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Motherland Calling

January 2005
Motherland Calling

With the third annual Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (India Day) scheduled this month, it is fast becoming an annual tradition of significance; that of the Indian government courting the expatriate Indians.

The Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA), Government of India and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) today announced the agenda and the tentative programme for the third Pravasi Bhartiya Divas, following the meeting of the organising committee, chaired by Mr. Jagdish Tytler, the Minister of State for Overseas Indian Affairs. The event will be held in Mumbai for the first time and will be hosted by the Maharashtra Government. The National Centre for Performing Arts (NCPA) has been chosen for this gathering of the Global Indian Family from January 7 ? 9, 2005.

For the first time the presentation of Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Awards 2005 will be conferred by the President of India, Shri Abdul J Kalam on January 09, on the last day of the gathering. The Honourable Prime Minister of India, Dr. Manmohan Singh, will inaugurate this three-day event.

Overseas Indians & NRIs from around 70 countries are expected to lead large delegations to PBD 2005. Already over 500 delegates have confirmed their participation and the number is expected to increase substantially closer to the date.

Other key highlights of the event include plenary sessions with Ms. Sonia Gandhi, Chairperson, United Progressive Alliance (UPA) (awaiting confirmation), Mr. Jagdish Tytler, MOS (IC) for Overseas Indian Affairs, Mr. Natwar Singh, Minister for External Affairs, Mr. P. Chidambaram, Minister of Finance and other senior cabinet Ministers. In continuation with the previous meeting of the Diaspora, there will be a plenary session on Diaspora Youth ? India and Generation Next. Simultaneously, sectoral issues will be discussed at parallel sessions related to Education, Science and Technology, Healthcare, Rural Development, Ethnic Media and Entertainment, NRI's in Gulf, Finance and Culture & Tourism. Moreover, interactive sessions with the State Governments will take forward the collective task initiated last year of bringing together the Indian Diaspora and leveraging the potential offered by the Global Indian Family. Five Chief Ministers have confirmed their participation and more are expected to join the gathering.

Apart from the new and emerging issues that the third Pravasi Bharatiya Divas will attempt to address and action, it will also review decisions taken during the last two Pravasi Bharatiya Divas and renew its commitment to the Indian Diaspora. For the first time two special sessions are being organised to help people rediscover their roots. These sessions aptly titled ?Tracing your roots' and ?An agenda for PIO's' are especially being designed keeping in mind those members of the Diapora who had migrated generations ago.

Another primary focus area of the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas will be the ?Internship Programme' for the youth, to strengthen their bonds with India. This is a platform where young students and professionals of Indian origin from different countries gather for two weeks to know more about India and share their knowledge, experience, ideas and expectations. This year 50 interns will be invited to participate in organising the event and would go through an orientation programme to increase their awareness of India.

"The first two Pravasi Bharatiya Divas set in motion the gargantuan task of bringing Indians from every corner of the globe under one roof and for the first time created awareness about the achievements of the Great Indian Family. The third Pravasi Bharatiya Divas will take this effort further and would use this opportunity to elicit the suggestions of the delegates and use them to prepare a concrete action plan to strengthen and deepen the ties," said Mr. Jagdish Tytler, Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs.

Some of the leading personalities of the Diaspora who have confirmed their participation are Cabinet Ministers, Dato' Samy Vellu of Malaysia and Mr. Shanmugaratnam of Singapore, Lord Bagri, Lord Dholakia from UK, Mr. Shashi Tharoor, Dr. Amitabha Ghosh, Prof. Jagdish Sheth from USA etc. Prominent Indian Business leaders who have blocked their dairies are Mr. Ratan Tata, Mr. Rahul Bajaj, Mr. Kumara Mangalam Birla and Mr. Sunil Bharati Mittal.

Pre-convention events include Annual Conferences of AAPI, AAHOA, GOPIO, Tie, TAAI etc. at Mumbai starting a week prior to PBD. Other organizations including Indian Business Chambers abroad like Malaysian Indian Congress, Indian Chamber of Commerce Hong Kong (ICCHK) etc. will lead delegations to this event.

"On the basis of feedback from the delegates of Pravasi Bharatiya Divas in the last two years, FICCI has come to the conclusion that there has been a significant diplomatic dividend considering that many eminent and influential NRIs/PIOs went back from the event with positive thoughts about India. Thus if the emerging recommendations and suggestions are implemented, it shall encourage Diaspora's engagement in India's development," said Amit Mitra, Director General, FICCI.

January 9 each year has been chosen as the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas both in India and abroad as it was on this date in 1915 that Mahatma Gandhi finally returned to India after almost two decades in South Africa. The recommendation to celebrate Pravasi Bharatiya Divas had been made to recognise the contribution of the Indian Diaspora in the political, economic, social, academic and cultural fields.

For more details: Log on to www.indiaday.org

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