PM’s speech to Indian diaspora in Qatar

November 10th, 2008 - 10:10 pm ICT by IANS  

Doha, Nov 10 (IANS) Following is the text of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s address at the Indian Community reception in Doha, Qatar Monday: “I am delighted to be here with you today. This is a historic occasion as it marks the first visit by an Indian prime minister to Qatar.

During my visit I have been received with great warmth and affection. I have held detailed discussions with his excellency the prime minister of Qatar on ways in which we can further strengthen our bilateral ties. I was greatly honoured by an audience with his highness the emir of the state of Qatar. I conveyed to the leadership of Qatar the great importance that India attaches to our relations with Qatar.

My visit has confirmed my belief that Qatar is one of India’s closest friends in the Gulf region. There is great admiration in India for the wisdom and sagacity with which His Highness Sheikh Hamad has led Qatar since its Independence in 1971. The enlightenment, openness and respect for diversity shown by the leaders of Qatar has contributed to Qatar’s rapid socio-economic development, and made it a model for the region.

Our relations with Qatar are part of our historical, cultural and civilisational links with the Gulf region. This is a region of vital importance to us. It is home to five million Indians, and an important source of our energy requirements.

Indians constitute the largest expatriate community in Qatar. Numbering over 400,000, the Indian community in Qatar has earned a reputation for hardwork, diligence and great enterprise. You have excelled in every area and in whatever position you work. Your contribution to Qatar’s development is widely respected. Your achievements are a source of immense pride and happiness for us.

India and Qatar have several complementarities. I would like to see each one of you serving as a bridge of friendship between our two countries.

Your hard work is contributing to our mutual prosperity. Your annual remittances of over $700 million to India are an invaluable contribution not only to your loved ones at home, but also to society at large. The government will take all necessary measures to facilitate this process. Our financing requirements for the infrastructure sector alone are estimated at $500 billion in the next five years.

The Indian economy rests on strong fundamentals. Over the last four years, we have averaged nine percent GDP growth per year. Our development efforts have been positively impacting our large agriculture sector which has registered a growth of over 4 percent this year. The resurgence of our rural economy and a more inclusive and balanced model of growth will create wealth for our people and remove poverty.

The present international economic and financial situation has clouded some of the prospects of growth in the near term. I am however confident that the long term outlook for our economy remains strong and robust. Our inherent strengths, the large size of our markets, the diversified industrial base we possess, and the strong and dynamic private sector will eventually allow us to return to a nine percent growth trajectory.

The current global financial crisis presents a rare window of opportunity for India and Qatar. The investment requirements of a large emerging economy like India and the large financial surpluses of an energy rich economy like that of Qatar can be married together to create a win-win situation. Indian companies are also increasingly looking to invest in Qatar in such sectors as energy, construction, finance and IT.

In conclusion, I wish to reassure you of the government’s deep commitment to your welfare and safety. Our decision to create a separate ministry of overseas Indian affairs was a reflection of this.

This ministry, under the dynamic leadership of my senior colleague Vayalar Ravi has taken several initiatives in the last few years. I am sure these initiatives such as establishment of Overseas Indian Community Welfare Funds, Overseas Workers Resources Centre and the Overseas Indians Facilitation Centre will make an impact. Last year we have also signed an additional protocol with Qatar for new initiatives for cooperation in the field of human resource development. We would welcome any other suggestions and concerns that you may have.

I return today (Monday) to India with a deep sense of satisfaction. My visit to the Gulf has reinforced my conviction that we are indeed close neighbours and partners in progress. I was overwhelmed by the generous hospitality that was shown to me. I am particularly struck by your sense of optimism and enthusiasm, and the exceptional manner in which Indian citizens in Gulf are acquitting themselves.

I wish you and your families all the very best for a brighter and better future.”

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