Dubai: India’s foreign minister on Tuesday said India is set to bolster ties with its diaspora community and is currently focusing on facilitating the return of expatriates, who had flown home due to the impact of COVID-19, to their respective countries of residence.
Minister Dr S. Jaishankar was delivering a keynote address at a virtual conference held to forge media and entertainment partnerships for celebrating ‘India at 75’ — the commemoration of 75 years since India’s independence — in foreign countries.
The minister said more than three million Indians returned home under the Vande Bharat Mission and the government also facilitated the return of more than 100,000 foreign citizens to their home countries from India. When Gulf News asked what the federal government was doing for the rehabilitation of Indian expats who have returned home, the minister said the focus now is on facilitating their return to their respective countries of residence.
“The focus today will be on facilitating the return of people back to the places where they had to leave from. When I was recently in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Bahrain, a lot of my discussions with the authorities were mainly on many of them [expatriate Indians] coming back.” He said expats are India’s extended family. “They live abroad, but remain deeply connected in heart and soul with us. As with family members, we take great pride in their achievements and again as we do with our near and dear ones, there is always a strong sense of responsibility towards their welfare.”
“These sentiments were really tested this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the [Narendra] Modi government responded strongly, putting in place perhaps what has been the largest repatriation exercise in history.” He said various state machineries, including national carrier Air India, the country’s armed forces, and embassies and consulates abroad were pressed fully into service for the mega repatriation drive.
With non-emergency travel from the UAE to India during COVID-19 pandemic picking up, the number of passengers who have travelled since May 7 reached 633,000, according to figures released by the Indian missions on November 1. Meanwhile, more than 220,000 passengers flew to the UAE from India from July 12 till October 31, the missions had earlier said.
Explaining the reforms and developments in different domains in the past six years in India, Jaishankar said the external manifestation of these changes has seen a more intensive cooperation with several countries. He said the message he wanted to convey was: “In times of trouble, we stand with our people, do what it takes for their welfare and this government will deliver its promises.”
A panel of representatives from the media and community groups from various countries presented suggestions to make overseas celebrations of ‘India at 75’ a grand success. The conference was held as a pre-event session of the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) 2021, the largest congregation of Non Resident Indians (NRIs) held every two years. The next edition of PBD will be held in January 2021 under the theme ‘Contributing to Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ or Self Reliant India. The details of the celebrations of India’s 75 years of growth since independence are expected to be announced at the PBD event.