India on Monday made a pitch for roping in the diaspora as partners for progress and development in the next 25 years, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying that the G20 presidency provides an opportunity for the world to benefit from the country’s achievements in diverse fields, ranging from digital technology to space.
India also has the potential to become the skill capital and development engine of the world, Modi said in his address at the inaugural session of the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) convention, the flagship diaspora conclave, in the Madhya Pradesh city of Indore.
Guyana President Irfaan Ali and Surinam President Chandrikapersad Santokhi were the chief guest and special guest of honour, respectively, at the event, organised in-person after a gap of four years as the previous edition was held virtually because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Indian side is looking to the diaspora to play a key role in the country’s development and the theme of the PBD convention is “Diaspora: Reliable partners for India’s progress in Amrit Kaal”. Modi pointed to the government’s plans in this regard, describing the people of Indian origin abroad as brand ambassadors for a range of official initiatives such as “Make in India”.
“Your role as India’s brand ambassadors is diverse. You are brand ambassadors of ‘Make in India’. You are brand ambassadors of Yoga and ayurveda, you are also brand ambassadors of India’s cottage industries and handicrafts. At the same time, you are also brand ambassadors of India’s millets,” Modi said, speaking in a mix of Hindi and English.
“You have another important role to play in these rapidly changing times. You are the people who will address the world’s desire to know more about India. Today the whole world is waiting and watching India keenly, with great interest and curiosity,” he added.
Modi said the diaspora will have a “significant place” in India’s plans for greater development in the next 25 years. “India’s unique global vision and its important role in the global order will be strengthened by you,” he said, highlighting some aspects of India’s progress.
“On the global stage, India’s voice and message today has a different importance. India’s growing strength will increase even more in the coming days,” Modi said, and the diaspora’s responsibilities too will increase. “You (diaspora) should enrich their knowledge not just about India’s culture and tradition but also about the nation’s progress.”
In this context, he spoke of India’s development of indigenous Covid-19 vaccines, delivery of over two billion vaccine doses to Indians, and the development of hi-tech defence platforms such as the Tejas combat aircraft, nuclear submarine Arihant and aircraft carrier Vikrant. India accounts for 40% of global real-time digital transactions, the PM added, pointing also to the country’s prowess in space, software and digital technologies.
The presidency of G20, the grouping of the 20 largest economies, is an opportunity to tell the world about India’s achievements, just as it is an opportunity for others to prepare a path for a sustainable future based on India’s experiences, Modi said. “The G20 is not just a diplomatic event but a historic movement with the participation of the people.”
The Indian leadership has said the country will act as the voice of the global South, or developing countries, at the G20 at a time when the grouping remains divided over the Ukraine crisis. India has consistently raised the global South’s concerns about the rise in food and fuel prices because of the conflict in Europe.
At the same time, Modi said India can drive global growth due to the skills of its young generation. “India has the opportunity to become not only a knowledge centre but the skill capital of the world. India has capable youth with skills, values and passion and honesty for work. India’s skill capital can become the engine of global growth.”
Modi hailed the work done by the diaspora, including their role in development and in keeping Indian culture alive. “When people from different regions of India meet in other countries, then there is a feeling of one India, the best India. When there is a talk of the most disciplined, democratic and peace-loving people in the world, the pride of the mother of democracy increases.”
“Wherever you live, you keep India with you,” he said, emphasising India’s commitment to work for the interests and aspirations of the diaspora around the world.
Modi also praised Indore and said it is not a city but “an era which is ahead of its time but holding on to its legacy”.
In his address, Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said, “India is giving the message of peace and love to the world. There have been two Narendras in India. One hundred years ago, there was one Narendra, Swami Vivekananda, who called India the world’s guru. Today this work is being done under the leadership of another Narendra. The country is moving towards becoming a world guru. This hall is small, but there is no shortage of space in the heart.”
This year’s PBD convention, which will continue till January 10, is being attended by ministers from Mauritius, Malaysia and Panama, and large delegations from Oman, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and the US.