This was indeed a pioneering endeavor for the People of Indian Origin (PIO). Their first Parliamentary Conference was held in New Delhi on 9th January. About 134 Parliamentarians from 24 countries including Mauritius, South Africa, Guyana, Fiji, Kenya, UK, USA, Canada and New Zealand were present.
In conjunction with this event, India celebrated its 16th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) on 9th January 2018 to commemorate the return of Mahatma Gandhi from South Africa on this date in 1915, and to mark the contribution of Indians settled abroad towards the development of India.
Eleven Members of the National Assembly and two Mayors from Mauritius took part in this conference: Hon Mr S. Ramkaun, Hon Mr T. Benydin, Hon Mr G. Oree, Hon Mr A. B. Jahangeer, Hon Mr J. R. Dayal, Hon Mr S. Fowdar, Hon Ms M. Sewocksingh, Hon Mr V. V. Baloomoody, Hon Mr M.R.C. Uteem, Hon Mr D. Ramful, Hon Mr Alan Ganoo, His Worship Mr Farhad Dowlut, mayor of Vacoas Phoenix and Her Worship Mrs Soolekha Jepaul-Raddhoa, mayor of Quatre Bornes.
The Honorable Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi, in his keynote address at the conference, said that wherever Indians went, they integrated and assimilated in that country and made it their home. He also believed that the Government of India has introduced far–reaching reforms in the past three years with the intent to bring transformation, which is the guiding principle for the Indian Government.
He claimed that “in our relationship with the Indian Diaspora, our focus has always been on capacity building and resource development.” In his welcoming speech to the delegates, Mr Narendra Modi alleged that “while many people may have left India over the course of hundreds of years, India continues to have a place in their minds and hearts…It is not surprising that people of Indian origin have fully assimilated within their adopted lands… While they kept the Indian [culture] alive in themselves, they also imbibed the language, food, and fashion of those countries.”
He further added: “[It] appears as if a Mini World Parliament of Indian origin is gathered in Delhi today.” He emphasized that persons of Indian origin are today Prime Ministers of countries such as Mauritius, Portugal and Ireland, besides working as Heads of State and Heads of Government in many other countries. He also highlighted the fact that the global impression about India has changed over the last three to four decades, and the reason for this is that India is transforming itself and since the hopes and aspirations of India are at an all time high, signs of irreversible change are visible in every sector
According to the Indian Prime Minister, PIOs are like permanent ambassadors of India, wherever they reside, and he always attempts to meet them whenever he is travelling abroad.
He is totally convinced that his Government and NRIs are partners for India’s development. He reminded NRIs that they have an important position in the ‘Action Agenda’ till 2020, drafted by the NITI Aayog and that the values of Indian civilization and culture can provide guidance to the entire world in an era of instability. India also holds very close ties with ASEAN countries, which will be showcased during Republic Day.
Earlier, the Honorable Minister of External Affairs of India, Sushma Swaraj, extended a warm welcome to all the participating PIO Parliamentarians in her inaugural address. She also outlined the stories of struggle and success of Indian ‘Girmityas’ (contractual workers) in Mauritius.
The 16th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas was celebrated in Mauritius at the Indira Gandhi Center for Indian Culture, Phoenix, on Tuesday 9th January. It was organized by the High Commission of India in Mauritius, which was attended by the entire cross section of various socio-cultural and Diaspora organizations and friends of India; an event attended by about 100 guests.
The gathering was addressed by the High Commissioner of India, Shri Abhay Thakur, the Chairperson of Aapravasi Ghat Trust Fund, Dharam Yash Deo Dhuny and the President of Mauritius Sanatan Dharma Temples Federation, Rajendrah Ramdhean.