Prime Minister Narendra Modi showed flashes of his oratorical brilliance as he wooed people from the Indian diaspora at the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas in Bengaluru on January 8. He was delivering his keynote address at the event, which was also attended by Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa — the chief guest, Central ministers and officials from the Karnataka State government.

 

We present to you key takeaways from the Prime Minister’s speech:

 

Overseas Indians contribute $69 billion annually. The PM thanked the diaspora for its contributions including annual remittances of about $69 billion annually. This has made an invaluable contribution to the Indian economy.

 

Focus on welfare and safety. The PM assured the audience that the diaspora’s wellbeing was a top priority of his government and would continue to be so. He lauded Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj for her proactive approach in reaching out to Indians in need via social media. The Prime Minister also called on PIO cardholders to convert to Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cards at the earliest, noting that the deadline for this has been extended to June 30 this year.

 

Assistance for aspirant NRIs. PM Modi announced that his government would shortly launch a new skills development programme called “Pravasi Kaushal Vikas Yojana” to provide training for unskilled youth looking for opportunities abroad.

 

New definition for FDI for India. Calling on NRIs to assist in the development of the country, Modi declared that FDI now meant not only foreign direct investment but also “first develop India.” He announced an initiative to allow foreign-based scientists to conduct research in India.

 

Eye on young overseas Indians. The “Know India” programme of the Ministry of External Affairs, which provides exposure of life in India to diaspora youth between the ages of 18 and 26, will get a fresh impetus. More than 150 young members of the diaspora who were in the audience got a special mention from Modi.

 

Jab at the opposition. While he lauded the diaspora for its support for his demonetisation exercise, the Prime Minister didn’t waste the opportunity to lash out at the opposition. He referred to opponents of demonetisation as “black money ke kuch rajneetik pujari.”