Gandhigar, January 8: Prime Minister rendra Modi on Thursday said the world was looking at India with “immense hope and optimism”, and he firmly believed the 25–million strong Indian diaspora was a big strength.
India can make a global impact by reaching out to them, Modi said here at the iuguration of the 13th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD), the world’s largest annual gathering of people of Indian origin.
Modi also said that he had fulfilled his promise to the diaspora of merging the Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) and Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) cards.
“I can say with pride that what I have promised I have done,” he said on the merger of the two cards and granting of lifelong visas to the holders. His statement ignited loud cheers at the Mahatma Mandir convention venue.
He called upon the Indian diaspora to unite as a positive global force.
Modi recalled that exactly 100 years ago, a Non–Resident Indian, Mahatma Gandhi, returned to India to serve the people. Today, he said, he was welcoming NRIs from across the world as a Non–Resident Gujarati.
The event is being held in Gandhigar Jan 7–9 to mark the centery of the return to the country of India’s “sarva sreshtha pravasi Bharatiya” or foremost Indian diaspora member, Mahatma Gandhi, from South Africa.
The prime minister said NRIs were present in more than 200 countries.
“India is global because of you,” he told the gathering. He said Indians had travelled in the past around the world in search of opportunities or to gain knowledge and exposure.
“Today, opportunities beckon you in India,” he said.
He said the world was looking at India with hope and optimism and times were changing quickly. India, he said, was rising with great strength.
The prime minister called upon NRIs to forge and take pride in a common identity and heritage, and to use this strength collectively.
Modi said he had met representatives of 50 countries since assuming office in May last year, and he could say with confidence that all tions today feel that their goals can be met in partnership with India.
This, he said, was a rare opportunity and it was now upto everyone to use this opportunity for India’s benefit.
He mentioned the support of 177 of the 193 tions to India’s resolution at the UN on declaring an Intertiol Day of Yoga.
He urged the diaspora to contribute to India’s success in any way possible.
He mentioned the project to clean river Ganga and make it a source of economic empowerment for 40 percent of India’s population. He said he was sure all NRIs would be inspired to contribute to this cause.
Earlier, he welcomed Guya President Dold Ramotar, South African Foreign Minister Maite Nkoa–Mashabane and Mauritius Vice Prime Minister Showkutally Soodhun who were on the dais with him.
He recalled how festivals like Holi and Diwali were celebrated in Guya. He said Jan 8 also happened to be the founding day of the African tiol Congress.
He said Mahatma Gandhi’s birth anniversary was observed in Mauritius with greater vigour than even in India. A PBD Kendra is coming up in New Delhi and would be iugurated soon, he said. Modi proposed an online quiz competition for the diaspora youth on the subject “Bharat Ko Jano” (Know India). (IANS)