The Vice President, M Venkaiah Naidu asserted that the reorganization of Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories will promote inclusive development and reduce the negative impact of cross-border terrorism.
Addressing the Indian diaspora in Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone, the Vice President expressed concern that one of India’s neighbors has been fomenting trouble in this region by aiding, abetting and funding terrorist activities.
Vice President said that several thousand people were killed in terror-related incidents and termed terrorism as the enemy of humanity. Terrorism has no religion, he added and urged the world community to unite in isolating nations which sponsor terrorism and ensure that funding for such activities was stopped.
Hitting out at the negative propaganda being carried out on Jammu and Kashmir, he urged the Indian diaspora to effectively counter the disinformation by presenting the correct picture. “It is high time to take up a campaign to stop this disinformation”, the Vice President added.
Vice President said the recent decision to reorganize Jammu and Kashmir was intended to extend all the laws and benefits of developmental programmes to this region and ensure inclusive and all-round development of the State.
While pointing out that both the houses of the Parliament approved the move with an overwhelming majority, he said that some sections of the media and vested interests have been grossly distorting the truth.
Asserting that Jammu and Kashmir was an integral part of India, the Vice President said that the people of the state have been electing leaders in free and fair elections since1952. However, many of the programs were not reaching the citizens of the state because of special provisions of Article 370. “Government has taken a bold decision by following the democratic process of obtaining Parliamentary approval”, he added.
Vice President reminded the diaspora that India is one of the most inclusive and tolerant democratic countries in the world in which the interests of all groups including minorities are taken care of with empathy and deep appreciation.
The Vice President said that India is a country which had Presidents, Vice Presidents, Prime Minister’s, Supreme Court judges and Heads of Defence Forces drawn from most prominent minority groups.“We celebrate pluralism, multi-lingualism and multi-religious mosaic of thought, expression and practice”, he added.
Referring to India’s growth story, the Vice President said that the country was making steady progress towards becoming a USD 5 trillion economy and the third largest consumer market in the world by 2025. “In addition to democracy, demand and demography– you, the Indian Diaspora are one of the main drivers of India’s growth”, he added.
Observing that India offered many opportunities for business, social enterprises and cultural connections, he invited the diaspora to join as knowledge partners and investors in India’s transformational journey.The enterprise and innovation of youth has made India into the third largest Start-up ecosystem in the world, he said.
Stating the India was fast becoming a favorite investment destination for the world, Vice President Naidu asked the diaspora to build a bridge that connects their motherland with the land they have chosen to live in. “You should contribute to the development of both countries and exemplify the true essence of Indianness– which is caring for others and sharing your prosperity”, he added.
He expressed happiness that the Indian community in Sierra Leone, though small in number has been playing an important role in promoting bilateral ties and creating opportunities for the economy and society. “It is a matter of pride for us that the Indian business community is highly respected. Today, Indian skills and professionals are much sought after here and elsewhere in the world”.
The Vice President also lauded the community for continuing to nurture Indian culture and tradition and for celebrating various festivals. He asked them to follow the rules and regulations of their country of residence.
Vice President Naidu also said that the government of India had decided to establish a High Commission in Freetown to strengthen bilateral ties between the two nations and to serve the needs of the Indian diaspora. He added that the government of India had also taken a policy decision to have greater focus on African nations and promote closer ties with them.
Before emplaning to return to Delhi on the conclusion of his tour to Comoros and Sierra Leone on Monday, the Vice President also held discussions with Mr. Abass Chernor Bundi, the Speaker of the National Assembly of the Republic of Sierra Leone.
Conveying his personal greetings and that of India’s parliamentarians to the Speaker and members of Parliament of Sierra Leone, Vice President pointed out that India was the largest democracy in the world and Sierra Leone was a successful democracy in Africa. “There is indeed a lot to share and benefit from our democracies and parliamentary systems and procedures”, he added.
Referring to sporadic engagement between the Parliamentarians of the two countries, Vice President Naidu called for regular exchange of Parliamentarians to strengthen cooperation and share experiences.
He said that India would also offer training for Sierra Leone Parliament’s legislative officers under ITEC capacity building programme at the Bureau of Parliamentary Studies and Training (BPST), which organizes international training programmes every year in legislative drafting. The Vice President also extended an invitation to the Speaker to visit India.
The Vice President was accompanied by a high level delegation comprising Sanjeev Kumar Balyan, Minister of State for Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries, Ramvichar Netam, Member of Parliament (Rajya Sabha) and senior officials.