Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday announced that people of Indian origin in Israel will get the Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cards even if they have undergone the compulsory army service. While addressing the Indian diaspora at Tel Aviv Convention Centre, PM Modi also announced the launch of direct flight services between Delhi, Mumbai and Tel Aviv. “I encourage the Indian community here to visit India,” he said while talking about having better people-to-people relations between the two nations.
“I know there are problems being faced by the people of Indian origin in getting the OCI cards,” he said before adding that the Indian government has “simplified the rules” and even those who have undergone the compulsory military service in Israel will get the OCI cards. Modi also said an Indian cultural centre would be set-up in Israel.
Speaking on the cultural ties between India and Israel, Modi added that the Jewish nation had links with India dating back to centuries. He also took a swipe at the previous governments by mentioning that “questions are being raised” why it took 70 years for an Indian PM to visit Israel. “For the first time in 70 years, an Indian prime minister has landed here to seek your blessings,” he said amid cheers.
Hailing Israel for its innovations and scientific advancements, PM said the Jewish nation has been an example of how it is the “spirit that matters” and not the size or number. He also paid his tribute to former Israeli prime minister Shimon Peres. Modi also spoke about his meeting with 11-year-old Moshe Holtzberg that happened earlier on Wednesday. Moshe, lost his parents during the Mumbai terror attack of 2008 and was saved by an Indian nanny. His story is an example of how life succeeds over terrorism, Modi said.