PARIS: Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a strong pitch for India to be given a seat in the UN Security Council, saying that India, the land of the Buddha and Mahatma Gandhi - a land of peace - is asking for its rights to be given a permanent seat in the UN Security Council.
Addressing an enthusiastic civic reception by the Indian community on Saturday evening, Modi also reached out to the diaspora, including to those living in the French territories of Guadeloupe, Reunion Islands and St Martin.
"India is a country that is for peace, and helps bring peace to the world, and yet we are struggling to get a seat in the UNSC," he said, to loud cheers from the packed audience at the Carrousel du Louvre here.
Modi said that this is the centenary year of World War I, and India gave 14 lakh jawans to fight in a war that was not its, and lost 75,000 men. He said 11 of them won the Victoria Cross for their valour.
"I went to get blessings from them," he said, referring to his visit to the Neuve Chapelle earlier in the day to pay tribute to the thousands of Indians who were killed in the WWI.
"I want to give the message to world, that they should view India differently; that this is a country that gives sacrifice not just for itself but for others," he said.
He said India is the largest contributor to the UN peacekeeping force and the Indian soldiers are known for their discipline, valour, intelligence.
"I appeal to the world, that in the year that the world is observing the centenary of WWI, it is the time to give the haq (right) to the land of Mahatma Gandhi and Buddha.
The time is over when India would ask for a favour; today India is asking for its rights," he said to loud cheers.
Addressing the Indian diaspora in the French territories, Modi said: "I am so far away, I give my salute to all of you. I know you feel pride in being Indian."He said his speech was being simultaneously translated into French for the benefit of those living in French territories of Guadeloupe, Reunion Islands and St. Martin.
He said though the colour of their passports would have changed over the many decades they have been living outside India, "but the colour of our blood cannot change in all these years".
"Bharat thinks about you, not from the colour of the passport but our DNA," he said, reinforcing the close links with their country of origin. He said the government had launched a special session at the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas diaspora conclave to understand the problems of the Francophone countries.
Modi said the government will help the diaspora to reconnect with their roots. "We should maintain the connection."
Referring to formation of the BJP government last May, he said that his government will live up to the promises that it has made to the people.
He also said :"I can say with experience, that there is no reason for India to remain poor."
Referring to the close friendship with France, Modi said that both France and India feel for each other whenever there is a terror attack on the other. "There is close relationship between us."
Referring to the Make in India initiative, Modi said that in the two days that he has been in France "I would have said Make in India about 10 times, but every leader here said it 25 times; even President Hollande. The meaning is that our message has reached the proper target."
He said France can participate in the railway sector in India in a major way by way of upgradation, modernization, expansion, with its technology and expertise.
He referred to the good reviews about India's economic growth, by the World Bank, IMF, and "Moody, not Modi", he said evoking laughter.
"All financial parameters say that India's economy is to grow the fastest".
"The opportunity is there in India, we are striving to create the opportunity, and telling the world," he said.
Referring to the youthful demography of India, Modi said that the government is trying to inculcate skills in the youth so that they can comprise the workforce for the world.