Tapping South Asia's diaspora to boost development

Tapping South Asia's diaspora to boost development

South Asian countries have had the potential to do well for more than 40 years. But they have yet to deliver results in many areas.

What has gone wrong? What needs to be done? And by whom?

Setting a cat among the pigeons at a recent convention, Professor Kishore Mahbubani, the dean of the Singapore Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, said the gap between India's potential and its actual performance is huge.

If India's population of over one billion could achieve only half of the per capita income of Indian immigrants in the United States, India's GDP would be US$24.65 trillion (S$30.9 trillion) instead of a trifling US$1.85 trillion last year, a figure that is lower than Italy's.

"India has a wonderfully open society - but as a nation, a very closed mind," he said.

Imagine, lead and champion globalisation. Do not fear it, he told his audience.

Joining the debate, Indian business leaders said what was lacking in India was innovative and pro-active leadership in state governments.

States with these dynamic leaders were seeing good results. One example is the chief minister of Madhya Pradesh, Mr Shivraj Singh Chouhan. He personally visits interested investors in their offices, asking what he could do to help.

How the diaspora can kick-start South Asia's much needed projects on the economy, infrastructure and education was discussed at a South Asian diaspora convention that ended last Friday. Organised by the Institute of South Asian Studies, it was held at Suntec Singapore.

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