The government on Tuesday announced a major change in the format of the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) — its annaul engagement with the diaspora. According to the new plan, the large-scale Pravasi Bharatiya Divas event will now be held every two years, with a small affair being organised every other year.
The decision announced by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj means that a scaled-down event will be held in January, 2016, where experts from NRIs and PIOs, will be invited to brainstorm on the issues confronting them.
The conference, which will be held from January 8 to 10 next year, will also see deliberations on difficulties faced by Indian workers in the Gulf countries.
This is a departure from the ongoing practice since 2003. 13 PBD summits have taken place so far after the event was started by the Atal Behari Vajpayee government and later continued by the UPA government.
Announcing the new plan to organise the event every second year, Swaraj said that every alternate year a small invitation-only affair will be held, along with two ‘mini’ regional PBDs annually in countries with a presence of the Indian diaspora.
The government has asked its missions to identify experts among overseas Indian communities on various subjects with a focus on the flagship programmes of the NDA government like ‘Make in India’, ‘Digital India’, ‘Swachh Bharat’ and ‘Clean Ganga Mission’.
Swaraj said that in the earlier PBD conferences there was no “in depth” and “good” discussion on issues and that was the thrust behind changing the format.
“This year, we will host the PBD conference at the Pravasi Bhartiya Kendra in Chanakyapuri, but at a smaller level. Unlike the traditional PBD conference, where
one can participate after registering, this time the event will be only on the basis of invitation. We will invite overseas experts and a team will be formed together with Indian experts to deliberate on different issues, including the difficulties faced by Indians workers in Gulf countries,” said Swaraj.
She added that the government had also decided to start ‘mini’ regional PBD conferences every year in countries which had an Indian diaspora, but not as big as the ones in the United States and the United Kingdom.
The US has the largest number of People of Indian Origin (PIOs) and Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) and this year’s Regional PBD conference will be held in Los Angeles on November 14 and 15.
The government will also hold a quiz competition for PIO and NRI youths between 18 to 35 this year in three rounds.
The first round of the competition will be organised on November 12.
Winners of this competition will be get a tour across India show-casing the country’s culture.