Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed members of the NRI community in France and described India as a "model of diversity". He also announced an agreement for the use of UPI in France, opening a huge new market for the Indian innovation in cashless instant payment.
In his nearly an hour-long speech to the enthusiastic crowd at the La Seine Musicale - a performing arts centre on an island in the river Seine - Modi outlined India's fast-paced development and asserted that while the world is moving towards a new order, India's strength and role are also changing very quickly.
He mentioned India's presidency of the G20 in this context and noted how the world has been left impressed by the way the country has been hosting various events.
Modi announced the opening of a new Indian consulate in Marseille in France and told the cheerful audience that Indian students doing masters in the European country will now get five-year-long post-study work visas.
Highlighting India's democratic and pluralistic credentials, he said it is the mother of democracy and a model of diversity as well.
Describing people-to-people connect as a key foundation of the India-France partnership, he also asked the diaspora members to invest in India, noting that global experts are recognising the country's attractiveness as an investment destination and the country is taking rapid strides in development.
"Today every rating agency is saying that India is a bright spot. You invest in India now. This is the opportune time. Those who invest early will reap benefits," Modi said.
PM Modi was conferred with the highest honour of France, the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour, by French President Emmanuel Macron. He will join Macron for the French National Day celebrations today as the Guest of Honour.
Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Arindam Bagchi tweeted photographs from the award ceremony that took place at the Elysee Palace here, saying "A warm gesture embodying the spirit of partnership. PM @narendramodi conferred with the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour, the highest award in France by President @EmmanuelMacron".
Earlier, the French President and First Lady Brigitte Macron hosted a private dinner for Modi at the Elysee Palace.