NEW DELHI: When Prime Minister Narendra Modi makes his inimitable and by now familiar entry into an indoor arena for the civic reception in Malaysia, on November 22nd this year, all similarities will end there. For, the 14,000 strong crowd waiting to lap up his every utterance would be anything but just NRI.
Khalsa Diwan Malaysia and Malaysian National Sikhs Movement (Gerasikh), representing Sikhs with linkages as way back in history as the World War II, Sindhis who fled the Partition massacre from Sindh and made Malaysia their home, Dawoodi Bohras with roots in Gujarat, Malaysian Hindu Sangam representing the majority of Tamils, the Gujaratis from Malacca, Malaysian Malayalee Association AMMA and many more, comprise the most diverse and historically rich community abroad listening to PM Modi’s speech.
Malaysia has the second largest number of PIOs at more than 2 million, next only to the US.
Ravindran Devagunam, Director at PEMANDU (Performance Management and Delivery Unit), Prime Minister’s Department, Malaysia, says, ” never before would the Indian Prime Minister will have witnessed a diaspora with antecedents so deeply entrenched in history. And culturally too, the Malaysian Indian group is most heterogenous though as a country Malaysia has beautifully preserved its ethnicity.”
Besides a handful of expat Indians-based associations like the Kelab Bharat Kuala Lumpur, Maharashtra Mandal and few others, majority are three-generation old Indians, growing up in Malaysia.
And so each of the 90 associations, participating in the ‘Malaysia Welcomes Modi’ programme, have come together to know the significance of what it means to be an Indian in the new-age India that Modi is propagating to the world.
In contrast to the ‘religious intolerance’ debate that has spouted in the Indian intelligentsia, the common Indian here, attached to one association or the other, is excited.
So on one hand if there is KIMMA (Congress of Indian Muslims of Malaysia) as a partner in the civic reception, there is Hindu Sevai Sangam and Malaysia Hindu Sangam too.
Dato’ Nabhesh Khanna, General Secretary, Overseas Friends of BJP, Malaysia, the organizers of the event, says, “we have to keep the sensitivities of each of the groups in mind and hence the communication around the event too was done accordingly. It was not an easy task.”
To reflect this diversity, one of the most cohesive themes of Malaysian culture, the event will showcase the various art forms from India but uniquely none of the talent is from India.
“Malaysia has a very rich talent in classical dance forms like for example Dato Ramli in Odissi, who has won the Sangeet Natak Academy Award, and groups like Asarwa, The Temple of Fine Arts etc. this is where again Malaysia scores in the cultural vibrancy.”
A new political vibrancy is on display too. With India-Asean Summit and the East Asai Summit to be held here from Nov 18 onwards until 22nd, and the most powerful leaders like Obama and Putin attending, PM Modi has his share of significance too.
Malaysian Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Najib Abdul Razak has requested Modi to stay on for a day further to take forward the strategic partnership.
According to Mr Devagunam, Malaysia is particularly interested in Modi’s plans on infrastructure building viz. Highways, Airports and Smart Cities.
“Our team at PEMANDU met the Indian Prime Minister Modi in 2014 and he was very keen to adopt our model of private sector-government partnership.”
Some progress has already been made in Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra.
He is all praise for Maharastra chief minister Fadnavis for taking personal interest and doing regular follow-ups.
“In fact, I find a lot more ease, drive and a sense of urgency amongst ministers and civil servants to get the business going.”
Indian High Commissioner in Malaysia, Shri T S Tirumurti, is confident that the visit will take bilateral relations to the next level, and deepen and widen the areas of engagement.
With nearly US$ 7 billion worth of investments and projects worth an additional US$ 6 billion, there is tremendous scope for relations to grow.
Many agreements would be signed, including one to bring English teachrs from India to spruce up the English language skills of students here in Malaysia.
There is also considerable potential in traditional medicine, especially Ayurveda, where India has sponsored one Ayurveda doctor and two therapists to Malaysia and donated two Shirodhara machines.
The High Commission has also brought out a publication in the local language Bahasa Malaysia on Ayurveda. – From Times of India