My best wishes to all of you on the occasion of Pravasi Bhartiya Day. In this tradition of Pravasi Divas, this first Pravasi Parliamentarian Conference is adding a new chapter today. I extend a warm welcome to all the friends who have come from North America, South America, Africa, Europe, Asia, Pacific region and also from all corners of the world.
Welcome to India! Welcome Home!
Your ancestors, your old memories are connected to different parts of the country. Some of your ancestors went abroad for business and education. Some of them were forcibly taken out of the country while some others were taken out of the country by using allurement. They might have physically left this place but they had left a part of their soul, their mind on this land. And that is why when you land on any airport of India then those parts of their souls feel delighted by seeing you on this land.
At that time your throat gets choked, some emotions want to express themselves in the form of tears. You people try your best to control outpouring of those emotions but you don’t succeed. Your eyes become moist due to tears but they also lit up due to your visit to India. I can understand your feelings. This affection, this love, this respect, the scent of air of this place, that smell of this land, I bow down to that part because of which it is there. We all can imagine that how happy your ancestors would be by seeing you here today. Wherever they might be, they will be the happiest to see you on this land.
India never went out of the hearts of those people who went out of India during the last hundreds of year. They kept alive Indian civilization and values in whichever part of the world they settled. And it’s not surprising that wherever the people of Indian origin settled they adopted that place as their home by fully integrating with it.
While on the one hand they kept alive Indian values within themselves, and on the other they fully integrated themselves with the language, with the food and attires of that country.
People of Indian origin have left their impressions in the fields of sports, arts and cinema on global platform. If I talk about politics then I can see that how a mini-world parliament of people of Indian origin before my eyes. Today, the people of Indian origin are Prime Ministers of Mauritius, Portugal and Ireland. People of Indian origin have occupied the offices of heads of state and heads of government in several countries. It is a matter of great pride for us that the former President of Guyana Shri Bharat Jagdev ji is today present here with us. All of you distinguished people have also been playing important roles in the politics of your countries.
India - the motherland of your ancestors are proud of you. Your achievements and successes are a matter of pride and respect for us. When the media reports the news of you people assuming an office or even news of filing of nomination by you people then it has a great readership and viewership in India. How you people are affecting the geo politics of entire region, how you people have been formulating the policies of your respective countries, people in India read these stories with great interest. They also discuss these developments here like: look, one of us has occupied that high office. You people deserve praise for giving us this happiness, for making us proud.
Brothers and sisters,
You people have been living in different countries for such a long time. You would have experienced that in the last three-four years that the approach about India has changed. There is a greater focus about India; the approach of the world towards us has been changing. The main reason behind this thing is that India itself is changing, it has been transforming itself. And in addition to the changes at economic and social levels, this change has also come about at the level of ideas as well. India has come a long way from this kind of thinking that: ‘nothing will change; it will continue to run the way it has been; nothing is going to happen.' This time the hopes and expectations of Indians are at the highest level. You will see a complete transformation in the systems; you will see the impact of an irreversible change in every sector.
- India received an unprecedented FDI of $60 billion in 2016-2017 as a result of this thing.
- Ease of Doing Business ranking has improved by 42 notches in the last 3 years.
- We have scaled 32 notches in the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index in the last 2 years.
- Our Global Innovation Index has improved by 21 notches in the last 2 years.
- Logistics Performance Index has improved by 19 points.
- Today, institutions like the World Bank, IMF and Moody’s have been looking at India in a very positive manner.
- More than half of the total investment in the sectors like construction, air transport, mining, computer – software and hardware, electrical equipments has come in the last 3 years alone.
All these things became possible only because we have been bringing about far reaching policy reforms in every sector of Indian economy. Our guiding principle is: ‘Reform to transform’. Our objective is to the make the entire system transparent and accountable. Our objective is to completely eradicate the corruption.
We have abolished the web of hundreds of taxes in the country through the GST - Goods and Services Tax - and integrated the country economically. There is not a single sector like Mining, Fertilizers, Textiles, Aviation, Health, Defense, Construction, Real Estate, and Food Processing, in which we have not brought in reforms.
Today, India is the youngest country of the world. Youth have unlimited dreams and expectations. The government has continuously been working so that they can channelize their energy in the right field, so that they can do business on their own.
Schemes like Skill India Mission, Start up Scheme, Stand up Scheme and Mudra Scheme have been started precisely for this reason. More than 10 crore loans have been sanctioned under the Mudra scheme for self-employment. More than Rs. 4 lakh crore have been disbursed to the people without any bank guarantee. This scheme alone has provided 3 crore new entrepreneurs to the country. The government has been increasing the investment in the infrastructure and transport sectors by keeping the requirements of the India of the 21st century in mind. This thing has been given special importance in the policy that what kind of logistics India will need in future. Highways, Railways, Airways, Waterways and ports are being developed in such a manner so that they are connected to each other and can support each other.
Today, new railway tracks in India have been laid at twice the speed. Doubling of tracks has been taking place at more than twice the speed. National highways have been built at twice the speed. More than double new renewable energy capacity has been connected to the grid.
While the cargo handling growth in the shipping industry was in negative earlier, in this government it has registered a growth of 11%. New employment opportunities are being generated due to all these efforts. Small scale industries are getting new work at local level. For example if we talk about Ujjwala scheme then it is not only limited to providing free gas connection to poor women. This scheme has given relief from kitchen smoke to more than three crore women. It has not only helped in making the states Kerosene free but has one more advantage also. New cooking gas dealers have been appointed and the number of gas delivery men has gone up after the launch of Ujjwala scheme. It means that that in addition to social reforms the economic empowerment of society is also taking place.
Brothers and sisters,
Our culture which believes that the whole world is a family has given a lot to the world. When I have gone to the United Nations for the first time then I have put forward the proposal of having an International Yoga Day before the world. All of you are aware that not only within 75 days this proposal was cleared unanimously but it was co-sponsored by 177 countries. Today, the way millions and millions of people around the world celebrate 21st June as Yoga Day, it’s a matter of pride for you and for us.
This method of holistic living is a gift of rich traditions of India.
I, along with the President of France, have proposed to form an International Solar Alliance at the time of Paris agreement on climate change. Now it has become reality. We have been making a global platform for solar technology and financing with the help of solar rich countries.
This method of living by maintaining balance with the nature is also an Indian contribution for ages.
Brothers and sisters,
When an earthquake struck Nepal or when there was a flood in Sri Lanka or when there was a shortage of water in Maldives then India reached there as the first responder.
When there was a crisis in Yemen then we safely evacuated our 4,500 citizens, but we also evacuated 2,000 citizens of 48 other countries.
Protecting the human values even the times of grave crisis is part of Indian tradition of considering the entire world as one family.
In 2018, it will be hundred year of the World War I. More than 1.5 lakh Indian soldiers have sacrificed their lives in the first and second world wars. And it was when India was not directly involved with those wars. India did not have any interest in a single inch of land of any country in both the world wars. The world will have to recognize what a great sacrifice was made by India. And this tradition has continued even after the independence. India is one among those nations which make the maximum contribution to the UN peace keeping forces. This is India’s message of sacrifice to the world for human values and peace.
This renunciation of self-interest, this feeling of service and renunciation is our identity.
India has a special acceptance in the world due to this human value. And along with India, the society of people of Indian origin, you people also have a special acceptance.
Whenever I visit any country then I always try to meet with the people of Indian origin living in that country. And I was fortunate to meet some of you during such visits. And the biggest reason behind my effort is that I believe that if there are any permanent ambassadors for promoting India’s relations then these are the people of Indian origin. It is our constant endeavor that we should be in regular touch with non-resident Indians and continue to solve their problems.
Earlier there was a separate ministry for overseas Indians but we received the feedback from non-resident Indians that there was a problem of coordination with the ministry of external affairs. We merged both the ministries into one after getting feedback from you people. You would be aware that earlier there were two distinct schemes – PIO and OCI and most of the people were not even aware about the distinction between the two. We simplified the process and created one scheme by merging them.
Our Minister of External affairs, Sushma Swaraj Ji, not only keeps an eye on the problems of Indian citizens but she also keeps an eye on the people of Indian origin 24x7, you will find her very active. Under her leadership, Minister of External affairs has created a Madad portal for real time monitoring and extending help for consular grievances. At present, Pravasi Bhartiya Day has been organised in every alternate year. In addition to this, regional Pravasi Bhartiya Days have also been organised. Sushma Ji has just come back after participating in such a conference in Singapore.
Brothers and sisters,
Today, the building in which we all are present, this building has been dedicated to all of you – the people of Indian origin on the 2nd of October 2016. It is a matter of great happiness that in such a short span of time this centre has emerged as a hub for people of Indian origin. I will urge you people that you must visit the exhibition on the life of Mahatma Gandhi which has been organised here.
We have seen the result of these efforts aimed at connecting with the minds of overseas Indians in the quiz competition - Know India. More than 5,700 overseas Indian youths of over hundred countries participated in the competition. Their enthusiasm and attraction for India is very encouraging for all of us. While getting inspiration from them, this year we have been organizing the quiz even at a greater scale.
India also gets respect by your contribution in the development of your respective countries. And India’s progress and development result in the increased respect for overseas Indian community. We consider overseas Indians as our partners in our efforts for the development of India. Overseas Indians have been assigned a special place in the action agenda prepared for India’s development till 2020 by Niti Aayog.
Brothers and sisters,
Overseas Indians have several ways for contributing to India’s developmental journey. India is the largest recipient of overseas remittances in the world.
We are indebted to every Indian living abroad for making this important contribution in India’s economy. There is one more way for making investment in Indian economy. Today, if India is the most attractive destination for FDI in the world then the contribution of overseas Indians in creating awareness and facilitating this thing is immense. I think that given the importance that you people enjoy in your societies you can play the role of catalyst in this thing. In this context, the Diaspora of people of Indian origin can immensely contribute in promoting the tourism.
CEOs and leaders of some of the top world companies are our overseas Indians. They fully understand India’s economy. That is why we are grateful to them for their strong confidence in India’s developmental journey. Today, every Indian settled abroad considers him a stake-holder in India’s growth. And they want to become a part in this change; they want to shoulder their responsibility. They want to see the further rise of their country on the global stage. We are aware about the importance of your experience for bringing about social and economic changes of the country. A scheme called VAJRA means Visiting Adjunct Joint Research Faculty has been started so that your experience can help India.
You can work in Indian institutions for up to three months under this scheme.
Today, I appeal to all of you from this platform that you should associate yourselves with this scheme and also encourage Indians in your country to get associated with it. You will also feel good when your experience will benefit young generation of India. Nobody else has the kind of capacity that you people have to introduce India’s requirements, India’s strength and uniqueness to the world.
The values of Indian civilization and culture can guide the entire world in this chaotic environment. The concerns over the health care are on the rise in the world. And you can tell the world about your old tradition of holistic living. In such a time when the world community is getting divided in different ideologies and at different levels you can give the example of India’s inclusive philosophy of Sabka Sath – Sabka Vikas (With all, development of all) that takes along everyone. When the concerns over extremism and radicalization are on the rise in the world then you can reiterate Indian culture’s message of ‘amity between all religions.
All of you are aware that in 2019 a Kumbh Fair will be organised in Prayag-Allahabad. It is also a matter of pride for all of us that recently Kumbh fair was included in the UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list. Uttar Pradesh government has started its preparation on a comprehensive scale. I’d like to urge you people that when you visit India next year then you must come prepared to pay a visit to Prayag. If you tell other people in your country about this grand event then they will also become aware about this legacy of Indian culture.
Brothers and sisters,
The world is facing some huge challenges and in order to overcome them the ideas of Gandhi Ji are still relevant. Any dispute can be solved by following the path of non-violence and passive resistance. If there is any ideology that can counter extremism and radicalization then it is the ideology of Gandhi Ji; it’s the ideology of Indian values.
We want to move forward by joining hands with you in order to make a developed India and for realising the dream of a New India. In this conference we want to be benefit from your experience. We want to inform you about the development of a New India, we want to associate ourselves with you. Wherever you may be, in whichever country you might live, we want to become a partner in your developmental journey.
The 21st century is called Asian century. And India will certainly have an important role in it. Wherever you may be living, you will feel the impact of this role, will feel the impact of rising stature of India. We will be encouraged to work even harder when your heads are held high after witnessing India’s economic growth and rising power.
Brothers and sisters,
India is that country which has always played a positive role in the global arena. We have never assessed our policy towards any country on the scale of profit and loss but we saw it through the prism of human values.
Our model for giving developmental aid is not based on give and take. But it depends on the requirements and priorities of recipient countries. We neither have any intention to exploit anybody’s resources nor do we covet any country’s territory. Our focus has always been on capacity building and resource development. On every platform we have made efforts to move forward by taking everyone along be it a bilateral or multilateral platform, be it commonwealth or India-Africa Forum Summit or be it Forum for India–Pacific Islands Cooperation.
We have given a more strong shape to our already strong relations with ASEAN countries by taking forward our relations with them. The world will be able to see how strong India-ASEAN relations are in a few days from now on the occasion of Republic Day.
India has been supporter of happiness, peace, prosperity, democratic values, inclusiveness, cooperation and brotherhood in the entire world. These are the same values that connect you with your electorate as a people’s representative. This is our attempt and it is our commitment as well that India will continue to contribute for peace, progress and prosperity in the world.
Once again I express my heartfelt gratitude to you people for accepting our invitation and for taking time out from your busy schedules to attend this conference. I am confident that this conference will be successful due to your active participation. I hope that I will get another opportunity to meet you people in the Pravasi Bhartiya Divas next year.
Thank you very much.