Pravasi Bharatiya Divas celebration at the Indian Embassy in Bahrain

At the PIO-Parliamentary conference, held this morning in New Delhi, our Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that the government’s guiding principle is: ‘reform to transform’.

While addressing 100 parliamentarians in this First PIO Parliamentarian Conference in New Delhi, on Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, he appropriately stressed on the role of Indians abroad, and how they are impacting the changes occurring within India.  

We can see that the government knows the role diaspora can play — in domestic growth.

Perhaps, that is why he said this. I quote, “We are increasingly focusing on the world, our perception of the world is changing, its main reason is that India is transforming itself, it is being transformed. Reforms to transform is our guiding principle.” Unquote.

As Indians living abroad, our participation in India’s transformation, which our Prime Minister is talking about, is extremely vital.  

With over 30 million of us living abroad, we are the largest national diaspora in the world, and growing faster than many others. And the opportunities, on how we can positively affect our nation’s wellbeing, are truly numerous.

According to a UN Report, from its Department of Economic and Social Affairs, the richest Indian diaspora is in the US. Indians accounted for the third-largest ethnic group in 2015, making one per cent of the total US population. The largest chunk of the Indian diaspora resides, here in the Arabian Gulf, sending huge remittances to our home country.

Many pravasis may have achieved success. But resting on our laurels is definitely not what a true pravasi should do. I believe that our heart must keep beating for India, and our soul must strive for prosperity of our nation.

When I had received the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman, in 2009, I was blessed to gain an entirely new perspective of how India sees us. And how we see India from outside. It opened my mind to a new understanding of we can be not only be the unofficial ambassadors of our country, outside. But also be the conduits through which we can strengthen bilateral relations and channel foreign investments.

India’s Father of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi, may have gathered his education and experience  from United Kingdom and from South Africa. But his core values, I am sure, were formed when he was growing up in Gujarat, India,

So, on this day 103 years ago, 9 January 1915, when the great pravasi – Mahatma Gandhi -returned to Mumbai-India, from Cape Town-South Africa, he brought with him something special.

He brought with him a beautiful amalgamation of Indian values and global perspectives.  Which is what pravasis possess in abundance.

Gandhi  may have seen the world outside, but his heart and soul  was in India. And that soul, or Aatma, has become ‘a great soul’ or ‘Maha Aatma’ as he worked for the independence of India and the wellbeing of India.

We have seen that Mahatma’s aim has not been to revel in the luxuries which foreign shores offer. It has been to strive for the wellbeing of his native country.

In fact ‘Swach bharat Abhiyaan’ one of the many flagship programmes of the Indian government has been the vision of Mahatma.

‘Digital India’ cannot really go digital without the numerous Indian software professionals living and working from abroad.

‘Skill India’ can get an enormous boost, if we can all engage in a skill building and skill upgrades by offering to India the lessons we have all learnt from abroad.

“Make in India” can get a great surge if we can all become conduits for foreign investment and for directing our host countries to manufacture in our native land.

I believe, every one of us has a mission on earth. And as pravasis, our mission is empower the vaasis. As non-residents, our objective is to enrich the residents. As those living outside India, our striving is for the betterment of those living inside.