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Translation of address by EAM during the inauguration of Pravasi Bharatiya Convention (January 22, 2019)

January 25, 2019

Chief Guest of today’s program, Prime Minister of Mauritius, Shri Pravind Jugnauth,
Residing in the hearts of NRIsand PIOs, our popular Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi Ji,
Governor of Uttar Pradesh, Shri Ram Naik ji,
Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Honorable Yogi Ji,
Chief Minister of Haryana, Mr. Manohar Lal Ji,
Chief Minister of Uttarakhand, Shri Trivendra Singh Rawat,
My colleague in the Ministry of External Affairs, General VK Singh Ji,
Minister of NRI affairs in Uttar Pradesh, Swati Singh Ji,
Our Foreign Secretary Mr. Vijay Gokhale in the Ministry of External Affairs, and Secretary of OI Affairs Mr. Dnyaneshwar Mulay,
And my very affectionate NRI and PIObrothers and sisters present in this auditorium,
Namaskar, greetings!


Before starting my address today, I offer my salutations to the memories of thepioneer of PravasiBharatiya Divas, former Prime Minister of India, Bharat Ratna Hon’ble Atal Bihari Bajpai Ji.

Friends, this Pravasi Bharatiya Divas is his invention, it was born from his idea only and the first Pravasi Bharatiya Divas was celebrated on January 9, 2003 during the tenure of his government. But it is also true that the importance of this day gradually went on decreasing between 2004 and 2014. And by 2014, it merely became a ritual.But I express my gratitude to ourPrime Minister Narendra Modi, who after assuming power in May 2014 not only restored the dignity of this event but also infused a new life to this event.

He understood the importance of Indian Diaspora, the Indian community and tried to establish a direct dialogue with them. Have you ever seen earlier any Prime Minister talking to the Indian community in such large scale rallies? For the first time when the Prime Minister said that I will address a rally of Indian community at the Madison Square people there were surprised. I was there, people had started asking me from two days earlier, you booked such a big hall, will the hall fill? So I would only smile and say,you can see on that day.

All of you must have seen on the TV that the hall was not only full, it was jumping. More people were outside than they were inside the hall and all of them were saying that it’s ok if they do not get to listen to the speech but if they can find a glimpse of Modi, then their coming will be successful.

But today I would like to express my gratitude to all of you that the love that Prime Minister gave to you, you returned him twice of that. A demand started coming from one place after another where hewould go that they also need a rally like Madison Square. And after that there was a competition if Dubai is bigger than thator Sydney is bigger than that or Wembley is bigger than that, records kept on breaking one after another.

Friends, today India's prestige that has increased abroad due to the effective leadership of the Prime Minister in India, has also increased your dignity and respect. And you yourself are witness to it.

Few days back a gentleman came to me who had experienced it. I have narrated this at many places and I want to repeat that today. He came and said to me,I had gone to Turkey with my family a few days ago. While sitting in a restaurant we were eating food, a Turkish family was sitting on the opposite table.My wife wasdressed in a sari and she had put on a bindi also. So first they looked at us and then they talked among themselves for five minutes and then came to us.They did not know much English, but they asked us, From India? So we said, yes, then they said, India a great country. Modi, a great leader.

After that they asked to click a selfie with them and we were so excited. He said to me, Sister I am not any celebrity, neither any achiever. I being an ordinary Indian went there as a tourist but there just by looking at my wife’s attire being identified as Indian, and then asking for selfie. What could be better reputation of India than this outside in the world.

I want to tell you that the affection that Prime Minister gave to you, and the respect which you accorded to the Prime Minister, may it remain like this and keepon growingevery day,with these blessings I welcome the NRIs and PIOspresent here.

Hon’ble Prime Minister Sir, today you are present here in two capacities on this stage. You are the MP from Varanasi and you are the Prime Minister of India also. As such, you already take personal interest in all our events, but as the MP of Varanasi you have espoused this event fully and today, what all the diaspora members are witnessing since arriving yesterday is that all the residents of Kashi are eagerly waiting for them, it is the result of your personal interest and I congratulate you as the member of Parliament from Varanasi and also as the celebrated Prime Minister of India.

Governor of Uttar Pradesh Ram Naik Ji is sitting here, I call him Ram Bhau with respect and love. Yogi Ji is very fortunate that he has such governor in UP who is a scholar and who is active also. I know that if the chief minister and the governordo not have amicable relations, then the development of that region is sacrificed to the disputes. But both of them are always on same page, that is why Uttar Pradesh is developing at such a fast pace. Ram Bhau, a very warm welcome to you on this stage.

Yogi Adityanath Ji is the popular Chief Minister of India's largest state Uttar Pradesh. Yogi ji, I especially want to welcome youbecausethis time we have been receiving many requests that this time instead of January 9, if you can show us the Kumbh Mela and the Republic Day Parade and it will be nice if you can push the dates a little.

We discussed it with the Prime Minister and decided that we will push the dates. So I immediately called you and I said that our NRIs want to see Kumbh Mela this time, will you be able to make the arrangements? And I also said that we will have to do ParvasiBharatiyaDiwas in the vicinity only, so will you be able to organizethe Pravasi Bharatiya Divas in Varanasi?

Friends, his reply was that Sushma Ji, maybe you don’t know the amount of almsdeed/virtue that one gets by taking a dip in Kumbh, one gets double of that in facilitating it for others. And you are giving me an opportunity to get 100 times of that. We will not only make arrangement but will make such arrangements that they will forget how the Kumbh is celebrated. And you are allowing me to have double of that by making them visit Ganga and Kashi Vishwanath in Varanasi, and also the dip in Kumbh. Please gladly invite them and organize the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas in Varanasi and also take them to the Kumbh.

Yogi Ji, you accepted our request with such ease and simplicity, I very warmly welcome you on this stage.

Friends, Chief Minister of Haryana is present here, Chief Minister of Uttarakhand is present here.Both of them are neighboring states of Uttar Pradesh. Uttarakhand is also UP’spre-existing area. On one hand there is Uttarakhand and on the other side there is Haryana. It is said that when some neighbor comes and joins you in happiness, it doubles.

Manohar Lal Ji, and Trivendra Ji, I would like to welcome you that as a proof of good neighbor you marked your presence here thus doubling our happiness, a very warm welcome to you.

General VK Singh is here, I call him my right hand. You must have seen that he has retired as the Army General, but whenever I say he becomes the General of overseas Indians and stands for them in the field, I welcome such General sahab.

Swati Singh is not here on stage right now but she is the minister of NRI affairs for UP. I say that when a job is handed over to a woman, then one should get relaxed. Yogi Ji, you handed over the task to Swati andgot relaxed, she very well supported us in making the arrangements.

Our two secretaries are present on the stage. Our Foreign Secretary is Mr. Vijay Gokhale, a very experienced and qualified officer and very beautifully conducting our foreign policy. Dnyaneshwar Mulay is the secretary who oversees this department only. His designation is, Secretary CPV & OIA. I would definitely like to mention one thing about Dnyaneshwar that earlier it used to be two separate departments. There was a separate ministry for OIA, but after discussing with the Prime Minister we merged both the ministries for better coordination.

Since the merger, Dnyaneshwar Mulay has been its secretary and he is still to this date. Dnyaneshwar Mulaydid not take the welfare of the overseas Indians as a government duty but undertook it as a commitment and therefore I am making special mention of him because after the event, he is about to retire. Mulay Ji, my very best wishes for your golden future.

And now it's turn to compliment the people of Kashi regardless of whether they are sitting in the auditorium or they are outside the auditorium. People of Kashi, I would like to accept from this stage that you have made this Pravasi Bharatiya Divas auspicious with your enthusiasm and hospitality. And the entire Varanasi has been turned to be all about PBD.

Those who have come here two days ago are witnessing the splendor of Kashi. I compliment you all on behalf of the diaspora members for the enthusiasm and the respect with which you have welcomed them, I salute you bowing down and I would request that you accept my salute of reverence to all of you. Friends, I committed a big mistake, I forgot to welcome Pravind Jugnauth Ji. With my apologies I would like to tell him that weknow Mauritius as small India also and Pravind Jugnauth Ji is the Prime Minister of that same small India.

We all are proud that except for a short period, the Mauritian power has been handled by the diaspora every time. He is also an OCI cardholder but I want to tell you an incident that how it is small India.

Recently World Hindi Convention was held and in it he hosted a small banquet separately. I was having my meal with him the first thing that he said to me, I know Sushma Ji you are vegetarian but we are also vegetarian for the 9 days of the Navaratri. Neither non-veg food is cooked in the home and nor do we have permission to have it.

After that a dish was served in the meal i.e. Khichadi. Then he said to me that it is imperative that Khichadi is prepared on Makar Sankranti and I have told my wife to learn how to prepare khichadi as it is our tradition and we should never abandon our traditions.

And the third thing, when desserts were served, it also had Kheer and then said one more thing to me, he said that we have a tradition here. When the bride comes for the first time after marriage, the first thing that we offer to her is Kheer. Based on these three things you can very well understand that he may be abroad since many years, his ancestors went there around 180 years back but still these rituals, traditions have connected us.

This is the reason that whenever we call Pravind Jugnauth and earlier his father Aniruddha Jugnauth also, who is currently the Mentor Minister, they accept our invitation.

PravindJi, from this stage I very warmly welcome you that after accepting our invitation you agreed to come here and you will also address our entire diaspora community here. But this bond of relationship, which depicted itself in three different waysduring only one banquet, I wanted to share that with them on your behalf. Pravind JugnauthJi,a very warm welcome to you.

Your Excellency, I very warmly respect you, I very warmly honor you and I very-very warmly welcome you on the stage.

Thanks a lot.
Namaskar.

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