Rajat Sharma

How Modi mesmerized Indian diaspora in Berlin

rajat-sir Prime Minister Narendra Modi is presently in Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark, on the second leg of his three-day visit to Europe. He will meet the Queen and Prime Minister of Denmark, and also the leaders of Sweden, Iceland, Finland and Norway at the Second India-Nordic Summit.

On Monday, he had wide-ranging discussions with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and took part in India-Germany inter-governmental consultations. But the highlights of his visit to Berlin was Modi’s charismatic speech to the Indian diaspora in Germany. NRIs who had come from different parts of Europe, gave a resounding ovation to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, when he spoke to them in Berlin on Monday night.

Modi, in true vintage form, told the NRIs about the achievements of his eight-year-old government and outlined India’s plans for the future. “21st century”, Modi said, “is very important for India. Today the new India has made up its mind and is moving ahead with determination. A nation treads on a new path when it makes a resolve, and shows it by achieving desired goals.”

As the crowd chanted “Modi Hai Toh Mumkin Hai” “Modi Once More” several times, Modi described how his government has completely removed more than 25,000 compliances and has scrapped 1,500 laws to save people from the obstacles of bureaucratic red tapes. He said, ‘after we won in 2014, we won with a greater majority in 2019, because the young and aspirational Indians understand the need for political stability to achieve progress at a fast rate, and has ended three decades of political stability with the touch of a button’ (on EVM).

It was a gathering of more than 1,600 NRIs, consisting of students, researchers and professionals, at the Theater Am Postdamer Platz. In his hour-long speech, laced with witticisms, Modi said, a new resurgent India has made up its mind to move forward with determination. He urged the Indians settled abroad to come forward and help their brethren in their motherland, like promoting “Made in India” products in foreign countries.

Modi said, before 2014, India was a “work in progress”, but in the last eight hours of NDA rule, India has made rapid strides in every sector, whether ease of living, quality of life, ease of employment, quality of education, quality of communication and travel, and quality of products. “In 2014, there were only 200-400 start-ups in India, but now there are more than 68,000 start-ups and dozens of unicorns, some of which have already become “deca-corns” with valuation of 10 billion US dollars”, Modi said.

“In 2014, I used to ask my babus what their offsprings were doing. They used to tell me their children were preparing for IAS exams, but now when I ask my babus, they tell me their children are now into start-ups”, Modi told the audience. “The new India does not think of a secure future”, he said, “the new India is ready to take risks, ready to innovate and incubate.”

He also praised the Indian farmers and said, “at a time when the world is looking at a serious wheat crisis, our farmers have stepped in to feed the world. Whenever humanity is faced with a crisis, India comes up with a solution. This is New India, this is the strength of New India…There was a time when it took months to register a new company. We have removed all obstacles. Now any new company can be registered in India within 24 hours. This has restored the confidence of people and businessmen in governance”.

Modi hit out at the Congress, without naming the party, but showed his palm while mentioning ‘panja’ (the ‘hand’ poll symbol of Congress). “One former prime minister said that 85 paise out of a rupee sent from the Centre to the states evaporate, and only 15 paise reach the people. Who kaun sa panja tha, jo 85 paise ghis leta tha? (which palm was it that took away those 85 paise?)…In the last eight years, our government has transferred Rs 22 lakh crore through DBT (direct benefit transfer) directly to the intended beneficiaries”.

Modi also asked why it took more than 70 years for India to have a single Constitution. He was referring the separate Constitution of Jammu & Kashmir that was in force since independence when J&K had a special status, but was removed by Parliament through scrapping of Article 370 on August 5, 2019. “The country was one, but we have two Constitutions. It took 70 years for us to have a single Constitution. But why did it take so long? We have implemented it now”, Modi said.

The Indian diaspora in Germany is ecstatic over Modi’s Berlin visit. There are more than two lakh Indians living in Germany, and out of them, 1,60,000 hold Indian passports. Nearly 43,000 Indians have taken German citizenship. Hundreds of Indians assembled at the historic Brandenburg Gate to welcome Modi. There were dancers who showcased Gujarati ‘garba’, while several dancers were in Maharashtrian and South Indian attire. Modi himself joined the crowd by beating a drum.

Earlier in the day, Modi, while addressing a joint press conference with the German Chancellor, said, “India believes no country can emerge victorious in the Russia-Ukraine war, as all sides will suffer losses, and it will cause a more serious impact on the economies of developing and less developed countries. Both the leaders called for an immediate cessation of hostilities in Ukraine. Germany pledged 10 billion euros for India’s climate action targets set for 2030, which include sourcing 50 per cent energy from renewable sources and developing 500 GW non-fossil fuel generating capacity.

What Modi has said about the consequences of Russia-Ukraine war is based on practical assessments. He pointed out that the war is not only causing huge damage to Ukraine, but also the economies of other countries across the world. Fuel, fertiliser and wheat prices are going up because of the war in Ukraine. India may have started sending wheat to several countries, but it can be difficult to sustain it over a longer period. War is no solution and both Russia and Ukraine will have to cease war and come to the negotiation table.
During his Germany visit, 14 agreements were signed between both countries, and the most important one relates to renewable energy.

Modi was given a warm, ceremonious welcome at the Berlin Chancery, and he had a long one-to-one dialogue with the German Chancellor. Germany is Europe’s economic powerhouse, and the fourth largest economic power in the world. India is the world’s fifth largest economy, which is emerging at a faster rate. More than 1,700 German companies are doing business in India, and more than 1,600 companies are being run with Indo-German collaboration. More than 600 Indi-German joint ventures are also working. More than 200 Indian companies are doing business in Germany, and the thrust of most of the bilateral talks was on enhancing cooperation.

This is Prime Minister Modi’s first foreign visit this year. In the backdrop of fierce fighting going on between Russia and Ukraine. Most of the European countries have joined hands to counter Russia, but it is also a fact that many of these countries are economically dependent on Russian oil and other supplies. It is Russia which supplies natural gas and oil to European countries. On the other hand, India is hardly dependent on Russia for oil, though it is mopping up Russian oil from market at a big discount. India uses hardly two per cent Russian oil.

India is not under pressure. Secondly, India has refused to oppose Russia, nor has it extended unconditional support to Ukraine. India has been calling for ceasefire and dialogue. Despite American pressure, India abstained from voting against Russia in the UN Security Council. At the same time, India sent medicines and other essential goods to Ukraine and bought Russian oil. European countries have realized that India wants to follow an independent foreign policy suited to its national interests.

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