PM’s address at the Inauguration of the 14th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas Convention at Bengaluru on 8th January, 2017

It is a great pleasure for me to welcome all of you on this 14th Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas. Thousands of you have travelled from far-off lands to join us here today. Millions more are connected through digital platforms. This day is a celebration to mark the return to India of one of the greatest Pravasi’s- Mahatma Gandhi.

We are celebrating this event in the beautiful city of Bengaluru. I wish to thank the Chief Minister, to the Ramayya Ji and his entire government for his assistance and efforts in organizing this event/ and making it a big success. It is my particular pleasure to welcome Excellency the Prime Minister of Portugal, the Vice President of Suriname, the honourable Ministers from Malaysia and Mauritius to the event. Their achievements, the name they have earned in their own societies and globally, are a great inspiration for all of us. It also reflects the success, glory and enterprise of Indian diaspora the world over. There are over 30 million Overseas Indians living abroad. Their footprint is all over the world. But, Indians abroad are valued not just for their strength in numbers. They are respected for the contributions they make - to India and to the societies and countries where they live. In foreign lands and communities across the globe, irrespective of the path they take, and the goals they pursue, the Indian diaspora represents the best of Indian culture, ethos and values. Their hard-work, discipline, law-abiding and peace loving nature are role models for other immigrant communities abroad.

Friends, for my governments and for me personally, engagement with the overseas Indian community has been a key area of priority. I have met and spoken to hundreds of thousands of our brothers and sisters during my travels abroad – in USA, UK, Australia, South Africa, UAE, Qatar, Singapore, Fiji, China, Japan, South Korea, Kenya, Mauritius, Seychelles, and Malaysia. As a result, as a result of our sustained and systematic out-reach, there is new energy, keen desire and strong drive among Indian Diaspora to connect more extensively and deeply with India’s social and economic transformation. The remittance of close to sixty nine billion dollars annually by the overseas Indians makes an invaluable contribution to the Indian economy.

NRIs’ and PIOs’ have made outstanding contributions to their chosen fields. Among them, there are politicians of stature, scientists of repute, outstanding doctors, brilliant educationists, economists, musicians, famous philanthropists, journalists, bankers, engineers and lawyers. And, sorry! Did I mention our well known Information Technology professionals? Tomorrow, 30 overseas Indians will receive from the President, the prestigious Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Awards, which recognize contributions made by them in various fields, both in India and abroad. Friends, E-respective of their background and profession, the welfare and safety of all Indians abroad is our top priority. For this, we are strengthening the entire eco-system of our administrative arrangements. Whether it is on loss of their passports; need for legal advice, medical assistance, shelter, or even transportation of mortal remains to India. I have directed all Indian embassies to be proactive to address problems of Indian nationals abroad. Our response to the needs of the Indian nationals overseas is defined by Accessibility, sensitivity, speed and promptness. 24 by 7, help-lines by Indian Embassies; ‘Open House’ meetings with Indian nationals; consular camps; twitter seva for passport services; and use of social media platforms for immediate access; are some of the measures that we have put in place to convey a clear message that we are there for you when you need us.

Some others may feel motivated to spare their valuable time and efforts in volunteering in India helping the under-privileged or contributing to capacity building programs in various sectors. We welcome all your efforts that seek to strengthen India’s partnership with the over-seas Indian community. I also invite you to visit the exhibition in the Pravasi Bharatiya congention (PBD Convention) which gives you a glimpse of some of the flagship programs that we have been implementing and see how you can partner with us.

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