13th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas

Opportunities await you in India, Modi tells NRIs at Pravasi Bhartiya Divas
Gandhinagar, Jan 8, 2015, (PTI)
PM Modi gestures upon arrival at inauguration ceremony of the thirteenth Overseas Indians Conference at Gandhinagar. Reuters
Seeking deeper engagement of the Indian diaspora for the country’s growth, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said a whole lot of possibilities were awaiting them in India as it has “risen” with new strength.

In his address at the 13th Pravasi Bhartiya Divas here which marked the 100th anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi’s return to India from South Africa, he said the whole world was looking at India with great expectations and what was needed was confidence and capability.

Describing Indian diaspora as “great capital” for the country, the Prime Minister appealed to the community of over 25 million people living in over 200 countries to help transform the nation.

“I am convinced that people of Indian origin are our capital and strength,” he said adding that, “if we focus on this segment, we can create a lot of respect for the country globally”.

Making it clear that it is not only the “Pound Sterling and the Dollars” that the government is interested in, Modi asked the diaspora to help in transforming India.

“Those who want to work, there is a lot you can do,” he said, citing the example of a young Muslim girl of Indian origin born in an African nation and settled in Canada, who stayed in Kutch for months to help with the post-earthquake rehabilitation work in 2001.

Referring to merging of the PIO and OCI cards through a recent Ordinance and extending visa on arrival facilities for several countries, Modi said his government has fulfilled the promises made to them.

“There used to be a time when you left your beloved country to explore opportunities in different parts of the world…Now I want to assure you that lot many possibilities are awaiting you as time is changing rapidly and India has risen with new strength,” Modi said to around 4,000 members of the diaspora.

President of Guyana Donald R Ramotar, South Africa’s International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and IT and Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel were among those present at the event.

Invoking Gandhi, Modi said his philosophies and teachings continue to inspire the world when it comes to humane development and resolving various problems facing the world.

“When it comes to development while keeping humanity at its core, there is nothing greater than Mahatma Gandhi’s philosophies,” he said.

Exhorting the diaspora to participate in the Clean Ganga initiative, he said the exercise is not only important from religious and environmental perspectives but also key to economic development of 40 per cent of India’s population.

Modi said after becoming Prime Minister he had the opportunity to meet over 50 Heads of State and all wanted greater engagement with India.

“The world is looking forward to embracing us,” he said, adding it is now the duty of Indians to prove equal to the expectations of the world with confidence.

Modi appeared to take a dig at previous UPA government over its lack of enthusiasm to the annual event which was launched by then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 2003.

“You did not feel like attending the event. Some people would come because they had to and some people came because they could not help but come,” the Prime Minister said, adding that he remained a regular at the event because of his conviction in its significance.

Modi said the annual event has great significance and it should not be measured in terms of investment only as he referred to the emotional bond between India and its diaspora.

“Some people feel that this relation with the pravasis is driven by expectations, I think meeting our own people is a pleasure in itself,” he said.

Talking about issues relating to Overseas Indians, he said a mechanism for travel authorisation through electronic means have been put in place to ease travel to India by the diaspora community.

“Now you can do this through online correspondence so that your time is saved and our embassy could be most useful to you,” he said.

Modi said the rule requiring PIO card holders to visit the local police station for verification every week has been done away with. “This decision shows how much this government values your self respect and dignity.”

The Prime Minister also referred to declaration of June 21 as the World Yoga Day by the United Nations following up on his proposal.

“The fact that 177 out of 193 UN member countries supported the Indian proposal and the UN making the announcement within 100 days is a small reflection on how the world is ready to embrace India,” he said.

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