15Th Pravasi Bhartiya Diwas

The 15th Pravasi Bhartiya Diwas is being held in Varanasi with great fanfare. Prime Minister of Mauritius Pravind Jugnauth was the Chief Guest during this year’s convention. He delivered the keynote address.   Prime Minister Modi in his inaugural address said that the occasion provides an opportunity to engage in dialogue among all the Indians in world. He described the people of Indian origin as Brand Ambassadors of India and lauded their efforts for bringing glory to their countries. He said that Indian origin people living abroad need to connect with the motherland of the forefathers.

Though the Pravasi Bhartiya Diwas is celebrated on 9th January every year to mark the occasion of the contribution of overseas Indian community in the development of India, this year the conference dates of the congregation of Pravasi Indians were changed to accommodate the wishes of the overseas Indians who wanted to visit the Kumbh Mela being held in Prayagraj.   The delegates will also get a chance to witness the Republic Day parade on 26th January in New Delhi.

 January 9 was chosen as the day to celebrate this occasion since it was on this day in 1915 that Mahatma Gandhi, considered as the greatest Pravasi , returned to India from South Africa  and led India’s freedom struggle and changed the lives of the Indians forever.  The 15th Pravasi Bhartiya Diwas is being organised this year in partnership with the State Government of Uttar Pradesh.

 Pravasi  Bhartiya Diwas conventions  are being held  every year since 2003,though a decision has now been taken to organise it every alternate year . These conventions provide a platform to the overseas Indian community to engage with the   people of the land of their ancestors for mutually beneficial activities. These conventions are also very useful in networking among the overseas Indian community residing in every nook and corner of the world and enable them to share their experiences in various fields.  More than five thousand Pravasi Bhartiya delegates are participating in this year’s Pravasi Bhartiya  Diwas conference. During this conference individuals of exceptional merit are honoured with the prestigious Pravasi Bhartiya Samman award to appreciate their role in India’s growth .The conference also provides an opportunity for discussing key issues concerning the Indian diaspora.

Recognising the contribution of people of Indian origin in their adopted lands, the celebrated national leaders of Indian origin are invited as chief guests.  Hence the Prime Minister of Mauritius Pravind Jugnauth was extended this honour during the 15thPravasi Bhartiya Diwas Sammelan this year.  There are many political personalities of Indian origin who have become Heads of States in their adopted countries.  They maintain emotional and ancestral links with their motherland.

The first day of the program was dedicated to the overseas youths of Indian origin. Two main personalities for the youth Pravasi Bhartiya Diwas were Member of Parliament of Norway Mr. Himanshu Gulati and Member of Parliament from Newzealand Mr. Kamaljeet Bakshi. They were Chief Guests during the youth session of the Pravasi Bhartiya Diwas during the opening day on 21st January.

The Youth Pravasi Bhartiaya Diwas was inaugurated by the External Affairs Minister Mrs. Sushma Swaraj. She said that India has the largest diaspora of around 31 million in the world who have a shared common identity of ‘Indian-ness’ and a shared common origin.  The land belongs to the forefathers of prosperous Indian diaspora community, most of them now are eager to contribute to the development of their motherland.  Centuries ago, the Indian diaspora started migrating to lands as far as Fiji, Mauritius, Suriname and Sri Lanka, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Malaysia, Myanmar and also to African countries.  In modern era during the 20th century another phase of migration of educated, highly skilled and dynamic young Indians brought laurels to India. Today, the overseas Indians are major contributors to Indian economy. By engaging with the Pravasi Indians, India recognises their contribution to their spiritual ‘motherland’.

Script: Ranjit Kumar, Senior Journalist