With over 13.6 million Indian nationals living outside the country, embassies and high commissions across the globe have a significant role to play in engaging with NRIs and the Indian diaspora.
Singapore is home to a sizeable chunk of this diaspora, and the Indian High Commission in the island nation, under the able guidance of outgoing High Commissioner Jawed Ashraf, has been at the forefront of fulfilling the responsibilities of Indian missions abroad.
Connected to India spoke to HE Jawed Ashraf about how the change in citizen engagement and building of brand India has come about over the last few years with the High Commissioner attributing this to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and former External Affairs Minister, the late Sushma Swaraj.
“This is the emphasis that Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has placed right from the beginning of his term in May 2014,” Mr Ashraf told Connected to India.
“The late Mrs Sushma Swaraj was really a people's foreign minister. If a citizen of India is in distress, needs help or has got a problem, we should be there to help. And fortunately with modern communications technology, it has become easy to do that,” he added.
Mr Ashraf recalled both the prime minister and Ms Swaraj saying that embassies “should not be there for the elite.”
“The doors of the embassy must open for every citizen who's either traveling out of India or is living abroad or even a person of Indian origin or anyone for that matter. Citizens and students from other countries as well,” he said.
The Indian government has made a concerted effort to connect with the diaspora across the world - a legacy that has been carried on by current EAM, Dr S Jaishankar.
“Dr S Jaishankar, who is now our foreign minister, who was then foreign secretary, places equal emphasis on this. In terms of our performance indicators, this is really right at the top. Not just in developing big political and economic relationships, but really serving the people,” said Mr Ashraf.
Watch the complete interview with the High Commissioner of India to Singapore, Jawed Ashraf here.