To mark the contribution of the overseas Indian community to the development of India, Pravasi Bharatiya diwas is held on 7–9 January every other year in an Indian city. The day commemorates the return of Mahatma Gandhi from South Africa in Bombay on 9 January 1915. Established in 2003, it is sponsored by the Ministry of External Affairs of the government of India and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and the Ministry of Development of the North Eastern Region of India. A celebratory event it is a forum for issues concerning the Indian Diaspora.
Speaking at the 14th edition of Pravasi Bharatiya Divas Convention held at the Bengaluru International exhibition center, Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the gathering. In his first speech ever for 2017, he said,
Indian diaspora has made invaluable contribution to our economy; We want to change brain drain to brain gain. The diaspora has contributed USD 69 bn to Indian economy; it represents the best of Indian ethos, culture and values.
He further added that,
We will shortly launch ‘Pravasi Kaushal Vikas Yojana’ targetted at Indian youth seeking overseas employment. We don’t see the colour of passports, but the relations written by blood. Security of Indians abroad is of utmost importance;Sushma Swaraj has been proactive, prompt in helping distressed Indians abroad.
Castigating the opponents of demonetisation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said those terming the government’s move as ‘anti-people’ were the “political worshippers” of graft and black money which were making the economy, polity and society hollow.
Graft, blackmoney is making our politics, society hollow. It is unfortunate that there are some “political worshippers” of blackmoney. It is unfortunate that our fight against blackmoney, corruption is being termed anti-people by ‘rajnitik pujaris’. Friends you know we have undertaken a big responsibilty in fighting black money and corruption… Black money and corruption have gradually made our polity, economy, society and the country hollow.
It is very saddening to see some black money supporters maligning the moves against corruption, he said while thanking the Indian diaspora for supporting the government’s steps against corruption and black money.
Emphasising the role played by overseas Indians in the country’s development, the Prime Minister said they have made an “invaluable contribution” to the Indian economy by investing over 69 billion US dollars.
“For me, FDI has two definitions — one is ‘Foreign Direct Investment’ and the other is ‘First Develop India’,” he said, asserting that “I can say with full confidence that 21st century belong to India.”
Encouraging all PIO Card holders to convert their PIO Cards into OCI Cards, Modi said “we have extended the deadline for PIO card conversions to OCI from 31 December 2016, until June 30, 2017 without any penalty.” He also spoke about the various measures for welfare and safety of Indians abroad, from carrying out evacuation of Indians in distress to other steps taken by his government in last two years, specifically mentioning the efforts of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in this regard.
He also said that starting with Mauritius, his government was working to put in place procedures so that descendants of various Indian communities could become eligible for OCI cards, by addressing the difficulties of PIOs in Fiji, Reunion Islands, Suriname, Guyana and other Caribbean States.