Oscar Fernandes, the Minister of
State for Overseas Indian Affairs has extended an invitation to the Overseas
Indian delegates to be part with India’s exciting march to progress
and prosperity. He said that if there
is one virtue that defines the Overseas Indian community, it is their
knowledge, expertise and skills across a wide gamut of sectors. We would seek to build a bridge between
India and the global Indian to transform ideas into individual initiatives and
community action. Shri Fernandes was addressing the inaugural session of 4th
Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas at Hyderabad International Convention Centre (HICC)
Following is the text of Shri Oscar Fernandes’s address:
is indeed our honour that so many of you have come from different parts of the
globe to participate in this prestigious event. The Ministry of Overseas Indian
Affairs (OIA), it is a young ministry and is a special initiative of the UPA
government under the leadership of the Hon’ble Prime Minister Dr.Manmohan
Singh. The formation of this Ministry acknowledges the fact that the overseas
Indian community is a significant force and need mainstream attention. Estimated about 20 million spread across a
110 countries in eight major regions of the world, it is in the true that the
sun never sets on the Indian diaspora.
Ministry is a small one and we propose to remain small. The Ministry is also
unique in that we are positioning ourselves as a ‘services Ministry’ to
function as a friend and guide to the vast and diverse overseas Indian
community. We believe that it is
important to take a medium to long-term view of India’s engagement with its
The Indian diaspora is not a
homogenous group. In recent weeks I have had the opportunity to meet large
number of you in different countries. From my interaction I have come to
realize that the needs and expectations of the Indians in the Gulf region for
instance are as unique and different as the overseas Indians in North
America. Equally, the overseas Indian
community in the old diaspora countries such as Mauritius, Fiji, Caribbean,
South Africa, etc. has vastly different concerns and interests from the
diaspora in Europe or other parts of the Western world. India is a vibrant
whole of many cultures, religions, languages and regions. It is this plurality that gives us strength.
The invisible threat that holds this heterogeneity together his Indian-ness.
This plurality is true as much of the Indian diaspora. The idea of Indian-ness bonding us together
across the globe, as the Prime Minister reminded us last year, is an idea whose
time has come. Simply put, we are truly ‘globally Indian’.
We are indeed proud all of you.
Each of you has worked with distinction in your chosen fields of activity and
the global Indian is today recognized all over the world for his or her
knowledge, dedication and strong work ethic.
You have all successfully joined the mainstream in the countries in
which you live and work, but have yet retained your cultural identity and your
bond with the home country.
India is rapidly emerging on the
world firmament to take its rightful place among the comity of nations. Besides being one of the fast growing
economies, India is also a young nation.
The pre-eminence that India has
gained around the world is to my mind primarily because of three visionaries
who guided the destiny of the nation and one who continues to do so with
sagacity and courage.
Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of the
Nation was the first eminent Pravasi Bharatiya who galvanized the freedom
movement and won us political freedom. In doing so, he also became an apostle
of peace and gave the world the message of ‘Ahimsa’.
The architect of Modern India is
Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. It was he who laid the institutional foundation to
nurture the scientific temper. If we are today reaping the benefits of science
and technology and can boast of the best institutions like the IIT’s, we owe it
largely to Panditji.
We must recall with pride a young
Prime Minister who had a dream. A dream
of taking India into 21st Century.
It was he who gave us the vision of the great opportunity of the new
economy. Long before the world had seen
the power IT, Shri Rajiv Gandhi had seeded the idea in India.
we again have in our present Prime Minister, a visionary and a statesman. The
great leap forward that we have made since 1991, is due entirely to the
economic reforms that he designed and implemented. With him at the helm of affairs, we will press forward with
reforms and enlarge opportunities for all.
of you who are keen observers of the demography of development would know that
every nation which made a quantum leap in its economic progress did so at that
time in its history when the working age population as a percentage of its
total population was at its highest. In
about a decade and a half, India will be at that historic moment when its
working age population will be at its highest as a share of its
population. This provides us a window
of opportunity. It will be a time when we can achieve higher productivity,
savings and investments.
is this window of global opportunity that I place before you and extend an
invitation to partner with us in India’s exciting march to progress and
prosperity. If there is one virtue
that defines the Overseas Indian community, it is your knowledge, expertise and
skills across a wide gamut of sectors.
We will seek to build a bridge between India and the global Indian to
transform ideas into individual initiatives and community action. We wish to benefit from your knowledge just as we will all of you to benefit from
the enormous opportunities that India offers.
primary objective of my Ministry will be to establish an institutional framework
for sustainable and mutually beneficial engagement between and its
diaspora. We will seek to build this
framework through three kinds of partnerships.
- Knowledge partnerships with professional bodies
of overseas Indians in diverse sectors. For instance, we are proposing a
partnership with AAPI – the American Association of the Physicians of
Indian origin to work together in the health care sector in India. Back home, we would like to partner
with institutions such as NASSCOM.
The idea will be to have the knowledge partner bring “domain
knowledge” in a specific field of activity and partner with us to launch
initiatives that would be mutually beneficial.
- Institutional partnerships with apex
associations of overseas Indians
to give us the outreach capability. We believe this is the best to
reach out to every Indian across the globe. Here in India we will
similarly forge partnerships with apex associations such as FICCI, CII,
- The third and perhaps the most important
partnership that we will vigorously promote is to induct the states in
India as stake holder partners.
Any initiatives by the overseas Indians whether individually or collectively must be anchored in one
of the states of India.
It is these partnerships that can
nurture and make strong the process of engagement of India with its diaspora
over the medium to long-term.
It is in this context that the
Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas gains importance. We have defined the theme of this
conference as “Coming together. Working together”. We wish to make a paradigm shift in the Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas
here in Hyderabad. We will seek to
transform this from a mere event into a global forum that will target specific
outcomes. We will also seek to
follow-up with a road map supported by institutions-yours and ours – working
together. It is this thread that holds together the various plenary and
parallel sessions that we have put together for this three day conference.
To demonstrate our commitment we
have also some initiatives being launched over the course of the next three
days. One such initiative is the launch
of an integrated universal electronic remittance gateway. This facility combines the virtues of
convenience, speed and economy. An important part of this Pravasi Bharatiya
Diwas is day 2 of the conference when we will have as many as 12 states
interacting with the delegates. Several of these state delegations are being
led by the Chief Ministers themselves.
They will interact with you both in the plenary format as well as in
We have received excellent support
from Dr.Y.S. Rajasekhar Reddy, the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh and his
team in organizing this event. As a
partner State, the Government of Andhra Pradesh has worked hard to make this
event a success. Equally, the FICCI as
an institutional partner has been a constant support to us. In an event of this magnitude it is natural
there could be some shortcomings.
Please do bear with us. We have
made every effort to make this a meaningful and memorable conference. Thank you
one and all for your enthusiasm and participation in such large numbers”.
AK/SK/RC/GS (at PBD-2006
(Release ID :14807)