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New Delhi: It is what you may call charity with benefit. Indians, staying in the US, could in next three months avail tax concession on the money they will spend on social welfare projects at their native places in India.

Under the 'India Development Foundation for Overseas Indians', an initiative of ministry of overseas Indians, they will get tax exemption if they want to build schools, primary health centres and other infrastructure in their villages and places of origin in India.

The ministry has already started the process of registering the foundation in the US and it will be in place in next three months, overseas Indian affairs minister Vayalar Ravi said in an interview.

After the US, the ministry will register the foundation in other countries, including the UK and the Gulf. According to official data, there are about 24 million Indians overseas.

The foundation, a 'not-for-profit' trust being set up under the Indian Trust Act, 1882, by the ministry, will be the nodal agency to implement the projects across the country in cooperation with state governments and selected NGOs.

Designed to help in rural infrastructure development, the minister said his ministry would not only target millionaires or rich NRIs for contribution but the average Indian diaspora who want to give back to the society.

"I want the ordinary NRIs, those who can contribute $1,000 a year, to contribute to the corpus. Your village or your panchayat may not have a primary health centre or a primary school, no buildings maybe. So, you can jointly contribute and say specifically what you want," Ravi said.

The fund would be concentrated on two issues - hospitals and primary school buildings - and may be self-help groups at a later stage.

"Our aim is to mobilise resources of overseas Indians. There are thousands and lakhs of places where there is no school and primary health centres. The contributions will be utilised for building schools, health centres and for encouraging micro credit," Ravi said.

The setting up of the foundation was announced by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh while inaugurating the sixth Pravasi Bharatiya Divas at New Delhi on January 8, 2008.


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