Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 2017 in Bengaluru, the 14th edition of the three-day event began in the country’s IT hub with the spotlight on the role of youth in transforming the society and India’s potential to play the role of a ‘Vishwa Guru’ again.
Portugal Prime Minister Antonio Costa was the chief guest of the meet. The session was also attended by Suriname Vice President Michael Ashwin Adhin, Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports Vijay Goel and Minister of State for External Affairs V K Singh.
Lauding the deep and emotional attachment Persons of Indian Origin in Girmitiya countries have for their motherland, PM Modi told PIOs to obtain Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cards by June 30.
“We have extended the deadline to convert PIO cards into OCI cards to June 30 from December 31, without penalty,” Modi told the Indian diaspora at the 14th PBD.
“We have also set up special immigration counters at New Delhi and Bengaluru airports since January 1 for OCI card holders. Similar counters will be opened at more airports in the country,” said Modi in his inaugural address at the event.
Girmityas are the fourth or fifth generation of descendents of indentured Indian labourers who during the 19th century went to Fiji, Mauritius, South Africa and the Caribbean islands to work on agricultural fields and settled down in these countries.
Acknowledging the difficulties faced by the PIOs in getting the OCI cards, the Prime Minister said his government was working on new procedures to facilitate the descendants of Girmitiyas in Mauritius become eligible for OCI cards.