External Affairs Minister’s Introductory Speech at the Session with Indian Achievers, Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 2015


The Minister of State for Statistics and Programme Implementation (I/C), External Affairs and Overseas Indian Affairs, General (Retd.) V.K. Singh addressing at the Plenary Session III of the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 2015, in Gandhinagar, Gujarat on January 08, 2015.


External Affairs Minister’s Introductory Speech at the Session with Indian Achievers, Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 2015 

Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 2015

Following is the text of the External Affairs Minister`s Introductory Speech at the Session with Indian Achievers, Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 2015


“I would like to begin this session on Indian Achievers in a globalised world by recounting the words of one of the most well known votaries of globalization Thomas L. Friedman who said, "The challenge in this era of globalization—for countries and individuals—is to find a healthy balance between preserving a sense of identity, home, and community, and doing what it takes to survive within the globalization system”. 


It is indeed my good fortune that today I am surrounded by eleven exceptional personalities- who, nourished by their Indian roots, have shown to the world how the right balance between progress and the preservation of ancient traditions, ensures a better future for all-living embodiments of our Prime Minister’s clarion call for ‘sabka saath, sabka vikas’.


I would like to take a few minutes to summarize the exceptional record of public service and the many ‘firsts’ that our panelists can proudly claim as their own:


We have the honour of having with us H.E. Mr. Showkutally Soodhun, the Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Housing and Lands of Mauritius. He is a seasoned politician and been a parliamentarian in Mauritius for more than three decades. He has also served as Minister of Industry and Commerce.

Dr. Bhishma Agnihotri was appointed as India’s first Ambassador at large for Diaspora Affairs by Atalji. Dr. Agnihotri has done notable work in bringing the Government closer to its Diaspora’s sons and daughters and making us more sensitive to their concerns. 

The Rt. Hon. Baroness Prashar, throughout her illustrious career, has led a number of public and voluntary organizations with great distinction. For instance, she became the Director of the prestigious ‘Runnymede Trust’ Think Tank, when she was only 28 years old, where she focused her work on racial equality in a multi-ethnic Great Britain.

When during the recent November visit by Prime Minister Modi to Australia, the two countries agreed to collaborate in the field of agricultural research; it was, in many ways, an acknowledgement of Indian minds like Sh. Paras Ram Punj- the ‘Pulses King’ Down Under and the role that his Parasram Group-global leaders in agro-processing; have played in that sector! 

We are honoured to have amongst us today, Dato` Seri Samy Vellu Sangalimuthu, the longest serving President of the Malaysian Indian Congress (since 1979 for 11 consecutive terms) and the longest serving minister in the Cabinet of Malaysia (till 2008).

Sh. Ashok Kumar Mago, founder Chairman of the US-India Chamber of Commerce, was a moving spirit behind the setting up of the "Friends of India Caucus” in the US Senate; making India the only country with an individual Caucus at the Senate.

Sh. Sunil Chopra, like me, started young- in the cut and thrust of student politics in India- although from the opposite end of the political spectrum! His election as the mayor of the central London borough of Southwark in June 2014, was significant due to the low percentage of people of Indian origin in his area (only about 1.5%,), indicating his wide-spread popularity across various communities.

One of the striking achievements of Sh. Hans Hanoomansingh’s public service through journalism in Trinidad and Tobago is his life-long crusade for multiculturalism. While inaugurating ‘Divali Nagar’ celebrations- born out of a concept enunciated by Hanoomansingh, Prime Minister Basdeo Panday had said, "Few gifts of greater value have been given by a single citizen to this nation, this region and this hemisphere”.

Dr. Ravi Jahagirdar, the President of American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI)- one of the largest ethnic professional organizations in the US (representing about 100,000 Indian doctors) compared office-bearers of AAPI to "caretakers of established plans and projects, advancing progressively towards these goals with the vertically expanded use of diverse professionals”. Such resolve has deep resonance within the Gandhian socio-economic philosophy of ‘Trusteeship’.

Sh. Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi, a self-made entrepreneur from sadi Dilli, has had a truly impressive rise. Since moving to New Zealand in 2001, he has not just set-up diverse business interests, from fashion to real estate, but also emerged as the first ever Indian and the first ever Sikh Member of the New Zealand Parliament.

Finally, I welcome Dr. Rajindre Tewari, Chairman, India Business Council, Netherlands Council for Trade and Investment. As we ‘Link West’ under the Prime Minister’s flagship ‘Make in India’ initiative, we would do well to learn from the experiences and expertise of leading venture capitalists like Dr. Tewari, who have focused on ‘sun-rise’ sectors of particular interest to us; like bio-technology and financial services.

All these Achievers have set benchmarks in distant lands and diverse fields. It is my privilege to now invite them to share their unique experiences in quest of realizing their full potential and making their dreams come true, so that we can all collectively benefit from their individual journeys.”

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Skill Development Minister Rudy says 43,000 kms of Optical fiber and 6000 Railway Stations will be used for Skill Development of Youth in India 

Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 2015

Sri. Rajiv Pratap Rudy, Union Minister of State for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship and parliamentary affairs said, skill development will be the focus of the Government. Speaking at the plenary session of the ‘Pravasi Bharati Diwas’ he said developed countries have a skilled work force of 60% of the total population, while India has a skilled force of only 2%. The Minister said Prime Minister has initiated an action plan to focus on training the people in skill development. He said 6000 Railway stations having 43,000 kms of optical Fiber Network across the country will be used for training the youth for better skills. Sri.Rudy said these Railway stations have the necessary facilities like, water, electricity and connectivity and are spread across the length and breadth of the country. These will be places for skill Development as they have infrastructure needed for the training and will take care of the training needs of the local populace. Minister said the training will be undertaken by Master trainers and the  Defense Personnel.
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Ministers at the Plenary session of ‘Pravasi Bharati Diwas’ 
call upon the Indian Diaspora to participate in the 
‘Namo Ganga’ ‘Swatch Bharat’ and ‘Adarsh Gram Yojana’ 

Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 2015


Sri.Chaudhary Birender Singh, Union Minister of Rural Development, Panchayat Raj and Drinking Water and Sanitation said ‘Adarsh Gram Yojana’ envisaged by the Prime Minister is a novel scheme where MPs adopt villages as per their choice. He called upon the Pravasi Bharatis   to actively get involved in participating in the process of village building by adopting a village. The minister said Pravasi Bharatis   can also involve themselves in Swatch Bharat aandolan by participating in financial, technological or physical contribution of the project.

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Uma Bharati calls upon the Indian Diaspora to participate in the ‘Namo Ganga’ Project 

Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 2015


Speaking at the plenary session of the Pravasi Bharati Divas, Ms.Uma Bharati, Union Minister of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation said that the Government has adopted a concerted plan of action to clean River Ganga and make it a symbol of Indian civilization. She said Ganga is linked to the lives of the people and it is an inseparable part of the Indian ethos and culture. The minister called upon the Indian diaspora to adopt a village on the banks of Ganga and pay their respects to the Holy River and the Holy land.  This will create a connect between the people  staying abroad with their kith and kin back home.  Ms. Bharati said river Ganga not only has an emotional connect but gives livelihood to lakhs of people. The helping hand of the Indian diaspora will help their brothers and sisters in India to lead a better life she added. She said under the leadership of the Prime Minister, India will become a world leader.
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Tourism Minister Dr.Mahesh Sharma says India is poised to receive 1.1 billion Tourists in three Years 

Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 2015


Union Minister of State for Tourism, Culture and Civil Aviation Dr.Mahesh Sharma said that India is poised to receive one percent of Global tourists in three Years. Speaking at the Plenary session of the Pravasi Barati Diwas at Gandhinagar, Dr.Sharma said, presently India receives about 7 million foreign tourists annually and the target is to get one per cent share of the global tourist arrivals which is around 1.1 billion in three years. The Minister said Tourism is one of the most important socio economic activities globally and it is very relevant for India’s economy also. An investment of Rs. 10 lakhs generates 18 jobs in agriculture, 45 jobs in manufacturing and 78 jobs in tourism sector, hence tourism has to be an important component of socio-economic development of India.  He said the Union Government has introduced Electronic Travel  Authorisation (ETA) for 43 countries on 27th November, 2014.  In the last five weeks the total number of visas issued on line has crossed the figure of 22,179.   These 43 countries covered about 42 per cent of the source market for Indian Tourism at the world level and Ministry of Home Affairs has been requested to include China, UK, France, Germany, Spain and Italy also in this list of ETA countries Dr.Sharma added.  These countries would bring in 20 per cent of world tourism market for India.  Government has announced two more schemes for development of tourism infrastructure titled ‘National Mission on Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual Augmentation (PRASAD) and also another Rs. 500 crores have been provided for development of 5 Integrated Circuits, the minister added

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PM calls upon the Indian diaspora across the world to unite as a positive global force in the cause of humanity 

Inaugurates Dandi Kutir Museum in Gandhinagar 

Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 2015


The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, today called upon the Indian diaspora across the world to unite as a positive global force in the cause of humanity. In his inaugural address at the Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas at the Mahatma Mandir in Gandhinagar, the Prime Minister recalled that exactly 100 years ago, a Non Resident Indian - Gandhi - had returned to India to serve the people. Today, he said, he was welcoming NRIs from across the world as a Non Resident Gujarati.

The Prime Minister said NRIs are present across the world, in more than 200 countries. "India is global because of you," he told the gathering. He said that in the past, Indians had travelled across the world in search of opportunity, or to gain knowledge and exposure. "Today, opportunities beckon you in India," he asserted, adding that today, the world looks at India with hope. He said times are changing quickly, and India is rising with great strength.

The Prime Minister exhorted the Indian diaspora to contribute to India`s success in any way possible, including knowledge, expertise or skills. The Prime Minister mentioned in particular, the Namaami Gange project to clean the 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.

The Prime Minister welcomed the dignitaries from Guyana, South Africa and Mauritius. He recalled how Indian festivals such as Holi and Diwali are enthusiastically celebrated in Guyana. He recalled that today - January 8th - was the founding day of the African National Congress in South Africa. He mentioned that Mahatma Gandhi`s birth anniversary - October 2 - is observed in Mauritius with even greater vigour than it is observed in India.

The Prime Minister called upon NRIs across the world to forge and take pride in a common identity and heritage, and to use this strength collectively. He said even if a solitary NRI is present anywhere in the world, India is alive and present in that corner of the world through him.

The Prime Minister said he had met representatives of 50 countries since assuming office, and he could say with confidence that rich or poor, all nations across the world, today feel that their goals and objectives can be met in partnership with India. He said this was a rare opportunity, and it was now upto everyone to use this opportunity for the benefit of humanity, and for India`s benefit.


The Prime Minister said the world was showering affection on India, as was evident from the fact that a record 177 nations out of 193, had co-sponsored India`s resolution on International Day of Yoga at the United Nations.

The Prime Minister said he firmly believes that NRIs are a big strength of India, and India can make a global impact by reaching out to them. The Prime Minister said he was happy to announce that he had fulfilled all promises made to NRIs, such as lifelong visa for PIO cardholders, merging of PIO and OCI schemes, visa on arrival for 43 countries, and electronic travel authorization. 

Contribution of Indian diaspora

Minister for External and Overseas Indian Affairs, Ms Sushma Swaraj in her welcome address said the 25 million strong Indian diaspora has become a unique force in the world culture.  She said, the government is keen to work closely with the Indian diaspora and welcomed the investors and professionals to partner with India.  “I promise, it will be a mutually rewarding experience”, she added.

Recalling India’s close ties with nations having significant population of people of Indian origin, Ms. Sushma Swaraj said , Mauritius calls itself a ‘chhota Bharat’ and celebrates its national day on March 8, the day when Mahatma Gandhi began his historic Dandi March. The Minister informed that the government is setting up a monument of arrival of indentured labour in Guyana. She also mentioned about India’s close bilateral relations with South Africa, the other ‘karm-bhoomi’ of Gandhiji, which is also the partner country at the Vibrant Gujarat summit. Ms. Swaraj said her Ministry’s doors are open to all for any assistance.

Chief Guest Donald Ramotar, President of Guyana and Guest of Honour, Ms. Maite Nkona Mashabane, South African Minister for International Affairs Relations and Cooperation also spoke on the occasion and stressed upon close bilateral ties their countries shared with India. President of Guyana recalled the influence the Indian Independence Movement had in shaping political and economic destinies of other colonial countries. Referring to India’s growing economic clout, Mr. Ramotar urged India to provide leadership to other developing countries, who have no voice, to realize their potential. Stressing upon the need for reforming the UN system,  Mr Ramotar said “the global struggle for equality continues”.  Ms.Mashabane claimed Mahatma Gandhi to be the national hero of South Africa, as much he is of India. She expressed South Africa’s keenness to deepen ties with India in the fields of Information and Communication Technology, health care and clean energy.

Ms. Anandiben Patel, Chief Minister of Gujarat said that her state is elated to be the partner state of Pravasi Bharatiya Divas on the centenary of Mahatma Gandhi’s return to India. She said Prime Minister Narendra Modi is trying to fulfill the dreams of Mahatma through various schemes like Swachch Bharat, skill India etc. She extended a warm welcome to the diaspora delegates and invited them to absorb the culture and ethos of Gujarat.

Dandi Kutir
Earlier, the Prime Minister inaugurated the ‘Dandi Kutir’ museum located opposite the Mahatma Mandir in Gandhinagar. The three storey exhibition, housed in a dome shaped structure, traces the life and times of Mahatma Gandhi through various faces – as barrister, his struggles in South Africa, return to India and successfully leading the freedom struggle.  Depiction of Gandhiji breaking the salt law after the Dandi March  is  a major draw.  Key concepts of Gandhian thoughts like Satyagraha, non-violence, self reliance, gram swaraj are elaborately explained through a number of exhibits.  There is also an audio-visual presentation of milestone incidents of the Indian Independence Movement.  The contents of the museum are expressed through a combination of traditional and contemporary media.

Nearly 4,000 delagates from 44 countries are attending the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 2015 in Gandhinagar.  A mega exhibition spread over 1.1 million sq ft has also been organized as part of the programme.

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External Affairs and Overseas Indian Affairs Minister's Address at the Inaugural Session of Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 2015 

Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 2015

Following is the text of the External Affairs Minister`s address at the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas - 2015

“Let me, at the outset, extend a very warm welcome to all of you, to this Pravasi Bharatiya Divas. It is apt that this year PBD is being held in Gujarat, marking the 100th Anniversary of the return of Mahatma Gandhi to India from South Africa. Bapuji gave shape and character to India`s freedom struggle. He demonstrated the power of non-violence, by precipitating the disintegration of the mightiest empire in the world at that time. He also fought against indentureship and the exploitation of Indians around the globe.

It is a fitting tribute to Bapu that we have with us today Hon’ble Donald Ramotar, President of Guyana, as the Chief Guest. Our warm and friendly relations are embedded in historical, cultural and traditional links. We have just commissioned well-known sculptor and Padma Shri awardee, Biman Das, to build a monument dedicated to the arrival of Indian indentured labourers in Guyana. Excellency, we look forward to taking our relationship to greater heights, for the mutual benefit of our peoples.

Friends, it is also a particular pleasure for me to welcome our Guest of Honour, Hon’ble Madam Mashabane, the Foreign Minister of South Africa. Excellency, your presence here today underscores the value you attach to our common legacy and cooperation in the struggle for freedom from colonialism and oppression. I am happy to note that South Africa is a partner country at the Vibrant Gujarat Summit being held in Gandhinagar from 11-13 January 2015.

We are pleased to have with us Vice Prime Minister of Mauritius, Hon’ble Mr. Showkatally Soodhun.

The historical and civilizational connection of Mauritius with India is so deep that they take pride in calling the country "Chhota Bharat”.The PIOs in Mauritius celebrate the arrival of Indian indentured labourers as `Aapravasi Divas`which I had the privilege of attending two months back. Gandhiji visited Mauritius in 1901 and as a tribute to him the National Day of Mauritius is celebrated on March 12, which is the date of launch of the Dandi Salt Satyagraha.Owing to the strong Diaspora ties and the great pride in our shared ancestral heritage, Mauritius has been an active participant in the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) since its inception in 2003.
I respectfully welcome the Hon’ble Prime Minister without whose guidance and leadership this event would not have been possible at this scale. I welcome Governor of Gujarat Shri Kohliji for gracing this occasion.I welcome Smt. Annadiben, Chief Minister of Gujarat; Gujarat happens to be the partner state of PBD this year. I welcome my colleagues Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad and Shri Jayant Sinha who have helped us in releasing the commemorative stamp and coin. I welcome my colleague Gen. V.K. Singh, MOS who has personally supervised all arrangements for the PBD. Last but not least, I welcome Secretary MOIA Shri Soni who has executed our decisions with speed and efficiency.
Friends, the term diaspora, in ancient Greek, refers to "a scattering or sowing of seeds". The presence of Indians abroad can be attested to from the days of remote antiquity. Our classical texts describe the long journeys that saints and monks undertook for the spread of knowledge, peace and love. This was followed by several waves of outward migration over centuries, from the medieval period to the colonial and then the post-independence era, resulting in diverse communities of people of Indian origin in various parts of the world. The present-day travel of Indians as professionals, labourers, traders and entrepreneurs to the rest of the world is a continuing saga of Indian Migration.Our common bond, however, continues to be the mother tree – India.

The Indian diaspora today constitutes an important, and in some respects unique, force in world culture. In the past couple of decades, it has grown into an energetic and confident community of over 25 million that has given India a presence in many parts of the world. However, it is not a one-way interaction that benefits only one side. It pleases all Indians when the Overseas Indian community is respected for its work culture, discipline, successful integration with the local community and for its outstanding contributions in their countries of residence. A successful, prosperous and politically influential diaspora is an asset to India, much as a strong and self-reliant India would be a source of strength and inspiration for the diaspora. This synergy acts as a vibrant bridge between us and sustains our relationship.

The Government of India is determined to work closely with the diaspora to leverage each other’s strengths to mutual benefit. The Prime Minister himself has taken the lead in reaching out to the Overseas Indian community and engaging you. We welcome entrepreneurs, investors and professionals from the diaspora to partake in our endeavour to develop the motherland and restore it to its past glory. I promise you that it will be a mutually rewarding and satisfying partnership. I believe you have the unique insights, perspectives and the extensive natural links that can make this partnership work.

I again welcome the delegates who have joined us from far corners of the globe. I hope the deliberations in the next two days generate new ideas to address issues of concern to you and help enhance the quality of your engagement with India. The doors of my Ministry are always open to you all. We would welcome your new ideas and suggestions on how we can work closely together. With these words let me welcome you once again.”
External Affairs Minister’s Introductory Speech at the Session with Indian Achievers, Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 2015 External Affairs Minister’s Introductory Speech at the Session with Indian Achievers, Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 2015 Reviewed by Ajit Kumar on 8:00 PM Rating: 5

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