Manilla: India is deeply committed to strengthening its bonds with its diaspora and attending to their needs, President Ram Nath Kovind said on Sunday, while announcing that the centre has relaxed its rules and regulations for the diaspora living in the Philippines to obtain Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cards.
Announcing other initiatives in this regard during his address at the Indian Community reception here, Kovind said that the Indian embassy in Manila will begin printing passports in the near future so as to drastically reduce the time taken for issuance of new passports.
"We have made our consular service delivery people-sensitive and people-friendly. We are dutifully reaching out to those in need, through social media platforms and through community networks."
"We are also offering seats in educational institutions for your children to study in India. And we are running 'Know India Program' for the youth and for the elderly, to connect you deeper to your roots and to your culture, Here in the Philippines, the Embassy will soon begin the printing of passports in Manila and this will drastically reduce the time taken for issuance of new passports. We hope to serve you better and better," Kovind said.
Kovind said that the relations between India and the Philippines are driven by their shared values, such as their commitment to democracy, secularism and pluralism. "Our ties are both old and new. We cannot but be proud of our seafaring forefathers who more than a millennium back established cultural and commercial ties between India and South-East Asia."
While noting that the ties between the two countries are yet to be fully explored, Kovind called on the Philippines to "avail the opportunities that India today offers -- for innovation, investment, research and education", through its flagship programs such as Make in India, Digital India, Skill India, Ganga Rejuvenation Project, Swachh Bharat Mission, Smart Cities and Jal Jeevan Mission.
"India-Philippines trade has risen to nearly 2.5 billion US dollars.
However, for our two fast-growing economies, the quantum of our bilateral trade is still modest. There is much potential which needs to be tapped. I am sure with your initiatives and enterprise; we can do much more to bring prosperity to the two countries," he said.
The President expressed happiness over the fact that the Indian diaspora living in the Philippines have maintained their culture and traditions, and kept their languages alive through their daily use, be it Punjabi, Sindhi, Tamil, Malayalam, Hindi or Gujarati.
"I understand that yoga is very popular in the Philippines and Ayurveda is also gaining ground. You must do your best to promote our heritage and knowledge for the well-being and happiness of all," he said.
"It is matter of immense pride for us that wherever our community goes, it takes with it the values of "Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam", that is - the whole world is one family," said Kovind, adding that the values of Indian civilisation can ensure peace and friendship among peoples and countries amid such times of strife and violence.