Pravasi Bhartiya Divas, January 9, 2019
Press Note and Ambassador’s Mr. Alok Kumar Sinha speech
Dear Members of the Indian Community,
I thank you all for joining us today to celebrate Pravasi Bhartiya Day 2019 in Bahrain. Pravasi Bhartiya Divas was introduced by Government of India in 2003. January 9 was chosen to mark the event as it was on this day in 1915 when Mahatma Gandhi, regarded as ‘Sarva Shreshtha Pravasi Bharatiya’, returned to India from South Africa and started country’s independence struggle, that changed the lives of Indians forever. The PBD have been an extremely useful platform for the people and the Government of India to renew and strengthen the bonds with the Indian community residing in different parts of the world.
The Pravasi Bhartiya Divas, since its inception in 2003 was being celebrated either in Delhi or one of the other major cities in India. Government has changed it to make it more inclusive and to have wider representation of wider cross-section of the Indian community living abroad. As a result Indian Diplomatic Missions around the world have been entrusted to organise it in country of their accreditation.
The 25 million strong Indian Diaspora scattered around the globe has excelled in many spheres of life and enriched the cultural, economic and intellectual experience of the countries of their residence . They have also made a significant contribution to India’s emergence as an economic and cultural power. The contribution of this 25 million strong Indians is deeply valued and cherished. Today there is no patch of foreign land which is not inhabited by Indians and glows with traces of influence of our multilayered culture. Coming across continents and countries from America to Africa, Australia to Argentina, South East Asia to Middle East, overseas Indians are making their presence felt in countless ways, big and small.
The global Indian has become a brand synonym with excellence, achievement and the indomitable human spirit to shine forth in all times, in all places and in all conditions. Person of Indian origin and Non Resident Indians have been a great source of pride for India as they have played a stellar role in the country’s growth and development. We salute their never say die spirit.
The overseas Indians not only have played a significant role in the economic development of India but also have played a significant role in the development and progress of the country of their residence. Bahrain is one of the finest examples of contribution made by Indian community in its development. The fact has been acknowledged publicly by Bahraini leadership from time to time in its interactions and other discourses. Little India project in Manama was the testimony to recognise the pivotal role that Indians have played for the growth, development and stability of Bahrain.
Government of India has launched several programmes that have the potential to transform India. The Make in India initiative sets out to help India become a hub for design, innovation and manufacturing, the Digital India programme to transform India into digitally empowered society and knowledge economy, Jan-Dhan Yojna, Swatch Bharat campaign ,Smart City, Model villages and clean Ganga Mission are some of the initiatives taken by Government which have potential to transform our nation. Government has been working in mission mode to implement all these programmes. You can contribute and can become active partner in these ventures.
I would like to emphasize that India is not just a country of billion people but also a country of billion opportunities. There are tremendous opportunities today in India especially in the field of Manufacturing, Infrastructure, Education, Health, Skill development, Science & Technology, Research and Innovation, Knowledge economy and Youth development as part of Government’s efforts to realise India’s full potential.
I am delighted to inform you that as per the latest World Bank Doing Business Report [DBR, 2019] released on 31 October, 2018, India has recorded a jump of 23 positions against its rank of 100 in 2017. World Bank has also recognized India as one of the top improvers for the year. This is the second consecutive year for which India has been recognized as one of the top improvers. India has recorded the highest improvement in two years by any large country since 2011 in the Doing business assessment by improving its rank by 53 positions. Further, India has improved its rank among BRICS countries from 5th in 2014 to 3rd in 2018. The significant improvement in the ranking reflects the commitment of the Government of India to carry out comprehensive reforms including undertaking complex measures to facilitate private and foreign investments. Some of the landmark reform measures include the introduction of a single country, single market, single tax system i.e., the Goods and Services Tax and resolution of commercial disputes in a transparent manner through the Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Bill.
I am particularly happy to see a large number of young Indians in the gathering, bursting with energy, new hopes and aspirations. It is satisfying to see our young generation taking the initiative to connect themselves with the country of their origin and building lasting connection back home. They can be instrumental to write success story of ‘Bharat Ko Banao’ and ‘Bharat mein Banao’.
The welfare of our nationals outside India, particularly in the Gulf region, is one of the top most priorities of the Government. The Government of India in collaboration with the State Governments has been proactively devising ways and means to address the concerns of overseas Indian nationals. Government, through its diplomatic Missions, Joint Commission Meetings and through high level visits remains in continuous dialogue with the foreign governments on various matters concerning Indian community. A number of measures have been undertaken by the Government to ensure the welfare of the Indian Diaspora through the institution of Indian Community Welfare Fund (ICWF), on-line information system regarding transportation of mortal remains, 24×7 help lines, toll free help line, open house scheme, initial legal service to the Indian nationals in need and a web based portal “MADAD” to address the grievances of Indian community abroad.
The Government of India is determined to continue to work closely with the Indian diaspora to leverage each other’s strengths to mutual benefit.
I would like to touch upon a few schemes and programmes introduced by the Government of India for our NRIs and PIO community.
Bharat Ko Janiye Quiz: In pursuance of Prime Minister’s announcement, Ministry of External Affairs organized 1st edition of Bharat Ko Janiye Quiz for young overseas Indians (two categories i.e. PIOs and NRIs) in 2015-16. The quiz is being conducted to motivate overseas Indian youth to enhance their knowledge about India. Bharat Ko Janiye Quiz is open for categories of participants –PIO, NRI & Foreign Nationals between 15 to 35 years cover areas of Indian Art, Indian Democracy, Economy, Geography, Personalities in Music and Dance, Science & Technology, Languages & Literature, Education, Tradition of Indian Crafts, Indian Cinema, and Renowned Personalities.
The Second Edition of BKJ Quiz was held in 2018-19. Today we will be felicitating the winners of 1st Round of BKJ from Bahrain during the course of this event.
Scholarship Programme for diaspora children (SPDC): Government of India launched a scheme called “Scholarship Programme for Diaspora Children” (SPDC), in the year 2006-2007, for the wards of Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs) and Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) to assist them in pursuing Under Graduate courses in Indian Universities/Institutes. Under SPDC scheme financial assistance for specific undergraduate courses in Professional and Non-Professional courses (except Medical and related courses) is provided towards tuition fee, admission fee and post admission services. This year from Kingdom of Bahrain 15 NRI students have availed of this scholarship scheme.
I am happy to inform members of Indian associations representating various States of India about the scheme to support activities in Bahrain designed designed to promote industrial, economical, cultural and tourism attractions of their respective States. The Embassy would help them in organizing such events. These activities would further linkages between the States and the Kingdom as well as help promote better people to people level contacts and understanding.
The 15th PBD Convention is being held on 21-23 January 2019 in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh. The theme of PBD Convention 2019 is “Role of Indian Diaspora in building New India”. Special arrangements are also being made for participation in Kumbh Mela and Republic day parade in New Delhi; Registration open till 10 January, 2019.
Before I conclude, I would like to express my sincere appreciation to each one of you as a member of the vibrant Indian community in Bahrain for your sincerity and commitment towards ‘Karmabhumi’ and for making your ‘Matribhumi’ proud as well as for contributing towards strengthening of our relations with Bahrain.
I wish you all a successful and prosperous year 2019.
International News Desk, Bahrain
Mr.Sisel Panayil Soman, COO – Middle East