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Updated: January 9, 2013 12:25 IST

Tharoor sings a hymn in praise of the diaspora

Staff Reporter
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Union Minister Shashi Tharoor with Abike Dabii Erewa, chairperson of Nigerian House of Representatives Committee (right), ahead of a plenary session of the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas in the city on Tuesday. Photo: Vipin Chandran
The Hindu Union Minister Shashi Tharoor with Abike Dabii Erewa, chairperson of Nigerian House of Representatives Committee (right), ahead of a plenary session of the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas in the city on Tuesday. Photo: Vipin Chandran

Union Minister of State for Human Resource Development Shashi Tharoor has said that at a time when all manner of ethnic and religious conflicts threaten to tear the world apart India’s heritage represented by its diaspora has reinvigorated civilization values of openness and tolerance and set an example to the world.

Delivering the opening remarks as the moderator of a plenary session on Indian Heritage and Diaspora at the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas in Kochi on Tuesday, Mr. Tharoor said India stands in the threshold of an historic opportunity and the Diaspora has a unique role to play in realizing the potential of that opportunity.

The cultural continuity of Indian civilization, its resilience in the face of foreign invasion and its capacity to absorb foreign influences has few parallels in world history. “Its resilience is evident in the cultural experiences of our diaspora. Wherever they have gone they have taken more than a bit of India with them in tangible and intangible ways,” the minister said.

He said Mauritius President Rajkeswur Purryag’s observation earlier in the day that one can take an Indian out of India but not India out of an Indian remains very much true in the case of its diaspora. “Indian Diaspora has been a faithful ambassador of all things Indian,” Mr. Tharoor said. To drive home this point he pointed out how the numerous Indian restaurants in the UK employed more people than the combined staff strength of the iron and steel, ship building, and coal mining industry.

What is also unique is that for the most part the spread of Indian heritage has been largely friction-free. There have been cultural and political fault lines in some places from time to time as South Africa, the Caribbean and Fiji. “The liberalization of the last two decades has unleashed the productive and entrepreneurial forces of our economy which coupled with the demographic dividend that a young workforce can provide can transform India’s standing in the global order,” Mr. Tharoor said.

More In: Kochi

The Tale of Two Islands:
Mauritius President Rajkeswur Purryag is from Bihar. Mauritius is 2040 sq.km. The island of
Mauritius has laudable achievements in human development including free education and
free transport to its citizens, infant mortality rate of 15 per 1000, literacy rate of 90 per 100,
its GDP is USD 20.25billion with individual income levels of $15000. The island nation has
created world class infrastructure in the capital Port Louis with light rail traffic system,
international airport, port harbour, world's top tourism destination. Its economy is entirely
based on tourism, textiles, sugar and financial services.

Another island of the Bay of Bengal is Andaman and Nicobar, which is part of India. The
island has 6408 sq km area, with a population of 3.5 lakhs, the only airport in the islands is
Vir Savarkar Airport in Port Blair which has limited services to Kolkata and Chennai and
Delhi, Banglore and Bhubaneswar, there is no port, inadequate development of tourism, no
private sector involved in manufacturing, GDP is USD 0.7billion , despite literacy rate of 87
per 100 the per capita income levels is of $1450, the GSDP has stagnated since the last
decade.

Why is this difference? Both the nations are from similar cultural origin, people who belonged
to same identity of India few 100 years back, they have democratically elected governments,
both are islands with similar opportunities and threats

from:  Jay
Posted on: Jan 10, 2013 at 21:58 IST

What a pity that the civilization values of openness and tolerance have been exported so much that they are in short supply within India. Isn't it time we face up to the severe shortcomings in the way we conduct ourselves as a modern nation instead of preaching our presumed greatness in the distant past?

from:  Rajgopalan
Posted on: Jan 9, 2013 at 15:47 IST

Very nice reflection on India. But we do have to do a reality check. After visiting and living in third world for long, I have found this paradoxical statement about Indians and India by nationals of other countries. Those who have just read about India and seen visuals of India, always say they want to come to India to indulge in the cultural heritage of the country. They have a romanticized version about India. And those, who have worked for Indians or have experience with Indians say, Indians are mostly discriminatory and look down on every one else! What a paradox. We proclaim tolerance and all those stuff, but in real our diaspora is giving others a different opinion. We are no better off, until and unless we give off our age old primitive caste-based view on other people and cultures! Until then the romanitcized version will get acceptance, but will deteriorate in a landslide just as that has happened ensuing the Delhi Gang Rape incidence!

from:  Shaju Jose
Posted on: Jan 9, 2013 at 12:58 IST
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