Prime Minister Narendra Modi here on Thursday made an impassioned pitch to non-resident Indians (NRIs) to invest in the country, saying that a host of opportunities awaited them and that India “has risen with new strength”.
Modi, speaking at the 13th Pravasi Bhartiya Divas, which coincided with the 100th anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi’s return to India from South Africa, said the world was looking at India with “great” expectations, and the only requirements were confidence and capability. The PM described the 25-million strong NRI community as India’s “great capital” and sought their help to transform the nation. “My conviction is that the Indian diaspora is a great capital for us in the global context. The more we nurture it, the stronger will be our presence globally,” Modi said.
Pravasi Bhartiya Divas, the Centre’s outreach programme for overseas Indians, was launched in 2003 by the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government to mark the return of Mahatma Gandhi to India from South Africa. It has been held every year since. On the occasion of the centenary of Gandhi’s return, the PM released R25 and R5 commemorative stamps and R100 and R10 coins.
Modi wooed the PIO community with a string of facilities, saying that those having a person of Indian origin (PIO) card will get life-time visas and the regulation requiring them to visit a police station to verify their credentials once every week had been scrapped.
The PM highlighted his government’s Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, ‘Skill India’ scheme, and the ‘Make in India’ and ‘Clean Ganga’ campaigns to encourage the nearly 4,000 delegates who attended the event to invest in India. “Clean Ganga is not only important from religious and environmental perspectives, but also key to economic development of 40% of India’s population,” he said and urged NRIs to participate in the ‘Clean Ganga’ initiative.
Modi said Gandhi’s ideas were relevant even today: “Gandhiji ignited the fire of freedom. He was truly a world citizen; his lessons continue to inspire us even now. Exactly 100 years ago, he returned to India from South Africa to serve the nation and led us to freedom. He brought with him the message of new awakening. When it comes to development, while keeping humanity at its core, there is nothing greater than Mahatma Gandhi’s philosophies.”