External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Saturday announced that the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas will now be celebrated every alternate year and a series of sessions will be held before the event to increase the understanding and bring in an alignment in the interests of the Indians living within and outside the country, according to ANI. The event was held annually till now.
Swaraj said this during a panel discussion on ‘Indian Community Organisations Working for Indian Nationals in Distressed Situation’. She also said that there will be some theme-based sessions conducted in which the Ministry of External Affairs will invite about 12 people, including both the nationals and the non-resident Indians. An elaborate discussion will be conducted with them, she said.
The External Affairs Minister also said they would try to understand their experience during their stay here, quality of life abroad and reasons behind their decision to move outside India.
She further said, “Some of the themes for the upcoming sessions are being decided to be around ‘role of diaspora in capacity-building and artificial intelligence’ and ‘how diaspora gives back to India and their role with respect to the challenges in India’.”
As many as 10 sessions have been conducted till now, in a build-up to next year’s programme, which will be held in Varanasi in January 2019.
Swaraj also highlighted her efforts to ensure relief to Indians who are living in distress in any corner of the world. “To help those Indians who are stuck at various corners of the world has become my life’s aim,” she said. She was accompanied by Ministers of State for External Affairs MJ Akbar and VK Singh.
Swaraj also talked about the ‘Raahat Operation’, wherein 5,000 people, including over 1,000 foreigners were evacuated from Yemen in 2015, according to ANI.
Recalling the genesis of the programme for the NRIs, the union minister said under the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 2003, the Bharatiya Janata Party had thought to dedicate one day per year to the Indians residing abroad.
“Mahatma Gandhi was the most famous NRI of India. Thus, the day he returned to the country is regarded as the Pravasi Bhartiya Diwas which is January 9,” Swaraj said.