In India, the months of December and January generally make up the Diaspora Season. Hundreds of thousands of overseas Indians make their way to their country of origin during this time of the year, many to connect back with families back home, catch up with weddings, take part in pilgrimage and, of course, numerous conferences and seminars that take place across India.
Talking of conferences, the largest one is the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD). Held in the second week of January since the year 2003, this time (2019) it has been slightly deferred on to the fourth week of the month (January 21-23). It will be held in the holy city of Varanasi, the world’s oldest continuously inhabited city. The reason for holding it between January 21 and 23 (the traditional dates have been January 7 to 9) is that it is being tied up with the Kumbh Mela at Prayagraj and the Republic Day in New Delhi.
On the first day of this now biennial event will be the Youth PBD with a couple of young Members of Parliament from Norway and New Zealand lined up to speak. Like at the PBD events in Gandhinagar (2015) and Bengaluru (2017), the inaugural address will be delivered by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The keynote this time will be delivered by the Prime Minister of Mauritius Pravind Jugnauth, the chief guest. Present on the occasion will be India’s Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj, her colleague General V.K. Singh, Minister of State for External Affairs and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. Varanasi happens to be the Parliamentary constituency of Mr Modi. The inaugural session will be followed by plenary sessions on developing cyber capacity in India and opportunities and challenges on giving back to India. On the final day there will be plenary sessions on the diaspora’s role in capacity building of artificial intelligence, affordable waste management, and affordable solar power.
The valedictory address on the final day will be delivered by President Ram Nath Kovind who will also be presenting the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Awards.
We have a curtain raiser on the PBD and several features in our diaspora segment along with stories on diplomacy and business.
Wishing you all a very happy new year ahead.