DC Edit | Can diaspora set an example?
Touching the heart of the issue at the 17th edition of the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas organised in Indore, Prime Minister Narendra Modi rightly said that the country’s diaspora, comprising non-resident Indians (NRIs) and people of Indian origin (PIOs) settled in different parts of the world, are our most effective brand ambassadors.
When it comes to forming their opinion of any other country, especially if they don’t have a direct connection to it through business or travel, most regular folk anywhere in the world typically picture its reality from movies, food, and the people of that nation they meet personally.
Pravasi Bharatiyas, or our people abroad, are our truest brand ambassadors, and it is important that India see this collective, individually or organised in small groups, for that profound power and purpose. And it is not just their words about India, but their own behaviour that will shape the opinion of the world about us.
Mr Modi, true master of message and medium, aptly invoked their patriotic instincts and desire to make a difference to the country of their birth by asking them to become spokespersons and advocates of crucial transformative initiatives, such as Make in India, yoga, ayurveda and handicrafts.
Historically, India used to view people settled abroad as handy for foreign remittance, especially decades ago when a perpetual shortage of dollars marked our worldview. Post-liberalisation, India began to view the NRIs as useful eye candy and story props in unrealistic Karan Johar films.
They are more than that. Since we have stopped fretting about brain drain, it is time now to realise that we stand to gain when an Indian makes their mark globally even if they are foreign residents. While some of our NRIs have stunned the world with their achievements, it is now incumbent upon each member of that community to convey this message to the world — Indians are smart, hard working, successful, humble, kind and worthy of friendship.