Terming Indians residing overseas as the country’s “brand ambassadors”, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said they would play a crucial role in fulfilling the “growing curiosity” about India throughout the world due to its “rapid progress” across sectors in recent years.
Delivering the opening address at the 17th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas Convention in Indore on Monday, Modi said that apart from understanding of the country’s culture and spirituality, Indians residing abroad should also be armed with facts about India’s growth story.
“I consider you all, pravasi bharatiyas, to be the brand ambassadors of India on foreign land,” Modi added, eliciting thunderous chants of “Bharat Mata ki jai” from the collected group of delegates from around the globe. He stated that India has made rapid growth in the previous few years, and this has peaked the curiosity of people in many parts of the world.
He reminded the group that India will host the G20 summit in 2023 as the global forum’s chair, emphasising that it was a “huge chance” to share India’s past experiences in order to achieve a sustainable future.
“G20 is not just a diplomatic event but it should be turned into a historic event of public engagement where one can observe the spirit of Atithi Devo Bhava,” he remarked.
India’s “voice and message” on the world arena has a particular significance, he said. “India’s strength will increase further in the days to come. And so will the curiosity about India. Consequently, the obligation of Indians residing abroad expands exponentially. “The more you know about India, the more you can tell others about it,” he remarked.
He cited the Covid-19 vaccination programme, the country’s rise to the fifth largest economy, the production of Tejas fighter planes and the INS Vikrant, an Arihant-class submarine, as well as the increasing popularity of digital transactions as accomplishments that have garnered global notice.
His remarks were reminiscent of those given by former Prime Minister A. B. Vajpayee in 2003, during the inaugural convention. Vajpayee had subsequently asked Indians abroad to “present the truth about India to the world in a credible and effective manner” and combat “propaganda.”
According to the MEA, there were 3,2,000,000 NRIs and PIOs living abroad as of December 31, 2021.
Over 3,500 individuals from 70 nations registered for the ongoing convention, which will conclude on Tuesday with President Droupadi Murmu honouring 27 abroad Indians for their achievements in various fields. Monday, when Modi was speaking, several participants were unable to enter the hall at the Brilliant Convention Centre, a privately-owned commercial property.
In his subsequent speech, Shivraj Singh Chouhan, the chief minister of Madhya Pradesh, apologised to the delegates for the incident. “The hall may have been too small to accommodate everyone, but there is no lack of devotion for you,” he remarked.
Chouhan also lavished Modi with praise. “Modi is the only person who can convince the West and Russia that we need peace, not war.” During the Ukraine conflict, our students marched out with the Tricolor, and both Russian and Ukrainian military made way for them,” he explained.
While President of Guyana Mohamed Irfaan Ali was the event’s primary guest, President of Suriname Chandrikapersad Santokhi was the event’s special guest of honour.
Ali commended Modi’s leadership during the pandemic in his speech, stating that while the rest of the world closed its borders, India stepped forward. “You (Modi) showed the world what genuine love and hope is when you shared vaccinations with the globe,” Ali added, adding that policies should be targeted to make the diaspora important to a nation’s prosperity, as opposed to incidental.
Santokhi proposed a “diaspora fund” to assist the community in showcasing their skills and abilities. In conjunction with the conference, Modi conducted bilateral discussions with both Presidents.
During the course of the day, Modi also issued a commemorative stamp titled “Surakshit Jaayen, Prashikshit Jaayen” and inaugurated a digital exhibition titled “Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav — Contribution of Diaspora in Indian Freedom Struggle.”