To mark the contribution of Overseas Indian community in the development of India, 9 January of every year is marked as the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD). The conventions started in the year 2003. However, in 2015, the Government of India decided to revise the PDB Convention and as a result, the conventions are now being held once in two years in India. It is certain that Indian Missions and Consulates will celebrate PBD every year.
The PBD commemorates the return of Mahatma Gandhi from South Africa to Bombay on 9 January 1915. The day has become a representation of global migration, achievements and aspirations of the diaspora. The convention provides a platform for the Indian diaspora to engage with the Government of India and apprise themselves about policies, developments and opportunities in the country.
The high spots of the PBD convention are the inaugural address by the Prime Minister and the valedictory address by the President of India. The president will also confer the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Awards on Overseas Indian for their achievements and contribution both in India and abroad.
The 14th PBD convention is being held from 7th to 9th January in Bangalore International Exhibition Centre (BIEC), Karnataka. For the first time 8000+ delegates from around the world are participating in this year which is highest ever since its inception. Prime Minister of Portugal António Costa who is the first Person of Indian Origin to lead a European country, is the guest of honour for the conference
Both the PMs of Portugal and India in joint declaration said that they would encourage their private sector to undertake joint economic, commercial and industrial projects and investments in third countries to boost growth, jobs and development.
The convention started with ‘Youth PDB’ on 7th January which is a special day long programme providing a platform to connect with Young Overseas Indians and discuss subjects of significance to them. The theme of the Youth PBD this year is ‘Role of Diaspora Youth in the Transformation of India’. Vice President of the Republic of Suriname Michael Ashwin Satyandre Adhin will be the Special Guest at the Youth PBD
For the first time 6 groups of Overseas Diaspora Youth have participated in the programme
Inaugural Address by PM Modi
PM Narendra Modi & PM of Portugal António Costa inaugurated the of Pravasi Bharatiya Divas Convention on 8th January. The theme of the 14th PBD is ‘Redefining the engagement with the Indian Diaspora’
Narendra Modi’s popularity is not circumscribed to the Indian borders but cuts across borders to much of the 30 million Indian diaspora. Modi considers engagements with overseas Indians as a key area of priority. Known for his one liners, here are a few from the keynote address
- For every Indian abroad, home should never be far away
- Indian diaspora are co-travelers in the development of the nation
- We do not see the color of the passport. We only see the blood relations
- One definition of FDI is FDI and second is First Develop India
- We want to change Brain Drain to Brain Gain
- There was once a discussion about brain drain. And I told people at that time: Are only foolish people left here?
- The government will have special focus on India diaspora in Grimitiya countries.
- A skill development programme called Pravasi Kaushal Vikas Yojana will be launched, targeted at Indians who seek overseas employment
- He urged the People of Indian Origin (PIO) to convert their cards into Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cards
Chief Ministers and PBD
The convention is a significant platform for rendezvous of the Central and state governments with the Overseas Indian Community. Since the diaspora may not be able to visit all the Indian states, the state pavilions displaying what each state has to offer have been setup. Chief Ministers of various states have been interacting with the NRIs at the conventions.
Telangana Chief Minister on New Year’s eve expressed happiness that the Telangana NRIs who took an active part in the Telangana movement are coming forward to take part in its development. He also told the NRIs the ways to take part in the developmental activities and asked them to prepare plans for the development of their villages and districts. NRI’s have hailed T Bridge as a unique policy to increase investments in Technology, Services.
President’s Valedictory address
The last day of PBD features the valedictory address by the President of India. A unique event this year is that President Pranab Mukherjee released a compilation of Narendra Modi’s Speeches. The book of select speeches of the PM between 2014-15 outlines a new vision of India’s foreign policy and India’s place in the world
In his valedictory speech, President urged that Government of India and NRIs together need to address the concerns of women marrying NRIs. He also spoke about the Government’s flagship initiative ‘Know India Programme’ which helps Indians born abroad to rediscover their heritage & culture.
The President conferred the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Awards to thirty Overseas Indians for their achievements and contribution both in India and abroad. Forging closer ties US assistant secretary of State Nisha Biswal delivered the acceptance speech on behalf of the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Awardees. Portugal PM António Costa, the secretary of state for UK Priti Patel, European Parliament Member Neena Gill were among the thirty recipients of the award
PBDs over the years
The PBD Convention will be held once in two years in a city outside Delhi the next PBD will be held in 2019. In the intervening year, smaller, outcome-based PBD Conferences will be organized in New Delhi on issues of concern to the Indian Diaspora.