Pravasi Bharatiya Divas celebrations have come a long way since they were conceptualised and introduced by the AB Vajpayee government in 2003. The 13th edition of the Divas now underway at Gandhinagar in Gujarat reflects the enthusiasm it has generated among the 25 million people of Indian origin who live in 200 countries. Nearly 4,000 delegates representing the large diaspora are at the conference, inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday. He spoke from the heart when he said that India saw the diaspora as its “capital”. It must be said to Modi’s credit that no prime minister has been able to connect with the Indians abroad, better than him.
Wherever Modi has gone, he has found time to meet the Indians there, whether in large groups as in New York and Sydney or in small groups as in Tokyo and Kathmandu. He did not restrict himself to exchanging pleasantries with them. Instead, he sought their involvement in the development of the nation. He has also won their confidence by announcing a slew of measures aimed at strengthening their relations with the motherland. His government has increased the number of countries whose citizens are eligible to get visa on arrival. His announcement about integrating the services and facilities available to the persons of Indian origin and overseas citizens of India is a fulfilment of their long-pending demand.
Indians who live abroad, particularly in the West, are one of the most prosperous communities. If at one time the poor and the indigent went abroad in search of livelihood, today it is the educated and the talented who leave for jobs and business. Their contribution to the country’s development, sad to say, has not been commensurate with their financial and other capabilities, unlike the Chinese diaspora, which played a significant role in the progress of the country. Modi’s initiatives can help them play a better role in India’s development. Small wonder that the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas has become a day of hope.