NEW DELHI: President Ram Nath Kovind asked parliamentarians of Indian origin to link the priorities of their countries with India’s development and see how the two can intersect. Addressing the inaugural session of the international conference of PIO (persons of Indian origin) Parliamentarians here, the president said India offers opportunities for huge investment, trade and development.
The conference is being attended by parliamentarians from 23 nations.
“…it is important for you to link your individual country’s priorities to India’s development. And to see how these can intersect,” he said.
The president called the parliamentarians “living bridges” who play an important role in enhancing understanding between their countries and the country of their parents and ancestors.
“Indians are proud of our democracy, fabric of pluralism and diversity. This is our greatest strength. And the Indian diaspora has carried such liberal and civic-minded values with it.
“Instinctively, this has made members of the Indian diaspora contribute to public life in countries that they are citizens of,” he said.
For the Indian government, engagement with PIO parliamentarians or with the wider Indian diaspora community is not a transactional relationship or a zero-sum game, Kovind said.
“Rather, we look upon the community and look upon you, the PIO parliamentarians and elected and public representatives, as a living bridge,” he said.
They can help build “economic, people-to-people and strategic connections that will be of benefit to both countries and to all of us”, the president said.
Describing India as one of the fastest growing economies in the world, he said the economy will gallop ahead in the next few decades.
We are also at the cusp of a new India that will achieve certain milestones for our people by 2022, also a year when we will celebrate the 75th year of its Independence, the president said.
“At such a juncture, India offers huge investment, trade and developmental opportunities. And the development of India will be of benefit to not just the 1.3 billion people of India but will be a voice of hope and prosperity and of peace and stability for our shared world and for all the countries you represent,” he said.
He praised the Indian diaspora saying they have risen to “appreciable heights” in almost all countries where they found a home.
The president gave some examples of the work done by members of the Indian diaspora, like farmers in countries as far apart as Italy, Bolivia and Tanzania.
“They (Indian diaspora) are instrumental to the tech start-up ecosystem of Silicon Valley. They form the backbone of the economy of Dubai and other major business cities in the Gulf region.
The global financial centres of New York, London and Singapore would simply not be the same without the Indian diaspora,” he said.
Kovind lauded the achievements made by the PIOs and other Indians living overseas.
“I would go to the extent of saying that if Indian cuisine and Indian films have a global market today, it is because the diaspora has taken them to distant lands,” the president said.
The conference is being hosted by the Antar Rashtriya Sahayog Parishad-Bharat along with the PIO Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).