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Opening Remarks by External Affairs Minister, at Valedictory Session of the First PIO-Parliamentarian Conference (January 09, 2018)

January 10, 2018

Hon’ble Vice President and Chairman Rajya Sabha Shri Venkaih Naidu Ji,
My esteemed colleagues Gen (Dr.) V. K. Singh (Retd.) and Shri M. J. Akbar
Secretary Dr. Mulay Ji,
Hon’ble Pravasi Bharatiya Members of Parliaments and PIO-Mayors, NRI Ministers of various states of India,

Excellencies, Distinguished guests,

Ladies & Gentlemen,


Once again, I warmly welcome you all, at this valedictory session.

I am honoured that Shri Venkaih Naidu ji, Hon’ble Vice President and Chairperson of the Upper House of our Parliament has kindly accepted our invitation to grace this occasion and to deliver the keynote valedictory address.

Friends,

The journey of Venkaiahji, a farmer’s son to Vice President of India is a resounding tribute to his dedication, hard work and sheer brilliance.

Apart from Member of Rajya Sabha since 1998, Venkaiahji is a brilliant orator and we all enjoy his alliteration, rhymes and one liners.

The august presence of Hon’ble Vice President here today further signifies the importance India attaches to its intense engagement with diaspora. Thank you Venkaiahji for being with us.

Friends, I stand before you in this concluding session with a great degree of satisfaction.

This Conference has broken a new ground in further strengthening and diversifying our engagement with diaspora.

I am confident that this historical Conference will help open new vistas of establishing regular dialogues and exchange of visits & views with the PIO law makers.

For me, this Conference has been particularly rewarding as it has provided an invaluable opportunity to meet with all of you and exchange views on matters of mutual interest.

The two thematic sessions we had on

1. PIO Parliamentarians: A journey from Struggle to Parliament’ and

2. ‘Resurgent India: Role of PIO Parliamentarians’

have particularly been emotive, enlightening and inspiring for me.

Friends,

The history of migration and the struggles underwent by the Indian diaspora in the Girmitiya countries is an inspiring story of unflinching human spirit, courage and resoluteness. We are all proud of your contributions and achievements.

I would like to share the lines of Shri Totaram Sanadhya, who served his indenture in Fiji in the 1890s :

"A person who does not have the stability of mind is like an unstable dinghy. In this struggle of life, I will confront all the challenges with truth and strength. And I will never waver. Cowardliness is an evil which I would banish from my life”.

After the initial trauma of a long journey under difficult circumstances, the indentured diaspora ensured that their traditions were preserved. Transcending their religious barriers, they reached out to each other and developed a new bond often known as "Jahajibhai” or "Jahaji camaraderie”. The survival of Indian culture under these trying circumstances is a story of courage, zeal and resilience.

Friends,

India is one of the pioneers in recognising the importance of its overseas population and establishing an institutional framework for sustainable and mutually beneficial engagement with its Diaspora. India recognises the need to bring a strategic dimension to its engagement with its overseas community.

Our government has initiated actions to forge a partnership that will best serve India as a rapidly growing knowledge economy – to drive innovation and entrepreneurship – and meet the aspirations of the overseas Indian community as a significant constituency across the world.

The contribution of over 31 million-strong Indian Diaspora is deeply valued and appreciated. Today, the global Indian has become a brand synonymous with diligence, excellence and the indomitable human spirit to shine forth in all times, in all places and in all conditions.

The Government of India has successfully launched and initiated several programmes to engage with the Indian diaspora and in times of crisis abroad, launched several rescue Missions.

The Government of India under the dynamic leadership of Shri Narendra Modi Ji has been especially proactive in nurturing the bonds that bind Mother India and its children in distant lands. We believe in infusing a new energy and vitality into this lasting relationship between India & its Diaspora.

The current government has only one mission: to re-make India into a great nation, a mission in which every Indian and equally every overseas Indian has a vital stake.

It will be a perfect fit, a confluence of dreams and interests, and I have no doubt that with such interlinking and intermeshing, both India and the adopted countries of overseas Indians will become stronger and prosperous.

In conclusion, I would like to say that though we profess different religions, colours of our passports may vary, our ancestors came from different regions and our mother tongues and practices are also different, "Phir bhi dil hai Hindustani”.

I most gratefully thank you all once again for being part of this historical conference.

I also take this opportunity to thank our Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi Ji, Deputy Chairperson, Rajya Sabha Shri P J Kurien, Dy. Speaker, Lok Sabha Shri M. Thambidurai, Minister of Parliamentary Affairs Shri Ananth Kumar Ji and Chairman, Standing Committee on External Affairs Dr. Shashi Tharoor Ji for their gracious presence and enlightening views, which enhanced the dignity and importance of this Conference.

I wish all of you a very happy, pragmatic and fulfilling New Year.

Thank you ! Namaskar.

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