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Are Modi’s flagship programs losing their sheen for Indian diaspora?

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The Government of India’s apparent move to “shift” the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) celebration this year to NRIs living abroad, instead of making it a big annual event on January 9 in Delhi, as was the tradition, is failing to get necessary response from Indian diaspora, if what happened in Melbourne, Australia, is any indication.
Organized by the Indian Consulate General of India in Melbourne, it is learnt that just about couple of dozen non-resident Indians (NRIs) out of the “target population” of over a lakh in Victoria Province attended the function. Melbourne is the capital of Victoria.
Held on February 21, one of those who attended the “event” called it a “completely lacklustre” affair, adding, “This is just a reflection of the fact that people abroad are losing interest in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s efforts to promote his flagship programmes such as Make in India and Clean India.”
The event, said this participant, was held at the Indian consulate in Melbourne in order to “take ideas about Modi’s Make in India, Clean India and other policies, but it flopped as the total attendance was 20-25, including 4-5 panelists and the consulate staff.”
The event was organized by two NRI companies and was addressed by Manika Jain, Indian consul in Melbourne. Other penalists, who spoke on the occasion, were Vasan Srinivasan, Ravi Bhatia, Dr S Bhargawa, Dr Raj Kumar, and Dinesh Malhotra.
A letter to NRIs in Melbourne, sent by the Consulate General of India, said that the Government of India “contributions of Indian Diaspora Associations (IDAs) to its developmental initiatives and flagship projects.”
It added, “On this occasion IDAs are encouraged to put forward their creative ideas, viewpoints and reasoning for expeditious implementation of the Government of India flagship projects.”

“IDAs are also encouraged to come up and declare their creative contributions with draft details of contributions in cash, kind and intellectual inputs”, it added.

Asking Indian diaspora to “come to this event and read your written text of your creative ideas and viewpoints, and “declare your input contributions to Government of India flagship projects, if any”, it made the event open to all NRIs.

“If you wish to come with your friends, please let us know their names and native places in India. The prior information is necessary for logistical and security arrangements”, the invitation said, adding, “Also if you can circulate this event in the community also, it will be highly appreciated.”
Things reportedly did not go well elsewhere in the world elsewhere. For instance, at the High Commission of India in Sri Lanka, which celebrated Pravasi Bhartiya Divas (PBD) this year at the Indian Cultural Centre, Colombo, just about 50 NRI “prominent members” attended the event.
This was despite the fact that Minister for National Co-existence, Dialogue and Official Languages of Sri Lanka Mano Ganesan was the Chief Guest on the occasion, with YK Sinha, High Commissioner of India to Sri Lanka, speaking the “contribution” made by Indian Diaspora towards nation building in India and in their adopted countries.
While PBD events were similarly organized elsewhere in the world as well, including all major capitals such as Washington CD and London, suspension of the big event was a big surprise to policy makers as well as NRIs.
“PBD has sanctity attached to it because it marks the anniversary of the return of Mahatma Gandhi to India from South Africa”, The event as a part of the Indian’s government’s outreach towards global Indians,” reportedly said R Dayakar, a retired Indian foreign service officer.
Munish Gupta, coordinator, Global Organisation of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO) International, reportedly said, “The cancellation of the PBD in 2016 for the first time after so many years is a big disappointment”, adding, it would slow down efforts to begin “a new chapter in India’s dialogue with the diaspora.”
This article was first published at counterview.net
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Oli Assures Modi, Nepal’s Territory Won’t Be Used Against India’s Interests

After assuming office in February, Oli made his first foreign visit to India in April.

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Gokhale said that Modi's two-day visit to Nepal was aimed to strengthen bilateral relations
KP Sharma Oli, PM of Nepal, wikimedia commons

Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli has told his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi that Nepal’s territory will not be used against New Delhi’s interests, Indian Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale said here on Saturday.

“Oli reiterated that they will be sensitive to our concerns and their territory will not be allowed to be used by anybody against India. Prime Minister Modi reciprocated the sentiments,” Gokhale told the media.

Gokhale called Oli’s view “very significant”.

There was a chill in India-Nepal ties during Oli’s earlier stint as Prime Minister between October 2015 and August 2016 when a border blockade blamed on New Delhi crippled Nepal’s economy.

There were also perceptions that Oli was leaning towards China than India.

Gokhale said that Modi’s two-day visit to Nepal was aimed to strengthen bilateral relations “whether it be cross-border electricity or cross-border connectivity”.

“We are looking into cross-border electricity and cross-border connectivity not only with Nepal but other neighbouring countries as well,” he said.

After assuming office in February, Oli made his first foreign visit to India in April.

Stating that India welcomed the restoration of democracy in Nepal, Gokhale said that both the government and the opposition in the Himalayan nation were parties to it.

He said both sides agreed to be committed towards the stated projects. “We will address this within a set timeline.”

Prime Minister, Narendra Modi stressed on the importance of service to others in his last Mann Ki Baat edition for 2017.
Modi is on Nepal visit for two days, wikimedia commons

According to Gokhale, Oli confirmed to Modi that Nepal will host the the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (Bimstec) summit this year.

Bimstec comprises seven countries lying in the littoral and adjacent areas of the Bay of Bengal — Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand.

Gokhale also said that Modi’s visits to cultural sites in Nepal “suggested that there should be strong people-to-people ties”.

Apart from offering prayers at temples in Nepal, the Indian leader inaugurated the Janakpur-Ayodhya bus service, a 900 MW hydropower project and announced Rs 100-crore aid to develop Janakpur city.

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He also held extensive discussions with Oli, President Bidhya Devi Bhandari and other government officials to better bilateral ties after which he said: “All misunderstandings with Nepal are over.”

Modi also met leaders of opposition parties, starting with former Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba and other members of the Nepali Congress.

He exchanged views on strengthening bilateral ties with former Prime Minister and Chairman of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre) Pushpa Kamal Dahal “Prachanda”. (IANS)