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Hon’ble President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee,

Vice President of Suriname, His Excellency Mr. Michael Ashwin Adhin,

HE Dr. Antonio Costa, Prime Minister of Portugal,

Hon’ble Governor of Karnataka, Shri Vajubhai Rudabhai Vala,

Chief Minister of Karnataka, Shri Siddaramaiahji,

Gen. V.K. Singh (Retd), Minister of State for External Affairs

Dignitaries from foreign countries and India,

Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Awardees,

Delegates attending the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas Convention,

Ladies & Gentlemen,

It is a great privilege for me to welcome all of you to the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award Ceremony of the 14th edition of Pravasi Bharatiya Divas Convention in Bengaluru. 

The samman award ceremony marks the culmination of this three day Convention which saw the participation of several delegates from all across the world. I hope that the event gave you the opportunity to discuss matters that are important to you, to connect with the leadership in India, to network with other overseas Indians, and to get a glimpse of developments in contemporary India.

For us, the Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas Convention is a celebration of the strong cultural, emotional and historical ties that bind overseas Indians to their place of origin.

The global Indian Diaspora can be visualised as the branches of a tree that has flourished and continues to bear the fruits of success. The branches may be far from the roots. The roots may be invisible, but they exist, and they are strong. We take pride in nourishing these roots and enabling overseas Indians to remain connected with their motherland.

The Indian community abroad contributes in significant ways to the Indian economy. Their global remittances were the highest in the year 2015, they make investments in India, and support social and development projects through philanthropy.

Wherever they are, the Indian Diaspora continue to be the best brand Ambassadors of India – keeping the Indian flag flying high, proudly celebrating their Indian culture and heritage. You have an essential ‘Indian-ness’ ingrained in you - a slice of our art, music, literature, cuisine and even our traditional systems of healing. In girmitiya countries such as Mauritius, Fiji, Guyana and others, Indian-origin communities have upheld and cherished the age-old traditions and dialects of India.

Across the world, the Indian community in various countries has also been an integral element of our bilateral relationships with your host nations. You have played a critical role in strengthening the people to people ties that bind India to these countries.

Your migration from India, and your assimilation into your new country of residence may have been long and difficult; yet you excelled despite various challenges. We have seen the  indomitable spirit of the overseas Indians who weather the most difficult and adverse circumstances abroad. The Government also stood by its citizens in distress and reached out to them – as seen in the swift and well-coordinated evacuation operations from Yemen, Libya, and more recently South Sudan,

In the last two and half years, Government of India have made efforts to be more responsive to the Indian community abroad, including through Indian Missions and Consulates. Government of India have been actively addressing the concerns of the Indian Diaspora, and have used social media and e-governance mechanisms to directly connect with many of you, especially those who are vulnerable and in need of help.

Wherever you are, irrespective of whether you are a blue collar worker, a high-tech professional or a corporate leader - we are very proud of you. We celebrate your success, take pride in your vision and determination, and applaud your achievements,

We are proud to see that the Indian Diaspora in many countries has risen to positions of leadership in several fields; they are making their voices heard, and they have spoken for India when the need arises. We have the honour of having amongst us the Vice President of Suriname H.E Mr Michael Ashwin Adhin and Prime Minister of Portugal, H.E Mr. Antonio Costa who has his roots in Goa. Their presence at the Convention and their remarks to the delegates are indeed an inspiration to all the overseas Indians delegates. We hope that both of them will carry back with them fulsome memories of their visit and the people of this country.

India today is a land of immense potential and unrivalled opportunities. We have set ourselves ambitious goals, and have launched several flagship programmes and initiatives with the objective of bringing about transformational changes in various fields. The Prime Minister’s keynote address yesterday showed us a glimpse of his vision for the nation and the keen desire to build an India in which the most downtrodden and the most deprived can have a better life.

When we meet the Indian community abroad they welcome Swachh Bharat, Smart Cities Mission, Digital India, Skill India, Start-up India and other visionary programmes. I hope that the visit to the exhibition and the Chief Ministers Session gave you an idea of the opportunities in various States in India – and the schemes which we have launched for overseas Indians.

Today we are honouring some of the overseas Indians who have made remarkable contributions in the country in which they are living or in India. We are also honouring community organisations that have played a crucial role in assisting the Indian community in times of need.

It is a pleasure and an honour to be present at this ceremony. I thank Rashtrapati ji for his presence here today, and once again congratulate all the winners of the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Awards.

Jai Hind !