The Prime Minister of India Dr Manmohan Singh, who belongs to the ruling Congress Party, said to the large assembly of expatriate Indians in Delhi last week that “Good times are ahead.”
Later, the Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi of the opposition party BJP spoke. He said, “Like the Prime Minister says, indeed, good times are coming. But, we may have to wait for a few months – five or six”.
I saw that Modi’s humorous dig at the government – implying that BJP will win in the next elections, and they will ensure good times for the country – went very well with the large overseas Indian community assembled there.
Like many others, I thoroughly enjoyed Modi’s speech, sitting there, as a delegate of the twelfth edition of the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) , the flagship event of the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA), held in New Delhi, during 7-9 January, 2014.
PBD is celebrated every year on January 9 to mark the contribution of Overseas Indian community to the development of India.
It means ‘Overseas Indian’ Day, and January 9 was chosen as the day to celebrate this occasion because it was on this day in 1915 that Mahatma Gandhi, the greatest Pravasi, returned to India from South Africa, led India’s freedom struggle, and changed the lives of Indians forever.
During these annual conventions, Pravasi Bhartiya Samman, the highest award instituted by the Government of India for overseas Indians, is awarded by the President of India ; and I was privileged to be present this year for a special reason.
It was the special joy I had, of watching my long-time friend Varghese Kurien, who heads the VKL Group and Al Namal Group of Companies in Bahrain, being awarded this great honour by President Pranab Mukherjee .
As an earlier recipient of the award, I consider it an extremely great honour and rare privilege that the Indian government bestows on Indians living abroad.
Dr Manmohan Singh praised the contributions of overseas Indian community for the development of India.
“It is not only the size of the Indian expatriate community as the world’s second largest, but also your achievements that give you a significatn global profile,” he said.
“The overseas Indian community’s contribution to India has also been invaluable–from the workers who labour abroad to support their families and communities at home; the professionals who share the fruits of their skills for India’s development; the entrepreneurs who bring investments into and promote exports from India; and, the community leaders who interpret India for the world and advance its interest abroad.”
Dr Singh said India is prepared to assume the international role and responsibilities that the world expects from a rising India.
“I am also confident that the association between India and its over 22 million roving ambassadors in the expatriate Indian community will continue to deepen and prosper in the years ahead,” he noted.
I am proud to be among these 22 million.