What started out as an event to bring together non-resident Indians (NRIs) to share knowledge and expertise, has turned into an investment platform.
Inaugurating the the 13th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas in Gandhinagar on Wednesday, minister of external affairs Sushma Swaraj appealed to NRIs to invest in India, saying “the world no longer considers India as a country mired in poverty, but sees us as a rising power”. To make her point, Swaraj gave examples of the ‘Make in India’ and ‘Swachch Bharat’ initiatives undertaken by the Narendra Modi government “We want you to participate in the vision that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has for the India’s future. We have launched several initiatives with the potential to transform India,” she said. “Come, connect, celebrate and contribute for transforming India.”
The event is coinciding with the centenary of Mahatma Gandhi’s arrival back from South Africa to India in 1915, and Swaraj invoked it to appeal to NRIs to learn more about the problems plaguing the country before contributing towards the nation’s development. “Even though Gandhiji was a successful lawyer and leader in South Africa, he travelled in third class in trains to get to know India better. It is important for today’s youth to know and appreciate its heritage,” she said.
The foreign minister projected India’s youth and democracy as its “assets”. “Over 50% of India’s population is below the age of 25. Soon, one-fifth of the world’s working population will be in India. The government is committed to efficiency, accountability and transparency and has its focus firm on infrastructure, skill development, education, health, and research and innovation. Youth can become the ambassadors of a new India.”
Swaraj said steps were being taken to ensure that investing and doing business in India became simpler and easier. “The government is working in mission mode. You can contribute and become a partner. Connect, culture and contribution are the three ‘Cs’ which will help bring about a synergy among Indians worldwide,” she said.
Priti Patel, MP, the United Kingdom (UK), and Prime Minister’s Diaspora Champion and Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, the United Kingdom, was also present at the inaugural function. She identified education as the key area through which the UK could contribute towards strengthening ties with India, in addition to trade and investment. “Over the last five years UK has welcomed 1,00,000 students from India. Our government has also increased funding for scholarship, making the Chevening programme one of the largest scholarship promammes for India,” she said.
While the youth Pravasi Bharatiya Divas was inaugurated today, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to arrive on Thursday.