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Celebration of Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas at the Indian Consulate Toronto 

Remarks by Consul General Mr. Dinesh Bhatia at PBD celebrations Toronto; 9 January 2017

Distinguished members of Indian Associations, members of Media
Friends and my Indian brothers and sisters.

It is a great pleasure for me to welcome all for the Toronto edition of 14th Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas which concluded at Bengaluru earlier today.

As you all might be aware, Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) is celebrated on 9th January every year to mark the contribution of Overseas Indian community in the development of India. January 9 was chosen as the day to celebrate this occasion since it was on this day in 1915 that Mahatma Gandhi, the greatest Pravasi, returned to India from South Africa, led India’s freedom struggle and changed the lives of Indians forever.

Friends, we gather here today to recalibrate and reaffirm our roots even as we take pride in and gain sustenance from our adopted countries – in your case Canada. We are here today to celebrate your successes and achievements.

You have been the frontline envoys of Indian culture since long and I hope that you will remain the foremost emissaries of the unfolding Indian story. As a people exposed to the best of western technology and yet having their civilizational moorings in the ageless and eternal ethos of India, you are doubly blessed. The synergy of the west and the east that you represent, provides you with a unique position and opportunity that involves sharing knowledge between your home land and your adopted countries. While you showcase India to your host countries, you also bring along the cultural heritage of your adopted lands to India. Nothing could exemplify our belief of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbkam’more than this.

PBD conventions are being held since 2003. These conventions provide a platform to the overseas Indian community to engage with the government and people of the land of their ancestors for mutually beneficial activities. These conventions are also very useful in networking among the overseas Indian community residing in various parts of the world and enable them to share their experiences in various fields.

NRIs and PIOs present in Canada have made outstanding contributions in their chosen fields. Amongst them, there are politicians of stature, scientists of repute, outstanding doctors, brilliant educationists, IT professionals, economists, musicians, famous philanthropists, journalists, bankers, engineers and lawyers.

While official representation is done by diplomats, people like me, in foreign countries, each Indian living abroad is an Ambassador in his or her own way, representing India in one form or the other. We also have the advantage of support by the local Community Organizations. I am glad to inform you that, after my arrival in Toronto in March 2016, we took the initiative of connecting a vast number of Indian associations in Ontario. Today we have over 50 such associations registered with the Consulate. I am happy to inform you that the much-awaited email group of these community organizations has been in place for last more than couple of months. One click and we are able to share information with thousands of Indians and Indo-Canadians through this mail group.

Some of the Indian Community Organizations abroad have been recognized today at PBD and awarded the prestigious Pravasi Bhartiya Samman Award by the Government of India for complimenting the government’s efforts by working in tandem. I may recall that Indo Canada Chamber of Commerce ICCC, Toronto was conferred this prestigious award in 2012.

I am happy to inform you all that Mr. Mukund Bhikhubhai Purohit from Toronto is also one of the 30 awardees who has been honoured todaywith PBSA. My heartiest congratulations to him for the award and for his achievements.

To familiarize the Diaspora youth with the limitless opportunity and potential that is India, and to harness their imagination and creativity, we have several programmes in place.
The Know India Programme, through which many of you are visiting India presently, is one such scheme aimed to give you a flavour of India and provide a platform for interaction with policy makers; industry and civil society. We hope that the KIP alumni will remain in touch with one another as well as with us, including through new networking platforms.
The Scholarship Programme for Diaspora Children enables Diaspora youth to pursue Undergraduate courses in Indian Universities and Institutes. This programme has recently been revamped and extended from 44 to 66 countries; and the number of scholarships has also been increased. A portal has been set up to enable online application and processing.
Bharat Ko Janiye (Know India) Quiz programme which Prime Minister launched for young overseas Indians in the last PBD in 2015 in Gandhinagar was another initiative which received tremendous response. The winners received medals from PM during the inauguration of Pravasi Bharatiya Kendra on Gandhiji’s birthday, October 2 this year.
The Youth Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas which we launched in 2015 was yet another reflection of our conviction in the power of the youth Diaspora to bring in change. The 2015 Youth PBD was about3Cs, Connect- to connect the Indian Diasporas to their motherland;Celebrate- to celebrate the pride in the history and civilization heritage of India and;Contribute- participation in transforming India.

I would like to mention in this Youth PBD 2017,4 Tswere outlined through which you can transform your lives as well as that of India. These are:
• Talent
• Technology
• Training
• Teamwork

The Government of India has further taken measures to streamline the consular issues such as loss of passports, need for legal advice, medical assistance, shelter or even transportation of mortal remains to India. At this Consulate, we have initiated the following:

– ‘Open House’ meetings by none other than myself on every Friday from 10-12 without any prior appointment:
– Emergency number for after office hours and weekends;
– consular camps especially for senior citizens
– availability of Consulate through twitter and facebook (@dineshbhatia and @IndiainToronto); these social media platforms arealso for immediate access.

I would now like to share some of the important highlights from the speech of Hon’ble Prime Minister of India Shri Modi Ji delivered yesterday at PBD.

PBD एकऐसापर्वहैजिसमें host भीआपहीहै, guest भीआपहीहैं|यहएकऐसापर्वहैजिसमेंउसकीविदेशमेंरहनेवालीसंतानसेमिलनेकाअवसरहै|
अपनोंकोअपनोंसेमिलना, अपनेलिएनहींसबकेलिएमिलनाइस event कीअसलीपहचान, आनबानशानजोकुछभीहैआपसबलोगहैं| आपकाइसपर्वमेंसम्मिलितहोनाहमारेलिएबहुतबहुतगर्वकीबातहै| आपसबकातहेदिलसेस्वागतहै|

For my government and for me personally, engagement with the overseas Indian community has been a key area of priority.

I have met and spoken to hundreds of thousands of our brothers and sisters during my travels abroad – in USA, UK, Australia, South Africa, UAE, Qatar, Singapore, Fiji, China, Japan, South Korea, Kenya, Mauritius, Seychelles, Malaysia as a result of our sustained and systematic outreach, there is new energy, keen desire and strong drive among Indian Diaspora to connect more extensively and deeply with India’s social and economic transformation.

The remittance of close to sixty nine billion dollars annually by the overseas Indians makes an invaluable contribution to the Indian economy.
• प्रवासीभारतीयोंमेंदेशकेविकासकेलिएअदम्यइच्छाशक्तिहै;
• वेदेशकीप्रगतिमेंसहयात्रीहैं, co-traveller हैं;
• हमारीविकासयात्रामेंआपहमारेएकवैल्युएबलसाथीहैं, पार्टनरहैं, स्टेकहोल्डरहैं।

Irrespective of their background and profession, the welfare and safety of all Indians abroad/ is our top priority.

For this, we are strengthening the entire eco-system of our administrative arrangements.
In situations of distress faced by Indian nationals, we have reached out to ensure their safety, rescue and repatriation.

Our External Affairs Minister Smt. Sushma Swaraj ji, has particularly been proactive and prompt in reaching out to distressed Indians abroad using social media.

Under Operation ‘Sankat Mochan’ in July 2016 we evacuated over one hundred and fifty Indian nationals from South Sudan within 48 hours.
Our motto is: “सुरक्षितजाएँ, प्रशिक्षितजाएँ, विश्वासकेसाथजाएँ”

I am happy to announce that we have extended the deadline for conversion of PIO to OCI from 31 December 2016, until June 30, 2017 without any penalty.
From first of January this year, beginning with airports in Delhi and Bengaluru, we have also set up special counters at immigration points in our airports for OCI Card holders.
मुझेभलीभातिज्ञातहैकिविदेशमेरहरहाहरभारतीय, भारतकीप्रगतिसेजुड़नेकेलिएआतुरहै |
मेरासदैवयहप्रयासऔरविश्वासरहाहैकिसक्षमतथा successful प्रवासियोकोभारतकीविकासगाथासेजुड़नेकासम्पूर्णमौकामिलनाचाहिए|
One of them is that the Department of Science and Technology is launching Visiting Adjunct Joint Research Faculty or VAJRA scheme which enables NRIs and overseas scientific community to participate and contribute to research and development in India.
Under the scheme an overseas Indian can work for one to three months/ in an institution in India.
And, that too, at good terms.

आजभारतएकनयीप्रगतिशीलदिशाकीऔरअग्रसरहै| ऐसीप्रगतिजोनकेवलआर्थिकहैअपितुसामाजिक, राजनैतिक, औरशासिकियहै|

आर्थिकक्षेत्रमें, PIOs तथा NRIs केलिए FDI norms पूरीतरहसे liberalized है| ऍफ़डीआईकीमेरीदोपरिभाषाएंहैं|
One definition is, FDI means Foreign Direct Investment. And second is, First Develop India.
Investments by PIOs on non-repatriation basis; and by companies, trusts and partnerships owned by them, are now deemed to be domestic investment at par with investments made by resident Indians.

हमारेकईऐसाप्रोग्रामहै, जैसे Swachh Bharat Mission, Digital India, and Start-up India, जिनसेप्रवासीभारतीयभारतकेसामान्यव्यक्तिकेप्रगतिसेसीधाजुड़सकतेहै|

There are some amongst you who would like to contribute in business and investments. Others may feel more comfortable supporting through contributions made to Swachh Bharat, Namami Gange and others.
Some others may feel motivated to spare their valuable time and effort in volunteering in India, helping the under-privileged or contributing to capacity building programs in various sectors.
We welcome all your efforts that seek to strengthen India’s partnership with the overseas Indian community. I also invite you to visit the exhibition in the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas Convention which gives you a glimpse of some of the flagship programs that we have been implementing and see how you can partner with us.

यहाँआनेकेबादआपनेसुनाहोगा, देखाहोगा, हमनेभ्रष्टाचारकेखिलाफ, कालेधनकेखिलाफ, करप्शनऔरब्लैकमनीकेखिलाफएकबहुतबीड़ाउठायाहै|

ब्लैकमनीतथाकरप्शनहमारीराजनीति, देश, समाजतथाशासनकोधीरेधीरेखोखलाकरतारहाहै| औरयेदुर्भाग्यहैकिब्लैकमनीकेकुछराजनैतिकपुजारीहमारेप्रयासोंकोजनताकेविरोधीदर्शातेहैं|

करप्शनऔरकालेधनकोसमाप्तकरनेमेंभारतसरकारकीनीतियोंकाजोसमर्थनप्रवासीभारतीयोंनेकियाहैउसकेलिएमैंआपकाअभिनन्दनकरताहूँ, आपकासाधुवादकरताहूँ, आपकाधन्यवादकरताहूँ|

Finally, I would like to say that as Indians, we have a common heritage that brings us all together. And, no matter where we may be around the globe, it is in that common bond that we are strong.
Thank you and Jai Hind!

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