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NRIs 50,000 community in Germany was praised by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh


Manmohan lauds Indian community in Germany

BERLIN, April 26 2006

It was a big moment for the over 50,000 strong Indian community in Germany with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh showering praises on them for enriching their adopted home with their talent and shaping the image of a resurgent "India on the move".

"You have all earned for yourselves an enviable reputation for diligence, for creativity and for enterprise and for assimilation in a foreign culture and ethos without losing or abandoning the intrinsic values that make you Indian," Singh told nearly 200 persons of Indian origin (PIOs) and non-resident Indians (NRIs) at a glittering candlelight reception late on Monday.

The reception was hosted by Indian Ambassador to Germany Meera Shankar at the majestic ballroom of Hotel Adlon, located right next to the historic Brandenburg Gate.

Calling them "ambassadors of India" and "partners in the globalising process" India is going through, Manmohan Singh lauded them for contributing towards a richer understanding of India in Germany.

Around 55,000 PIOs and NRIs live in Germany, constituting less than one percent of the total population.

"This has enabled each and every one of you to be ambassadors of India and to favourably shape the perception of India among colleagues at work, your neighbours in your communities and your elected representatives," the prime minister said.

"We admire your contribution to furthering the understanding of India in Germany," he said to ringing applause from the gathering.

He also captured the spirit of the "India year in Germany" that kicked off here with the inauguration of the Hanover Fair and will continue throughout the year in events like the Frankfurt Book Fair that has India as guest of honour.

Emotions flowed and memories of India kindled anew for NRI professionals, including businessmen, scientists and academics, as Manmohan Singh sang praises of a new India taking spotlight on the global stage.

"India is on the move today... I do believe that the transformation India is going through will be one of the most exciting in this century as over one billion people move towards growth and prosperity," he said.

The audience, representing the cream of the Indian community here, rose thrice to give the prime minister a standing ovation in the course of his speech, showing their admiration for the man popularly known as "the architect of economic reforms in Germany".

Later on, the prime minister met and shook hands with each of them individually.

For Sikhs, it was a moment of clannish pride as well and they chanted "Sat Sri Akal" and hugged Manmohan Singh.

"The image of India is changing in Germany. There is a lot of respect for India and Indians. There is a renewed interest in Indian spirituality," Swami Baneshwar, who is associated with an NGO promoting Vedanta and yoga in Berlin, told IANS.

The profile of the Indian community in Germany is growing, but they have yet to achieve the eminence and success as the NRIs and PIOS have acquired in the US, Canada and Britain. Most of them emigrated to Germany in the 1960s and 1970s. Due to Germany's rigorous immigration laws, only 23,000 Indians have acquired German citizenship over the years.