Singapore: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday sought greater engagement of the diaspora in making the country strong, pointing to the large requirement of foreign direct investment and stating that his only task was development that wipes tears from the eyes of the poor.
Addressing a gathering of the Indian diaspora at the Singapore Expo here, Modi spoke of his government’s goals of providing round-the-clock power by 2022, generating 40 percent energy from non-fossil sources by 2030 and generating 175 GW of renewable energy.
The prime minister was greeted by slogans of “Modi, Modi” many times during his speech.
Wearing a kurta, churidar pyjama and a light-blue half jacket, Modi spoke for over one hour in Hindi, drawing on the country’s culture but also emphasising that it was important to script history and not rest on the laurels of the past.
Modi evoked smiles with some of his remarks.
“India is a great country but it has a lot to learn from Singapore. The diversity that is in India, it is in Singapore but everyone is a Singaporean and is working shoulder to shoulder to build the country. We have to learn a lot from Singapore,” he said.
Modi said he had started his journey with one task before him and needed the blessings of Indians in the country and outside.
“I have to accomplish one task and that is development, development, development which wipes the tears of the poor, provides employment to youth, prosperity to farmers and empowerment to women.”
Referring to the positive image of the country in the world, Modi said the reason for it was “not Modi but you, my brothers and sisters living in foreign countries”.
He said Indians assimilated well with the country they went to.
“They live by Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam — the whole world is one family,” Modi said.
Indians number about 350,000 in Singapore’s population of about 5.5 million.
The prime minister said FDI has two meanings for him — foreign direct investment and first develop India.
“Today, India needs a large amount of FDI, he said, noting that FDI flows had gone up by 40 percent over the past 18 months.
Modi said his government had allowed upto 100 percent FDI in railways and the same would apply in approved high technology areas in defence.
“For me railway is not transport only. It is engine for India’s transformation,” he said.
Referring to his government’s steps towards making India clean, he said people of the country had made up their mind to bring about change.
“A country is not built by governments but by determination of its people. Today there is an atmosphere that we will take the country forward,” Modi said.
He referred to his humble origins and referred to 40 lakh people giving up subsidy on his call.
Modi said it is understandable that people acted voluntarily on a call by leaders such as Mahatma Gandhi but they had acted on “a call by an ordinary man like me, a tea seller”.
Referring to Swami Vivekananda, Modi said he sees the country reaching its old glory of being “Vishwa Guru” (world guru).
Modi said he had said during pre-election interviews that India will walk as an equal in the international arena.
“I have fulfilled that promise. India is full of self-confidence. The world has begun to recognise power of 125 crore Indians,” he said, adding that the world no longer sees India as a market but is keen to forge partnerships.
“My effort is that India has the best of what world has to offer and it also adds to the best that we have,” he said.
Modi said the esteem for India’s currency should rise in global markets and the decision to float rupee bonds in the London Stock Exchange was a move in that direction.
“This means invest in rupee, get back in rupee. Enter the world market in rupee,” he said.
Modi said the rupee bond was a sign of economic prosperity and should be seen with pride by every Indian.
Noting that 65 percent of the population was below 35, he said India was collaborating with countries like Singapore, the US and Germany for imparting skills.