India Diaspora
President urges overseas Indians to help transform India
Jan 9, 2007 - 7:55:16 PM

New Delhi, Jan 9 - Outlining his vision of a developed India by 2020, President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam called upon Indians across the world to join in the mission of taking the country into the league of advanced nations in the next decade.

Speaking at the valedictory session of the 5th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas - that brought together 1,100 delegates from 47 countries in the annual celebration of India's engagement with its vast diaspora, the president

said a great opportunity awaited overseas Indians in contributing to the transformation of their motherland.

'When we are away from our home across the oceans our urge to give to our dear ones multiplies. The spirit of 'What I can give?' becomes the song of our lives. That's how today, 25 million Indians who are away from India are bubbling with an urge, what I can give to my country,' he said.

Illustrating his speech with his usual Powerpoint presentation that never fails to impress the audience, the president shared with the NRI delegates and other distinguished invitees at the Vigyan Bhavan convention centre his idea of how India would be 13 years from now.

He talked of his lofty concept of a World Knowledge Platform, which will integrate the core competencies of partner countries to develop knowledge products.

As an example, the scientist-president talked of the joint development of the BrahMos missile by India and Russia and said: 'This proves that if the core competencies of nations are combined, the best of knowledge products can emanate well ahead of time.'

By 2020, said the president, 'we expect the people below poverty line to come to near zero and our literacy nearly 100 percent. Human Development Index of India will be around 50. Every Indian will have either a university degree or quality training with employable vocational skill.'

'I request all of you to participate in this mission of 'developed India 2020' and to make it reality by your attitude of give, give and give of the knowledge and experience you have gained over the years,' he said.

'I am convinced it is possible for the country to be developed by 2020,' he said to resounding cheers from the delegates.

Earlier, addressing the gathering, Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi said several ideas, that can constitute new initiatives in the field of health and education, agriculture and pooling of knowledge as well as approaches to address the issues, pertaining to the youth and women, have emerged.

'We now have before us, a partnership agenda, that we must take forward through well thought-out projects,' he said.

On the final day of the three-day diaspora conclave, the president conferred the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman on 15 distinguished overseas Indians, including noted New York publisher Gopal Raju.

Accepting the award, Raju said, 'The perception of NRIs has changed dramatically; they are not only considered valuable resources but also ambassadors of India and are publicly honoured for their contributions.'

Others who received the award from the president were: Dave Sukhdip Singh Hayer of Canada, Sir Moti Tikaram of Fiji, Kenneth S. Benjamin of Jamaica, Pheroze Nowrojee of Kenya, K.R. Somasundaram of Malaysia, Abdool Magid Abdool Karim Vakil of Portugal, Syed M. Salahuddin and B.R. Shetty, both from the UAE, Lord Diljit Rana of Britain, and Dr. M. Anirudhan, P. Jayaraman and Nirmal K. Sinha, all from the US.

Two awardees - anti-Apartheid activist Billy Nair from South Africa and noted community leader from Germany Sibabrata Roy - could not come in person to receive the award.

The Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, that connects and engages India with its vast and dispersed diaspora in 130 countries, was inaugurated by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Sunday.

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