Modi impresses many first-timers; others put off by his speech, security

Modi impresses many first-timers; others put off by his speech, security

For first-time listeners, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech at the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas was inspiring.

Inaugurating the sessions on the second day, Modi spoke about several issues concerning the Indian diaspora. 

“He said we were the hosts and the guests for the programme. This made us feel at home,” Seema Chauhan, an emigration agent from Australia told DH.

Modi’s mention of the skill development programme for the Indian diaspora was also well received. Chauhan said such programmes would help Indians get better jobs abroad. “He connects well with people. His talks are engaging. There is no doubt he is a great orator,” said this first-time listener.

However, some delegates were so unhappy with the speech that they were planning to skip the second half of the third day of the event, when President Pranab Mukherjee will participate.

“We are all delegates and have been invited here to participate in the event. It is absurd to place barricades everywhere when the Prime Minister is in a conference room with other ministers. Is this how things are in India,” questioned a delegate from Oman, who did not want to be named.

Even as Modi’s mention about corruption and black money received a vociferous response from the audience, several expressed displeasure and complained about the lack of clarity.

An NRI from Saudi Arabia, who did not wish to be named, said, “We are worried if there is a gross error in estimating the amount of black money. Yet, we are happy the measure is taken,” he said.

“Know India” programme by the Ministry of External Affairs also received great applause. Mitisha Ramoutar, a student who took part in the programme said, “We want more such opportunities. Also, student exchange programmes must be enhanced.”

K K Usman, a member of a socio-cultural organisation associated with the Indian Embassy, found several holes in the prime minister’s address. “We were expecting some announcement on concessions for us post-demonetisation. Also, we want him to have centres where people of Indian origin can avail Aadhaar cards in the Gulf region. Also, there was no mention of reduction of fees paid by NRI students.”

Raj Kapoor, a delegate from Kuwait termed it just “rhetoric”. There was no new policy statement for Indians of foreign origin, he said. 

However, there were others who even had tears while listening to Modi talk. Roshini Mahtani from Singapore said Modi's statement — “We do not see the colour of the passport, but the blood,” was very touching. “It is a very nice line. It brought tears to my eyes and I have already Tweeted it to all my people back in Singapore.”

Annamalai Hemalatha, another delegate from Singapore said Modi executes whatever he speaks. “He has already started the process of ease of doing business in India, Hemalatha said.

Rousing reception

The atmosphere was charged as Prime Minister Narendra Modi appeared on stage inside the jam-packed hall of the Bengaluru International Exhibition Centre to deliver his keynote address at the 14th edition of the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas on Sunday.

People occupied their seats at least an hour before the programme started.

Organisers arranged interpreter headsets for instant translations of the speech into Hindi, English, French and Portuguese.

The crowd burst into jubilation as soon as Modi appeared on stage and waved. People stood on their feet and the ‘Modi-Modi’ chant rent the air for almost five minutes. Soon, cameras and mobile phones were out, clicking his pictures.

The prime minister chose to address the crowd in English, which a majority of people from the Indian diaspora understand. 

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