There was a time to migrate to London, but now it is time to return to India, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj told a packed Indian-origin audience at the Regional Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas on Friday.
Switching to Hindi after delivering her formal opening remarks in English, Swaraj said there were ‘big’ opportunities in India now under the Modi government.
Recalling the BJP’s success in the Lok Sabha elections, she said: “it was an election of hope after the country had stopped functioning for the previous five years. We are aware of high hopes of people, and we are also aware that we need to deliver fast”.
Swaraj said she had come to invite the successful Indian Diaspora to participate in India’s growth story. The Modi government, she said, not only wanted to address the skills gap in the country, but also meet the skill needs of the world.
Swaraj also announced that PIO cards that were so far valid for 15 years were now valid indefinitely. The PIO and OCI schemes will soon be merged, she added.
Paying tributes to the 1.5 million British-Indian community, British foreign secretary Philip Hammond said that UK was ready to contribute to the government’s vision to transform India.
ISIS threat discussed
India and Britain also discussed the challenge posed by ISIS, amidst calls by Hammond that the two countries should jointly advance their security agenda.
External affairs ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin said the bilateral meeting saw a ‘fairly reasonable discussion’ between the Hammond and Swaraj .
The two sides also discussed the student visa issue, India’s continuing role in Afghanistan and the Ebola crisis. However, no specifics were discussed on the ISIS issue. Swaraj also recalled recent developments related to Pakistan.