PM Modi has taken diaspora events to new level: EAM Swaraj

New Delhi : Lauding Prime Minister Narendra Modi for taking community engagement and diaspora events to a new level, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Saturday said the contact with the Non-Resident Indians (NRI) in various parts of the world had deepened ever since the BJP-led Government came to power.

Speaking at the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) here, Swaraj said PBD is being celebrated as a festival since its inception during former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s government.

“Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s community engagements have taken diaspora contacts to a new level… It is true that since our government assumed the office, contacts with you have become very deep,” she said.

“The decision to celebrate January 9 as the PBD was taken by the Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s government in 2003. The date, January 9, was chosen because on this day Mahatma Gandhi had returned to India from South Africa. We have been celebrating this event as a festival since then,” she added.

Swaraj also recalled the efforts undertaken by the government to rescue Indians stranded in the war-torn nations.

“In the last 19 months, we have risen to the challenge of emergency relief on four different occasions – Ukraine, Libya, Iraq and Yemen. On June 3, crisis erupted in Ukraine, where 1, 000 Indian students had to be evacuated, five days later problem in Iraq erupted. Even as events were unfolding in Iraq, Libya happened, there we had to evacuate 3,500 people,” she said.

“Then was the challenge of Yemen, where we evacuated 4,500 people. In addition, 2,500 foreigners were evacuated,” she added.

Concluding her speech, the External Affairs Minister also invited the diaspora to participate in the ‘skill India’, ‘Digital India’, ‘Namami Ganga’ and other flagship initiatives of the government.

Meanwhile, Minister of State for External Affairs General (retired) V.K. Singh said that his ministry is enlarging the engagement with Indian diaspora and Indians living abroad.

“All our missions in various countries observing this day as PBD, and interacting with Indians living in that country,” he said.

PBD is celebrated on January 9 each year to mark the contribution of the overseas Indian community to the development of India.

This year, PBD is being planned differently with an objective of developing a new paradigm for engagement with the diaspora over the next decade, according to an official statement. (ANI)