New Delhi [India], January 9 (ANI): In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, members of the Indian diaspora in several countries came together for ensuring critical medical supplies, helping stranded students, caring for the elderly, raising funds and providing meals to the vulnerable, said President Ram Nath Kovind on Saturday.
President Kovind was delivering the valedictory keynote address of Pravasi Bhartiya Divas Convention, 2021.
"In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, members of Indian diaspora in several countries came together in ensuring critical medical supplies, helping stranded students, caring for the elderly, raising funds and providing meals to the vulnerable," said Kovind.
India has one of the largest diaspora populations of nearly 30 million, residing in every corner of the world today. It has been aptly said that 'the sun never sets on the Indian diaspora', he added.
"India has been at the forefront in forging a global response to combat the enormous challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. We supplied medicines to nearly 150 countries, making the world look at India as the 'pharmacy of the world'," the President said.
"The COVID-19 pandemic has led to severe travel disruptions. I appreciate the role played by the Ministry of External Affairs and our missions abroad for reaching out to the diaspora by facilitating their travel in these difficult times," President Kovind added.
"I convey my heartiest congratulations to all the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Awardees. I appreciate their efforts to promote a better understanding of India abroad, contribute to social and humanitarian causes, and build closer links between India and their adopted countries," said Kovind.
"On this very day in the year 1915, Mahatma Gandhi, the greatest Pravasi Bharatiya returned to India. He gave a much wider base to our social reforms and freedom movement, and during the next three decades, he changed India in many fundamental ways," he added.
The President of India further said the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas is also an occasion to recall Gandhiji's ideals for individual and collective life. Gandhiji's emphasis on Indianness, non-violence, ethics, simplicity and sustainable development remain our guiding principles, he added.
"We are indebted to Bharat Ratna Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee Ji whose vision re-energised the links with our diaspora. The Pravasi Bharatiya Divas celebrations started in 2003 when he was the Prime Minister of India," said Kovind.
"Atalji's initiatives have proved immensely helpful in strengthening the engagement of diaspora with the motherland. He took the decision to set up a Pravasi Bharatiya Kendra which would become the focal point for linking the overseas Indian community with their country of origin," the President added.
It is appropriate that the Pravasi Bharatiya Kendra has been renamed as Sushma Swaraj Bhavan as a mark of tribute to Sushmaji's invaluable contribution to the cause of the Indian diaspora, said Kovind.
"Her compassion and affection touched a large number of Indians abroad," the President stated.
"Shri Santokhi is such a great votary of Indian culture and traditions that he invoked Vedic mantras in Sanskrit when he took his oath of office as the President in the month of July last year," said Kovind.
"I am glad that His Excellency Shri Chandrikapersad Santokhi, the President of the Republic of Suriname, was the chief guest in this convention. His ancestral and cultural roots are in India," he added. (ANI)