There was no concrete outcome from the 13 Pravasi Bhartia Divas (PBD) India hosted between 2003 and 2015 to connect with the diaspora and government aims to reverse it by making the platform outcome-driven from its next edition, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj today said.
The PBD was launched by the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government in 2003 to step up India’s engagement with its 25 million diaspora and annual congregation of NRIs and Persons of India origins had continued as an annual event till 2015. Last year government had decided to make it a biennial event.
The 14th edition of PBD will be held in Bengaluru from January 7 to 9.
Addressing a joint press conference along with Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, Swaraj said Prime Minister Narendra Modi was reaching out to the Indian diaspora across the globe and that the upcoming PBD will be very different from those held earlier.
“People coming from abroad will not go back only clicking selfies or photographs and having food… For the first time you will see a totally transformed PBD,” she said.
Asked what was achieved in the previous PBDs, she said, “I think it will become relevant only after this PBD as I said I did not see any outcome out of the other PBDs.”
The PBD used to be hosted by Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA) along with one host state every year.
The upcoming PBD is being organised by the Ministry of External Affairs along with Karnataka government. Government, earlier this year, had merged MOIA with MEA to avoid duplication of work and to improve efficiency.
Swaraj said no sincere efforts were made earlier to make PBD an outcome-driven event.
“No effort was made. There was no effort to make it outcome-driven. In 2015, we realised that it was just like a festival,” she said.
Asked whether MEA will try to reach out to people from Pakistan-Occupied-Kashmir for the conclave as Prime Minister had called for getting in touch with them, Swaraj, said there was “no decision” on that.
The Prime Minister will deliver a key note address at the event on January 8 which will be followed by Chief Ministers’ session.
“This occasion will also give an opportunity to the state governments to interact with their respective diaspora and showcase the opportunities and progress made by their respective States,” said Swaraj.
On January 9, President Pranab Mukherjee will confer the prestigious Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Awards (PBSA) on overseas Indians who have contributed in their respective fields.
January 9 is the main day of PBD as it was on this day in 1915 that Mahatma Gandhi, the “greatest Pravasi”, returned to India from South Africa and led India’s freedom struggle.
Swaraj said chief ministers of various states have been invited for the three-day event which is likely to be attended by around 3,000 delegates from across the globe.
The government will showcase its new initiatives and economic reforms including GST in the PBD with an aim to attract FDI.
Speaking on the occasion, Siddaramaiah said his government will leave no stone unturned in making the 14th edition of the PBD a grand success.