By Mukurima Muriuki
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while on state visit to Kenya made time to address Indians in the Kenya diaspora. I don’t think this came as a surprise. And boy did the Indians living in Kenya turn out in large numbers to listen to their leader.
Modi loves Indians in Diaspora. He is well aware of the importance of Diaspora and evidently, Modi is a firm believer that if the music of India is to become a global hit, then lyrics from the community of Indians living abroad have to be part of the chorus.
What is unique about Modi relative to Diaspora is that he gets it. He may be a virgin but he knows how to romanticize and caress the feelings of Diaspora community. This he does by hitting the right spots whenever he talks to his fellow Indians. It is never about expediency. It is not about short term outlook. It is not about political conman ship. He does not want the people to goose step to him. His interest, just like the interest of Indians in Diaspora is to get India better than he found it.
When he visited San Jose in California late last year, Modi spoke to thousands of Indians living in California. And before he could begin his speech, he first sought an approval:
“I want a certificate from you. Have I kept my promise? Am I working hard, day and night?”
And the response from the crowd affirmed that this was a leader loved by the Diaspora.
After getting the endorsement he craved for, Modi expressed to the Indians in American Diaspora that the magic in their fingers was responsible for changing the world’s perception of India. Using the analogy of cricket broadcasts, he said Indians in the US had a better view of what was happening in India than those who live in the country:
“The magic of your fingers on the keyboard has given India a new identity. You are forcing the world to change.
And Modi was not done;
On the issue of brain drain that has often elicited heated and divergent debate, Modi opted for a creative outlook: “I look at brain drain differently. This is actually a brain deposit. When the opportunity comes, it will come to the service of Mother India – with Interest!”
And when talked about the people of India, it was evident he was talking about a country bound together by a common destiny no matter the geographical location of those who share an identity with India:
“The world now accepts that this century will be India’s. And this has happened not because of me, but the 1.25 billion Indians. India has now moved from the fringes to become the focal point. India is a young country with 800 million youth and 1.6 billion young arms cannot be held back.”
Where do we stand as the Kenyan Diaspora? Are we united as the Indian Diaspora? What divides us?