NEW DELHI India --
A new avatar was unveiled this year for the annual
convention of the Indian Diaspora, the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) that has
been held in India every since 2003 between January 9-11,
writes Swami Anand Kul Bhushan.
new avatar was unveiled for the annual convention of Indian Diaspora, Pravasi
Bharatiya Diwas (PBD) in New Delhi on 9 January 2016.
Instead of the Indian prime Minister delivering the inaugural address in the
grand Vigyan Bhawan to more than a thousand, it was the External Affairs
Minister Sushma Swaraj who spoke at the Jwaharlal Nehru Bhawan who addressed a
select audience of less than 200 in the auditorium of the External Affairs
A few ambassadors and local celebrities but hardly any overseas Indians
attended this event.
The minister explained the reasons for this new avatar after the grand event
held last year in Ahmedabad with a record attendance.
She said the Ministry of
Overseas Indian Affairs, established in 2003, has been merged with the Ministry
of External Affairs.
From now on, the big PBD would be held once every three years in addition to
two mini-PBDs held annually in different parts of the world.
However, every month, a select group of ten overseas Indians would be invited
to New Delhi to hold a conference on a specific topic of concern to overseas
Indians who would be joined by five Indian experts to suggest solutions to the
problem or issue.
These meetings would also look into how overseas Indians can effectively take
part in the flagship government development projects like Made in India, Digital
India, Clean India and Skills India, among others.
This in-depth approach to address overseas Indian issues had been adopted
because no substantive results had emerged from the big event held over three
A report would be presented to and, hopefully, action taken.
The new style annual PBD from the Ministry of External Affairs will be
celebrated by every Indian mission abroad on 9 January.
To drive home this point, a satellite link was active with five locations:
London, Dubai, Port Louis, Singapore and Kuala Lampur.
Groups of overseas Indians assembles ion these cities could be seen on the
giant screen at the venue.
And after the main speeches, these groups were invited to ask a question to
the minister who answered in a live chat.
The overseas group leaders were given another chance to ask another question
and so the minister replied to a total of ten questions before the event ended.
From the extempore answers, it was clear that the minister had a good grip on
all issues raised by the questioners.
These issues ranged from a proposed PIO University, Adhaar Cards for PIOs,
Overseas Indian Citizenship (OIC), and remittances, among others.
The PIO University will not be established but PIO quota would be increased
in all universities; the government was considering the issue of Adhaar Cards
for overseas Indians;
OIC could be issued to overseas Indians whose forefathers
had left India five or six generations ago instead of three generations as of
now and remittances to India from the Gulf had been simplified, said the
In her keynote speech, Ms. Swaraj urged overseas Indians to heed and act on
the official advisories issued by the government when their lives were in
The ministry had made special arrangements at great effort and expense to
bring back thousands of beleaguered overseas Indians when their lives are in