Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday told a rapturous crowd of NRIs that Persons of Indian Origin cardholders will get a lifetime Indian visa and that American tourists will be given visa on arrival.
Modi, who arrived at the packed Madison Square Garden to a rousing welcome, announced the merger of PIO and Overseas Citizens of India schemes to facilitate hassle-free travel to the Indian Diaspora. He announced that PIO card holders staying in India on long-term basis will no longer have to report to the local police station.
Prime Minister Modi affirmed that India will move ahead at a rapid pace and lead the 21st Century world.
At the unique event in the heart of Manhattan at which some 20,000 cheering NRIs were present, Modi said that his big win in the Lok Sabha elections had come with a big responsibility for him which he would fulfill
Listing out India's advantages, the PM said that its three strengths were democracy, demographic dividend in which 65 per cent of its population was under 35 years, and the demand for India because it was a huge market. "My effort is to make development a mass movement. I am confident is that we will succeed. There is cause for disappointment. This country is going to make rapid progress.”
"There are many expectations from the new government. This government will be 100 per cent successful in fulfilling the aspirations of people," he said amid loud cheers. "My dream is to see every Indian family has a home by 2022," he said.
Clearly with an eye on the younger generation, Modi said, "We will not do anything which will let you down."
Attired in a saffron Nehru jacket and yellow kurta, the prime minister held the packed indoor stadium spellbound, asserting that "Our attempt is to make development a peoples' movement."
In his 75-minute-long speech in Hindi which he began with 'Bharat Mata Ki Jai' while extending greetings for Navratri festival, Modi promised good governance, saying after a gap of 30 years India has got a government at the Centre with a clear majority. He also took a jibe at poll predictions in the run up to the Lok Sabha elections. "No political pundit or opinion makers could fathom such a verdict," he said.
"Winning elections is not about any post or chair. It's a responsibility. Since taking over (as prime minister), I have not even taken a 15-minute vacation," he said.
"You may not have voted in 2014 but I am sure that when the results were coming, you didn't sleep and you all celebrated," he told the NRIs.
Promising a fast pace of development, Modi said, "There is no reason to be disappointed. India will progress very fast and the skills of our youth will take India ahead."
"The 21st Century will be that of India. By 2020, only India will be in a position to provide work force to the world," he said, while citing examples of growing global demand for nurses and teacher." "We are a youthful nation with a very old culture," he said.
Recalling that Mahatma Gandhi turned the freedom struggle into a mass movement, Modi said at that time every Indian felt part of the crusade for the country's independence.
Contrasting an imagery of a computer mouse with snakes, Modi said India was considered in the foreign soil as a nation of black magic and snake charmers but now it is different. "Our ancestors used to play with snakes. We play with mouse. Our youths move the mouse and the shake up the world," he said.
"Today, India is the most youthful nation of this world. Today 65 per cent population of the country is below the age of 35 years. What more asset a does a nation require whose 65 per cent population is below 35 years of age?”
"A nation, whose youths are committed to make the future of the country, will not have to look behind. This country is going to progress with the support of the youths," he said as the crowd continuously cheered him.
On his ambitious mission to rejuvenate the Ganga river, Modi said, "People ask me that why have I taken up a difficult task like cleaning of the Ganga. But I tell them people of India have not chosen me for doing easy jobs."
Referring to India's successful Mars Mission, he said the cost of travelling in an auto in Ahmedabad is Rs 10 per km but the 65 crore km journey to Mars cost just Rs 7 per km. He took at a jibe at the previous United Progressive Alliance dispensation, saying that during the Lok Sabha polls they were taking credit for introducing various new laws where as "I would be happy if we do away with one archaic law a day".
Making a pitch for involving people in development process, he said, "My clear view is that governments along cannot bring development. At the maximum, the governments can launch only schemes.”
"Development happens when there is public participation. The erstwhile governments had taken the onus of development only on themselves. We adopted the path of involving all," he said.