pre-departure orientation.
Creating a comprehensive database of NRIs/NRKs Diaspora: It is proposed to set up and create a comprehensive database of NRIs/NRKs. An interactive cloud-based portal is to be developed to house information on individuals and associations across the globe. An e-directory of registered members will also be available on the site.
Building brand Bengaluru: In July 2016, the state government had formed a 10-member Bengaluru Tourism Advisory Committee (BTAC) to work-out an action plan for creating “Brand Bengaluru,” and exploit tourism and investment potential while also promoting art and culture, attracting projects under Public-Private Partnerships and engaging in inter-city-cooperation concepts. The recently concluded PBD is seen as an extension to this initiative.
Welfare services to NRIs/NRKs returning home: The NRI forum, in association with District NRIs/NRKs Welfare Committees, will extend all possible assistance to NRIs/NRKs who relocate to Karnataka and facilitate help in the change of their residential status, taxation implications, foreign currency non-resident (fcnr) issues etc.
Legal Aid Centre: The NRI Forum, in collaboration with Ministry of External Affairs, and in consultation with Karnataka Legal Services Authority, would jointly extend all possible legal services to NRIs/NRKs in distress during their overseas employment period.
Encourage Kannada Kootas all over the world: Kannadigas would be encouraged to form Kannada Kootas in every region of their respective countries of their stay, to promote and preserve Kannada language, culture and the arts, as well as connect with others.
Promotion of Kannada and Karnataka’s festivities among NRIs/NRKs: The NRI forum will develop self-learning material and would host it on its website to facilitate NRIs/NRKs and their Children who have not received formal Kannada Education to get connected to their mother tongue and get certification of proficiency in the Kannada language.
NRIs/NRKs Support Service Centre: The state NRI Forum will associate itself with the Overseas Workers Resource Centre (OWRC) Helpdesk, which is operational 24 x 7 x 365 to attend to queries in eleven (11) languages: Hindi, English, Punjabi, Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu, Gujarati, Marathi, Odia, Kannada, and Bengali, through a toll free number, viz., 1800-11-3090 in India – and +91-124-2341002 for Indian emigrants working overseas. Additionally, the Government of Karnataka will also identify and felicitate one outstanding individual in every alternate year of PBD, with the title ‘NRK of the Year’. Structured exchange programs will also be organized to promote art, yoga and cultural activities.
Importantly, the Forum, originally set up in 2008, has been playing a key role in strengthening linkages between the state and its Diaspora, apart from motivating them to bring in investments to their home state. The PBD 2017 held in Bengaluru, analysts feel, has opened many doors of opportunities for start-ups in terms of commitments for investments and collaborations. The Karnataka government also expects to create multiple corridors with countries such as Portugal and Suriname, whose top officials also attended the PBD event. “A lot of interest has been generated because of our IT policy and the multi-sector start-up policy”, said Karnataka's Minister for Tourism and IT/BT Priyank Kharge.