Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced sweeping changes in the way people travel between US and India relaxing the visa regime between the two countries and promised to cut red tape while addressing an enthralled audience of Indian diaspora in his historic Madison Square Garden address on Sunday.
Addressing an audience of over 18,000 people at the iconic venue in New York, Modi said, “I am going to make an India of your dreams.”
Modi highlighted the unique combination of democracy, demography and demand as the three great strengths of India and said for India, democracy is not just a system of governance, but an article of faith.
The PM who is into his annual Navratra fast, now over 100 hours, spoke extempore in Hindi in a speech lasting over one hour.
He said winning the election is a huge responsibility and he will leave no stone unturned to make India a developed country. Modi said that with the blessings of 125 crore Indians, he was confident that the common man’s hopes and aspirations will be fulfilled.
Modi said that the country now had the capability, the possibility and the opportunity to make the 21st century India’s century.
Saying that development is ultimately achieved through public participation, the Prime Minister said he wants to make development a mass movement, just like Mahatma Gandhi had made the freedom movement a mass movement. He highlighted various initiatives that have been initiated by the new government including Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana, Make in India, Swachh Bharat and Clean Ganga.
The PM also referred to the talent of Indian youth, as exemplified by the success of Mars Orbiter Mission. Modi also highlighted his stress on skill development and said India could soon emerge as a global supplier of skilled workforce like nurses and teachers.
He invited the Indian diaspora to share their suggestions through the platform MyGov.in and stressed that one of his key initiatives was to remove redundant laws, and he would be happy if he could do so at a pace of one a day.
Modi invited all ‘Pravasi Bharatiyas’ to contribute towards developing India and unveiled a series of facilitation initiatives aimed at making travel from America to India easier.
Noting that there are certain differences between the PIO (Person of Indian Origin) and OCI (Overseas Citizens of India) schemes, the Modi said PIO cardholders will be granted visa for life, and a new scheme will be announced soon, merging the two schemes.
He said there would be no need for long-stay visitors to India to visit police stations.
Modi also announced long term tourist visas for American citizens and said visa on arrival for American tourists will be announced soon.