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Indian Americans can help India realise its full potential and how to deal with Challenges in a better manner

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A Indian Woman holding Flag (Representational Image), Pixabay
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– by Frank Islam

May 4, 2017: In 2010, during his first visit to India, President Barack Obama proclaimed: “I believe that India and America are indispensable partners in meeting the challenges of their times.”

I agree wholeheartedly with the assessment and feel strongly that Indian Americans can play a key role in strengthening that partnership and helping India achieve its full potential.

Because of their accomplishments in the United States and understanding of India, Indian Americans are uniquely positioned to step forward and provide assistance to address pressing issues in their mother country.

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Consider the following remarkable statistics reported by Indiaspora, a non-profit organisation based in San Francisco with a mission of transforming the success of Indian-Americans into meaningful impact worldwide:

* Highest household income of any ethnic group in the US — $100,000 versus a national average of $51,000

* 32% have Bachelors degrees versus 18% for the US overall

* 38% have advanced degrees versus 10% for the US overall

These numbers reveal the potential that Indian-Americans have to help India achieve its full potential. They can make a substantial contribution in any number of areas.

To maximise their involvement, I recommend that Indian Americans align their investments of time, talent and money in the areas discussed as part of the India-US Strategic and Commercial Dialogue.

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The Dialogue was established by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Obama during the latter’s visit in 2015 as the chief guest at the Republic Day parade. Simultaneously, a business roundtable comprising Modi, Obama, senior government officials and prominent CEOs from both countries was convened. I had the privilege to participate in that roundtable as one of the US representatives.

The roundtable provided initial inputs to the Dialogue, the first of which was held in September 2015 and the second in 2016.

The Dialogue develops position statements in a wide range of policy areas. Some of the promising areas are:

* Innovation and Entrepreneurship through the Start-up India initiative to further collaboration between Indian and US start-ups, venture capitalists and other stakeholders.

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* Commerce, Economy and Growth: One focal point is helping small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to spur growth and create jobs across India. A priority here is to create a platform for sharing best practices and technology with SMEs and helping them access financing to participate in global supply chains.

* Smart Cities Cooperation: India has launched an ambitious smart cities initiative, which aims to develop more than a hundred smart cities. In the most recent dialogue, emphasis was placed on continuing reverse trade missions to look at smart solutions for these respective cities.

* Health: One of the heathcare priorities in this broad category is the control of infectious diseases and the initiation of programmes on vaccines for TB, dengue, and respiratory syncytial virus through public-private partnerships.

* Education: An education priority is “to increase cooperation in all higher education areas, including … vocational training, technical and professional education and philanthropy in higher education.” Because of the difference that education can make, higher education is one of my personal priorities for philanthropic investment.

Indian Americans have the character, capacity and competence to be leaders in addressing the pivotal areas identified and in many other areas as well. In fact, many are already doing so.

I know numerous Indian American groups and individuals who are extending a hand to help India achieve its full potential. I urge more Indian Americans to join them as allies in this most important joint venture between Indian Americans and their counterparts in India. (IANS)

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World’s Anti-Corruption Day

The U.S. Statement Department said in its Friday statement that it pledges "to continue working with our partners to prevent and combat corruption worldwide."

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Anti-Corruption
Bulgarian anti-corruption protesters march during a demonstration in downtown Sofia, VOA

Corruption costs the world economy $2.6 trillion each year, according to the United Nations, which is marking International Anti-Corruption Day on Sunday.

“Corruption is a serious crime that can undermine social and economic development in all societies. No country, region or community is immune,” the United Nations said.

The cost of $2.6 trillion represents more than 5 percent of global GDP.

The world body said that $1 trillion of the money stolen annually through corruption is in the form of bribes.

Patricia Moreira, the managing director of Transparency International, told VOA that about a quarter of the world’s population has paid a bribe when trying to access a public service over the past year, according to data from the Global Corruption Barometer.

Moreira said it is important to have such a day as International Anti-Corruption Day because it provides “a really tremendous opportunity to focus attention precisely on the challenge that is posed by corruption around the world.”

Journalist, Anti-Corruption
An activist places candles and flowers on the Great Siege monument, after rebuilding a makeshift memorial to assassinated anti-corruption journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, in Valletta, Malta. VOA

Anti-corruption commitments

To mark the day, the United States called on all countries to implement their international anti-corruption commitments including through the U.N. Convention against Corruption.

In a statement Friday, the U.S. State Department said that corruption facilitates crime and terrorism, as well as undermines economic growth, the rule of law and democracy.

“Ultimately, it endangers our national security. That is why, as we look ahead to International Anticorruption Day on Dec. 9, we pledge to continue working with our partners to prevent and combat corruption worldwide,” the statement said.

Moreira said that data about worldwide corruption can make the phenomena understandable but still not necessarily “close to our lives.” For that, we need to hear everyday stories about people impacted by corruption and understand that it “is about our daily lives,” she added.

She said those most impacted by corruption are “the most vulnerable people — so it’s usually women, it’s usually poor people, the most marginalized people in the world.”

Anti-Corruption
Anna Hazare raised his voice against corruption and went ahead with his hunger strike at the Jantar Mantar in New Delhi. Wikimedia Commons

The United Nations Development Program notes that in developing countries, funds lost to corruption are estimated at 10 times the amount of official development assistance.

What can be done to fight corruption?

The United Nations designated Dec. 9 as International Anti-Corruption Day in 2003, coinciding with the adoption of the United Nations Convention against Corruption by the U.N. General Assembly.

The purpose of the day is to raise awareness about corruption and put pressure on governments to take action against it.

Tackling the issue

Moreira said to fight corruption effectively it must be tackled from different angles. For example, she said that while it is important to have the right legislation in place to curb corruption, governments must also have mechanisms to enforce that legislation. She said those who engage in corruption must be held accountable.

“Fighting corruption is about providing people with a more sustainable world, with a world where social justice is something more of our reality than what it has been until today,” she said.

Anti-Corruption
It is important to have the right legislation in place to curb corruption

Moreira said change must come from a joint effort from governments, public institutions, the private sector and civil society.

The U.S. Statement Department said in its Friday statement that it pledges “to continue working with our partners to prevent and combat corruption worldwide.”

It noted that the United States, through the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Agency for International Development, helps partner nations “build transparent, accountable institutions and strengthen criminal justice systems that hold the corrupt accountable.”

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Moreira said that it is important for the world to see that there are results to the fight against corruption.

“Then we are showing the world with specific examples that we can fight against corruption, [that] yes there are results. And if we work together, then it is something not just that we would wish for, but actually something that can be translated into specific results and changes to the world,” she said. (VOA)