President Pratibha Patil on Monday said the country would continue supporting overseas Indians and encourage greater exchanges among the communities living abroad. In the present times of economic uncertainty and profound change in the world, the country would actively involve overseas Indians as partners in the development and progress of the nation, she said addressing the valedictory session of the 10 Pravasi Bharatiya Divas here.
Addressing a packed B.M. Birla Auditorium in the presence of Trinidad & Tobago Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar, Union Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi, Rajasthan's acting Governor Shivraj Patil and Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, the President said the overseas Indians were becoming influential in the economic and political fields of the countries of their residence. They could play a key role in taking forward India's interests as well, she added.
The President said health, education and skill development would continue to remain the priority areas in the strategy of inclusive development in the 12th Plan. She said the Government would spend adequate resources to ensure maximum efficiency in these identified focus areas. The Government also should ensure that the resources were spent to achieve maximum efficiency in terms of outcome. “We need to harness private investment in these areas,” she added.
Ms. Patil, who talked about a sustainable future, said the Overseas Indians could play a decisive role in it with the knowledge they have gained in various fields. She underlined the role of linking the younger generation with the country of their forefathers. “We must continue to promote greater exchanges between the youth as an important aspect of forging linkages and maintaining the tradition of close bonds.”
Ms. Bissessar, the chief guest at the function, was the first one to be called out to receive the “Pravasi Bharatiya Samman” awards along with 14 others. Dressed in colourful Rajasthani attire to suit the occasion, she demurely touched the feet of Ms. Patil in the true Bharatiya style to make it the high point of the three-day function.
Speaking on the occasion, Ms. Bissessar said the only passport out of poverty to a better life was education, which was a priority among Indians. She added that the Indian values helped the diaspora during the good and not so good times. “We believe in our potential. We have not allowed anything to put us down,” she said about the undying spirit of the Overseas Indian.
Complimenting India, she said the country has become truly global. The cultural and economic power house that India is today impacts the lives of people beyond its borders. She concluded by urging the young diaspora to participate in the PBD with enthusiasm. She cited the words of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh asking to build bridges of communication and ended saluting the Mahatma. “A small body of spirit fired by unquenchable faith in a mission can alter the course of history,” she added.
The President gave away the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Awards also to P. V Radhakrishna Pillai (Bahrain) for his outstanding contribution to the Indian community; Sachchidanand Sahai (Cambodia) for his scholarly work, and for his role in fostering relation between India and Canada; Deepak Naraindas Shivdasani (Cote D'Ivoire) for promoting India in Africa; and Victor Shahed Smetacek (Germany) for his outstanding contributions in the field of science.
Awards were given for furthering the interests of the Indian communities abroad to Sri Prakash Lohia (Indonesia), Jose Parayanken (Mozambique), Kiran Navinchandra Aher (Oman), Hassan Abdulkarim Chougule (Qatar) Khorshed Noshir Ginwala-Rustomjee (South Africa), Rajesh Kumar Saraiya (Ukraine) and Surendra Kumar Kaushik (US) for his contributions in the field of economics. Kalpalatha Kummamuri Guntupalli (US), who spoke on behalf of all the awardees, was honoured for her contributions in the field of medicine. Also awarded in absentia was S.R. Nathan, former President of Singapore, for his contributions in the field of public service.
Referring to the theme, “Global Indians -- Inclusive Growth”, Vayalar Ravi, Minister of Overseas Indian Affairs, said the diaspora could play a very constructive role in the inclusive growth agenda of the Government.