“India used to import PPE kits, masks, ventilators and testing kits from outside but today our nation is self-reliant. Now, India is ready to save humanity with two ‘Made in India’ Covid vaccines,” the PM said.
“The world is not only waiting for Indian vaccines for Covid-19 but also looking at how it rolls out the largest vaccination programme in world,” PM Modi said after inaugurating the 16th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas convention.
On January 3, two vaccines – Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin and Oxford-AstraZeneca’s Covishield manufactured by Serum Institute of India were approved for ‘restricted emergency use’. Several other vaccines are in the pipeline and are conducting trials.
The Central government plans to vaccinate nearly 30 crore people in the first phase of drive. It will be offered to one crore healthcare workers, along with 2 crore frontline and essential workers and 27 crore elderly, mostly above the age of 50 years with co-morbidities.
Addressing the Indian diaspora, the PM said that the country has always stood with them. “Over 45 lakh people were rescued under the Vande Bharat mission during Covid pandemic,” the PM said.
“Today we have been connected with internet from various corners of the world but our minds are always connected with ‘Maa Bharti’,” he added.
“Last year was a challenging year. The work done by Indian diaspora across the world and the way they fulfilled their duties, it is a matter of pride for the country. Many Indians living abroad have also lost their lives to Covid. I express my condolences to their families,” he said.
“In the past some months, I talked to several heads of states where they mentioned the work done by Pravasi Bharatiya (Non-Resident Indian) doctors, paramedics, and others. Temples, Gurudwaras and our tradition of langar, our social, cultural, and religious organisations have worked for everyone without discrimination. They (State heads) spent most of their time praising the work done by the Indian diaspora,” the PM said.
“Your contribution to PM Cares Fund is being utilised to strengthen health infrastructure in the country. I extend gratitude to you for this,” PM Modi said.
The Prime Minister said that non-resident Indians have strengthened their identity in other countries in the past years.
PBD convention is the flagship event of the ministry of external affairs (MEA) and provides an important platform to engage and connect with overseas Indians, according to an official release.
In view of the sentiments of the vibrant diaspora community, the 16th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas Convention is being organised on January 9, despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
President of Suriname, Chandrikapersad Santokhi, is the chief guest of this year’s Pravasi Bharatiya Divas Convention.
The convention is being held in a virtual format, as were the PBD conferences held recently in the run-up to the convention. The theme of the 16th PBD convention 2021 is “Contributing to Aatmanirbhar Bharat”.
(With inputs from agencies)