A quick scan of prime ministerial speeches at the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas going back to 2009, another election year, reveals no political utterances by either Modi or his predecessor, Dr Manmohan Singh.
When Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced at the 15th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas in Varanasi on Tuesday that the “85 per cent loot” taking place during the Congress regime had been plugged “100 per cent” through technology, he struck a discordant note at what hither-to had been a non-partisan event.
"We have given about Rs 5,80,000 crore to people, transferred to their bank accounts through various schemes. Imagine, if the country was being run on the older system? Then Rs 4,50,000 crore would have vanished," Modi said, adding that earlier there was no intention and willpower to make the effort “to stop the 'leakage”.
A quick scan of prime ministerial speeches at the PBD going back to 2009, another election year, reveals no political utterances by either Modi or his predecessor, Dr Manmohan Singh.
Speeches at the PBD typically tend to talk up the economy, recall how it helped NRIs in crises, glorify the ancient linkages between the Pravasi Bharatiyas and India, and enlist how the government of the day was making it easier for them to connect with the country of their origin.
At the 2017 Bengaluru PBD, Prime Minister Modi said: “Under Operation Sankat Mochan in July 2016, we evacuated over 150 Indian nationals from South Sudan within 48 hours. Prior to that, we evacuated several thousands of our citizens from conflict situations in Yemen in well-coordinated, smooth and swift operations.
“In the last two years, 2014-2016, we facilitated the repatriation of over 90,000 Indian nationals from nearly 54 countries. Through the Indian Community Welfare Fund we have assisted more than 80,000 Indian nationals abroad/ who were in contingency situations.”
There was no PBD in 2016, after which it has been made into a biennial affair.
At the 2015 PBD in Gandhinagar, he said, “When someone living abroad finds out an Indian will be his neighbour, he's happy. He thinks his children will inculcate family values.
“The world is ready to embrace India. We have so much to offer, what is needed is confidence in ourselves.”
In 2014, another election year, then Prime Minister Dr Singh said, “India’s economic growth process has also become socially more inclusive and regionally more balanced. Inclusive development has always been the guiding principle of our government and we have pursued it with great vigour and purpose in recent years.
“Our poverty levels are declining at faster rates; economically weaker states are growing at faster rates; agriculture growth has accelerated; and real rural wages have increased three times since 2004.”
The previous year, Dr Singh had said, “I believe that the overseas Indian community should be a vital partner and participant in India's social and economic development. Whether you wish to invest or share your knowledge, technology and skills, whether your enterprise takes you to the cities or your compassion brings you to a remote village, I assure you of our continuing effort to support your endeavours.”
In 2012, he said, “We in India speak in different languages and follow different faiths. But Indian culture has a tradition of assimilating and accommodating diverse traditions, customs, beliefs and peoples. That is what makes Indian society, Indian civilisation endure and flourish.”
In 2011, Dr Singh had said, “There is today great appreciation in India of the impressive achievements of the people of Indian origin around the world. Your hard work, your creativity inspire us.
“I do sincerely believe the coming of age of the Pravasi Bharatiya has enabled the international community to recognise that India and the people of Indian-origin have a new message for the world at large.”
In 2010 he recalled, “We are all legitimately proud of India's vibrant democracy. But I cannot say that we have delivered in full measure on the enormous promise and potential of our country. I recognize the frustration well wishers feel when they lament why things don't work faster or why well formulated plans and policies don't get implemented as well as they should be.”
In 2009, another election year, Dr Singh said at the Chennai PBD, “It is this sense of confidence in our future that defines the India of today. I urge you all to come and participate in this great adventure of human development within the framework of a free and open society and an open economy.
“I have often said no where else a billion people are trying to seek their economic and social salvation in the framework of a functioning democracy committed to respect for all fundamental human rights, commitment to the rule of law and if India succeeds it will have profound implication for the development of the rest of the country of the third world.”