Narendra Modi says govt will engage with ethnic Indian community overseas

At 14th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, Modi calls opponents of demonetisation 'political worshippers' of black money

Nidheesh M.K.
Updated8 Jan 2017, 06:42 PM IST
PM Modi said overseas Indians have made an ‘invaluable contribution’ to the Indian economy by investing over $69 billion. Photo: Hemant Mishra/Mint
PM Modi said overseas Indians have made an ‘invaluable contribution’ to the Indian economy by investing over $69 billion. Photo: Hemant Mishra/Mint

Bengaluru: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said his government will engage with the ethnic Indian community overseas, particularly the youth.

“For every Indian abroad, home should never be far... We do not see colour of passport, we see colour of blood,” he said in a speech to the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas convention in Bengaluru. The convention, aims to bring together the Indian diaspora from all over the world.

The biennial event is held on 9 January to mark the return of Mahatma Gandhi as a Pravasi from South Africa to India. This year, Indian origin Portuguese prime minister Antonio Costa was the chief guest.

In his remarks, Modi listed the steps his government has taken to make life easier for Indians going abroad and those who are coming to India for work or study and those caught up in a difficult situation—including facilitating the repatriation of 9,000 persons since he came to power, rescuing more than 80,000 Indian nationals in contingency situations and announcing the soon-to-be launched skill development programme, Pravasi Kaushal Vikas Yojna, targeted at young Indians from poor background going abroad for the first time to work as blue collar workers.

“The NRIs (non-resident Indians) and PIOs (persons of Indian origins) have made outstanding contributions to their chosen fields. They are role models for immigrants from other backgrounds and countries ... They take our values and culture wherever they go. The Indian diaspora have contributed their best towards progress in that country,” he said.

Remittances by overseas Indians, running at close to $69 billion annually, make an invaluable contribution to the Indian economy, said Modi. “But 30 million Indians abroad are valued not just for strength in numbers but respected for contributions to India and countries where they live,” he added.

“We are determined to make you realize your dreams. We can work together on this. If there needs to be systemic changes, legal changes, if courageous steps need to be taken, whatever needs to be done, I can say with great faith we will do all this,” he said.

He also urged abroad PIO cardholders to convert their cards into overseas citizen of India cards and reiterated the decision to extend the deadline for PIO card conversions to OCI without any penalty until 30 June. He added that beginning with Delhi and Bengaluru, the government has set up special counters for OCI cardholders at immigration points of airports. The central government is also working to put in place procedures for making descendants of indentured labourers, especially the Girmitiya community in Fiji, eligible for OCI cards.

The prime minister also touched upon the issue of black money, perhaps in an attempt to allay fears for the diaspora community over demonetisation.

“You all must have seen and heard that we have taken action against corruption and black money…. These have been corroding our system from within…. India needed to take a stand and so we have…,” he said. “We will no longer have any space for corruption and black money to exist. Unfortunately some political entities that worship black money are trying to incite the public. Our diaspora has supported the government’s moves against corruption and black money, and I thank you all for your support.”

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First Published:8 Jan 2017, 06:42 PM IST
HomePoliticsPolicyNarendra Modi says govt will engage with ethnic Indian community overseas

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