Media Center / Documents Media Center / Documents

External Affairs Minister’s Introductory Speech at the Session with Indian Achievers, Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 2015 (Gandhinagar, Gujarat)

January 08, 2015

Dear friends,

I would like to begin this session on Indian Achievers in a globalised world by recounting the words of one of the most well known votaries of globalization Thomas L. Friedman who said, "The challenge in this era of globalization—for countries and individuals—is to find a healthy balance between preserving a sense of identity, home, and community, and doing what it takes to survive within the globalization system”.

It is indeed my good fortune that today I am surrounded by eleven exceptional personalities- who, nourished by their Indian roots, have shown to the world how the right balance between progress and the preservation of ancient traditions, ensures a better future for all-living embodiments of our Prime Minister’s clarion call for ‘sabka saath, sabka vikas’.

I would like to take a few minutes to summarize the exceptional record of public service and the many ‘firsts’ that our panelists can proudly claim as their own:

We have the honour of having with us H.E. Mr. Showkutally Soodhun, the Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Housing and Lands of Mauritius. He is a seasoned politician and been a parliamentarian in Mauritius for more than three decades. He has also served as Minister of Industry and Commerce.

Dr. Bhishma Agnihotri was appointed as India’s first Ambassador at large for Diaspora Affairs by Atalji. Dr. Agnihotri has done notable work in bringing the Government closer to its Diaspora’s sons and daughters and making us more sensitive to their concerns.

The Rt. Hon. Baroness Prashar, throughout her illustrious career, has led a number of public and voluntary organizations with great distinction. For instance, she became the Director of the prestigious ‘Runnymede Trust’ Think Tank, when she was only 28 years old, where she focused her work on racial equality in a multi-ethnic Great Britain.

When during the recent November visit by Prime Minister Modi to Australia, the two countries agreed to collaborate in the field of agricultural research; it was, in many ways, an acknowledgement of Indian minds like Sh. Paras Ram Punj- the ‘Pulses King’ Down Under and the role that his Parasram Group-global leaders in agro-processing; have played in that sector!

We are honoured to have amongst us today, Dato' Seri Samy Vellu Sangalimuthu, the longest serving President of the Malaysian Indian Congress (since 1979 for 11 consecutive terms) and the longest serving minister in the Cabinet of Malaysia (till 2008).

Sh. Ashok Kumar Mago, founder Chairman of the US-India Chamber of Commerce, was a moving spirit behind the setting up of the "Friends of India Caucus” in the US Senate; making India the only country with an individual Caucus at the Senate.

Sh. Sunil Chopra, like me, started young- in the cut and thrust of student politics in India- although from the opposite end of the political spectrum! His election as the mayor of the central London borough of Southwark in June 2014, was significant due to the low percentage of people of Indian origin in his area (only about 1.5%,), indicating his wide-spread popularity across various communities.

One of the striking achievements of Sh. Hans Hanoomansingh’s public service through journalism in Trinidad and Tobago is his life-long crusade for multiculturalism. While inaugurating ‘Divali Nagar’ celebrations- born out of a concept enunciated by Hanoomansingh, Prime Minister Basdeo Panday had said, "Few gifts of greater value have been given by a single citizen to this nation, this region and this hemisphere”.

Dr. Ravi Jahagirdar, the President of American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI)- one of the largest ethnic professional organizations in the US (representing about 100,000 Indian doctors) compared office-bearers of AAPI to "caretakers of established plans and projects, advancing progressively towards these goals with the vertically expanded use of diverse professionals”. Such resolve has deep resonance within the Gandhian socio-economic philosophy of ‘Trusteeship’.

Sh. Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi, a self-made entrepreneur from sadi Dilli, has had a truly impressive rise. Since moving to New Zealand in 2001, he has not just set-up diverse business interests, from fashion to real estate, but also emerged as the first ever Indian and the first ever Sikh Member of the New Zealand Parliament.

Finally, I welcome Dr. Rajindre Tewari, Chairman, India Business Council, Netherlands Council for Trade and Investment. As we ‘Link West’ under the Prime Minister’s flagship ‘Make in India’ initiative, we would do well to learn from the experiences and expertise of leading venture capitalists like Dr. Tewari, who have focused on ‘sun-rise’ sectors of particular interest to us; like bio-technology and financial services.

All these Achievers have set benchmarks in distant lands and diverse fields. It is my privilege to now invite them to share their unique experiences in quest of realizing their full potential and making their dreams come true, so that we can all collectively benefit from their individual journeys.

Thank You.

Post A Comment

  • Name *
    E-mail *
  • Write Your Comment *
  • Verification Code * Verification Code