India is full of opportunities, Modi tells expats

Tuesday 13th January 2015 14:19 EST

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that several opportunities await NRIs in India and they would be welcomed with open arms. Addressing delegates at the 13th edition of Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) at Mahatma Mandir in Gandhinagar, Modi said, "The world is seeing India with immense hope and optimism. The rich and the poor nations are looking at India..."

Modi praised the diaspora for putting India on the global map and said that they were admired all around the world for their values. "The whole world admires the Indian community not due to the money but the values they are living with," he said.

Acknowledging the problems faced by the NRIs, Modi said that the visa on arrival facility is being extended to several countries. Modi added that PIO and OCI have been merged due to which everyone will get the same benefits. There was a time when professionals in India went to distant lands to explore new possibilities. Now India awaits you with opportunities. Times have changed; the world is looking at India with optimism." Modi said.

President of Guyana Donald R Ramotar; minister of international relations of South Africa, Maite NkoanaMashabane; and vice-president of Mauritius Monique Ohsan Bellepeau were the chief guests at the event.

PBD-2015 marks the centenary year of the return of Mahatma Gandhi - the foremost Indian Diaspora member - from South Africa to India. Bapu had made Ahmedabad his home after coming back. Before inaugurating PBD, Modi paid tribute to Bapu by opening Dandi Kutir, a 3-D museum on the Life of the Mahatma. “Hundred years ago, one `NRI' returned to India, and today one Gujarati welcomes the entire overseas Indian community ,” Modi said in his speech referencing Bapu. That emotional pitch remained constant throughout the oration as Modi appealed to the Diaspora from 45 countries to use their soft power to spread the message of humanism and Indian values.

Diaspora can contribute to motherland in smallest of ways

Modi recounted the example of an NRI from Surat who would diligently sweep and clean the roads of his ancestral village during his annual visits to India as an example of how the Indian diaspora can contribute to their motherland in even the smallest way.

"The gentleman would take the jharu (broom) and clean all the rubbish and the people would make fun of him thinking he is mentally off balance. But this time when he came, and took up the broom as usual as soon as he landed, he was joined by others in the village," said Modi in apparent reference to the "Swachch Bharat" or Clean India mission launched by his government.

He said this was an example of how a person with commitment can change his village and said there would be many diaspora members like him contributing to their motherland.

Modi also recounted how his proposal during his speech at the UN last year of instituting an international yoga day has been passed in record time and with record number of member countries supporting the proposal, including over 40 Muslim countries.

He said of 193 member countries 177 as co-sponsors supported it, which he added was a record.

He also said that generally a proposal takes two years to fructify but with his proposal took around 100 days to pass.

"The world is keen to embrace India and this is a small example," he said and added that the people of India need to believe in their potential. He also recounted how a young NRI Muslim woman who visited Kutch during the 2002 quake in Gujarat stayed on for months and worked among the people to help in the rehabilitation efforts.

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