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SERI KEMBANGAN, Nov 22, 2015:

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called on the Malaysian government to recognise Indian degrees to encourage more Malaysians to study in India.

Saying that he will convey the request to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak soon, Modi also offered US$1 million (RM4.28 million) as additional assistance to the existing India-students Trust Fund Malaysians to pursue their higher education there.

“Malaysia and India should be recognising degrees by universities in both countries.

“Thousands of your children go to India to become doctors. While doctors are a critical need for our societies, I hope that you will take the opportunity to get education in other areas as well,” he told a 4,000-strong crowd here during his inaugural speech at the Malaysia International Exhibition and Convention Centre (MIECC) in Seri Kembangan.

Heaping praises on Malaysia’s Indian community throughout his 45-minute speech, Modi also announced that an Indian cultural centre would be established in Kuala Lumpur and named after India’s iconic freedom fighter Nethaji Subhas Chandra Bose.

“Malaysia and India have shared the same colonial rulers. We both became free within a decade of each other.

“As such when Nethaji called on the then-Malayan Indians to fight for independence, the Jhansi Ranis took up the call.

“Thousands of your forefathers came forward to join Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and the Indian National Army. Women poured out in large numbers from the comfort of their homes to march shoulder to shoulder with Netaji Subhash Bose. “I pay special tribute to Puan Sri Capt. Janaky Athi Nahappan, who served as deputy to Capt. Lakshmi Sehgal. That was in the regiment named after yet another icon of India’s war of Independence, Rani of Jhansi. “On behalf of every Indian, I also honour all the unnamed and unknown Malaya-Indians, who laid down their lives so that a free India could rise. “To their children and grand-children, I say a big thank you. I salute you for that,” he said to applause of the crowd.

Stating that Malaysia and India had built strong ties since independence for both countries, Modi said that the ties should be enhanced further than the current status.

“Malaysia is one of our strongest trading hubs in terms of I.T. (information technology) and transport infrastructure in the Asean region but we need to increase it.

“We welcome Malaysian investors to invest in the world’s second largest telecommunications market,” he said adding that India is the biggest source of tourism for Malaysia.

In enhancing these ties, Modi, a Gujarat native, in jest also said that “behind every business there is a Gujarati” in reference to the minority Gujarati community in Malaysia that mainly comprises of businessmen.

“If there is trade, Gujarat cannot be far behind. So, Gujaratis also joined the trade.”

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