New Delhi, Nov 1 (IANS) With demands for affordable education for wards of overseas Indians growing, India has revived the idea of a university to cater to this need, with Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi giving a pledge at the mini Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) in Mauritius.
Though the contours of the university, its courses and structure is to be worked out, Ravi told IANS in an interview here that the institution may have affiliate colleges across the world, so as to enable the children of non-resident Indians (NRIs) to get education at an affordable cost.
"We announced an NRI University at the mini PBD (in Mauritius), and we decided to establish the university in India," Ravi said at his Akbar Bhavan office.
The Mauritius event was held Oct 26-28 in the Indian Ocean island nation.
The idea of an NRI university, which was to be set up in Bangalore three years ago, had run into rough weather after a case against its establishment was filed in a court.
"We had decided to establish it in Bangalore. But it has been postponed," he said, referring to the court case. To ensure that the new university plan does not get into trouble, Ravi said the ministry wanted it to be established under Indian laws.
"Now my task is to establish the NRI university - meant largely for overseas Indian students - to work under the rules and regulations of the Indian laws. I don't want someone to go to court again. We had to stop earlier because somebody went to court. I do not want that to happen."
Though the university will be for NRIs, only 50 percent of the seats will be reserved for them. The rest will be filled up by resident Indians, he said.
Asked why Mauritius was chosen to have the mini PBD this year, Ravi said the original plan was to have the event in one of the Gulf countries.
"But since we have the PBD in January next year at Kochi in Kerala, where Mauritius President Rajkeswur Purryag will be the chief guest, we expect an enthusiastic participation from Gulf countries where a large number of persons from Kerala live.
"So we requested Maurutius to host the mini PBD, which is held with a definitive purpose of reaching out to people of Indian origin in the host country and from nations nearby," he said.
Apart from Mauritius, where almost 80 percent of the 1.1-million population is of Indian origin, the sixth edition of the mini PBD at Port Louis saw participation from many African countries and island nation states in the Indian Ocean with Indian populations.
"It was received well by the Mauritius government and the people of Mauritius. With all enthusiasm, they accepted it, have done it and made it a success. I could see the enthusiasm of their government and their people. I had to stop the registration, as it crossed 1,000 and there was no place to sit," Ravi said about the event.
The Mauritius mini PBD saw discussions on overseas Indians' challenges and issues concerning their well-being and connections with their motherland.
"Apart from education, the major issue they raised was lack of travel facilities. They want connectivity with India. Air India (official Indian carrier) can do a lot in this regard. I am writing to the civil aviation minister in this regard... Not only on connectivity to Mauritius, but also to other parts of the world," he said.
"The advantage of this kind of mini PBD is that it will send a message to Indians abroad that India will come to them for this kind of conferences and interact with the ordinary people, and they get encouragement to think about their ancestral linkages and that India has concerns about them," Ravi added.
There are an estimated 20 million Indians or people of Indian origin in the world, the largest diaspora after the Chinese.