Minister of State for External Affairs says the diaspora acts as the goodwill ambassador of India
New York, NY
Jaipur Foot USA and Gracious Givers foundation welcomed Ms. Meenakashi Lekhi, Minister of State for External Affairs and Culture at the Jan Aashirwad Abhar event organized in New York City. Mr. Randhir Jaiswal, Consul General, New York, was also present at the event. Alok Kumar, former FIA president, did the introductions. Mr. Prem Bhandari, Jaipur Foot USA Chairman and social activist, strong voice for the Indian diaspora spoke at the event. He spoke about the difficulties the Indian diaspora faced due to lockdown and travel restrictions that came into place during COVID and the help, and excellent support received from MEA and secretaries from Home, External Affairs, and Civil Aviation.
He also briefed about the partnership of BMVSS, the parent organization of Jaipur Foot USA and MEA under India for Humanity banner to conduct prosthetics fitment camps to help differently-abled people around the world and reinforce India’s soft power. He also thanked honorable Prime Minister Narendra Modi ji, the guiding force and blessed this partnership. The host countries very well received these 13 camps and BMVSS helped over 6000 differently-abled people. The Government of India provided funding for all these 13 camps and the Ministry of External Affairs offices coordinated and facilitated these prosthetics fitment camps.
Ms. Meenakashi Lekhi, Minister of State for External Affairs and Culture, spoke on occasion. She highlighted that Indian diaspora acts as goodwill ambassadors for the country, and their achievements in the professional, business, and education fields add value to the country’s goodwill. She also appreciated the contributions of the powerful Indian community in helping the country whenever in need. She also highlighted the COVID pandemic impacts in India and the capacity to deal with such grave situations and coming together to dealing with these. The contributions of the Indian community, including doctors & nurses, oxygen help during COVID was commendable. She also voiced that the whole world is one big family and each member country supported each other during the COVID crises, considering the COVID infections and waves going in circles affecting the entire world. She also highlighted India’s contributions through providing vaccines and other required help to the world. She also praised honorable PM Narendra Modi ji and the timing of his leadership and the serious health crisis India and the world is going through.
She mentioned that bureaucracy has been in place before and will be in the future, but the way current leadership under Shri Modi ji is taking right decisions at the right time and drive bureaucracy relentlessly to implement these decisions so people on the ground get help and positive impacts very quickly. She also praised Shri Modi ji’s quick decision-making, allocating Rs 3000 crore for vaccine research to enable medical scientists to conduct research and development rolling out vaccines in less than one year, which used to take years. This is a great achievement for our Indian scientists and is a great level playing for India on international research and development in the medical field.
Prem Bhandari also extended his heartfelt thanks to Shri Harsh Vardhan Shringla, Foreign Secretary of India for extending the partnership to organize another 12 prosthetic fitment camps on a historical day, Aug 5th, 2020. Under this partnership, BMVSS already conducted the first prosthetics fitment camp last December in Uganda. Mr. Bhandari voiced words of Padma Bhushan, D.R. Mehta, Founder & Chief Patron of BMVSS, about the bravery of our leg-warriors, who conducted this Uganda camp in the middle of the COVID pandemic. He also expressed that Jaipur Foot USA is working under the guidance and mentorship of Mr. Mehta and his vision to expand the help of the prosthetic within India and abroad. Another important point Mr. Bhandari brought forward was related to 6 million-plus OCI cardholders who suffered tremendously since 2019 due to cumbersome renewal regulations and administrative issues when one is traveling with OCI. These regulations are eased, made simple and frequent OCI renewal is not required. Earlier, there were many difficulties and to name a few, the most difficult one was the necessity to renew OCI every 5 years; every time foreign passport is renewed, OCI needed renewal due to regulation to carry the passport which has OCI stamp along with the new passport until the age of 20 years, as well as renewal of OCI at the age 50 again. As a result of this requirement, 1000s of passengers and their families around the world were not allowed to travel without carrying old expired passport with OCI number and it caused emotional pain and resulted in significant financial loss and logistical nightmares.