The 15th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas began on January 21 in Varanasi at a time when two women of Indian origin in the United States of America are in news and being discussed world over. Gita Gopinath the first woman of Indian origin who has taken over as the Chairperson of the International Monetary Fund. The second woman is Chennai born Indira Nooyi. Once famous for heading the soft drink giant Coca Cola, Nooyi is being considered to head the World Bank. In fact these two women are just an example. Indians by dint of their merit, hard work, knowledge and dedication are moving ahead higher and higher in position of importance. Though the two women will not be present at the Sammelan due to some unavoidable circumstances, they will draw attention at the Sammelan in course of deliberations.
The Pravasi Bharatiya Sammelan this year was to begin from January 9. However, due to the Kumbha Mela and Republic Day celebrations, hundreds of Non-Resident Indians are coming to avail the opportunity to take part in the two national event, the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas is being held from January 21 to January 23.
They will also be meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he inaugurates the event on January 22. After all, why the Prime Minister will not accord respect to Indians settled abroad. He is undeclared and honorary roaming ambassador of Indians in foreign land. In fact Prime Minister Modi has established rapport with Indians settled abroad in every nook and corner of the world.
Whether Modi goes to Fiji or Dubai or he visits Australia or New York, he makes it a point to meet Indians settled there. He would listen to the problems of Indians in foreign land, he would also pay attention to the success stories of Indians there with equal interest and is generous in praising Indians there. He has tried to resolve problems of Indians by taking up the issues at bilateral level with the head of the state he visits. It has shown positive and encouraging results.
People of Indian Origin in foreign countries come in a large number to listen to Prime Minister Modi when he is there. Many come to listen to Modi even on working days by taking leave which is not easy in foreign countries. They come driving hundreds of miles to listen and to see Modi. He has magnetic attraction.
In the beginning of last year, Prime Minister Modi reached the Opera House in Dubai. He laid the foundation stone of Temple in Abu Dhabi through video conference. Lakhs of Indians in the Gulf saw and listened to Modi. Slogans of Bharat Mata ki Jai and ‘Modi Modi’ rented the air when Prime Minister was at a Rock Show in Toronto in Canada. I have seen similar scene in many countries when Modi was there.
Just recall, had any Prime Minister of India except Atal Bihari Vajpayee ever established direct rapport with Indians settled abroad. Atal Bihari Vajpayee was a ‘Yug Purush’. It was at the initiative of Atal Bihari Vajpayee that Pravasi Bharatiya Sammelan was started in the year 2003 when he was the Prime Minister of the country. He wanted the Indians settled abroad should connect themselves directly with their nation. Before Vajpayee nobody had thought in this direction. We were though taking lead in the Non-Alignment Movement; we never gave a thought to our people settled abroad. Prime Minister Modi is carrying forward this tradition established by Vajpayee.
India is getting benefit of this move. According to a World Bank report, India received some $80 billion from people of Indian origin settled abroad in the previous year 2018. The total remission from Indians settled abroad in 2017 was $69 billion . What it shows. It shows that Indians settled abroad are generously remitting money to their nation. This money is being utilised in the economic growth and in infrastructure development. Just think the number of Chinese people settled outside China is much more compared to Indians in foreign land. Yet, in 2017 the total remission from Chinese settled outside China was $64 billion .
It is worth pondering why earlier the Indians settled abroad did not send this quantum of money to India. The simple answer is we never thought Indians settled in foreign land as our own. We accepted them as Indians more as a token gesture and never considered them members of our family. In the time of crisis, we turned our back. Recall the years when the dictator of Uganda Idi Amin was throwing Indians out of East Africa like cattle. But our government then did not do anything to help them. Thousands of Indians then had got shelter in Britain. Now whenever and wherever Indians are in trouble the Government of India takes immediate steps to give relief and protection them.
Let us take the case of Tango. Five Indians who were in Jail there since 2013 were released with the efforts of the Indian Government. Although this news did not get prominence in the media, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had twitted that we have rescued five Indians from Jail in Tango. Can we forget how Indians who were trapped in the cross fire in Yemen were rescued by our government. In the operation we were able to rescue more than 6 thousand Indians from the jaw of death. Beside many people of Nepal and Bangladesh who were also trapped in Yemen were rescued by India. Sushma Swaraj had entrusted Union Minister V K Singh to personally supervise the operation.
It is a pleasant coincident that Prime Minister of Mauritius Pravind Jugnauth was the chief guest of the Pravasi Bharatiya Sammelan. He is a great lover of Hindi. His father and former Prime Minister of Mauritius Anerood Jugnauth has also been a great friend of India.
(The author of the article is a Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha)
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