Respected Pradhan Mantriji,
Excellency President Chandrika Persad Santokhiji,
Pravasi brothers and sisters, Friends,
- It is my honour to welcome you all to the 16th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas Convention. This is part of a tradition that began two decades ago, when the then Prime Minister Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayeeji envisioned a comprehensive framework for Pravasi outreach.
This included the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, Pravasi Bharatiya Samman awards, the Overseas Citizen of India and the Persons of Indian Origin cards. In the years that have passed, these initiatives have been strengthened by a range of other activities. And even
more, transformed by the very unique bonding that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has established with the diaspora.
- This gathering takes place, as all events currently do, against the backdrop of the devastating Covid pandemic. Even as we muster up our inner strengths to combat it effectively, let me emphasize that these unprecedented difficulties have only further strengthened
our bonds with Pravasis. This was expressed in the Vande Bharat Mission that brought more than 3.5 million of our people home. It was equally visible in the support we provided for the return from India of those of other nationalities, to 120 countries. And
not least, it was seen in the medicines that we sent to 150 nations, many with large Pravasi communities.
- Covid has taught us many lessons, prominent among them the need to be more self-reliant. Its uncertainty has created a global demand for shorter, more trusted and resilient supply chains. We, in India, have responded through the policy of Atmanirbhar Bharat,
building stronger capacities at home to make a larger contribution abroad. It is natural that we seek to involve our diaspora in that process, as they have a well-earned reputation as high achievers. Their emotional attachment to India surely encourages their
desire to contribute to the nation’s rejuvenation. And that is why we have chosen it as the theme for the 16th PBD Convention.
- Among the diaspora initiatives that connect us closely today, the ‘Know India Programme’ for young overseas Indians and the Pravasi Teerth Darshan Yojana for the older generation have been notable. The on-line quiz Bharat ko Jaaniye, launched in 2015, has
also made commendable progress. The scholarship programme for diaspora children is another connection, as indeed the expanded cultural activities of our Embassies abroad and ICCR Centres.
- This year, we organized five virtual Conferences as a precursor to the celebrations of Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 2021. These were on themes of the Role of Diaspora in promoting India’s culture; Targeting a US$ 5 Trillion Atmanirbhar Economy by boosting MSMEs;
Gulf-India ties; Media & Entertainment partnerships to showcase India@75; and Bringing Together Young Achievers from India and Indian Diaspora. The Youth PBD that concluded successfully yesterday, and addressed by young Minister Ms. Priyanca Radhakrishnan
from New Zealand, was especially heart-warming.
- Even as we strengthen our bonds, the success of Pravasis abroad is a source of immense pride for all of us. Today, we are particularly honoured that H.E. President Santokhi of Suriname would address the Convention as Chief Guest. He is indeed a shining
example of the heights to which Persons of Indian Origin have reached abroad.
- I also thank the Prime Minister for his continuing support and encouragement for all our Pravasi-related activities and initiatives. That his dream of an Atmanirbhar Bharat is shared by so many across the entire world is evident in the enthusiastic response
we have to the Convention today. I know that I speak for all of you in looking forward to his inspirational address.
January 09, 2021