Underlining the strength of the country’s diversity and the importance of the Indian diaspora abroad, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Saturday said that “if there’s any place in the world where democracy is most strong, vibrant and alive, it is India”. Across the world, he said, there’s a growing trust in the “social and political leadership” of Indian-origin people.
Modi made these remarks in his inaugural address to the 16th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas convention, three days after a mob supporting US President Donald Trump’s repeated attempts to overturn the outcome of the US elections stormed the Capitol. US Vice President-elect Kamala Harris is of Indian origin – her mother was from India and her father from Jamaica.
Hailing the significant contribution of the Indian diaspora, Modi praised Suriname President Chandrikapersad ‘Chan’ Santokhi, the chief guest at the function, for his “warm words and affection for India’’. He said Santokhi was a “shining example” of the trust reposed in people of Indian-origin.
He said at a time when India was moving to become atmanirbhar (self-reliant), the Indian diaspora had an important role in strengthening the identity of Brand India. He urged them to use Make-in-India products more and more, saying it will increase trust in these products. “It can be anything, from tea to textile to therapy. I am happy to see the attention khadi is getting across the world. Not only will you be increasing the volume of Indian exports, but you will also be taking our rich diversity to the world. What is most important is that, as part of the Atmanirbhar Bharat campaign, you will be instrumental in reaching affordable and quality solutions to the poorest of the world,” he said.
On the Covid vaccine, he said India is “ready to protect humanity with not one but two corona vaccines made in India”. He said, “As the pharmacy of the world, India has delivered essential medicines to every needy person in the world in the past, and is still doing it. Today, the world is not only waiting for India’s vaccine, but it is also keeping a watch on how India runs the world’s largest vaccination programme.”
In his address to the convention, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar called for greater participation of the diaspora in building a self-reliant India. The experience of the pandemic, he said, has driven home the need for more trusted, resilient, reliable and redundant supply chains.
“Involving the diaspora in that endeavour is natural,” Jaishankar said as they “have always been enthusiastic contributors to nation-building”, “can bring to bear resources, technology, best practices and innovations” as “high achievers” and “help in giving this ambitious exercise a truly global footprint”.
He said a “bold scheme of production-linked incentives in 13 key sectors offers the potential of transforming manufacturing in the country” and “it would have direct consequences for employment and inclusiveness”.
Engagement with the world is fundamental to our beliefs and traditions, he said, adding that during the pandemic, “we not only brought back our own people home, but those of neighbours as well” and as “we now look at the supply of vaccines” India will “live up fully” to its international responsibilities.
Speaking at the session, Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan said that with its population of 1.3 billion, and one of the largest diaspora in the world, India can play an effective role in the post-Covid space.
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