Manmohan Singh: Our energy and optimism will make this an Indian century

From a speech by the Indian Prime Minister to the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, in Bombay

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It used to be said of the British Empire, from whose yoke Gandhi freed us, that the sun would never set on it. If there is an Empire today on which the sun truly cannot set, it is the empire of our minds, that of the children of Mother India, who live today in Asia, Africa, Australia, Europe, the Americas and, indeed, on the icy reaches of Antarctica.

It used to be said of the British Empire, from whose yoke Gandhi freed us, that the sun would never set on it. If there is an Empire today on which the sun truly cannot set, it is the empire of our minds, that of the children of Mother India, who live today in Asia, Africa, Australia, Europe, the Americas and, indeed, on the icy reaches of Antarctica.

At home, ours is a unique experiment in social, economic and political transformation. Never in human history have a billion people, mostly poor, sought, secured and succeeded in building a democratic republic that has doubled per capita income within one generation. We have done that.

Indian immigrants have gone to many countries to seek a livelihood in distant lands, or in search of knowledge, skills, training and professional opportunities. The psyche of the migrant is a complex one. I understand this, having migrated from my place of birth under difficult circumstances and in times of crisis. As migrants in search of a home and a living, many families, like mine, had to work harder. We had to have hope to transform our living present to a productive future.

This was true of many migrant communities the world over. However, overseas Indians have succeeded thanks to the foundation in education and skills their home country gave them, and due to the opportunities that their host country has given them. It is for this reason that I have always been impressed by the optimism that characterises the overseas Indian.

I am convinced that the 21st century will be an Indian century. The world will once again look at us with respect, not just for the economic progress we make but for the democratic values we uphold and the principles of pluralism and inclusiveness we have come to represent, which are India's heritage.

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