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Advani urges NRIs to back Vajpayee
R. Suryamurthy
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 10
Literally appealing to the overseas Indians to rally behind Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in the forthcoming General Election, the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr L.K. Advani, today said the diaspora could reap the benefits only if India did not lag behind.

The policies of the NDA government have transformed the image of the country. “This ‘feel good’ would become ‘feel great’ in the near future. I do feel that the present government has contributed a lot towards creating this new climate,” Mr Advani said while addressing the second Pravasi Bharatiya Divas conference.

“There is no doubt that the people will again give a mandate to the Prime Minister,” he said, pointing out that between 1988 and 1998 the country had seen seven Prime Ministers, but only one since 1998.

Mr Advani said the Prime Minister’s recent initiative at the Islamabad SAARC Summit was a “historic and major breakthrough” that had considerably enhanced India’s image in the world.

He also thanked Bhutan for cooperating with India in cracking down on anti-India insurgents.

Listing India’s achievements during the past five years of NDA rule, the Deputy Prime Minister said it was not luck but vision and perception that made it possible.

He was confident that the target of making India a developed country by 2020 would be achieved.

Decrying the cynicism among some people, he said “cynicism and scepticism about India must be erased. It is essential to have a sense of confidence in our ability to achieve to our full potential,” he added.

Referring to developments in sectors like telecom, biotechnology and manufacturing, the Deputy Prime Minister said: “India has become a land of opportunities.... At no other time the world looked at India the way it is looking at it now.”

Appreciating Finance Minister Jaswant Singh’s recent measures, Mr Advani said: “He (Jaswant) has actually fulfilled his promise to endeavour to enhance the Gross National Contentment rather than Gross Domestic Product.

“He has also fulfilled the promise of putting more money in the pockets of masses,” he said.

The Chairman of Reliance Industries, Mr Mukesh Ambani, suggested a three-point agenda to transform the country into an economic power.

He said the country should invest heavily in science and technology. We must gear our institutions up for turning India into a free-trade zone for specific products and services.

Prof Tarun Khanna of Harvard Business School said the diaspora could be leveraged to sell “brand India” overseas, provided the diaspora was convinced that the brand would not renege on its commitment to quality.

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