Reiterating that her government stood firmly behind the Indians in distress overseas, the Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj told Indian diaspora that the help was "just one tweet away."
"Just send one tweet. Send it in the middle of night, send it at three in the morning, send it at four in the afternoon, a resolution is done within twenty-four hours. That is why I said, help is just one tweet away," Swaraj said amid cheers and yays from the gathering of disapora at the ongoing Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 2019 in Varanasi.
"Help is just one message away for Indian nationals in distress. You know that now Indian passport has become a security cover for Indian diaspora," said the minister, famous for her prompt response and redressal to anyone who sends a distress call on her twitter handle.
The minister started her speech with lavish praise of achievements of diaspora across the world. But noticing only the front and the side row cheered as she spoke and the rest looked blank, she said, "I will now switch to English for them for a full house applause." The hall did respond with a full house applause.
The minister welcomed special guests and young parliamentarians Himanshu Gulati from Norway and Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi from New Zealand. "At a young age, they have accomplished incredible things and their presence and participation in the PBD is an inspiration to diaspora youth," she said.
Spotting elderly parents of Gulati across the hall, Swaraj welcomed and lauded them for coming all the way to attend the PBD and "giving a young MP" to Norway.
Turning her attention then to New Zealand MP Bakshi on her left on the dias, the minister smiled and remarked, "Can anyone tell from his age that he is a four times MP? It is like as if he won his first election in the very childhood itself." The audience cheered and Bakshi thanked with a nod and a smile with folded hands.
Recounting how her ministry has leveraged social media to outreach Indians living around the world, Swaraj said her ministry was using every platform for the welfare of Indian diaspora.
"We have an Indian Community welfare fund for carrying out welfare activities for distressed overseas Indians. We are strengthening the entire ecosystem of our administrative arrangements and our embassies and my colleagues are proactively reaching out on social media to solve your problems in real-time basis," she said.
"Today, we have pioneered the use of digital platforms and social media to actively enhance our outreach to the Indian diaspora. Today we are present on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Instagram, Google+, Soundcloud and Flickr as well as Linkedln. We are disseminating real-time information about our bilateral and international relations and official engagements, and creating awareness and understanding about India’s foreign policy issues through the use of social media," she said.
"We are using various other tools like Podcasts and digital magazine to enhance our access to the diaspora youth. Our "MEA App” mobile application has brought all the websites and various social media handles of over 170 Indian missions on a common platform to further its public outreach. Our embassies have been proactive on the digital media, providing consular help and guidance. Whether it is Facebook or Twitter, help is just a message away from any Indian national in distress.
Noting that India has the largest diaspora in the world, at almost 31 million, which is spread throughout the globe, the minister said,"What marks all of you is the shared common identity – of Indianness – and a shared common origin – India, land of your forefathers."
"It is to celebrate these shared bonds that we all have gathered here. The story of your forefathers’ journey to distant shores is a tale brimming with courage, enterprise and character. In ancient times, they left the Indian shores as traders, monks, teachers and temple builders. In the time of the British empire, they were sent to distant lands as indentured labour to work in the sugar, tea and rubber plantations," she said.
"They worked on lands as far apart as Fiji and Mauritius, Suriname and Sri Lanka, Trinidad & Tobago, Burma, Guyana and Malaysia. The next wave of emigration saw Indian entrepreneurs and traders sailing fearlessly into uncharted waters for unknown countries. Since the '70s, young Indian professionals have been migrating abroad to corporate boardrooms, research laboratories, engineering workshops and university faculties. We have seen the growing emigration of doctors, nurses, engineers, managers, plumbers, and electricians to West Asia and the Gulf," she said.
"Today, we have people of Indian origin, as heads of the state and heads of the government, and as heads of large multi-national corporations, raising India's global profile," the minister noted with satisfaction.
Swaraj said the success of each and every one of our emigrants was a testimonial to their unbeatable spirit, their dedication, and their patience and forbearance in the face of extreme hardships. While the Indian diaspora started migrating centuries ago, it is the migration of the educated, highly skilled and dynamic young Indians that has brought laurels to India.