India has urged the Indian diaspora in Southeast Asia to tap into business opportunities generated by policies such as 'Make in India' that eases the doing of business and provides incentives for setting up of manufacturing enterprises in the country. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj urged the overseas community to have a look at India that has been 'transformed' and its growing prosperity.
"India today is not the country you left 100 or 150 years ago, it has been transformed," she said, addressing the the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas conference in Singapore on Sunday.
Some six million, or a fifth of the 31 million overseas Indians, comprising Indian citizens abroad and persons of Indian origin, live in the 10 ASEAN countries, according to the External Affairs Ministry.
"As India's economy grows its ties will deepen, its trade and investment flow will grow," she said. about the potentiality given the "the comfort of culture" between India and Southeast Asia.
"I see the symbols of our ties: on the streets, in life at homes... in the rituals of diverse states, in the symbols and sounds of languages, in the poetry of the dances, in the melody of the music and in the flavours of the food."
Swaraj said the diaspora provided a 'platform' for stronger relationship with the ASEAN and both sides could work together towards a shared prosperity. "We have immense resources in the form of our diaspora in South-east Asia, to be the bridge for a new journey on an ancient route," she said.
Kishore Mahbubani, former dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, said India was the primary source of cultural influence in Southeast Asia for much of the region's history.
"We should use... longstanding relations to build an extremely high-trust relationship between India and Asean," the Strait Times quoted him as saying.