BENGALURU -- Asserting that Pravasi Bharatiya Divas is a celebration to mark the return to India of one of the greatest Pravasis Mahatma Gandhi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said the Indians abroad are valued not just for their strength in numbers but are respected for the contributions they make.
In his key note address at the 14th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas celebrations, he said the Indian diaspora represents the best of Indian culture, ethos and values.
"The true identity of this event is you, the overseas Indians. It is a matter of pride for us that you all are here to attend this. There are over 30 million overseas Indians living abroad. They are not just respected for their numbers, but for the contributions they make," said Prime Minister Modi.
"They are role models for immigrants from other backgrounds and countries.. They take our values and culture wherever they go.
The Indian diaspora have contributed their best towards progress in that country," he added.
Prime Minister Modi said the remittance of close to sixty nine billion dollars annually by overseas Indians makes an invaluable contribution to the Indian economy.
Reaching out to the young NRIs, Modi called the Indian diaspora a valuable partner in the journey of development, adding the objective is to turn 'brain drain' into 'brain gain'.
"Earlier there used to be talk of 'brain drain'. With your help, we want to turn that drain into 'brain gain'," he added.
"Remittance of close to 69 billion dollars annually by overseas Indians makes an invaluable contribution to the Indian economy. We want to turn 'brain-drain' into 'brain-gain' and your support in this is very important," he said.
Showering praise on External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Prime Minister Modi said the former had been 'proactive and prompt' in reaching out to distressed Indians abroad using social media.
"I have directed the embassies to be pro-active towards needs and problems of the Indian community abroad. Security of all Indians abroad is top priority. We don't believe in looking at the color of the passport, we believe in blood relations," he added.
The Prime Minister also announced that the Pravasi Kaushal Vikas Yojna would be launched for Indian youth seeking employment overseas.
"The Government will launch skill development program, Pravasi Kaushal Vikas Yojna for Indian youth who seek employment overseas. I would again encourage all PIO Card holders to convert their PIO Cards to OCI Cards," he added.
Prime Minister Modi said engagement with the overseas Indian community has been a key area of priority.
"For my government, engagement with the India community abroad has been a key priority," he said.
The Prime Minister said that his government's effort is to provide maximum facilitation and ensure least inconvenience to those workers who seek economic opportunities abroad.
The 14th edition of the three-day event began in the country's IT hub yesterday with the spotlight on role of youth in transforming the society and India's potential to play the role of a 'Vishwa Guru' again.
The three-day event concludes on Monday, with President Pranab Mukherjee delivering the valedictory address. The convention is an important platform for engagement with the overseas Indian community.
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