Preparations for the forthcoming Pravasi Bharatiya Divas Convention, to be held at the Chennai Trade Centre, Chennai on 7-9 January 2009, are in full swing. Being organised by the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs, Government of India in partnership with the Government of Tamil Nadu and the Confederation of Indian Industry, this biggest ever PIO/NRI event in Chennai is expected to draw over 1,500 delegates from different parts of the world.
Ever since its inception in 2003, this annual convention has been the biggest platform for NRIs/PIOs to engage with the Government and people of India in matters of mutual interest and for networking. These Conventions enable the Government of India to better understand the expectations of the Overseas Indians from the land of their ancestors and to acknowledge their role in India’s all-round development. Discussions at these conventions have been very productive and fruitful for both the sides and have led the Government of India to take several measures to further strengthen the existing bonds of affinity and cultural linkage with the people of Indian origin.
Decisions taken by the Government of India as a result of wider consultations held at such Conventions include formulation of the Overseas Citizenship of India Scheme, establishment of Overseas Indian Facilitation Centre, conceptualisation of a PIO University, formation of Prime Minister’s Global Advisory Council of People of Indian Origin, and setting up of an India Development Foundation. Programmes like Know India Programme and Scholarship Programme for Diaspora Children are designed specifically for Diaspora youth.
The theme of PBD-2009 is ‘Engaging the Diaspora – The way forward’. There will be four plenary sessions entitled (i) “Indian as an Emerging Power: The Diaspora Factor”, (ii) ‘Reflections on the Current Economic Crisis: Diaspora Concerns’, (iii) ‘Preservation of Language and Culture of the Indian Diaspora’ and (iv) “Diaspora Interaction with the States”. Separate regional sessions on ‘Caribbean’ and ‘Canada’ would be the distinguishing features of the forthcoming convention apart from the regional sessions on ‘Africa’, ‘Asia-Pacific’, ‘Europe’, the ‘Gulf’ and the ‘USA’. There would be Building Bridges sessions on ‘Trade & Investment’, ‘Diaspora Philanthropy’, ‘Diaspora Knowledge Network’, ‘Media & Entertainment’, ‘Health for all: Role of Diaspora’, and ‘Increased Interaction with Diaspora women’. There would be separate State sessions for the major participating states.
The Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh will inaugurate the PBD Convention on 8th January. The President Mrs. Pratibha Devisingh Patil will deliver the valedictory address on 9th January. She would also confer the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Awards for 2009.
Apart from Dr. Kalaignar M. Karunanidhi, Chief Ministers of several other States are expected to attend; including Shri V. S. Achuthananthan, Shri Narendra Modi, Dr Y S Rajasekhar Reddy and Mr Bhupender Singh Hooda. A large number of Union Ministers would also be attending.
Vice President H. E. Mr. Ramdien Saredjoe of Suriname would be the Chief Guest. H. E. Angidi Chettiar, Vice President of Mauritius, Ministers from Malaysia, Mauritius, Sri Lanka, Singapore, South Africa and Canada are among prominent PIOs who have confirmed their participation. Former Prime Minister Minister Mahendra Chaudhury from Fiji and former Minister Samy Vellu from Malaysia would also participate.
Prominent among the speakers to address the gathering include CK Prahalad, Sam Pitroda, Sugata Bose, Renu Khator, Shashi Tharoor, PT Usha, N. Ram, Lord Diljit Rana, Baroness Shreela Flather, Thomas Abraham, Gopinath Pillai, Rajinder Paul Loomba, TP Naidoo, Mahyendra Utchanah, Deepak Obhrai, Yusuffali, Professor Rajesh Chandra, Sat Pal Khattar, Hari Panday, Dr. Ravi Seethapathy, Sam Chandrasekar, Loganathan Naidoo, Meera Ravi, Justice Mohini Murugeshan, Professor Narana Sinai Coisoro, Mohammed Dewji, Dr. Alok Mukherjee, Professor M. K. Gautam, Albert R. Ramdin, Dr. Prem Misir, Dr. Philomina Ann Mohini Harris, Anand Ramlogan and Ashook Ramsaran.
A special Trade and Industry Exhibition with participation from Corporate, Financial Institutions, State Governments, NGOs and others will form part of the event. The Overseas Indian Facilitation Centre (OIFC) will set up a Market Place at the venue to facilitate business and investment. Art Exhibitions, Crafts Exposition and cultural programmes would also form part of the event.
The preparations and arrangements for the convention were reviewed by Shri Vayalar Ravi, Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs, during his visit to Chennai on 26th December. He pointed out that the PBD-2009 has assumed greater significance in view of the global economic crisis that created a need for increased interaction between India and the ‘people of Indian origin’.
PBD Chennai is expected to carry forward the constructive engagement with the Diaspora with renewed vigour.