Prime Minister Narendra Modi today hailed the contributions of the more than 65,000 Indians in Portugal, saying they were India’s “real ambassadors” and have enriched the culture of the country they have made their home. “Indians have carried their cultural heritage with them and have always been proud of them,” Modi said, addressing diaspora Indians in Lisbon. The prime minister cited the diversity of language and taste in India to point out that Indians can adapt to the culture of the country they live in. “You have effortlessly gelled with the culture of the country you have been,” he said and added that they were the “real ambassadors of India” in Portugal.
On relations between India and Portugal, Modi said the country is tied with India in many ways, including through sports. “Who has not heard of Christiano Ronaldo. His name fills every sportsperson in India with energy.” He said Portugal has historical ties with India, but a special one with Gujarat, and went on to narrate the story of Kutch sailor Kanji Malam, who helped the Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama discover the sea route from Europe to India in 1497. Kanji Malam had navigated the Portuguese commander to Calicut from Malindi on east African coast.
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He also highlighted the role Portugal played in furthering the message of Yoga, an ancient Indian spiritual discipline. Modi thanked Portugal Prime Minister Antonio Costa for promoting a wellness movement in Portugal through yoga. Modi talked about his recent meeting with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, who also the former Prime Minister of Portugal, in Astana and how they bonded to discuss yoga.
During his address, Modi briefly talked about his government’s economic programmes and India’s space triumphs, including the launch of 30 satellites at one go yesterday. With Costa, the first prime minister of Indian origin in Europe, Modi visited the Radha Krishna Temple in Lisbon. “The temple is the symbol of social conscience in Portugal. People here do not discriminate, and that is the identity of Indians, the diversity of India,” Modi said. Modi is the first Indian prime minister to visit Portugal for a bilateral trip, though Atal Bihari Vajpayee had visited the country but it was for a European Union conference in 2000.