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PM’s address at Indian Community programme in Paris

PM’s address at Indian Community programme in Paris


Bharat Mata ki Jai, Bharat Mata ki Jai,

Namaskar, Bonjour

Vanakkam, Sat Sri Akal,

Kem Chho!

This sight is amazing in itself. This enthusiasm is unprecedented and this boundless stream of affection is heartwarming. This hospitality is very pleasing. When I’m far away from the country and I hear the call of ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’, or somebody says ‘Namaskar’, it feels like I am at home. And wherever we Indians go, we always manage to create a mini India there. And I was told that there are many people in this gathering who have travelled for eleven or twelve hours to be here today. What greater love could there be, indeed!

And we know that in this era of technology, it is not a difficult task for anyone to listen to a live telecast on their mobile phones from the comfort of their homes. However, despite that, the fact that so many people have come from such far distances taking out their time, it is a great privilege for me to have the opportunity to see all of you. I express my heartfelt gratitude to all of you for coming here.

Friends,

I have been to France several times before as well. However, this time my visit to France is even more special. Tomorrow is France’s National Day. I extend my heartfelt congratulations to the people of France. And I express my heartfelt gratitude to the people of France for inviting me on this important occasion.

Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne came to receive me at the airport. And tomorrow, I will be a part of the National Day Parade with my friend President Macron. This camaraderie is not just between the leaders of two countries, but it is a reflection of the unbreakable friendship between India and France. The National Anthem of France says, ‘Marchons, Marchons …’ meaning ‘Let’s March, Let’s March’. Similarly, in our ancient Vedic scriptures, the mantra that has always inspired us is ‘Charaiveti, Charaiveti, meaning ‘Keep moving, keep moving; Let’s March, Let’s March’. And we will see the same spirit in the National Day Parade tomorrow. The soldiers of all three wings of the Indian Armed Forces, who protect India on land, sea, and air, will be participating in the parade. And this unity we have, it is truly special. There is unity; there are different colours and there is enthusiasm all around. It is truly wonderful. What better way to celebrate the 25 years of the strategic partnership between India and France than this?

Friends,

Today, the world is moving towards a new world order. India’s strength and role are rapidly changing. India is currently the President of the G-20. It is the first time that a country’s presidency is witnessing over 200 meetings taking place in every corner of that country. The entire G-20 group is observing India’s potential and is mesmerized by it. Whether it is climate change, global supply chains, terrorism, or extremism, India’s experience and efforts in dealing with every challenge are proving to be beneficial for the world.

India says, ‘Ekam Sat Vipra Bahudha Vadanti’, which means ‘Truth is one, but the ways of expressing it may be different’. India says, ‘Atmavat Sarva Bhuteshu’, which means ‘we should demonstrate the compassion and camaraderie that we show for ourselves to others as well’. India says, ‘Samgacchadhvam Samvadadhvam Sam Vo Manansi Janatam’, which means ‘let us walk together, let us speak together, let our minds be united’. And India says, ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’, which means ‘the whole world is one family’. With this sentiment, we can build a better society, a better world. It is in this spirit that India and France are tackling the many challenges of the 21st century.

Therefore, the significance of the strategic partnership between France and India has increased even more in this crucial time. And you know who is continuously strengthening this India-France partnership … who is making it stronger… who is doing it… who is doing it? Who is giving a new dimension to the relations between the two countries? Your answer is not correct. It is not Modi who is doing it, it is all of you. Our people-to-people connect is the strongest foundation of mutual trust between the people of both countries in this partnership.

Here, the Namaste France Festival happens, and people in India enjoy the Bonjour India Festival. Whether it’s the heritage or history, art or aesthetics, crafts or creativity, cuisine or culture, fashion or films of both our countries, they all bring us together. They unite us. You should come to India to witness the popularity of French football players. The number of fans Kylian Mbappé has in France cannot match the popularity he enjoys among the youth in India.

Friends,

My personal affinity towards France has been long-standing, and I can never forget it. Around 40 years ago, a French cultural center, Alliance Française, was established in Ahmedabad, Gujarat. And I was the first member of that cultural center in India who is interacting with you today. Interestingly, the French government took out my identification card from their old records, made a Xerox copy of it, and gave it to me a few years ago. That gift is still priceless to me today.

Friends,

For me to delve into the historical relationship between India and France, it would take a considerable amount of time… What about you then? When I visited France in 2015, I went to Neuve-Chapelle. There, I paid homage to the thousands of Indian soldiers who sacrificed their lives in the First World War. These Indian soldiers fulfilled their duty and laid down their lives on the soil of France while protecting the pride of France 100 years ago. It was indeed an emotional moment, my friends.

The regiment from which those soldiers took part in the war here, one of them being the Punjab Regiment, is now going to participate in the National Day Parade here tomorrow. Friends, this 100-year-old emotional connection and the tradition of making supreme sacrifice for the welfare of others is a great inspiration. Who in India would not feel proud of this? The duties performed by Indian soldiers and their dedication at that time are now being remembered with so much pride and respect today on this land. Thank you, France!

I believe that the contribution you are making to strengthen the relationship between India and France… I am telling you, I am saying it to you… what you are doing today out of a sense of duty will be written in golden letters in history.

Friends,

France, with its motto of Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity, was hailed by Mahatma Gandhi as a country that exemplifies the power of these three words. This was said by Mahatma Gandhi. During a time when most countries viewed India merely from the perspective of colonial domination, Nobel laureate Romain Rolland proclaimed, ‘India is the mother of our civilization’. India’s thousands of years old history, its experiences, and its endeavours for the welfare of the world, have a vast scope. India is the Mother of Democracy and also a Model of Diversity. This is our immense strength, a great force. Let me give you an example.

Friends,

There is a saying in our country that the taste of water changes every few miles, and language changes every four miles. That is the taste of water and even the language changes after a short distance in India. India is home to more than 100 languages and over 1,000 dialects. Every day, more than 32,000 different newspapers are printed in these over 100 languages. In these more than 100 languages, there are over 900 news channels and television news broadcasts. Additionally, around 400 radio channels broadcast in more than 100 languages.

Even today, there are multiple scripts and writing systems used in India. It is a matter of pride for us that India has kept this magnificent tradition alive. In Indian schools and various regions of India, nearly 100 languages are taught. And many people may not be aware that Tamil is the world’s oldest language. And what greater pride could there be than knowing that Tamil, the world’s oldest language, is the language of India, our language as Indians.

And friends,

Now the world is also enjoying the diversity of Indian languages. Just a few days ago, you might have seen tennis legend Roger Federer being called “Thalaiva” by Wimbledon. This diversity is the greatest strength of our democracy. Today, driven by this strength, every Indian is fulfilling his dreams and taking the country and the world forward. Who wouldn’t swell with pride upon hearing that India has become the fifth largest economy in the world from 10th in ten years? This pride is not just felt by Indians alone; today, the entire world has started to believe that it won’t take long for India to become a $5 trillion economy.

You must have recently seen a UN report. In that report, the UN states that India has lifted approximately 415 million people, which is about 42 crore, out of the poverty line within just 10-15 years. You can imagine, 415 million is more than the entire population of Europe. It is also more than the population of the entire United States.

An IMF study also suggests that extreme poverty in India is on the verge of being eradicated. When India accomplishes such a significant feat, it benefits not only us but also the entire humanity. The progress of India brings about a change in the development parameters of the world, resulting in overall improvement. It also instils confidence in other impoverished countries that the situation can change, and poverty can be alleviated.

Friends,

The land of France bears witness to the fact that hard work and the sweat of citizens is behind any transformation in a country. Today, the land of India is also becoming a witness to a significant transformation. The reins of this transformation are in the hands of the people of India, the sisters and daughters of India, the youth of India. Today, the entire world is full of new hope and aspirations towards India. This hope, this expectation, is turning into tangible results, and a crucial strength behind it is India’s human resource. This human resource is filled with determination, with a spirit of courage. It is marching ahead firmly with India’s democratic values and for the betterment of humanity.

Friends,

Today’s India is finding permanent solutions to its current challenges and long-standing issues. India is determined that it will not lose any opportunity and will not waste a single moment. We are fully dedicated to brightening the future of our country and illuminating the path for future generations. And my fellow citizens, I want to say that I want to express my resolve as well. Every particle of my being, every moment of my time, is solely for you, for the citizens of this country.

Friends,

Today, we can feel the impact of technology in every moment of our lives. The world is technology-driven. Today, more than 80 lakh children in more than 25,000 schools in India are learning the ABCD of innovation at Atal Tinkering Labs. Considering the needs of the 21st century, we have implemented a new National Education Policy. Present-day India is progressing with a foundation of Women-led Development. And it’s not just that a single tribal woman leading us all as the President of India; our leadership extends beyond that. Today, girls in India are showcasing leadership roles in every sector. Enrolment of girls in higher education is continuously increasing, and I am pleased to see many women officers and women pilots in the contingent that has come here to participate in the National Day Parade.

Friends,

The 21st century world will progress based on technology and talent. The partnership between India and France forms a strong foundation for this. Our space program is a testament to that. When the discussion of establishing the Thumba Sounding Rocket Station came up, it was France that stepped forward to offer assistance. Since then, both our countries have embarked on a long journey in the space sector. Today, we are launching each other’s satellites, and you’ll be glad to know that as I speak to you now, the reverberation of the reverse countdown for the launch of Chandrayaan-3 can be heard in India. In just a few hours, this historic launch will take place from India’s Sriharikota.

Friends,

Just like the space sector, there are several other sectors in which the partnership between India and France can contribute to providing a new direction to the world. The International Solar Alliance has the capability to offer a lot to the world. Now, we are working together to strengthen such partnerships in many such sectors, including Clean Energy, Critical and Strategic Technologies, Clean Transportation, Electronics and Communications, Circular Economy, Health and Nutrition, and many more. Few people may know that India and France have been working together on Archaeological Missions for a long time, and its reach extends from Chandigarh to Ladakh.

Friends,

Another sector that strengthens the India-France partnership is digital infrastructure. Industry 4.0 has a significant foundation in this sector as well. Today, you will be proud to know that 46% of the world’s real-time digital transactions take place in India. And I challenge you that the next time you visit India, keep your pockets empty, with no cash in hand, and simply download a UPI (Unified Payments Interface) app on your mobile phone. You can travel across the entire nation without the need for physical cash and manage your expenses. Today, banking services in India are available 24×7, anytime and anywhere, at people’s fingertips. Direct Benefit Transfer has become a part of governance. Whether it’s India’s UPI or other digital platforms, they have brought about significant social transformation in the country. And I am pleased that India and France are working together in this direction as well. There has been an agreement regarding the use of India’s UPI in France. Now, I will leave for my country after making this agreement, and it is up to you to carry the work forward.

Friends,

In the coming days, it will be started from the Eiffel Tower, which means now Indian tourists will be able to make payments in rupees through a mobile app at the Eiffel Tower. Yes, if it’s Modi, then it’s possible, but I cannot correct your voice.

Friends,

In a few hours from now, or it could take a few weeks or months, the installation of the statue of the great Indian saint Thiruvalluvar ji is taking place here in Cergy Prefecture. And Saint Thiruvalluvar ji had said, ‘Eendra Pozhudhin Peridhuvakkum anmakanaich Chaandron Enakketta Thaai’.

While Tamil-speaking friends may have understood, let me explain it to others. Its meaning is profound, and Saint Thiruvalluvar ji imparted this wisdom to us centuries ago. It means that when a mother hears praise of her child as a scholar, she experiences such joy that surpasses even the day of the child’s birth. That is, as much happiness is felt on the birth of a child, there is more happiness on the success of one’s child. It is said for mothers, and therefore, when you earn recognition abroad, when the world praises you, Mother Bharati (Mother India) also experiences the same joy. As someone who holds Mother Bharati in his heart even on foreign soil, I consider every child of Mother Bharati as a brand ambassador of India.

You are the ambassador of India. I know that Indians can be found anywhere, but their hearts beat for India as well. I was discussing space, and you were cheering, “Chandrayaan, Chandrayaan, Chandrayaan!” Meaning, you are here, but your heart is engaged in Chandrayaan (Indian lunar mission). That’s why our Indian diaspora, spread across the world including France, has set a new record in remittances. You have created a new record. Shall I tell you? Shall I tell you all? You don’t know, right! No worries, I keep singing the songs of your achievements.

India is the first country in the world where the annual remittances from the Indian diaspora living abroad have crossed 100 billion dollars, and it is a matter of great pleasure that this contribution of yours is consistently increasing. But I have another request for you. Can I make a request to you? Well, there’s nothing to lose in asking. Modi is not coming back to ask you again. My request to you is that now you need to come forward with full enthusiasm to invest in India as well. India is working towards the goal of becoming developed in the next 25 years. Your role in this is significant. Whatever sector you are working in, you must explore the possibilities connected to it in India. Today, every international agency is saying that India is progressing, and India is a bright spot.

India is witnessing unprecedented investment opportunities. I urge you to invest in India, and when I say it now, don’t complain later that Modi didn’t inform you about it. The opportunity is here, and as I said from the ramparts of the Red Fort, this is the time, the right time, and those who reach early will reap greater benefits. Those who come late will have to wait. Now is the time to seize the opportunity, how quickly you want to seize it is up to you.

Friends,

Therefore, come and invest in India. The Indian government is fully committed to providing convenience and security to Indians working abroad. Whether it’s a battlefield or a natural disaster, India takes action first when it sees its citizens in distress. Whether it’s Ukraine or Sudan, Yemen or Afghanistan, Iraq or Nepal, we have put all our efforts for the safety of Indians. Every Indian residing abroad holds the same priority for us as my fellow countrymen residing in India. When NITI Aayog was established a few years ago, we gave due importance to the capabilities and contributions of the Indian diaspora. I am pleased to say that the difficulties regarding the OCI card in Réunion Island have been resolved. OCI cards are now being issued there. We are now making efforts to find a solution for Martinique and Guadeloupe as well.

Friends,

There are many companions, including in France, who are associated with academics and research. They are teachers and professors. When I meet such academicians and professionals abroad, they often express their desire to connect their experience, knowledge, and expertise with India. And I have good news for you. We have also acknowledged their desire. It has now been made easier for such companions to teach in Indian institutions. Last time when I visited France, it was decided that Indian students studying in France would be granted a two-year post-study work visa. Now it has been decided that Indian students pursuing Masters in France will be granted a five-year long-term post-study visa. The Indian government with the assistance of the French government has also decided to open a new consulate in Marseille. This will further enhance your convenience.

Friends,

I also have another request to my friends in France and the citizens here. India is so vast and full of diversities that even we, as Indians, need a lifetime to fully explore and understand it. The world is eagerly interested in witnessing the grandeur of such a vast India. You will definitely find something of your interest in India. Tourism in India extends beyond sightseeing. Once you experience the diversity of India, you will become ardent admirers of our country. From the high mountains of Himalayas to dense forests, from scorching deserts to beautiful coastlines, from adventure sports to centers of meditation and yoga, India has something to offer for everyone. It is your responsibility to bring our French friends to India to experience and understand this diversity. The more help you provide them, the more they will come to India. My Indian diaspora, my brothers and sisters in France, can contribute greatly to this endeavour. Just as entering an access code or password on a mobile phone or computer opens up a new world, the Indian diaspora is the access code, the password to India. Make it your mission to promote tourism in India as well. Visiting India means experiencing a heritage of thousands of years and experiencing history. When you come to India, you will witness not only the heritage but also the pace of development.

Friends,

Let’s resolve to connect the citizens of France in a significant way with India with our full capacity, our experiences, our contacts and our relationships. When you come, bring them along to India. Inspire them to explore India. When our people-to-people contact increases, it’s not just tourism that grows, although that happens too. But from it, the strength of familiarity is born, becoming an invaluable heritage for generations to come. I believe, my friends, you will never lag behind in this endeavour. You have come in such great numbers, and I have had the opportunity to meet all of you. I express my heartfelt gratitude to you. Thank you very, very much.

Join me and say Bharat Mata ki Jai!

Bharat Mata ki Jai!

Bharat Mata ki Jai!

Thanks!