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Keynote Address by Minister of State for External Affairs, Shri V. Muraleedharan at the Virtual PBD Conference on 'India’s Diaspora Dividend in the EU'

February 23, 2022

Secretary (East), Shri Saurabh Kumar,

Additional Secretary, Ms Manika Jain,

Esteemed Panelists and dear friends.

Namaskaram,


· I am happy to participate in this virtual Conference on "Indian Diaspora in the European Union” which I should say is a very timely and important initiative. This conference is part of the Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav celebrations wherein we are commemorating 75 years of the glorious history and achievements of independent India.

· This regional conference with Europe is happening at the time in which there is a greater intensity in ties with the European Union and its Member States in various fields, including the people to people contacts. Indian Diaspora is one of the strongest factors for furthering ties with various countries including in the European Union.

· India and EU are two most vibrant democracies, two of the largest open market economies and pluralistic societies, with a long and historic connection. We share common perspective on many regional and global issues, including a shared commitment to promoting an international rule-based order based on reformed and effective multilateralism.

· The EU is India’s natural and preferred partner. Hence, the EU has emerged as one of the preferred destinations for Indians migrating abroad for study, work or business. Today, EU is home to a rich and diverse Indian diaspora. There are more than 1 million Indians/people of Indian origin in the European Union in various fields such as health, education, business, information technology, etc. contributing to the local economies and furthering our bilateral ties.

Friends,

· Indian diaspora has become a living bridge between our countries and is playing an instrumental role in creating a lot of goodwill and exciting opportunities for enhancing India’s relations with the EU, its various institutions and its Member States. In the true spirit of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, India has traditionally been a pivot of soft power exercise for promoting global peace and progress, and the diaspora has played that role to its true meaning including in the EU.

· The success of each of our overseas Indian has dramatically changed the world’s perception of Indians and of India. While India is moving ahead on the path of development at a rapid pace, the achievements and support of our Indian diaspora abroad cannot be overemphasized.

· We have people of Indian origin, as heads of the state and heads of the government, and as heads of large multi-national corporations, raising India's profile in the European Union. Let me give an example. During the India-EU Leaders’ Meeting in Porto in May 2021, the Prime Minister of Portugal, Mr. António Costa, flashed his OCI card and Portuguese Passport which expressed his strong desire to relate his Indian roots and Europeanness. The first India-EU Leaders’ Meeting was hosted during Portugal’s Presidency of the EU which set a new milestone in our relations with the EU.

· At the same time, our large diaspora has continued to maintain deep and abiding connections with their motherland and its rich heritage, traditions and culture. For example, the contribution of diaspora in Europe during the second wave of Covid was a valuable one.

Friends,

· I am happy to note that India is among the very few countries which has an extensive, proactive and evolving policy framework for engagement with the diaspora.

· The priority of this government is to build everlasting links with the Indian Diaspora the world over and create appropriate channels and avenues for our highly talented and resourceful diaspora to contribute to the rapid socio-economic development and transformation happening in India. We can immensely gain from the skills and talents of the diaspora and are committed to harness this potential for mutual benefit.

· In this connection, various programs have been initiated to connect to diaspora. Some of the notable schemes are VAJRA Faculty Scheme which brings an international dimension to the R&D ecosystem of India; PRABHASS: "Pravasi Bharatiya Academic and Scientific Sampark - Integrating Indian Diaspora with the Mother Land”.

· At the India-EU Leaders Meeting held last year in May 2021, both sides launched an ambitious India-EU Connectivity Partnership to give a much needed boost to sustainable projects in the field of physical, digital and energy connectivity. People-to-people connectivity has been identified as one of the four key pillars of this partnership underscoring the commitment on both sides to support the free flow of people, talent and ideas between our regions. As part of this Partnership, India and EU have agreed to enhance exchanges of faculty and researchers and foster cooperation on innovation through matchmaking and co-creation in each other’s innovation ecosystem. We depend on our talented and well networked Diaspora to successfully implement this partnership.

Friends,

· The Government is proactively working towards enhancing employment opportunities for skilled Indian workers in foreign countries. To have a formal framework of cooperation and maximize the benefits of migration and mobility, Government of India and EU has signed a Common Agenda on Migration and Mobility (CAMM) in 2016.

· Further, to streamline the processes and strengthen long term prospects for our students, workers and professionals, we have entered into a number of agreements on Mobility and Migration with France, Denmark and Portugal, and similar MoUs are under discussion with other countries like Germany, Benelux nations and Italy.

· The Government under the leadership of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modiji is committed to promote the welfare and protect the interests of Indians living abroad. To promptly address the grievances of the Diaspora, we have created a fully integrated online MADAD portal. During this Covid Pandemic, to facilitate the movement of the vaccinated people from India to the countries in the European Union, the Government of India has been taking up the matter of acceptance of made in India vaccines such as Covishield and Covaxin. Due to our persistent efforts, many countries in the European Union started accepting the Indian made vaccines for travelling in to this region.

· The Government of India, through our Embassies, will always be available for ensuring the welfare of the Indian diaspora.

Friends,

· India has become the global leader in the number of start-ups and innovation. Moreover, the Government initiated a number of reforms in the economic and financial sector which immensely opened up India’s investment regime.

· We have launched a number of flagship programmes such as Smart Cities Mission; the Digital India; the Skill India; the Start Up India; the Swachh Bharat campaign etc in order to achieve our objectives of a prosperous, skillful, enterprising, clean and futuristic Aatmanirbhar Bharat.

· I call upon the diaspora to use this opportunity to be part of India’s digital, greener and cleaner growth story.

· The Government has been working closely with the diaspora at the Member State level to leverage each other’s strengths to mutual benefit. However, it is felt that a diaspora organization at a pan-European Union level will increase better coordination and benefit from synergies. I am confident that today’s conference can deliberate on such proposals and come up with concrete ideas to further intensify our engagement with the Indian community in the EU and help us harness our Diaspora Dividend.

· I wish all participants a productive and successful conference.

Thank you.

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