India has emerged as the first responder to natural disasters and man-made conflicts in the extended neigbourhood, says Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
''Be it THE earthquake in Nepal or A cyclone in Myanmar or conflicts in THE Middle East, India has responded first in keeping with its policy to help neighbours,'' Modi told a public function of the Indian settlers at Yangon's National Indoor Stadium on Wednesday.
Modi also insisted he saw all neighbours as partners in India's progress and India in theirs.
Modi pitched Myanmar not only as sharing civilisational links but also as key to India's “Act East” thrust in its foreign policy.
He described Indian settlers as “ambassadors of India” in countries they live, as thousands chanted “Modi, Modi” and "Bharat Mata ki jai'' or “long live Mother India”.
He said Indian settlers nicely assimilated in Myanmar and other countries they live in, but never lose their umbilical cord to India.
He announced easing visas for Myanmar nationals and for Indians living abroad.
Modi said the Kaladan multimodal project and other infrastructure projects will be completed with great speed.
''But we see these as public assets of Myanmar and not commercial assets of India,'' Modi said.
''Our eastern gates open to Myanmar and our Act East will not only benefit our Northeast but also Myanmar,'' he said.
Modi highlighted huge changes in India that will make all people of India abroad proud.
''We are not reforming but transforming India,not changing but building a new India,'' Modi said.
Modi said overseas Indians will now get OCI status on the basis of their National Registration Cards.
This was welcomed by Indian settlers who often see themselves as a 'bridge between India and Myanmar'.
He described Myanmar as the second home of Indian revolutionaries during the struggle against the British and recalled that ''it was in the holy land of Myanmar that our independence war hero Subhas Bose used as the base area of the Indian National Army that shook up the British Empire ''.
Modi said he has offered to create an INA memorial in Myanmar and a joint history project on the INA movement with Myanmar.