Modi woos NRIs in Australia promising merger of OCI and PIO in 2 months
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday assured a visa on arrival facility for Australian tourists and announced a two-month deadline for the long-pending merger of OCI and PIO status to woo the Indian diaspora from whom he sought support for his ambitious Clean India campaign.
Sydney: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday assured a visa on arrival facility for Australian tourists and announced a two-month deadline for the long-pending merger of OCI and PIO status to woo the Indian diaspora from whom he sought support for his ambitious Clean India campaign.
Addressing a frenzied crowd of around 20,000 in the packed Allphones Arena here, Modi took a dig at the previous governments saying while they were happy to make laws he was "happier to remove" them.
"Let's open the windows let fresh air come in," Modi said referring to his government's efforts to weed out obsolete laws.
Touched by the grand reception, Modi said he was honoured and humbled and will never forget this day. "I know that behind this affection lies expectations. Yes. We want to create the India you are dreaming of."
"This welcome, this respect, this enthusiasm I dedicate it to the people of India," said Modi, the first Indian Prime Minister to visit Australia in 28 years.
Modi announced that his government was working on to facilitate visa on arrival for Australian tourists and said the PIO (Persons of Indian Origin) and OCI (Overseas Citizen of India) status will be merged ahead of the Pravasi Bhartiya Divas to be held from 7 January in Ahmedabad.
Modi had announced merger of PIO and OCI during his visit to the US in September but had not given a timeline then.
The Prime Minister also referred to economic reforms unveiled by his government and said India has become an attractive destination for investment.
He also said FDI in Railways has been hiked to 100 per cent and hoped that Australian companies will invest in creating rail infrastructure in the country.
The Prime Minister called upon Indians across the world to convert the atmosphere of hope and optimism into a reality of meeting the expectations and aspirations of people in India.
Modi said on the basis of his experience of the last six months, he could see no reason why the aspirations of millions of Indians could not be fulfilled.
He referred to Swami Vivekananda's dream of seeing Mother India as a 'Vishva Guru' once again, and said he believed that dream would be a reality.
"Do you share the dream", he asked the cheering crowd.
The Prime Minister said that he feels a greater sense of responsibility as he is the first Prime Minister born in independent India.
"We did not have the fortune to fight for the country's independence. We could not die for India. But we can live for India. So we will live and struggle for India. Today 125 crore Indians share that dream," he said.
"It took 28 years for an Indian PM to make the few hours journey to Australia. Now you will not have to wait 28 years," the Prime Minister said.
He also highlighted the values of democracy and the love for cricket that India and Australia share.
The Prime Minister exhorted people to recognise the strength of India's democracy. "Let us now do all we can for India's benefit. And then India will work for the benefit of mankind," he said.
"Governments cannot make a country. People make a country," he said.
The Prime Minister also stressed on the Clean India campaign saying that more tourists would come if the country was cleaner.
He also asked the Indian diaspora to extend their support to the campaign and said they can contribute significantly in developing the villages they come from. "I request you to contribute. God has given you so much."
Modi said while "some people" dream of doing only big things he was interested in doing "small things" like building toilets and ensuring cleanliness.
"Illness is a big burden on the poor. There is no greater service to the poor than focussing on cleanliness," he said adding "I see no reason why India should stay behind. It is decided we will move ahead."
Modi congratulated and complimented the Indian Australian community for working hard and making their "karmbhoomi" proud. He named prominent Indian-Australians who had excelled for Australia in sports and academics.
Talking about the strength of democracy, he said "Look at the strength of democracy. Would I have been here if it weren't for democracy? The power of this democracy brought me here."
The Prime Minister mentioned the work his Government was doing and the new policies and schemes his Government had launched including the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana and the Make in India initiative.
Speaking about Jan Dhan scheme, he said 70 million bank accounts have been opened in the last 10 weeks under the scheme and a total of Rs 5,000 crore has been deposited by the account holders.
He also spoke of the need to improve access to clean water, electricity and invited the Indian-Australian community to give back to the Motherland in whatever way they could. He spoke of his vision for skill development, and India meeting the skilled manpower requirement of the whole world.
Modi also complimented Australia for its concept of dignity of labour. "I have always admired the concept of dignity of labour in Australia. Here, a research scientist can also drive a cab."
"Cleaning up or removing litter. This is not a job that lacks dignity...this is a job that must be respected," he said.
He also announced a Sydney Cultural Center would be established by India and it will be made functional by February 2015.
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