Modi lauds Malay Indians, seeks to enhance mutual connect

Kuala Lumpur, Nov 22 (IANS) Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday sought to enhance India’s connect with its diaspora in Malaysia with a lavish praise of its accomplishments and a string of announcements, including for naming a cultural centre here after freedom fighter Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose.

In his address to the diaspora on the second day of his visit to Malaysia, Modi said his government was prepared to work with the Malaysian government to build a memorial to Indian soldiers who laid down their lives in Malaysia during World War II.

Modi said India and Malaysia should recognise each other’s medical degrees, on which he would talk with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.

He talked of India and Malaysia drawing strength from their respective diversities.

“India is a land of unparalleled diversity… every citizen has equal rights which the court protects and government defends,” Modi said.

Describing terrorism as the “greatest threat to the world today”, Modi said there was need to delink religion from terror.

Modi said independent India owed a debt of gratitude to Malay-Indians.

“Your forefathers in thousands came forward to join Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and the Indian National Army. We will name our cultural centre here after Bose.”

“India is not confined to its territory. India exists in every Indian in every part of the world,” he added.

A cultural extravaganza showcasing the best of Indian and Malaysian talent preceded Modi’s speech.

As over 15,000 people of Indian origin chanted “Modi, Modi” at the Malaysian International Exhibition and Convention Centre here, the prime minister acknowledged the large proportion of people of Tamil descent among the Indian diaspora in this south-east Asian nation by beginning with a greeting of “Vanakkam”.

“Love and friendship of Malay Indians has always had a special place in my heart,” he said.

“Your love for India has not reduced. I see this in the colour of your festivals, the strings of music,” he added.

The event was organised by Welcome Partners, comprising Indian expatriates and around 90 cultural and community organisations from across the country.

Of the nearly 30 million population of Malaysia, around two million people are of Indian origin.

Referring to his government’s work, Modi said, “Wheels of change have begun to move. We are eradicating poverty by giving our people the fruits of modern economy such as universal access to banks and insurance, not just tie them down to endless programmes.”

“Where in the world will 190 million bank accounts be opened in a few months,” he asked.

He said his government was creating an enterprise that flourished and people have the opportunity to increase their income levels.

“We are creating infrastructure that fulfils people’s basic needs of roof, water, sanitation, electricity, schools and medical help within their reach and means,” Modi said.

“We are facilitating business. And we are creating a national digital infrastructure that allows ideas, information, communication, business and innovation to flow freely in the cyber space.”

Modi, who reached Kuala Lumpur on Saturday, attended the 13th Asean-India Summit and the 10th East Asia Summit.

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