Setting the tone for the government’s outreach to the Indian diaspora, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Sunday urged people of Indian origin to take advantage of India’s projects for connectivity to Southeast Asian countries.
Speaking in Hindi at the ASEAN-India Pravasi Bharatiya Divas in Singapore, she said her Ministry prioritised the welfare of Indian citizens living abroad, and urged them to return home to take advantage of the economic opportunities.
“Today, 16 Indian cities are connected to Singapore, a trilateral highway project from India to Thailand is making progress, and we plan to extend this further to connect India with other ASEAN countries. India has become a dominant power in the world, and that influence and that sense of power reaches every Indian,” she said.
Referring to the challenges such as piracy in the high seas and the armed conflicts that Indians living abroad often encountered, she said her Ministry was committed to helping the crisis-struck Indians at a “supersonic speed”.
She held talks with her Singaporean counterpart, Vivian Balakrishnan.
Ms. Swaraj said Southeast Asia remained an inseparable part of the plan to convert the 21st century into the Asian century.
Her comments came days before India hosts the heads of states of the Southeast Asian countries in Delhi on January 25 for the ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit, a high-profile display of its “Act East policy”.
Ms. Swaraj, who was in Indonesia on January 5 and 6, had announced that President Joko Widodo would be one of the guests of the summit and the Republic Day parade.
The push for ASEAN ties will be on display on January 9 when India hosts the first global meeting of parliamentarians of Indian origin.