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India is ready to save humanity with ‘Made in India’ COVID-19 vaccines

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said that India is ready to save humanity with two “Made in India’’ COVID-19 vaccines.

While inaugurating the 16th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas convention through virtual mode, Mr Modi said that India used to import PPE kits, masks, ventilators and testing kits from outside but “today our nation is self-reliant.’’

Prime Minister Modi’s remarks gain significance as the world battles with the raging Corona pandemic and the global efforts are focussed on vaccination to curb the spread of the viral disease.

The Pravasi Bharatiya Divas convention is the flagship even of the Ministry of External Affairs and provides an important platform to engage and connect with overseas India, according to an official release. Speaking about ongoing efforts and campaign in India to empower the poor in the country, the Prime Minister said that it was being talked about globally now.

“We have shown that in the sector of renewable energy, a developing country too can take lead,’’ he told the convention.

With an obvious reference to the violence in the U.S. where the process of transition of power is underway after the defeat of President Donald Trump, Mr Modi said that people had said that India will break and democracy is impossible in the country.

“But the truth is that India stand together with a strong and vibrant democracy today,’’ said Prime Minister Modi.

Referring to the menace of terrorism, Mr Modi said that when India stood in the face of terrorism, world too got the courage to face this challenge.

Dwelling upon his government’s efforts to root out corruption, the Prime Minister said: “Today, India is using technology and end corruption. Money worth lakhs and crores are directly being credited to account of beneficiaries.’’

In his remarks at the inaugural session of the convention, External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar recalled that the convention was part of a tradition that began two decades ago when the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee envisioned a comprehensive framework for Pravasi outread. “In the years that have passed, these initiatives have been strengthened by a range of other activities. And even more, transformed by the very unique bonding that Prime Minister Modi has established with the diaspora,’’ he said.

Noting that this year’s convention is taking place against the backdrop of the devastating Covid pandemic, the Minister said that these unprecedented difficulties have only further strengthened India’s bonds with Pravasis.

“This was expressed in the Vande Bharat Mission that brought more than 3.5 million of our people home. It was equally visible in the support we provided for the return from India of those of other nationalities, to 120 countries. And not least, it was seen in the medicines that we sent to 150 nations, many with large Pravasi communities,’’ he said.

Among many lessons that Covid has taught us, Dr Jaishankar said, prominent among them is the need to be more self-reliant. “We, in India, have responded through the policy of Atmanirbhar Bharat, building stronger capacities at home to make a larger contribution abroad. It is natural that we seek to involve our diaspora in that process, as they have a well-earned reputation as high achievers. Their emotional attachment to India surely encourages their desire to contribute to the nation’s rejuvenation,’’ he said.

Among the diaspora initiatives, the ‘Know India Programme’ for young overseas Indians and the Pravasi Teerth Darshan Yojana for the older generation have been notable, he said. The on-line quiz Bharat ko Jaaniye, launched in 2015, has also made commendable progress. The scholarship programme for diaspora children is another connection, as indeed the expanded cultural activities of our Embassies abroad and ICCR Centres.

“Even as we strengthen our bonds, the success of Pravasis abroad is a source of immense pride for all of us. Today, we are particularly honoured that President Santokhi of Suriname would address the Convention as Chief Guest. He is indeed a shining example of the heights to which Persons of Indian Origin have reached abroad,’’ he said.

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