President of India Virtually Addresses the Valedictory Session of 16th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas Convention

New Delhi

Our Diaspora is our face to the world, and champions India’s cause on the global stage. It has always come to India’s aid, whether it is for advocacy regarding international issues of concern to India, or contributing to the Indian economy by way of investments and remittances, said President of India, Ram Nath Kovind while addressing the valedictory session of the 16th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas Convention today (January 9, 2021) via video conferencing.

President said that on this very day in the year 1915, Mahatma Gandhi, the greatest Pravasi Bharatiya, returned to India. He gave a much wider base to our social reforms and freedom movement, and during the next three decades, he changed India in many fundamental ways. Before that, during his two decades of stay abroad, Bapu had identified the basic principles underlying the approach India should adopt for its growth and development. President said that the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas is also an occasion to recall Gandhiji’s ideals for individual and collective life. Gandhiji’s emphasis on Indianness, nonviolence, ethics, simplicity and sustainable development remain our guiding principles, he added.

President said that we are indebted to Atal Bihari Vajpayee whose vision re-energized the links with our diaspora. The Pravasi Bharatiya Divas celebrations started in 2003 when he was Prime Minister of India. Atalji’s initiatives have proved immensely helpful in strengthening the engagement of diaspora with the motherland.

President noted that India has one of the largest diaspora populations of nearly 30 million, residing in every corner of the world today. Addressing the Indian diaspora, President said “you have spread the soft power of India and made your mark on the global stage. Your continued emotional attachment to India, its culture and traditions makes all of us very proud of you. You have been contributing to the growth and development of the countries of your residence and, at the same time, you have been carrying your Indianness in your hearts. This emotional bonding has also translated into tangible gains for India. You have expanded India’s global embrace.”

Speaking about the COVID pandemic, President said that year 2020 has been the year of a global crisis caused by the COVID-19. India has been at the forefront in forging a global response to combat the enormous challenges posed by the pandemic. We supplied medicines to nearly 150 countries, making the world look at India as the ‘pharmacy of the world’. The recent success of our scientists and technicians in developing two COVID vaccines is a major achievement for the Aatma-Nirbhar Bharat Abhiyan which is driven by the spirit of global well-being.

President said that the seeds of an Aatma-Nirbhar Bharat were sown many years ago by Mahatma Gandhi’s call for Swadeshi and Self-reliance. Our vision of Aatma-Nirbhar Bharat has five key pillars of economy, infrastructure, demography, democracy and supply chains. Successful integration of all these factors will help achieve rapid growth and development. President said that the idea of ‘Aatma-Nirbhar Bharat’ does not mean seeking self-centered arrangements or turning the country inwards. It is about self- belief leading to self-sufficiency. We intend to contribute towards mitigating disruptions in global supply chains by enhancing availability of goods and services. Aatma-Nirbhar Bharat Abhiyan of India would make the world order more just and fair, promoting greater cooperation and peace. Our diaspora has an important role in the realization of India’s global aspirations, he added.

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